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The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit…

by Austin Murphy

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422459,938 (3.77)2
After fifteen years as a Sports Illustrated writer, pleading for interviews with large men in possession of larger egos; after a decade and a half of waking up in hotels and wondering Where the hell am I?, Austin Murphy decides to bail out. The time has come, he concludes, to step to the sidelines, to fly beneath the radar of big-league sports, to while away a season with the Johnnies. That is, he moves his family to the middle of Minnesota to chronicle a season at St. John's, a Division III program that has reached unparalleled success under the unorthodox guidance of John "Gags" Gagliardi. After too many interviews with the coronary-courting control freaks that comprise the ranks of today's bigtime coaches, for Murphy, meeting Gagliardi is like a hit of pure oxygen. A grinning iconoclast whose philosophy owes more to Yoda than to Rockne, Coach Gagliardi is the winningest active coach in the country. But he is also a man unafraid to send his players inside when the gnats on the practice field get too thick. Here's a guy who's won more games than any five NFL coaches, but who still insists that his quarterbacks call their own plays. "Why not?" says Gags. "These guys are a hell of a lot smarter than I am." The Sweet Season is an account of what happens when a family pulls up stakes and spends months in a strange and wonderful place; when the stresses of everyday life are, if not stripped away, at least significantly reduced, and two people are allowed to remember what they saw in each other in the first place. It is also, not incidentally, the story of the most incredible football program in the country, run by a smiling sage who has forgotten more about the game than most of his peers will ever know.… (more)

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Sports as a metaphor for life is always classic and wonderful. ( )
  Firecrackerscribe | Apr 2, 2013 |
3829. The Sweet Season: A Sportswriter Rediscovers Football, Family, and a Bit of Faith at Minnesota's St. John's University, by Austin Murphy (read 29 Nov 2003) This is a 2001 book by a writer for Sports Illustrated on the 1999 football season at St. John's and on John Gagliardi, the winningest college football coach of all time (on the day I finished the book he won his 411th game, this year his team being undefeated and still in contention for the national title in its division). I think this is the first book about football I have ever read, and while it had flaws--we learned far more about the author's family than one would expect in a football book--overall the book is a winner and one can't help but feel good that such places as St. John's and such people as John Gagliardi exist. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 7, 2007 |
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After fifteen years as a Sports Illustrated writer, pleading for interviews with large men in possession of larger egos; after a decade and a half of waking up in hotels and wondering Where the hell am I?, Austin Murphy decides to bail out. The time has come, he concludes, to step to the sidelines, to fly beneath the radar of big-league sports, to while away a season with the Johnnies. That is, he moves his family to the middle of Minnesota to chronicle a season at St. John's, a Division III program that has reached unparalleled success under the unorthodox guidance of John "Gags" Gagliardi. After too many interviews with the coronary-courting control freaks that comprise the ranks of today's bigtime coaches, for Murphy, meeting Gagliardi is like a hit of pure oxygen. A grinning iconoclast whose philosophy owes more to Yoda than to Rockne, Coach Gagliardi is the winningest active coach in the country. But he is also a man unafraid to send his players inside when the gnats on the practice field get too thick. Here's a guy who's won more games than any five NFL coaches, but who still insists that his quarterbacks call their own plays. "Why not?" says Gags. "These guys are a hell of a lot smarter than I am." The Sweet Season is an account of what happens when a family pulls up stakes and spends months in a strange and wonderful place; when the stresses of everyday life are, if not stripped away, at least significantly reduced, and two people are allowed to remember what they saw in each other in the first place. It is also, not incidentally, the story of the most incredible football program in the country, run by a smiling sage who has forgotten more about the game than most of his peers will ever know.

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