I thought it would be a good idea to give readers a visual of where I went during the two years I worked on BILLION-DOLLAR BALL. I made it to a fair number of the major programs and, in the case of The University of Oregon, traveled to Eugene twice. Walnut Creek is home of the PAC-12. The headquarters for the Big 10 is actually in a suburb of Chicago.
I tried to be transparent in my approaches to the schools. I stressed that I wasn't interested in scandals, which is true, and that my book was about money -- or more to the point, the business model that has transformed college football at the elite programs into a cash cow, and a lavish entertainment. Several of the major programs were reluctant to participate at first, and only agreed to interviews after months of negotiating. Once they opened up, they proved to be extremely generous and helpful.
The most disappointing aspect of my reporting involved the university presidents. Time and time again, they were "unavailable" to be interviewed. There were a handful of exceptions, and I note them in the acknowledgements. But it is still shocking to me how few presidents at elite football schools have the courage and/or confidence to discuss their programs. Imagine that.