Synopses & Reviews
It’s America’s most popular sport, played by thousands, watched by millions, and generating billions in revenues every year. It’s also America’s most controversial sport, haunted by the specter of life-threatening injuries and plagued by scandal, even among its most venerable personalities and institutions. At the college level, we often tie football’s tales of corruption and greed to its current popularity and revenue potential, and we have vague notions of a halcyon time--before the new College Football Playoff, power conferences, and huge TV contracts. Perhaps we conjure images of young Ivy Leaguers playing a gentleman’s game, exemplifying the collegial in collegiate. What we don’t imagine is a game described in 1905, not today, as "a social obsession--this boy-killing, man-mutillating, education-prostituting, gladiatorial sport."
In The Opening Kickoff, Dave Revsine tells the riveting story of the formative period of American football (1890-1915). It was a time that saw the game’s meteoric rise, fueled by overflow crowds, breathless newspaper coverage and newfound superstars—including one of the most thrilling and mysterious the sport has ever seen. But it was also a period racked by controversy in academics, recruiting, and physical brutality that, in combination, threatened football’s very existence. A vivid storyteller, Revsine brings it all to life in a captivating narrative.
“Dave Revsine’s work is filled with jaw dropping, vividly detailed stories about football’s wild, wooly formative years. If you think America’s football obsession is a recent development, or that corruption in the money-driven college game is only a modern problem, you’ll be stunned by The Opening Kickoff. A great read. I loved it!”
—Chris Fowler, host of ESPN’s College GameDay
“Dave Revsine’s work is filled with jaw-dropping, vividly detailed stories about football’s wild, woolly formative years. If you think America’s football obsession is a recent development, or that corruption in the money-driven college game is only a modern problem, you’ll be stunned by The Opening Kickoff. A great read. I loved it!”
—Chris Fowler, host of ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning College GameDay
“With the industry of college football currently at the center of questions about priorities, purity, and purpose, Dave Revsine’s lovingly crafted The Opening Kickoff is a remarkable and engaging account of the heroes, villains, successes, and scandals in the early years of this sport. The passion and the people of those early years, their feats, their foibles—all contribute to this game taking root in the American heart. No other sport matters as much to fans of each team—and Revsine’s keen eye for detail, and clear love of the game make this a fascinating journey through an important time. And with messages that resonate today.”
—Bob Ley, host of ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning Outside the Lines and anchor of SportsCenter
“Dave Revsine’s well-researched book on the early days of football is absorbing from opening kickoff to final gun. The stories are filled with historical romance, yet are not rosy-eyed. It is fascinating to see how all the glories and corruptions of football were there from the beginning.”
—David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
“Before there was Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, there was Wisconsin’s Pat O’Dea. Before Miami and Auburn found themselves embroiled in controversy, so did Yale and Princeton. Before the endless coverage of ESPN, the New York Sun had seventeen reporters at a game. In Dave Revsine’s fascinating read, The Opening Kickoff, we learn that college football’s nascent seasons were as wild, unpredictable, and controversial as the ones that unfold in front of us now. Revsine’s meticulous research and crisp storytelling bring us back to a long-ago era, where the themes and storylines are familiar.”
—Pete Thamel, senior writer for Sports Illustrated“Reading the author’s heavily researched tale of the history of college football—specifically, the period between 1890 and 1915—is like watching an old-fashioned, dramatic movie newsreel…. [I]t is a vivid examination of the sport’s infancy…. Revsine’s descriptions of momentous games and quotes from published accounts give the narrative a storybook feel. He examines how numerous issues and ethical questions during the sport’s early years are still debated today…. An interesting demonstration of how athletics remains today what it was well over 100 years ago: big business.”
By the face of The Big Ten Network, the story of the creation of the college football nation from 1890 to 1915, the intense media coverage, the academic fraud, recruiting scandals, shocking violence, new sports superstars, and the manifest destiny of football out of the Ivy League and to the Great Midwest
About the Author
Dave Revsine is the lead studio host for the Big Ten Network. Prior to joining BTN, he spent eleven years as an anchor and studio host at ESPN, and he continues to be a guest on ESPN Radio, other national sports talk shows, and many local shows in the Midwest. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @BTNDaveRevsine, and read his football columns at btn.com/category/daverevsine/.