Sunday, February 22, 2009

Book Review: Meat Market

Bruce Feldman's Meat Market: Inside the Smash Mouth World of College Football Recruiting is a fascinating look at one year's worth of the Ole Miss coaching staff under Ed Orgeron going through the entire process of college football recruiting. Feldman enjoyed what seems like complete and total access to any aspect of recruiting he cared to think about, and the book goes from the initial evaluation process that starts the day after the previous Signing Day all the way through Signing Day when some, though not all, of the targeted players submit their National Letters of Intent. For a glimpse into this normally closed world, Meat Market is a must-read for all college football fans.

I can't help but compare Meat Market to The Draft by Pete Williams, though, dealing with the similar transition from college to the NFL. Both books are highly readable journalistic narratives that lack great insights, but the story Williams tells is a more complete one, incorporating agents, scouts, players, and NFL decision-makers, while Feldman's perspective is necessarily skewed by the great access given him by the Ole Miss coaching staff. There's still plenty of room out there for a definitive book on college football recruiting, but until we get the right confluence of factors to produce that book, Meat Market is an excellent stand-in for that honor.

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