|ROCKNE: The Coach, The Man, The Legend
by Jerry Brondfield
Synopsis: This is, in my opinion, the best general biography of Rockne. I recommend reading this book as an overview of the coach's life, and then supplementing this with a book like Castner's We Remember Rockne to get the valuable first-hand accounts of Rockne's story.
In Michael Steele's review of Brondfield's book in his Bio-Bibliography of Knute Rockne, he states that this is the first book on the coach by someone that did not know him personally or professionally.
Brondfield is especially valuable in informing the modern reader about the rule changes affecting football from 1906-1912. This is important because this early game was quite different from the game that Rockne played and later coached.
Brondfield gives in-depth coverage of the infamous Taylorville game, in which Irish players moonlighted in a semi-pro game. (Rockne canceled a trip to the Rose Bowl that year because he felt his team was "ethically tarnished.") The author also gives one of the best descriptions of the "Rockne Shift."
Rockne also covers the coach's interest in film and how to create the best camera angles in his new stadium. Finally, according to Brondfield, Rockne understood the important role of the media in popularizing the college game.
This book is well-researched, well-written, and a very readable book about the life of Coach Rockne.
The author: Jerry Brondfield is a former newspaperman, writer for national magazines and television. He is a graduate of Ohio State and is the author of Woody Hayes and the 100-Yard War. He once told me the story of how he was a cub reporter for the OSU school paper and covered the famous Game of the Century: the 1935 Notre Dame - Ohio State game.
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