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.


Fired Up! Ready to Go!

FiredUpTo mark the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Conway (SC) football boycott, Scott Pleasant and I have written a retrospective for the Myrtle Beach Weekly Surge. This article is essentially a preview of our forthcoming book about the incident, Lines of Scrimmage: A Story of Football, Race, and Redemption, which will be published next year by the University Press of Mississippi. To read the article, click HERE. To read the book, hang on for a few months. More information coming soon.

The above photo (taken by Charles Slate for the Myrtle Beach Sun News) captures a scene from a 1989 NAACP “March Against Intimidation” through the streets of Conway.  “Fired up! Ready to go!” was the signature slogan of the protests, which grew to become known as the Conway Movement. Barack Obama says that he borrowed “Fired up! Ready to go!” from a Greenwood, SC, woman named Edith S. Childs. Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivers of the national NAACP says that Edith S. Childs borrowed it from the Conway Movement.

The Tattoo Removal Machine

CNF_53_Cover_8_20-1As soon as somebody invents one, buy stock in it. In the meantime, treat yourself to a copy of the latest issue of Creative Nonfiction Magazine. In it you’ll find a new essay of mine, “The Botch Job,” wherein I debate whether or not to fix a bad tattoo I once got in a basement on Eight Mile Rd. in Detroit. Should I cover it up? If so, with what? But wouldn’t that be chasing good money after bad?

Here’s a teaser from the piece:

I’ve got a bad tattoo, bad because it represents the flawed execution of an ill-conceived idea. The idea was bad for the usual reasons: I was young, rash, insecure; my aesthetic sense was half-formed at best. How bad is the execution? On a scale of one to ten, with one being “Stabbed in the Chest with a Bic” and ten “The Tattoo Equivalent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam,” I’d say mine clocks in at about a four (“Drunken Hackery”)—obviously better than two (“Rusty Sewing Needle in Juvi”) and three (“Right Handed Artist Experiments with Left Hand”) but still, it’s not a body feature I’m proud to show off.

To buy a copy of the issue (or better yet, subscribe to the magazine) click HERE.