Football 2016: a sideline full of 10 new books

Those who like to huddle over a good football read have quite a roster to choose from this fall.

9. 'Cardinal and Gold: The Oral History of USC Trojans Football,’ by Steve Delson

Author Steve Delson huddles up with a host of former players and coaches to present an oral history of the University of Southern California’s football team. Given that the Trojans have won 11 national titles and 38 conference championships while producing seven Heisman Trophy winners and 80 All-Americans, there’s clearly a lot of ground to cover. That’s probably why the look-back only covers the last 40 years of the program, which begins shortly after the O.J. Simpson years. Despite the school’s many football successes, this history doesn’t shy away from relating some of the darker moments and conflicts, including the school’s battles with the NCAA.

Here’s an excerpt from Cardinal and Gold:

[Recollection shared about Keyshawn Johnson, a junior college transfer in 1994 and perhaps the best wide receiver in USC history, by Shelley Smith, a Los Angeles-based reporter for Sports Illustrated]:

“Keyshawn grew up in South Central [Los Angeles]. He grew up right around the corner from USC. He would go to watch practice, and USC made him a ball boy. Ronnie Lott and other guys would bring him food because he and his mother lived in a car for a while. They would sleep in the cemetery, he said, because people didn’t shoot up the cemetery.

“So he grew up around USC and he always wanted to go there, but he changed high schools so often because of sports – and they moved because of gangs – and so he never really got the education. He’s been a con artist all his life. He thought he could just scam his way into any college that he wanted to go to, and he found out he couldn’t. He ended up at West Los Angeles College, a junior college. Then I remember he was trying to decide between Tennessee and USC. I said, ’Go to Tennessee because that’ll get you out of this environment.’ He said, ‘No, you don’t understand. USC is a family. I’ll have USC forever.’ He understood the legacy and the way they take care of their alums. So, you know, he was born to play there.”

9 of 10

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.