Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football

John Kryk. Rowman & Littlefield, $40 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4422-4825-0
At the start of this account of one of the major rivalries in early American collegiate sports, Kryk, the national NFL columnist for the Toronto Sun and Sun Media, promises but does not entirely deliver a no-holds-barred battle royal between two iconic football coaches. Football, which caught America's attention in the 1890s, first attracted fans with a violent gladiator edge, where linemen stood and mauled opponents at the scrimmage line, often injuring them with fractured skulls, dislocated shoulders, broken noses, and an occasional death. Rival coaches Amos Arnold Stagg at the University of Chicago and Fielding H. Yost at the University of Michigan had pristine reputations, but Kryk reveals that both indulged in serious violations in eligibility, tactics, and illegal payments to players from alumni. A surprisingly large number of innovative rules and regulations were put in place during the reign of the combative pair, who were obsessed with victories at all costs. The men are fascinating, but the author's narrative runs out of steam, and the reader becomes slowly bored with their self-centered antics. Kryk shows a real knack for describing the time period, the sport, and the bitter rivals, but their duel fizzles to nothing. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 360 pages - 978-1-4422-4826-7
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