College Football Books

Recently we published a list of popular books about Alabama Football.  Broadening the topic only a little, here’s another partial list of highly rated books on college football in general.  All are must reads for the devout fan.

If you have books you’d like to add to the list, please let us know and we’ll continue to grow this inventory as new material is available.

* note, the links below are affiliate links.  If you decide to purchase from these links, we may receive a small referral – at no cost to you.


Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy

To the select fraternity of men who have won the Heisman Trophy, the award is so much more than just a football trophy.  The Heisman is a national symbol of collegiate football experience and competitiveness.  Over time, it has become the single most celebrated individual award in all of American sports.  Although the Heisman Trophy is old, it does not age.  If anything, its impact gets stronger every year.  No other individual award captures the country’s imagination like the Heisman does.  From the very first time toe meets leather to kick off a college football season, fans across the country begin debating which players will be the top Heisman Trophy candidates.

In Heisman: The Man Behind the Trophy, John M. Heisman, the legendary coach’s great-nephew, and New York Times bestselling author Mark Schlabach offer college football fans across the country the first authorized and definitive biography of the man whose life has been memorialized by the Heisman Trophy.

When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football

It was the end of an era, the last season before the surge of professional football began to lure the nation’s best young student-athletes away from the military academies.  That fall, the Black Knights of Army were the class of the nation.  Mark Beech, a second-generation West Pointer, recounts this memorable and never-to-be-repeated season.

Combining the triumph of The Junction Boys with the heroics of The Long Gray Line, Beech captures a unique period in the history of football, the military, and mid-twentieth-century America.



Rites of Autumn: The Story of College Football
Welcome to “Rites of Autumn: The Story of College Football,” the definitive history of college football, from Fielding Yost’s “point-a-minute” Michigan Wolverines of 1901 to Bobby Bowden’s undefeated 1999 Florida State Seminoles and everything in-between, before, and since. Here are Red Grange, Illinois’s Galloping Ghost; Army’s Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, and Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett. Here is that day in 1957 when Bud Wilkinson’s 47-game winning streak at Oklahoma was ended by Notre Dame and the Game of the Century when Bubba Smith’s undefeated 1966 Michigan State team played also-undefeated Notre Dame to a 10-10 tie. With hundreds of vintage photographs, dozens of primary documents, and a vivid text, “Rites of Autumn” brings back to life Johnny Rodgers running back a punt for a Nebraska touchdown against Oklahoma in their 1971 Game of the Century; Cal’s four-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown– “The Play” — that defeated John Elway’s 1982 Stanford team; and Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass that beat Bernie Kosar’s defending national champion Miami team 47-45 on the last play of the 1984 Thanksgiving Day game.

College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy

In this comprehensive history of America’s popular pastime, John Sayle Watterson shows how college football in more than one hundred years has evolved from a simple game played by college students into a lucrative, semiprofessional enterprise. With a historian’s grasp of the context and a novelist’s eye for the telling detail, Watterson presents a compelling portrait rich in anecdotes, colorful personalities, and troubling patterns.



Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.” — Lou Holtz

Meet Lou Holtz, the motivational miracle worker who revitalized the Notre Dame football program by leading the legendary Fighting Irish to nine bowl games and a national championship. During his twenty-seven years as a head football coach, Holtz garnered a 216-95-7 career record. Each new assignment brought a different team with different players, but, invariably, the same result–success. How did he do it? By designing a game plan for his players that minimized obstacles while maximizing opportunities.

Now he wants to pass his game plan on to you. In Winning Every Day, you’ll discover ten strategies that will drive you to the top of your professional and personal life. Coach Holtz will reveal how you can acquire the focus and commitment it takes to be a champion. It won’t be easy; it takes sacrifice to be the best. But now you’ll have a proven winner alongside you in the trenches. Winning Every Day demonstrates how you can elevate your performance while raising the standards of everyone around you. Follow Coach’s strategies and winning becomes habitual. You will learn to welcome sacrifice as you dedicate yourself to excellence. He will show you how to clearly define your short-term and long-term goals, to develop an unwavering sense of purpose without compromising flexibility.
The Undefeated: The Oklahoma Sooners and the Greatest Winning Streak in College Football

For three perfect seasons (1954-1956), the Oklahoma Sooners won every football game they played – home or away – and over the course of five years they won 47 straight games. This awesome record was the product of a genius and masterful coach named Bud Wilkinson and the spirited young men he led. The Undefeated will detail all the thrilling action on the field during this record winning streak, but it will also reveal all the behind-the-scenes tumult and pressure swirling around it. Dent presents an absorbing character study of the brilliant, complex coach who engineered it all – Bud Wilkinson, the on-field genius whoses starched-shirt public persona hid a man of many secrets and an in-depth look at a state and its people still suffering from a Depression hangover and an identity crisis, who took up the Sooners football banner almost as a religious cause. Through it all, the young men who accomplished this amazing feat shine in vivid life.

Resurrection: The Miracle Season That Saved Notre Dame

Back in the 1960s, Notre Dame’s football program was in shambles.  For five straight years, from 1958 through 1963, the home of Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy could not produce one winning season.  Plagued by a series of bad coaching choices, inept management, and a loss of institutional support, no one could be sure if the Fighting Irish would ever return to glory.  When “Touchdown Jesus” was erected in 1964, it presided over a team so hopeless that the entire football program was on the brink of collapse.

Little did anyone know, help was on its way in the form of Ara Parseghian, a controversial choice for head coach—the first one outside of the Notre Dame “family”—who had only set foot on Notre Dame soil when his football teams played (and won) there.  It was now his responsibility to rebuild the once-proud program and teach the Fighting Irish how to win again. This was no small task.



American Football (1891)

Written by Walter Camp, known as “The Father of American Football,” and published in 1891, this canon of the gridiron details everything one could ever want to know about the early years of America’s game, from its roots in rugby to the roles and duties of each player on the field, from how to train for the game to how to watch it from the stands.



The True College Football Playoff Solution: Why 8 is Better Than 4
Despite the fact that not a single game was played and not a single tailgate was attended, June 26th, 2012 will go down as one of the greatest days in college football history.  It was announced that for the first time, the sport would have a playoff – a 4-team model that would be implemented after the 2014 regular season.  This was incredible news, and the entire college football nation rejoiced.  So why, you may ask, do we need another book about the college football postseason?  The answer is simple – the 4-team playoff is simply not the best or most logical solution, just the one that the old-timey playoff haters would agree to.  The better option is an 8-team playoff that maintains the importance of the regular season across all of the Big 6 conferences, but also provides a more exciting, compelling build up to the championship game.  This book lays out the 8-team plan in detail, while also comparing and contrasting it with the 4-team model and showing what each year of the BCS era would have looked like if 8 teams were invited instead of the annual #1 vs. #2 matchup that often left fans, players and schools unsatisfied.  After reading this, hopefully you’ll agree that the proposed 8-team playoff is indeed The True College Football Playoff Solution.



The Essential Smart Football

The Essential Smart Football is an examination of football’s most important strategies and ideas, through the lens of the game’s best coaches, players, and schemes.  Brilliantly written and eschewing unnecessary jargon and technicality, it makes a major contribution to our understanding of football to help all of us — coaches, players, and fans — appreciate the game we love all the more.




Every Week a Season: A Journey Inside Big-Time College Football
In Every Week a Season, acclaimed sports reporter and author Brian Curtis takes readers on an unprecedented whirlwind tour of NCAA Division I football.  It’s a world that breeds great drama, a world that millions watch but few understand. It is a multibillion-dollar business.  It is an obsession.

Brian Curtis gives a no-holds-barred insider’s account that will rank as one of the most honest and accurate books on big-time sports in America.  Short of strapping on a helmet, you’ll never get closer to the game.



College Football Schemes and Techniques

College Football Schemes and Techniques explores offensive, defensive and special teams methods utilized on the collegiate level.  Coaches, players and fans can learn the schemes and techniques of some of the best programs in college football.  Coaches with experience in every major conference are the primary sources for CFST, including the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East and PAC 12, plus the NFL and CFL.

Defensively, CFST reveals how Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban wins championships by shutting down an offense with the unique schemes and techniques that comprise ‘Buster Coverage.’

The Front 7 philosophy of defensive guru Monte Kiffin inspired Alabama’s Lance Thompson and is also included, along with defensive principals that Brent Pry learned under legendary Bud Foster at Virginia Tech.

A ‘Game Week’ practice system established by NFL Hall-of-Famer Bill Walsh is used by Auburn Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder to organize practices, while also developing a game plan.

Offensively, CFST features North Carolina’s Larry Fedora’s no-huddle up-tempo spread attack; and Garrick McGee’s multiple offense and UAB practice/QB development standards.

Former Pac 12 and current Alabama Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s quarterback development techniques and basic play-action passing scheme are included in the author’s ‘offensive package.’

Another chapter breaks-down situational football preparation on offense/special teams that enabled Gene Chizik and Auburn to win the 2010 National Championship.

Florida State QBs Coach Dameyune Craig’s methods for reading defenses and finding ‘dead spots’ in Cover 2 Zone are also examined.

For programs on any level that have suffered through years of underachievement, CFST provides the rebuilding methods of Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin.  Franklin had previous experience in the ACC, Big 12 and NFL as an offensive assistant or coordinator.  In just his first season at Vanderbilt in 2011, he built the Commodores into a bowl team for only the fifth time in 123 years!



How the SEC Became Goliath: The Making of College Football’s Most Dominant Conference

How the SEC Became Goliath covers the Southeastern Conference and how the league became dominant in college football, winning six straight national championships. Size matters. That’s why the SEC is Goliath, because the Southeastern Conference, top to bottom, has better coaches, better stadiums, better bank accounts, and better weather, but the real difference maker is the bigger and better players.

The national championship trophy has been in the South for so long it has sunburn. That is why college football is thick with the acrimony: SEC vs. Everyone Else. The dominance of the SEC has a lot more to do with the South’s culture than just the rock-’em, sock-’em of football played one day a week. The South lost the Civil War, and sociologists will tell you that there is still a regional angst, an “us against them” mentality, a spirit of “those damn Yankees.” It is not just about championships. The SEC is about culture and competitiveness. . . . It is about players.

The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football

Football’s first golden age was characterized by incredible violence and life-threatening danger, and the new sport’s popularity grew even as the casualties rose. After dozens of players were killed in brutal incidents that rattled the national consciousness, a proto-progressive movement attempted to abolish the game.

At that critical moment, President Roosevelt, an outspoken advocate of “the strenuous life” and a longtime fan of the game, fought to preserve football’s rugged essence. In 1905, Roosevelt summoned key football coaches to the White House for a historic meeting. The result was the establishment of the NCAA and a series of rule changes, including the advent of the forward pass, which not only saved the sport but transformed football into what it is today: the quintessential American game.



The Blind Side (Movie Tie-in Edition)

Opening in theaters November 20, 2009, The Blind Side is a feature movie based on Michael’s Lewis’s New York Times bestseller. The Blind Side tells the inspirational story of Michael Oher, a homeless black teen taken under the wing of the Touhys, a wealthy white Memphis family. Oher’s size and speed on the football field bring him accolades. But learning the game’s strategy and making it as a student take the help of his new family, coaches, and tutor.