The Fifty-Year Seduction

Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press
New York

For more than a half century, television has played a primary role in securing college football's place as one of America's most popular spectator sports. But it has also been the common denominator in the sport's rise as a big business. Television, which multiplied the number of people who cared about the game, simultaneously increased the stakes.

The colleges, who once feared television's ability to create free tickets, gradually became addicted to its charms. Through the years, the medium manufactured money, greed, dependence, and envy; altered the recruiting process, eventually forcing the colleges to compete with the irresistible force of National Football League riches; aided the National Collegiate Athletic Association's explosion from impotent union to massive bureaucracy; manipulated the rise and fall of the College Football Association; fomented the realignment of conferences; and seized control of the postseason bowl games, including the formation of the lucrative and controversial Bowl Championship Series.

In The Fifty-Year Seduction, Keith Dunnavant shows how television helped shape the modern sport—on and off the field. In painstaking detail, the author chronicles five decades of tension and conflict, from the 1951 television dispute that empowered the modern NCAA to the inevitable backlash, culminating with the landmark Supreme Court decision that set the stage for the conference-swapping machinations of the 1990s and beyond.

Praise for The Fifty-Year Seduction

"Keith Dunnavant weaves a fascinating tale of intrigue and betrayal."

The New York Times Book Review


Sports Illustrated

"As there have been Kremlinologists, so Keith Dunnavant must be the first certified NCAA-ologist. The work is thoroughly researched, carefully told and absolutely brimming with fools and villains."

—Frank Deford

"If you think college football has sold its soul, Keith Dunnavant has news for you. He knows when the sale was made and for how much. Clearly and painstakingly, Dunnavant tracks the crime across decades. Anyone who cares about college football should memorize every word of this cautionary tale."

—Dave Kindred, The Sporting News

"The Fifty-Year Seduction is the must-read of must-reads, not only on the history of college football television but the history of college athletics."

—Dennis Dodd, CBS

"The Fifty-Year Seduction is a must read for those practitioners at the national, conference or institutional levels who want to understand the history of the interface between television and the collegiate community. Mr. Dunnavant tells a fascinating story, which is factually sound and replete with irony. I have made a point of recommending this read to my friends and colleagues who are interested in the history of college football television."

—Jim Delany, Commissioner, Big Ten Conference

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