"97Alumni", an AT reader, turned me on to this book via the comments section of my review for Meat Market. I bought "If I Don't Six" for a penny off Amazon.com, and for a penny, if nothing else, it was an interesting read for a few subway rides.
The author of this book, Elwood Reid, played for Michigan in the 1980's. Apparently disenchanted with the program, in 1998, Reid wrote a fictional (and possibly disguised, exaggerated, transfigured personal) account of a freshman's first year with The Wolverines.
The main character, Elwood Riley, is an interesting mixture of intellectual, brute, and hoodlum. Riley prides himself on reading philosophy and doing excellently in school, and accordingly never quite fits in with most of the Michigan football team, who Reid depicts as meat-headed jocks with names like Napalm and Kong.
After a few weeks in the program, Riley starts to wonder if there is more to life than football. He starts to gravitate towards a small camp of players who realize that they can't quit the team, but long to escape the program's clutches because they believe they fail to see the benefit from the daily grind. From there, Riley starts making bad decisions like getting in fights with teammates, partying before games, acting insolent towards coaches, and stealing from the locker room. It's not long before his freshman year is filled with turmoil and conflict which ultimately ends with a physical confrontation with one of the coaches.
I thought this would be an inside look at the dark side of Michigan's football program. But, that's not what this book turned out to be. While an interesting and entertaining work of fiction, anyone with hopes to see the program's dirty laundry aired will left wanting. While Riley's character does come off many times as an ungrateful, selfish jerk, at his core, he very well may be representative of some of the feelings freshman college football players have towards life and the game.
Should you buy? It's a penny. Give it a shot if you can find one for less than a quarter.