Book Review: The Perfect Pass

The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football by S.C. Gwynne was my first pure “pleasure” read of the year. Fresh off of finishing 7 Habits, I wanted something lighter to read. I breezed through the book in a couple of evenings.

Gwyenne’s book tells the story of Hal Mumme, one of the unsung heroes of modern offensive football. Mumme is the father of the “Air Raid” offense, one of the most influential schemes of the last couple of decades. Mumme bounced around from high school, to college, then back to high school football until he perfected his formula at Iowa Wesleyan College in the late 1980s. He peaked in the late 90s, when he rode phenom Tim Couch to national prominence at the University of Kentucky.

Mumme’s influence is nearly never-ending in today’s game. His coaching tree includes some of the biggest names in college football today: Mike Leach, Dana Holgorson, Kliff Kingsbury, Art Briles and more. Even the NFL quickly adopted many of Mumme’s Air Raid concepts. This is especially evident when you flip through a playbook in Madden, where play names like “Y Cross” and “Mesh”, originally coined by Mumme, appear verbatim. I’m a bit disappointed that Gwynne didn’t clearly explain these connections at the end. I knew of them, but a casual reader may not understand it.

On a personal level, I found Mumme’s background quite inspirational. He had no idea how to make football a pass-first game at first, but he sought out knowledge from the best in the industry until he finally had the right concoction. Also, his “stick to your guns” mentality is admirable. Everywhere he went, people doubted him, said his ideas were bad. He didn’t let that phase him. His sheer dedication to his goals was bound to catch someone’s eye. The people that took chances on him were unsure of what they were getting themselves into, but took the risk anyways because of Mumme’s confidence.

A cool footnote here: this is my second book finished in 2017. That matches the total for all of 2016, so I can only go up from here! I was really pleased that I go wrapped up in the first two books and had them completed within the first 5 days of the year.