For Christmas, Randy Mayeux, my co-presenter at the First Friday Book Synopsis, gave me a book which is truly outstanding. It is one of the most insightful and enjoyable books about the sport of football that I have ever read.
The book is about Hal Mumme (pictured left), who was a pioneer in football with plays emphasizing the forward pass. He debunked the long-believed myth that passing is dangerous, and that football was about running the ball down the opponent’s throats. Appropriately, the title is The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football (New York: Scribner, 2016).
That was not his only innovation. Mumme completely reorganized formations, shortened practices, severely edited complicated playbooks, and made the game fun for his players. While he bounced from high school to lower-division colleges, he recruited players and built successes for programs that had long been in the tank.
His partner in all this was Mike Leach. If you live in the Southwest, you are aware that Leach was the head coach at Texas Tech, before moving to his current position at Washington State. But did you know that Leach teamed with Mumme in all these small school stops, and that it was not until they got to Kentucky, that anyone even paid attention to them?
The author of the book is S.C. Gwynne, whose resume does not include much about sports. He is an accomplished writer, and an award-winner for other titles, but they are biographies and historical works. He was the Executive Editor for Texas Monthly magazine. I will tell you for sure that this man can write – this book is novel-like in its flow, and is as lively as any detective-work that I have ever read.
I really hope that our blog readers who love football will get this book. There are bookoos of copies available at our area bookstores, as well as on-line.
Randy – you made a great choice for a present. Thank you!