The Perfect Pass
An “excellent sports history” (Publishers Weekly) in 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 spent fourteen mostly losing seasons coaching football before inventing a potent passing offense that would soon shock players, delight fans, and terrify opposing coaches. It all 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 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 more talented athletes. And Mumme and Leach did it all without even a playbook.
“A superb treat for all gridiron fans” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Perfect Pass S.C. Gwynne explores Mumme’s leading role in changing football from a run-dominated sport to a pass-dominated one, the game that tens of millions of Americans now watch every fall weekend. Whether you’re a casual or ravenous football fan, this is “a rousing tale of innovation” (Booklist), and “Gwynne’s book ably relates the story of that innovation and the successes of the man who devised it” (New York Journal of Books).
Reviews for The Perfect Pass
“The Perfect Pass is a perfect book about football—and the transformative power of innovation. S.C. Gwynne brings the same remarkable reporting and storytelling skills he used in Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell to reveal the dramatic history behind the passing revolution that disrupted and forever changed America’s favorite sport. His portrait of Hal Mumme, the unknown underdog coach who unleashed the Air Raid offense on the modern game, is superb, at once capturing the passion and genius that made him an unsung hero of his generation.”
—Brian D. Sweany, editor in chief, Texas Monthly
“Mr. Gwynne’s book is a breezy, smart, enjoyable read that gives Mr. Mumme the moment he’s long overdue . . . you might never see another Hal Mumme-coached game on your television. But in a way, you see one every time you turn it on.”
—Will Leitch, The Wall Street Journal
“When we played against a Hal Mumme offense, our defense had to be changed dramatically. You had to throw away everything you knew or you were going to get beat. Every offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in football better study this book to find out why.”
—Jerry Glanville, former NFL and college head coach
“Being a football coach who innovates against the way the game has long been played is deeply challenging. S.C. Gwynne captures perfectly how Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense helped change the landscape of college football forever. It’s a great story.”
—Bruce Arians, head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals
“Rich, well-told story of Hal Mumme, who spent years losing before inventing the Air Raid offense, which has swept football.”