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Friday, November 21, 2008

The Culture Wars, College Football Style

The cultural disconnect between conservative college football programs and America’s liberalizing culture in the late 1960s and early ‘70s is the theme of War as They Knew It, a book by Detroit Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg. The survey of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (which continues tomorrow) through the prism of their iconic coaches is “an absorbing account,” Jonathan Chait writes in the New York Times Book Review.

“In Ann Arbor, left-wing politics managed to thrive alongside growing football fervor,” Chait, a Michigan alum and New Republic columnist, notes of the Vietnam-era atmosphere around Bo Schembechler’s program. In Columbus, meanwhile, old-school Woody Hayes, a Richard Nixon devotee, held “a coaches’ meeting every morning with a Rush Limbaugh-style rant about current events.” And in the end, Chait notes, “the decline of authority … finally brought down Woody Hayes, along with so many other institutions of the time.”

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