College football has never been
more popular, or more chaotic. Millions fill stadiums every Saturday; tens of
millions more watch every weekend on television. The 2013 Discover BCS National
Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama had a viewership of over
twenty-six million people, second only to the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars
of television deals now flow into the game; the average budget for a top-ten
team is eighty million dollars; top coaches make more than three million
dollars a year, the highest paid, more than five million.
But behind this glittering success
are the darker truths: “athlete-students” working essentially full-time jobs
with no share in the oceans of money, who often don’t graduate and end their
careers with broken bodies; “janitors” who clean up player misconduct; football
“hostesses” willing to do whatever it takes to land a recruit; paid test
takers; recruiting slush funds. And this: Despite the millions of dollars
pouring into the game, ninety percent of major athletic departments still lose
money. Yet schools remain caught up in an ever-escalating “arm’s race”—at the
expense of academic scholarships, facilities, and faculty.
journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian were granted unprecedented access
during the 2012 season to programs at the highest levels across the country.
Through dogged reporting they explored every nook and cranny of this
high-powered machine and reveal how it operates from the inside out. The result:
The System through the eyes of athletic directors and coaches,
high-flying boosters, and high-profile television stars, five-star recruits and
dogged NCAA investigators and the kids on whom the whole vast enterprise
Both a celebration of the power and
pageantry of NCAA football and a groundbreaking, thought-provoking critique of
its excesses, The System is the definitive book on the college game. Download and start listening now!