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Original Issue

Shark Tales

Lawsuits, boardroom jukes, negotiating jive: Who knew there was so much predatory behavior behind college football telecasts?

THE 50-YEAR SEDUCTION: How Television Manipulated College Football, From the Birth Of the Modern NCAA To the BCS
by Keith Dunnavant, Thomas Dunne Books, 304 pages, $23.95

One of the greatest trick plays in football history was perpetrated in a New York City office building in 1960. The NCAA was selling its TV rights by closed bid. ABC producer Ed Scherick knew that the head of NBC Sports, Tom Gallery, always arrived at the auction with two envelopes: one with a check for a relatively small amount of money and the other with a check for much more, to be used if there were competitive bids. Scherick took a guess at what Gallery's low bid would be, then added a few thousand dollars and sent an unknown aide to the auction. Gallery, thinking he was the only bidder, submitted his lowball offer, and Scherick's man topped it.

This is just one of many tales of intrigue told by Dunnavant, who shows that college football is brought to you by sharks who chomp on one another's gills in lawsuits and committee meetings. The book is impressive but not very entertaining because, alas, it's mostly about lawsuits and meetings. --C.H.