- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: It Books (Aug. 18 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780061719264
- ISBN-13: 978-0061719264
- ASIN: 0061719269
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,531,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
On Rocky Top: A Front-Row Seat to the End of an Era Hardcover – Aug 18 2009
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“Clay Travis’s On Rocky Top is the best book on college football I’ve read in a generation. A truly masterful look at the passion, intensity and--quite often--insanity of America’s unofficial national pastime. If you love college football, you’ll love this book.” (Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won!)
“On Rocky Top combines the fan’s passion of Fever Pitch with the inside access of A Season on the Brink. The result is a compelling portrait of one of the SEC’s premier football programs—and one of college football’s most beloved coaches. A must-read for every sports fan.” (Warren St. John, nationally bestselling author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and Refugees United)
From the Back Cover
There is no college football team more zealous and competitive than the University of Tennessee Volunteers
When Clay Travis, acclaimed author of Dixieland Delight, decided to spend the 2008 season up close and personal with UT football, he—and every other college football aficionado—thought he was in for a rollicking ride with one of the leading contenders for the national title. After all, when the Vols kicked off the season on September 1, the defending SEC East champions were ranked 18th in the country. As head coach Phillip Fulmer prepared for the game, he reflected upon a coaching career that included an astounding 147 victories, two SEC championships, and a national title. With 34 years at UT under his belt as both a player and coach, the Tennessee native had just signed a contract extension that projected to keep him at the university long enough to become the winningest coach in program history.
But when the Volunteers lost their season opener and the losses continued to mount, it became clear that 2008 was going to be a season on the brink for UT football. By December, the team had suffered its second-worst season ever, and Fulmer, the most beloved and recognized man in Tennessee, had been fired.
Based on exclusive interviews with Fulmer, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, university boosters, team personnel, players and their families, and fans, On Rocky Top recounts in vivid detail how a season of promise tragically ended an era of college football. Enlivening the narrative is a diverse cast of supporting characters, including 65-year-old "Good Time" Charlie Harris, who has driven the UT big rig for almost 10 years; star running back Arian Foster, a fifth-year senior striving to become the all-time leading rusher in Volunteer history; and multimillionaire booster John "Thunder" Thornton, who defended Fulmer till the end.
A lifelong Volunteer fan whose grandfather played for the team during the 1930s, Travis reports from the locker room to the sideline, and has created a fascinating and loving chronicle of an impassioned state, a celebrated football culture, a beloved coach, and the sensational collapse of a once-mighty juggernaut.See all Product description
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I can only assume that "On Rocky Top" will be just as interesting a read as Travis' first book "Dixieland Delight", and I eagerly await its release sometime in 2009.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
For the record, I'm a Vol football fan. Always have been. Always will be. I graduated from UT in 1979 at the start of the Johnny Majors era. In my four years there, I went to most of the Vols' home games--it was sort of a requirement for those of use who lived on campus, where Neyland Stadium constantly dominates the landscape. My years as a student with easy access to live home football games were not exactly the high point of Tennessee football successes. I saw a lot of great wins and a lot of bad losses. But it was always Tennessee Football--with a loyalty that passes a lot of understanding. That is the particular part that I thought made the University of Tennessee different; what I thought made UT a family. We learned to support our school and our teams, not to slink off after a loss like we were looking for the nearest pity party after a lecture on Kafka.
As Travis very successfully, and very clearly, points out from a variety of angles--the coaches', the players', the trainers', the managers', and even the equipment big-rig driver's--that is the part that has changed. Like it or not, Vol Fans (and I'm one of those who absolutely detests the development), college football has become a business, a BIG business. At major universities in the United States, it has become the business that supports academics, research, project development, and almost every other aspect of the university program. So a winning football team means more than just hoisting the SEC, the TaxSlayer Bowl, or the National Championship trophy.
Phillip Fulmer was Tennessee's first victim of this atrocious, but seemingly inevitable, development in college football. By all accounts a good and honest man at a time when being a good and honest man meant more than having a single 5-7 season, Fulmer is the second-winningest coach in Tennessee football history, second only to the legendary General Neyland. His overall record at Tennessee (which Travis explains in perfectly-clear detail in the book) includes the 1998 national championship and would be envied at the end of nearly any coach's career. Yet he left the field in 2008 in what the majority of fans, boosters, and donors, seemingly tried hard to portray as disgrace.
My favorite quote from "On Rocky Top" is how one man described the 2008 fiasco: "They done that man wrong." They surely did. It's an unfortunate reality in the cut-throat world of football business, yet it left UT in a downward spiral that Coach Butch Jones began straightening out six years later in 2014. Brick by brick. I don't think that would have even been necessary if Athletic Director Mike Hamilton had done the right thing in 2008 and not pushed the brick house down.
But enough editorializing. Travis has given Vol fans a good book about a time that is important to understand. It's well-written, well-researched, and enjoyable. Even if it does cover a difficult time in Tennessee football history.
Travis, a superfan of the Vols, grew up going to all games. His grandfather actually played for General Robert Neyland, who is a Tennessee legend. Needless to say, he loves his Tennessee football. So it was quite difficult for him to transfer from being a fan to a journalist. He went to the University authorities to try to gain permission and access to do what he needed to do to write the book. He didn’t expect what they gave him which was full access and permission to everything with the team. The access included practices, games, locker room, and pretty much anything else he could have wanted.
Without giving too much away, he is very intentional with conversations with coaches and players and being in the right place at the right time to document what he needs to show a great story. On top of that, Clay Travis is one of the funniest guys I have listened to and you can definitely see this in the book. Humor is displayed throughout the entire book in big and small ways.
The focus of this book is obviously Fulmer. What went wrong? How can you go from a SEC East leading coach to being fired in one year? How is that possible? Clay Travis answers these questions and shows the progression throughout the year. If you love Tennessee this is a must read. Anyone who loves the Vols loves Coach Fulmer and honestly I think we wouldn’t have gone through what we’ve been going through the last couple years if we would have just kept him.
This book shows why we love Fulmer so much and why we should have kept him. IF you’re just a college football fan this is a must read. It shows the price of losing and the pressure of being a head coach at a Power 5 and a traditional powerhouse football school. It shows how quick your reputation is gone after a couple losses. If you love football, humor, and good writing, read this book.