It’s not often you get to review a book that could double as a murder weapon, but that’s the case with USA Today’s College Football Encyclopedia. The book is massive, coming in at 1,335 pages in small type at 8.5" x 11" and could easily double as a blunt instrument. As a book, however, the ‘USA Today College Football Encyclopedia’ is the most inclusive review of the last 50 years of college football available.
The encyclopedia provides reviews of 70 teams over the years 1953 to 2007. Each review contains basic school information, and career, season, and game statistical leaders - typical of stuff you'd find in a school's media guide. The reviews include win-loss records, coaching records, and bowl records, the scores of all games.
The season's starting lineups and statistical leaders are included - information that can be very hard to find, especially if you're interested in going back all the way to 1953. The yearly reviews start with an entertaining and informative overview of each year, highlighting events on and off the field.
Preseason rankings are available, and a recap of games played between ranked teams and rivals are reviewed, which comes to more than 7,500 game recaps total. These don't include *every* game ever played, but obviously a huge number of them, including a "Game of the Year" for each season. As an example, 1984’s game of the year was the Boston College win over Miami that included Doug Flutie’s famous Hail Mary pass. About that play, the book states:
and then the book continues to review the rest of the play and the rest of the game.
My favorite part of the book is the profiles of people who played key roles in the year in which they are profiled. Ernie Davis in 1961; Alex Karras ("Mongo" in Mel Brooks’ ‘Blazing Saddles’) in 1957; Woody Hayes in 1974; Eric Dickerson, Craig James, John Elway and Jackie Sherrill in 1982. Each profile gives you detailed information about that person’s life. I don’t have to do extensive searches or grab several books to find information, tons of it is already here and easily available.
Each year concludes with a listing of conference standings, bowl game reviews, All-America teams, Heisman Trophy voting along with other major award winners. As if that weren't enough (but wait, there's more!), you also get the first eight rounds of each season's NFL draft.
At a cost under $20 (see the Amazon price above), it's affordable as a historical reference. It's handy for bloggers like me to find something interesting to write about and it should be in the hands of any college fans that likes to "one-up" their friends, and who doesn’t like to do that?