Sports Shannon P. Ragland The Thin Thirty

ISBN 13: 9780979122217

The Thin Thirty

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( 21 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780979122217: The Thin Thirty

Kentucky's new football coach in 1962, Charlie Bradshaw, a Bear Bryant acolyte, put his team through a brutal conditioning and practice regiment, thinning the squad from eighty-eight players to just thirty. Over the course of the fateful year, the players would survive not just brutality on the football field, but sex and gambling scandals off it that involved Rock Hudson and the fixing of a Kentucky game. Based on extensive research, including over 100 interviews, The Thin Thirty is a detailed account of this fateful season, providing intimate portraits of the key participants, from the coaches to the players to the corrupting predators off the field. This is the true story of a football team that overcame the darkest of scandals to become forever known as legends. They were the Thin Thirty.

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About the Author:

This is the second book by Shannon Ragland, following up his 2006 title, Rupp Dreams, that chronicled the story of tiny Metcalfe County taking on and beating Eastern High (with its seven-foot giant) in the Kentucky State basketball tournament in 1985. Shannon is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. He publishes jury verdict reporters around the country.

Review:

Southeastern Conference football, exploitation of players, game fixing and a gay sex scandal involving a legendary pro wrestling promoter and a Hollywood film icon. How's that for a tease? And it's just the tip of the iceberg in one of the best books on college football to come down the pike in quite some time. Shannon Ragland's, The Thin Thirty, is a disturbing yet fascinating look at the 1962 University of Kentucky football team and its first-year coach Charlie Bradshaw, a Bear Bryant disciple, whose team was thinned from 88 to 30 players by his brutal conditioning tactics. --Mike Mooneyham, Charleston (SC) Post & Courier

The Thin Thirty is is an important and impressive book at several levels. It is, first of all, a sympathetic description of the heartbreaking experiences of a group of young men trying to find their way in a horrible collegiate football program during the 1960s; at the same time, the book is a powerful indictment of one university's inhumanity and confused priorities at an earlier time. At another level, The Thin Thirty calls into question the entirely exploitative role of collegiate athletics among American universities, then and now. There have been some changes over the years in the treatment of student-athletes at Big Time schools, but those changes have been more of degree than in kind. As much as any other book on collegiate athletics in the United States, this book effectively challenges the morality of sport's place in the American university system. In this respect, many of the experiences described in this book reminded me of an earlier time in my life (1970-1977) when I was a college professor in the Big Ten (University of Wisconsin, Madison) whose introductory survey courses in sociology drew many of the school's athletes; I didn't fully appreciate the breadth and depth of how college athletes are exploited by big time universities until they were my students, my continually exhausted and distracted students often absent from class (because of away-games) but whose academic progress was rigorously monitored by a coaching staff with regular telephone calls to teaching faculty members -- they just wanted the professors to understand how important it was that their athletes show satisfactory performance in the classroom; no special treatment was requested, but the pressure of oversight was continually applied with repeated phone calls at the middle and end of each semester. In those stormy Vietnam protest days, the Madison campus had many watchdogs, from undercover FBI agents in the classrooms to the university's board of regents to state legislators at the capital -- and the coaching staffs who had their own politics. Another quality of Thin Thirty which is very attractive is the anchoring of this historical period in its socio-political context -- the emerging civil rights movement in the South, the Vietnam War and its attendant draft, the subcultural social and political significance of collegiate football in the cities of the SEC and the more general innocence and naivete about homosexuality in American society. These themes of larger context add greatly to our understanding of the experiences described in The Thin Thirty. It is clear that researching this book involved a monumental undertaking in human energy, and the extent of the book's research is very impressive, something the extensive chapter notes on sources make clear. The Thin Thirty is a disturbing triumph. --Professor Weldon Johnson, author of Chokehold

If I hadn't lived through the University of Kentucky s shameful Thin Thirty Days, I would swear that a new book, The Thin Thirty, is a work of fiction. But you couldn't make up what a Louisville author, Shannon Ragland, has written about the shameful period when Charlie Bradshaw coached UK and so brutalized the UK football players that all but 30 quit the team. Shortly after Bradshaw returned to Lexington to coach his alma mater, I had a conversation with him in front of the Wildcat Bowling Lanes next to Memorial Coliseum. He said that Dr. Ralph Angelucci, the team physician and a member of the UK trustees, told him that the first thing the coach had to do was run off the gays, including actor Rock Hudson, who were dating some of the football players. You read that right. Ragland has done thorough research. I told him that his book could be a good textbook for use by colleges. It should be required for football players planning to be coaches. --Earl Cox - Louisville Voice Tribune

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