THE SYSTEM

COLLEGE FOOTBALL has never been more popular—or more chaotic. Millions fill 100,000-seat stadiums every Saturday; tens of millions more watch on television every weekend. The 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama had a viewership of 26.4 million people, second only to the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars from television deals now flow into the game; the average budget for a top-ten team is $80 million; top coaches make more than $3 million a year; the highest paid, more than $5 million.

But behind this glittering success are darker truths: “athlete-students” working essentially full-time jobs with no share in the oceans of money; players 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 top recruit; seven-figure black box recruiting slush funds. And this: Despite the millions of dollars pouring into the game, 90 percent of major athletic departments still lose money. Yet schools remain caught up in an ever-escalating “arms race”—at the expense of academic scholarships, facilities and faculty.

Celebrated investigative journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian were granted unprecedented access during the 2012 season to programs at the highest levels across the country at a time of convulsive change in college football. 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 TV stars, five-star recruits and tireless NCAA investigators and the kids on whom the whole vast enterprise depends.

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

 

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Jeff Benedict is the bestselling author of sixteen non-fiction books and he’s a television and film producer. His latest book, The Dynasty, is the definitive inside story of the New England Patriots under Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Published in 2020, it was an instant New York Times bestseller. In 2018, Jeff co-wrote the #1 bestseller Tiger Woods. Jeff was an executive producer on the HBO documentary “Tiger” that was based on the book and aired in 2021. The book is currently being developed into a scripted series, which Jeff is executive producing. Jeff is also the executive producer on a documentary based on his book Poisoned that will air on Netflix. Jeff has written over 100 stories and has been a special-features writer for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the Hartford Courant, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times. His work has been the basis of segments on 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, HBO Real Sports, Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, 20/20, 48 Hours, NFL Network, CNN, and NPR.

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