Pompoms, cheer-leaders, tailgating and oversize Styrofoam hands--yes, college-football season is already upon us. Before the first game kicks off next Saturday, diehard fans--or anyone who finds their antics entertaining, for that matter--should peruse Warren St. John's ode to fandom, "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer." In 1999 St. John purchased a used 1978 Allegro motor home and hit the road with the caravan of University of Alabama fans following their beloved Crimson Tide across the South. "I wanted to understand why we were all so crazy about the sport," he says.

During the four-month road trip detailed in the book, St. John encounters a colorful group of devout 'Bama supporters whose lives revolve around the pigskin. John Ed Belvin explains the science of ticket scalping--and bags $25,000 during a game against Tennessee. Freeman and Betty Reese skip their daughter's wedding because it coincides with a football game. And although Don Cole's hospital threatens to remove his name from an organ waiting list should he travel more than two hours from Nashville, Cole attends every game of the season, only one of which is within those boundaries. "If I can't go to Alabama football games what's the point in living?" he asks.

St. John, who left his job as a reporter for The New York Times for one year to pursue the "Rammer Jammer" project, shares his own experiences, too. "I became a completely different sort of fan once I started living in an RV in a stadium parking lot with hundreds of other fans," he recalls. "I completely lost perspective on the world outside of football." Sometimes, that's just what it takes to be a real fan.