Everything the Buckhead resident and retired stockbroker witnessed and recorded during his time with the powerhouse program is in his latest book, “Marist Football: Inside the War Eagle Tradition.”
After several years of research and writing by Cox, the book was released Sept. 25 and is available in Atlanta-area bookstores as well as www.amazon.com.
It is the second book written by Cox, who authored “Lullabies for Lieutenants,” about his experiences as a Marine officer serving in Vietnam in the mid-1960s and published in 2010. That book was adapted into a screenplay under the same name, co-written by Cox and David Carren. It won the grand prize in the seventh annual StoryPros Awards Screenplay Contest.
As for the ultimate success of his latest book, Cox said it is still too early to tell how it will turn out — though he is encouraged by early sales numbers.
“It’s basically just been out a month and it takes awhile,” he said. “There are some reviews that are showing up. We’re going to get more reviews, we’re going to get more press coverage and you really can’t tell how well a book is doing. I think it’s doing well. The sales on Amazon are better than we thought it might be. I’m real, real pleased.”
Cox is confident that his book will attract a wide audience.
“I wrote the book to appeal to a national audience that likes good, hard-driving, narrative, non-fiction literature and sports,” Cox said. “That’s why I wrote the book and I think I tell some dramatic, good stories and I think it’s suitable for everybody that loves all of the above.”
Cox has a long history with his subject, having graduated from Marist in 1959 and playing linebacker and on the offensive line for the War Eagles.
He also had three uncles who attended Marist and played football at the school in the 1940s. His son, Franklin III, played under longtime and current coach Alan Chadwick’s first state championship team at the school in 1989.
Cox tells the story of a Marist program that has won two state titles (the other was in 2003) and has reached the state playoffs 30 straight years.
Cox first conceived the idea of writing about Marist football three years ago, though it was originally supposed to be a magazine article.
“The summer of 2009, I started thinking that an article about Marist football would be a good fit for Sports Illustrated and I already had my first book accepted for publication by a good publisher and I had a bunch of articles published in magazines,” Cox said. “I was now committed to my new vocation, which was an author. The more I thought about it, I said, ‘Why not just get immersed in it, live it and write a book, and capture the whole thing,’ instead of a spotlight article. That’s when I came up with the idea and that’s when I came up with the presentation, the pitch.”
From there, he first approached Chadwick — who agreed to the project right before the start of the ’09 season.
“I said, ‘A story needs to be written about this successful program you’ve got here.’ He said, ‘Well, I have to think about that.’ He’s real old school. So, finally, they were going to open up in 2009 with St. Pius, their big rival. The day before the game, I get an email from him [saying], ‘I’m ready to proceed with the book.’”
After the project was given the green light by the Marist administration, Cox proceeded to spend the next three football seasons getting an up-close look at the day-to-day workings of the War Eagle football program, as well as conducting interviews with coaches, players and parents.
“I probably attended over those three years 100 practices, with the coaches breaking down film until midnight, seeing how they prepare for games, sitting next to the kids in the locker room,” Cox said. “After games they won, after games they lost, before big games, getting what’s in their soul and what they’re thinking about, getting their passion and getting all their emotions, talking with the parents, going in the classrooms.”
While following the team, Cox learned about how much the Marist football team meant to the school community.
“It is a hard school and they don’t put [up] with monkey business there,” Cox said. “It’s hard as hell to get into the school, and I also wanted to see how the other students think about football players and it truly is the thing that galvanizes the school, I think.”
After finishing the research phase after the 2011 season, Cox proceeded to finish writing the book and completed it by May.
Cox had a deal with Charleston, S.C.-based History Press by July to publish the book and after a couple of months of editing, it was ready for release.
He said he was fully enveloped into the world of Marist football during the three years that he followed the program.
“It became part of my life,” Cox said. “I couldn’t wait to get out there. I couldn’t wait to see how these guys improve from one year to the next and from one week to the next. How hard the coaches work and never stop working and how the head coach knows everything is so demanding and if you weren’t, it wouldn’t be so successful. As a personal experience, it’s one of the most exhilarating, fun experiences I had in my life."
As for Chadwick, the Marist coach gives the book a thumbs-up.
"Frank Cox does an excellent job of capturing the unique spirit of Marist football," said Chadwick in an emailed statement. "His insights into the different aspects of the team and its players and coaches is interesting and entertaining."
Cox is now looking forward to working on his next book about his experiences as a stockbroker on Wall Street in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.