Conversation Starter

CNB_Kickoff_Lunch009Here in Horry County, SC, as football season rolls through its halfway point, Lines of Scrimmage continues to spark conversation.

On October 8, Coastal Carolina University hosted a LOS book reading and panel discussion that was widely attended by members of the CCU and Conway communities.

In the week leading up to the annual Victory Bell Game between Conway and Myrtle Beach (a game that Conway won), the Myrtle Beach Sun News ran a front page, above-the-fold story about the book and the rivalry. Read the article HERE.

And in the photo above, taken earlier in the season, CHS coach Chuck Jordan gives MBHS coach Mickey Wilson some good-natured ribbing by pointing out a photo of the undersized Mickey from back in his playing days at Conway.

CHS_FloodAs I type this, Chuck Jordan’s  present day Conway squad stands at 7-1 on the season, 3-0 in the region, and optimistic that 2015 is the year they’ll win their first state championship in football. So far, not even the historic flooding that wreaked havoc on the state of South Carolina (and left the CHS football field under two feet of water, as seen in the photo at left) has been able to slow the Tigers, who are led by SC Mr. Football finalist Bryan Edwards, a wide receiver and USC Gamecock commitment.

We Have Liftoff

BN_Photo2Many thanks to everyone who came out to the Lines of Scrimmage book launch reading at the Myrtle Beach Barnes and Noble on September 10. It was great for Scott and me to share a little about the project with so many smart, interested folks. For information on upcoming events, please see the post below, the EVENTS section of this site, and

Other Odds & Sods:

To see a cool little LOS mention in the Christian Science Monitor, click HERE.

To see the official press release on the Coastal Carolina University website about the upcoming LOS event at CCU on October 10, click HERE.

To read a story in the Ohio State University Alumni Magazine about the upcoming OSU Alumni Writers’ Extravaganza at which I will be presenting and reading on October 3 and 4, click HERE and flip to pages 34 and 35.

To get the behind-the-scenes story on how Scott and I collaborated on rewriting the words to the Coastal Carolina fight song, click HERE.

Lines of Scrimmage: Countdown to Publication

cropped-los_coverfinal-thumb2.jpgAs I type this, the official publication date for LINES OF SCRIMMAGE is ten days away (September 1). Already, however, copies of the book have been showing up in mailboxes. If you pre-ordered your copy at Amazon or elsewhere, expect it to arrive soon.

In support of the book, Scott Pleasant and I will be doing a number of readings and presentations. I’ll post the complete list of my appearances in the EVENTS section of this site, but, for now, here are a few places where at least one of us will be reading. All are free and open to the public. Hope to see you there.

  • 9/10/15 – Joe and Scott at Barnes and Noble at the Market Common. Myrtle Beach, SC. 6:30 p.m.
  • 9/29/15 – Scott at the Birmingham Public Library. Birmingham, AL. 6:00 p.m.
  • 9/30/15 – Scott at the Auburn University Library. Auburn, AL. 3:00 p.m.
  • 10/3/15 – Joe at The Ohio State University. Columbus, OH. Denney Hall, Room 311. 3:00 p.m.
  • 10/3/15 – Scott at the Johnson City Public Library. Johnson City, TN. 10:00 a.m.
  • 10/8/15 – Joe and Scott at Coastal Carolina University. Conway, SC. Johnson Auditorium. 7:00 p.m. A panel discussion with a public reception to follow.

They’ve Been Going In And Out Of Style. . .

800x600. . .  but they’re guaranteed to raise an eyebrow of bemused resignation.

This summer semi-legendary hitless wonders Watershed return to the stage for one night only. Saturday, August 15. Ace of Cups. Columbus, OH. Special Guest: John Speck.  And on the drums for Watershed? The original stick man, Mr. Herb Schupp.

This will likely be the band’s only 2015 show, though big plans are in the works for 2016.  For advance tickets, click HERE.

Lines of Scrimmage: Now Available for Pre-Order

LOS_COVERFINAL THUMBLINES OF SCRIMMAGE won’t hit the shelves until September 1st, but it’s now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and it’s listed on IndieBound.

Here’s what a few generous folks are saying about the book:

“This true story is told with the narrative skill and moral complexity of an excellent novel. Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. LINES OF SCRIMMAGE is an outstanding achievement.”
–Ron Rash, author of SERENA

“Wonderfully reported and written; a perfect miniature of an entire America.”
–Jeff MacGregor, author of SUNDAY MONEY; senior writer Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Smithsonian Magazine.

“LINES OF SCRIMMAGE is sociology masquerading as sports reporting. It’s no small bonus that it entertains the whole time it enlightens.”
–Kyle Minor, author of PRAYING DRUNK

“As a coach who knows how the game works behind the scenes, I like how this book shows the real work of football in a way that few other books can match.”
–Joe Moglia, Head Coach & Executive Director for Football and Chairman of Athletics, Coastal Carolina University; Chairman, TD Ameritrade Board of Directors

Chanticleers on

CCULogoDuring the opening weekend of the 2015 NCAA  Tournament, Scott Pleasant (my writing partner on the forthcoming book Lines of Scrimmage) and I tagged along with the Coastal Carolina University basketball team, cheerleaders, and pep band on the trip to Omaha, where the 16-seeded Chanticleers were paired against the 1-seed Wisconsin Badgers. For a glimpse behind the scenes, check out the story we wrote for, “16 Things You Learn About the NCAA Tournament While on the Road with a 16 Seed.”

Coming in September: Lines of Scrimmage

LOS_COVERFINALThe story of a historic boycott by thirty-one black players on a Southern high school football team

As in many small towns in the South, folks in Conway, South Carolina, fill the stands on fall Fridays to cheer on their local high school football squad. In 1989—with returning starter Carlos Hunt at quarterback and having finished with an 8-4 record in 1988—hopes were high that the beloved Tigers would win their first state championship. But during spring practice, Coach Chuck Jordan (who is white) benched Hunt (who is black) in favor of Mickey Wilson, an inexperienced white player. Seeing this demotion of the black quarterback as an example of the racism prevalent in football generally and in Conway specifically, thirty-one of the team’s thirty-seven black players—under the guidance of H. H. Singleton, pastor of Cherry Hill Missionary Baptist Church and president of the local NAACP—boycotted the team in protest.

The season-long strike severed the town along racial lines, as it became clear that the incident was about much more than football. It was about the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and other points of tension and oppression that many people in Conway—and the South—had wrongly assumed were settled.

While the 1989 season is long over, the story reverberates today. Chuck Jordan is still coaching at Conway High, and he’s still without that state championship. Meanwhile, Mickey Wilson is now coaching Conway’s fiercest rival, the Myrtle Beach Seahawks. In the annual Victory Bell Game between Conway and Myrtle Beach, the biggest contest of the year for both teams, a veteran coach and his young protégé compete against each other—against the backdrop of a racial conflict that bitterly divided a small Southern town.