All disclosures first: we've talked with Bruce Feldman on the phone, met him in person once, and are quoted once in his new book on recruiting, Meat Market. We're also quoted in several other books, as well, including Gridskipper's upcoming guide to sex clubs around the world. (Pg. 256, Bangkok section. "No club is more welcoming to the homely, naked, and needy male than Club Superpussy! A thousand cocktails to them! Come for the awkward group sex, stay for the Pad Thai special!")
Nevertheless, despite having contact with us, Feldman is a masterful observational writer, disappearing into the background of Meat Market as the eye for a year's worth of frenetic recruiting by a modern master: Ed "The" Orgeron, who let Feldman tag along as Coach O ran through a zillion hours of tape and several reservoirs of Red Bull and coffee in his quest to restock the cabinet with talent at Ole Miss.
The book's a meticulously researched book, but don't mistake the precision for a lack of blood. The story's got all the life it needs in one Ed Orgeron, who seems to be bigger in real-life than we could ever make him here in the blogosphere. We'll just tempt with two scenes from the book that involve actual, witnessed events or conversations during a typical Orgeron recruiting process.
One: Jerrell Powe and Ed Orgeron actually squared off in Powe's high school parking lot. Someone saw them practicing swim moves and called the school to tell them that "a huge white man and a huge black man" were wrestling in the parking lot.
Two: An actual conversation between TE coach Hugh Freeze and Ed Orgeron about a recruit who fancied Ole Miss after a visit.
Freeze: "I think he really likes us because you wrestled with him."
Orgeron: "Shit, that son-of-a-bitch was strong. After he pinched me under the arms, it was ON."
We can't sell the book any more convincingly than that. We woke up at 5 a.m. the other day to read it. It's a peek into the least understood portion of the football year, and a rousing portrait of someone truly obsessed with the process.