In the South, college football is religion, and on any Saturday afternoon in the fall, the deeply faithful congregate in stadiums across the region, praying that on this day their faith will be bolstered with a glorious victory on the gridiron.
Stuart Stevens grew up going to Ole Miss games with his father. In 1962, in the midst of tumultuous battles over civil rights on campus, Stevens and his father cheered the Rebels to a perfect season and a national championship. More than 50 years later, having just finished leading an exhausting and unsuccessful presidential campaign for Mitt Romney, Stevens “wakes up” and realizes that what he wants most in the world is one more season, “with my father and football and the Ole Miss Rebels.”
In The Last Season, Stevens, a cracking good storyteller, affectionately regales us with tales of his and his 95-year-old father’s final shared season in 2012. Offering a game-by-game chronicle, Stevens reveals how he gets to know his father once again through their shared love of football and their (occasionally hilarious) travels to the team’s home and away games.
Though his father is now frail, he leaps to his feet at the Ole Miss-LSU game to celebrate an Ole Miss interception, “and in that moment the years shed away as effortlessly as tossing aside a quilt when getting out of bed in the morning.”
Though Stevens sometimes digresses from his poignant tale to offer platitudes about sports and life, he always trots back to the line of scrimmage with a winning play that has us cheering from the sidelines.