Book Review: My Conference Can Beat Your Conference, by Paul Finebaum


The Southeastern Conference is the most powerful conference in college football, and ESPN radio host, College GameDay contributor and soon-to-be SEC Network personality, Paul Finebaum, is the most powerful man in American’s most powerful conference.

The figurehead of the SEC’s new book, My Conference Can Beat Your Conference, profiles the conference’s rise to prominence and explains why its reign of glory is just beginning.

Finebaum examines the current state of college football and explains that although Florida State ended the SEC’s run of seven-straight BCS National Championships in 2014, the conference still runs the college football landscape.

The book begins honoring Florida State’s perfect season and argues that Jimbo Fisher’s success is due in part to the time that he spent in the SEC. The Seminoles’ head coach spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Auburn and six seasons as offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at LSU. Astonishingly, eight of Fisher’s nine assistants from the 2013 national championship team have direct connections to the SEC, including Jeremy Pruitt, who is now the defensive coordinator at Georgia. Finebaum also mentions that reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was raised just 45 minutes away from Tuscaloosa and was heavily recruited by Alabama throughout his prep football career.

Finebaum takes readers on a journey throughout his career and shares some of the highlights from his 34-year career covering the SEC professionally.

The book follows his improbable journey from opinionated newspaper columnist in the early 1980s with the Birmingham Post-Herald to being named “the Oprah of college football” by the Wall Street Journal.

Littered with quotes from some of the Paul Finebaum Show’s most well-known callers and personalities, this book is a must-have for any diehard Finebaum fan.

Finebaum, along with longtime friend and ESPN associate Gene Wojciechowski, share the storied history of the SEC and give readers a glimpse at the not-so-glorious pasts of many of the conference’s top programs.

From conversations with former Alabama head coach Ray Perkins to recounting the ending to the 2013 Iron Bowl, Finebaum shares some of his favorite memories that any committed SEC fan will love.

“That’s what makes me so mad about Paul Finebaum. He loves Alabama. He’ll say he don’t but he does. He makes me sick. He’s a loser. Whatever.” – Tammy

Personally, my favorite part of the book was looking back and remembering the “pre-ESPN” Paul Finebaum. Don’t get me wrong, ESPN has provided some great opportunities for Finebaum already, but growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, some of my favorite memories in the show’s history were long before Finebaum’s days as the nationally syndicated voice of college football.

Pictures and references to classic callers like Phyllis from Mulga and Legend serve as a reminder that the Paul Finebaum Show was, and still is, built on the callers and their unique personalities.

For those more accustom to the present, Finebaum offers some interesting insights on the Cam Newton investigation, the living legend that is Johnny Football and even his newfound friendship with rapper Drake.

In part, My Conference Can Beat Your Conference is exactly what you would expect in a book about the SEC written by Paul Finebaum. Is it a little biased? Probably. Is it for a non-SEC fan? Maybe not; but one thing is for sure, no one else could tell the story of the SEC quite like Paul Finebaum.

Finebaum has seen coaches come and go, has probably gotten one or two fired, and has seen programs like Auburn and Alabama reach the highest and lowest points in college football.

This is a must read for any college football fan leading up to the kickoff of the 2014 season. No matter what team or conference you cheer for, the SEC demands respect and is still the most powerful conference in the sport.

“My Conference Can Beat Your Conference” is available for pre-order now and will be released on August 5.