I have just completed reading the edited manuscript of my fourth book, "Dusty, Deek and Mr. Do-Right: High School Football In Illinois," which will be published by University of Illinois Press in August, 2010.
Why so long? One thing I've learned is newspapers have their own deadlines and timetables and publishing houses have theirs. The deadline for submitting my manuscript was Jan. 31. Foolishly, I thought it would be for release before the 2009 season. No, the publisher has his own timetable for Book A, B, C and D. I'll see the page proofs in December, put together an index and wait for the book to come out prior to the 2010 season.
I'm excited about it. To my knowledge, this is the first book written on high school football in Illinois. There have been a lot of basketball books--I've written two of them--but nothing on football. Not until now.
This is a basketball state. That's why, when I submitted my original proposal to the publisher of University of Illinois Press in 2001, he opted for basketball over football. When I re-submitted a proposal for a football book a year ago, he said it was time.
I interviewed 350 people for the book...coaches, players and administrators, many of whom I covered during my 50-year newspaper career in Champaign-Urbana, St. Louis and Chicago. It was a wonderful experience reacquainting myself with old friends.
This book details the great coaches, players, teams and games in state history, including pre-playoff and post-playoff. I wrote 150,000 words, then had to trim it to a workable and salable 100,000.
My very first interview, on Dec. 22, 2007, was Dick Butkus. I couldn't interview Red Grange or Otto Graham or Bob Zuppke or Bill DeCorrevont. But a book on high school football in Illinois without a chapter on Dick Butkus would be unthinkable.
Who are Dusty, Deek and Mr. Do-Right?
Tuscola quarterback Dusty Burk unveiled Rich Rodriguez' spread offense for the first time in Illinois and set several all-time passing records. Don "Deek" Pollard coached at Pittsfield and engineered the school's state-record 64-game winning streak which included an unscored upon 9-0 season in 1970. Evanston coach Murney Lazier was labeled "Mr. Do-Right" by his black players during the racially torn late l960s and early 1970s when he demonstrated that black and white players were treated equally and fairly in his program.
There is something for everyone who is a fan of high school football in Illinois...stories on Joliet Catholic, Mount Carmel, Providence, Driscoll, East St. Louis, Geneseo, Carthage, Sterling Newman, Du Quoin, Decatur St. Teresa, Metamora, Bloomington Central Catholic, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Belleville Althoff, Stockton, Wheaton Warrenville South, Kankakee Bishop McNamara, Woodstock Marian Central, Peoria Richwoods and others.