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Books for the Tech Man, Vol. 2 – Southern Fried Football

Southern Fried Football is a must-read for any true Southern college football fan, and I imagine a good read for fans from outside the Dirty Dirty. As a young man who is a born and raised Yellow Jacket, but relatively new to being a hardcore CFB fan, I knew a lot about Georgia Tech, but I didn’t get what was the big deal about other teams and knew nothing of their traditions, etc. Southern Fried Football helped me understand what all the fuss is about regarding Ole Miss, Tennessee, Clemson, Grambling, etc.

is a pretty comprehensive volume. After the foreword by Keith “Oh, Doctor” Jackson, Barnhart goes through EVERY thing that makes the Southern game great, and that attaches Southerners to their teams. The book doesn’t just talk about the teams coaches, and players. Whole chapters are devoted to Game Day, Rivalries, and VERY importantly, to “The Voices” of Southern Football, our radio broadcasters.

Readers can really sense Barnhart’s respect for all the programs and people discussed in his book. Although Barnhart is a Bulldog by way of graduation, he gives every program its due.

If you’re a devoted fan of any given team, you may find Barnhart’s coverage of Your Team just a bit lacking, but that’s true of nearly any book giving many brief overviews. Chances are, you’ll learn a lot about other programs, if not about your own.

A little aside: Barnhart released his book just in time. In 2001, Mark Packer, a Charlotte, NC sportscaster, trademarked the term Southern Fried Football, in reference to his annual Southern Fried Football Tour (which is a pretty badass thing).

First and foremost, I recommend this book to young fans of Southern football. I read this book while enrolled at Georgia Tech, and learned so much about all the other programs we played. I found games a lot more fun when I understood the traditions and history of the schools we faced.

Really, this book is for any college football fan. Southerners will probably enjoy it most, but I would recommend it to fans from elsewhere also. It seems football fans from other regions like to roll their eyes at Southerners proclaiming the greatness of Southern football, but I think this book would help explain things. Hardcore fans are hardcore wherever you go, but it seems the South is the only place where even people who couldn’t care less about football show it a certain reverence. With regards to Southern football, UGA’s Heisman winner Frankie Sinkwich put it best: “I'm from Ohio, but if I'd known what it was like down South, I would have crawled down here on my hands and knees.”

Tony Barnhart has written for the AJC since 1984, and regularly does sports commentary on both local and national television programs. He is the Georgia regional voting director for both the Heisman Trophy and the John Wooden Award. Barnhart is a graduate of the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia.