Jun 21, 2021
The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football
Posted by S.C. Gwynne

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the YearIn the tradition of Michael Lewis s Moneyball, award winning historian S.C Gwynne tells the incredible story of how two unknown coaches revolutionized American football at every level, from high school to the NFL.Hal Mumme is one of a handful of authentic offensive geniuses in the history of American football The Perfect PA Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the YearIn the tradition of Michael Lewis s Moneyball, award winning historian S.C Gwynne tells the incredible story of how two unknown coaches revolutionized American football at every level, from high school to the NFL.Hal Mumme is one of a handful of authentic offensive geniuses in the history of American football The Perfect Pass is the story of how he irreverently destroyed and re created the game.Mumme spent fourteen mostly losing seasons coaching football before inventing a potent passing offense that would soon shock players, delight fans, and terrify opposing coaches The revolution he fomented began at a tiny, overlooked college called Iowa Wesleyan, where Mumme was head coach and Mike Leach, a lawyer who had never played college football, was hired as his offensive line coach In the cornfields of Iowa, while scribbling plays on paper napkins, these two mad inventors, drawn together by a shared disregard for conventionalism and a love for Jimmy Buffett, began to engineer the purest, most extreme passing game in the 145 year history of football Implementing their Air Raid offense, their teams at Iowa Wesleyan and later at Valdosta State and the University of Kentucky played blazingly fast faster than any team ever had before, and they routinely beat teams with far talented athletes And Mumme and Leach did it all without even a playbook Their quarterback on

  • Title: The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football
  • Author: S.C. Gwynne
  • ISBN: 9781501116193
  • Page: 215
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Perfect Pass American Genius and the Reinvention of Football A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the YearIn the tradition of Michael Lewis s Moneyball award winning historian S C Gwynne tells the incredible story of how two unknown coaches revolutionized


    This book is so obviously influenced by Michael Lewis that it could have been annoying But Gwynne is amazingly convincing in plucking a name out of obscurity and pronouncing him responsible for modern, pass happy game of American football and it isn t the late Bill Walsh Rather, this is a bio of a high school and college coach named Hal Mumme, whose motto Play the Next Play is both a name for the hurry up and a metaphor for optimism.Mumme rhymes with mummy never became a big time coach, save for [...]


    A fun history of the career of somewhat obscure football coach Hal Mumme, the principal innovator of the Air Raid offense that has transformed football at every level The book follows Hal Mumme through his peripatetic career from Iowa Wesleyan to Kentucky and then back down the ladder swiftly.Gwynne does an excellent job of interweaving football strategy complete with graphic diagrams of key plays with better character development than I would expect to find in a football book.


    Finally a book about football that is as well written as a book about baseball, almost Sam Gwynne tells the story of the mostly anonymous man behind the biggest revolution in football, the evolution of the forward pass This is an entertaining, well told tale with a narrative of rags to richest to rags again that would not be believed if it were fiction The man at the center of the story is Hal Mummy, a small time college football staffer who had dreams of creating a pass first offense Gwynne set [...]

    Josh Liller

    I picked this up because I saw it on the new non fiction shelf at my local public library and it sounded like a fun change of pace from some of the heavier history I had been reading lately and it was Perfect Pass is the story of Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, and the Air Raid offense of college and high school football Mumme and right hand man Leach developed the offense in podunk Iowa Wesleyan and little known Valdosta State before breaking out with bigger name schools like Kentucky Wildcats, Oklahoma [...]

    Bill Ahlberg

    If you thought this was a sports book, you d be correct But then you d be missing the complete story Here, Mr Gwynn reminds us that the world is ever changing, and that innovation is not just important, but actually necessary to continue to be relevant I m a little surprised to have just finished two books from the same author on two such disparate subjects as Stonewall Jackson and Football s forward pass, until I realized that they both talked to innovation Thomas Stonewall Jackson propelled th [...]

    Scott Browne

    A must read for football fans The biggest flaw is that the author stops the detail when the story could have been better Kentucky years and Leach s Tech years.

    Mary Freeman

    I doubled my knowledge of football by reading this book I am not usually a sports reader, but this was a quick read with lots of interesting anecdotes and people.


    Very fast read, didn t understand a lot of the plays he outlined here but that is fine Makes me want to yell at NFL games You re all dumb and overpaid


    Play the next playThis is the story of how a college coach, Hal Mumme, developed an unstoppable offense that would defeat even the biggest, strongest defenses and of how that offense gradually spread throughout college football and into the professional leagues, changing the very nature of the game the Air Raid offense.Sometimes you just have to take the things life throws at you and run with them When SC Gwynne won my Book of the Year award in 2014 for Rebel Yell, his brilliant biography of Sto [...]


    This is an examination of how passing the football has taken over from the run in American football Author Gwynne shows how it happened by focussing on little known college coach Hal Mumme who took small schools Iowa Wesleyan and Valdosta State College Georgia to unexpected heights of success by throwing the football up to 70% of the time Gwynne details the history of offensive tactics back to football s earliest days noting the persistent bias against throwing in favour of running a bias that i [...]

    Christopher Barry

    Somehow a book about football, and specifically, the forward pass, was a total pageturner I didn t want to put this down It was a book length version of this New Yorker article looks somewhat interesting, I ll start it and see what happens oh look at that, I read the entire thing While it might be too sportsing for the non sportsy reader, it s got enough explanation of the sportsball to help anyone like me who somehow picks this up and realizes they want to read the story but don t really care [...]

    Tyler N

    I enjoyed the novel I will be moving away from sport stories and this was my last.

    Mike Kershaw

    The Football Genius Earlier this year, the Atlanta Falcons, an NFL franchise that has only been to the Super Bowl once a defeat to the Denver Broncos , routed the Green Bay Packers in the final football game to be played in the Georgia Dome The Packers were coming off an impressive come from behind victory over the favored Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium affectionately known as Jerry s World the week before Led by their Hall of Fame bound Quarterback Aaron Rogers, the Packers dismantled a Cowboy [...]

    Steve Johnson

    If you love football, this is an interesting read on the development of the modern passing offense by someone a lot of NFL fans or college fans outside the Southeast probably aren t familiar with If you liked how Moneyball explained aspects of baseball, you ll love how Gwynne tells the story of Air Raid offenses in this book.


    Very good book Listened on audible Good for sports fans and anyone interested in innovation cycles too.


    I very interesting story about a influential football coach and thinker Hal Mumme And there are two threads in the book one focused on Mumme s coaching career through high school and obscure colleges before a brief stint at Kentucky in the SEC and another focused on the development of his famous Air Raid offense Both are fascinating The brutal reality of trying to climb the ranks of college football coaching is illustrated by Mumme s career The incredible pressure to produce wins by recruiting a [...]


    No matter what level of football a fan follows, it has become very clear that the forward pass is now an integral part of the game To many, this has made the game exciting and to others, it simply brings variation to the offense than the smash mouth type of game that was espoused by coaches and players alike for the first several decades the game was played However, it wasn t an easy time to get the game to where it is today as many who wanted to make passing a bigger part of the game were reb [...]


    Maybe its a four star book, but I ll stretch to a 5 for covering an obscure subject in an entertaining and engaging way It helps to enjoy the thinking side of football to get into this book, but it was equally interesting from the viewpoint of creative disruption The book is about Hal Mumme, a coach I, and perhaps you, was unfamiliar with The author makes the case that than any other person, Hal Mumme is responsible for changing how football is played Before Mumme began coaching in the late 198 [...]


    4.5 Probably doesn t make a lot of sense to start a football book review by discussing a baseball one but what made Moneyball so great and what makes this one so damn good is NOT the talk about how Billy Beane was a genius among fools, rather it was how the underfunded, understaffed Athletics exploited a badly inequitable system for gain Beane saw abilities that were underutilized in players and he pounced because Oakland did not have the money to compete with the big boys This book gets that sp [...]

    Edwin Howard

    THE PERFECT PASS by SC Gwynne is the story of a man, Hal Mumme, with a vision of how football should be played, not how football was stuck in the if it works, don t change it approach Gwynne chronicles Hal s rise from a tiny school where his radical ideas are forming, all the way to his short stay in Division 1 A football at University of Kentucky Hal Mumme s theory of pass first, pass a lot, and then pass some was a hard concept for the sports world to understand at first Gwynne does a good jo [...]


    This is a hard topic to write about because the evolution of the passing game in American football happened across a wide expanse of time, geography and level of play Gwynne s approach is to follow the career of Hal Munne and his apostle, Mark Leach It s a good story, but keeping much of the story in lower NCAA divisions in Iowa leaves some holes in understanding how the changes took hold.Still, Gwynne does a good job of understanding the game, the personality of Hal Munne, and the coaches he wo [...]


    Gwynne argued in this popular narrative that Mumme s Air Raid offense, a simplified pass heavy offense with spread offensive linemen, helped push the passing revolution that has fundamentally altered football from high school to the NFL The narrative traced how Mumme rose from small high school to small colleges to big time Kentucky before falling from grace While he himself has floundered in middling college ranks, his prot g Mike Leach has gone onto to push the Air Raid offense at Texas Tech a [...]

    Alex Abboud

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit It s a story of how passing offenses evolved and came to the forefront of football over the past few decades, but really the story of Hal Mumme and his assistant Mike Leach , and their innovations The recent years of this story are a post script in the book, but it makes up for that with its historical facts and details and storytelling of the early years of Mumme s career In particular, the juxtaposition of how football was played then with what Mumme and others [...]

    Aaron Heil

    A very interesting book that changed my perspective on the history of the sport Gwynne s summary of the history of the forward pass in the first half of the book puts a new spin on the ground game air game conflict within football Also, this book shows a little how badly we tend to treat our coaches, whether they deserve it or not.The book s main weakness was its inability to account for the lack of National Championships run by Air Raid offenses in recent years, or why a pure Air Raid offense, [...]


    A review of this book in a weekly publication caught my eye surprisingly, as recent college footfall history would not normally interest me I m glad I did, because this book was fascinating It includes a cinderella story element, many twists and turns, well explained football plays and innovations, a classic slow beginning, high rise, and sudden downfall arc, and It s about Hal Mumme, inventor of the Air Raid offense, but it s also about innovations, stubbornness, and dedication Very well done. [...]


    I love this book both because I love college football and because I love biography As I write this, the college coaches carousel is just slowing and having a look inside the life is fascinating We rarely notice coaches until they reach the top and then decide if they re worth their salaries We less often see their paths It is inspiring to see the details of one such trajectory in its whole, if not its completion I am so grateful this book was written and these histories, both of football and som [...]

    Jim Glover

    Great Book As a football coach who coached against Coach Mumme and his Air Raid, it was a trip back down memory lane As someone who loves history it is a great book that explains how the game of football and common assumptions are difficult to change Gwynne is a storyteller and does not burden the reader with the technical language of football It is a great book for anyone looking for a story of someone having a vision and the fortitude to see it through.

    Jamie Garwood

    One for pure aficionados of the NFL and the growth in the passing game over the years, revealing how American Football was always run first and the idea of passing forwards through the air was alienating to so many coaches and players Very well researched but one for pure fans in this country only nexttotheaisle


    An interesting review of Hal Mumme and the development of the Air Raid offense Lots of information on the connections and jobs that jed to the development Interesting view of Mumme s attitude on the process As a UGA and SEC fan and Georgia resident most of the information was known but Gwynne does an excellent job organizing it and telling a good story.

    victor harris

    Great story about one of the unsung influences on the modern passing game, Hal Mumme Along with the later higher profile Mike Leach, Mumme would revolutionize the passing game starting at Iowa Wesleyan, then bring it into big time football in the SEC Interesting fun story, though repeats itself in spots Must read for those who love the technical analysis, i.e the x s and o s of the game.

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