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Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  236 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Sports Illustrated columnist Stewart Mandel tackles the ten issues that confound college football fansIf your heart beats faster on Saturday afternoons as your team takes the field, this book will give you new insight into the fanaticism and chaos that characterize college football today. Stewart Mandel takes a provocative, hard-hitting look at the hot-button issues: the c ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Wiley (first published January 1st 2007)
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Dec 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this just in time for the DunderMifflinConsolidatedNortheastRegionalRecycledPaperDivisionLLC .com Stargazer Lilly Bowl and it’s other 35 counterparts. It did not disappoint. Mandel, a Sports Illustrated columnist, was clearly exacerbated by innumerable fan/reader email inquiries/obscenities regarding the oddities of the BCS system and decided to cover it all. He attacks, chapter-by-chapter, such topics as Heisman debacles, idiot NFL recruiting criteria, conference realignments, ...more
Apr 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ipad
Though it's now four years old, this survey of the controversies that make NCAA football what it is, by's Stewart Mandel, is still relevant. Even if I don't believe his early prediction that the BCS will give way to, or accomodate, a playoff (though to be fair, by the time he wrote an extra chapter for the paperback edition, he seems to have changed his mind).

It's breezy (sometimes including jokes that you'd better be ready to recognize) but informative (you can also tell he's done some r
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE college football, and I also love Stewart Mandel's columns and the SI Mailbag. He's hilarious and knowledgeable, though I of course am prone to putting him on my "shit list" and refusing to read him for a certain amount of time after he's said something I consider egregious about Cal. Mostly these periods of silence last about a week, after which I am again groveling at for the new Mailbag. I admit, I am just as bad as every college football fan out there!

That said, this book was e
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you love college football, but hate the university presidents, sanctioning bodies, bowl committees, booster, alumni, and the goddamn BCS, read this. It does a great job explaining why everything is wrong with college football, and why the powers that be will never give the fans a fair playoff system that we all want. It does a great job explaining that not only is the system broken and corrupt, but it also has no intention of ever being fair as long as the legacy programs and conferences have ...more
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
This was a very informative and entertaining explanation of why college football is the way it is. I now understand the convoluted sport a lot better. I would like the sport to institute a "plus one" championship game, to make the Cotton Bowl one of the BCS bowls and to eliminate about 10 bowl games, but aside from that I kind of like the chaos! (Do I think any of that will happen? No.) The one really annoying thing about the book was the author's tendency to make a joke at the end of every para ...more
Joel & Christie
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
An excellent book for the serious college football fan. Stewart Mandel, college football analyst for Sports Illustrated, dedicates each chapter to explaining some of the confusion that reins in college football. Why is college football the only NCAA sport without a playoff? Why does Notre Dame merit its own TV contract? What's up with the BSC mess? Just exactly who votes for the Heisman and why to Heisman winners usually bust in the NFL? Oh, and tell me again why does college football not have a ...more
David Ward
Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football by Stewart Mandel (Wiley 2007)(796.332). The author discusses the current state of affairs in big-time college football and takes issue with the way the NCAA is leading. Very interesting section as to why Alabama hates Tennessee. If the author's sources are correct, former Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer turned the Tide into the NCAA in exchange for immunity for the Vols program! (That was in the ...more
Feb 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
i have been reading Stewart Mandel online at for several years now, and he is my favorite writer who covers college football. This book is well written and clearly explains the difficulties and challenges of college football in a number of different areas. For serious college football fans, I would rate this a five-star book. Less serious fans might get overloaded on details, so that is why I gave it 4 stars.
Oct 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: college football fans
Shelves: own-it, sports
Stewart Mandel is one of the best sportswriters focusing on college football today. I regularly read his work at and this book reads like an extended column: in depth and interesting, full of humor, with a healthy dose of skepticism. He doesn't delve deeply into the emotional and narrative aspects of the college game that are so compelling to me but the book is informative and entertaining.
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
My buddy Stewart wrote this book, for disclosure's sake.

While many of you know him from, I know him from my softball team.

If you have any inclination to read a book about football, to have a better understanding of what in the hell is up with the bowl system, Heisman voting or anything else going on in the crazy world of NCAA football, check out Stewart's book.
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A discussion of college football from the BCS to the Heisman and everything in between.

Absolutely fascinating. I've enjoyed Mandel's Mailbag column for quite some time, and this is a natural extension of it. He really explains the intricacies and absurdities of college football in a way that both informs and entertains.
took me a while to finish reading this book. A good book nevertheless. Lots of details and observations. Since the book is based on the 2006 season (and later 2007) it's sort of back dated. It would be interesting to see what the author would write about for the seasons after 2007 (especially in regards to the Heisman).

if you're a college football fan then this is a must read.
Nov 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Nothing that I didn't already know about college football, but Stewart Mandel is a fun writer who not only knows college football but loves it. He always offers an intelligent perspective over the emotionally charged, irrationality that often dominates in sports. A nice easy read to cruise through on a Saturday.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Mandel is one of the best college football writers out there -he's logical, he understands the big picture and he can add a touch of humor to the ridiculous without being bombastic. This is a fun and quick read, if you love college football.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Somehow, the book isn't as much fun as the articles. Perhaps it's the distance from the present. Perhaps I expect more formality in a book than in a column. I still read Mandel every week during the fall, but this one didn't grab me, and I doubt I'll pick up the paperback with the 2007 update.
Feb 19, 2008 rated it liked it
The book gives you an insight into different aspects of college football (recruiting, why Notre Dame won't finally join a conference, why there won't be a playoff system too soon, etc). Mandel does a good job here. It was a better book then I thought it would be.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it liked it
pretty ok, as entertaining as his internet columns - everyone knows that Rockne and Dorais perfected the forward pass at Cedar Point on the shores of Lake Erie, not Lake Michigan - sheesh
Mike Graber
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Good breakdown on college football for both knowledgable and not so knowledgable fans of the game.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent fun read about the game we love the most!
Megan Jordan
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any college sports fan
A funny, lighthearted and clear view of the NCAA as a business. A fantastic pool-side read if you're a fan of college football.
Sep 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the author didn't eliminate any of the chaos and controversy found in college football, he did explain it well. I enjoyed this read while watching some of the bowl games.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sports nuts
A fun read and an intelligent explanation of the crazy college football bowl system.
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ridiculous title. Interesting read.
Darryl Stangry
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Have always enjoyed Mandel's columns on Good job explaining some of the underlying reasons why CFB has so many issues that drive fans crazy (postseason, conferences, student athletes, etc.)
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The guy and book is hilarious and appropriately addresses the hot ticket issues in college football
Purple Wimple
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a rarity: informed, thoughtful, well-written discussion of college football's highs and lows...

It's a must-read for any college football fan.
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