Friday Night Lights

Buzz Bissinger Character Analysis

The author of Friday Night Lights, Bissinger is present in the text as he interviews players, coaches, and fans, and describes what life is like in Odessa, Texas. Bissinger maintains an objective stance throughout much of the book—for example, calling the games as though he were a sportscaster—but his opinions about the dominance of football in Texas culture, and about the erosion of school standards in the region, become clear by the book’s end. Bissinger also notes that he has come to respect and admire many of the players and coaches with whom he has interacted throughout the 1988 Permian High season.

Buzz Bissinger Quotes in Friday Night Lights

The Friday Night Lights quotes below are all either spoken by Buzz Bissinger or refer to Buzz Bissinger. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Football Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Perseus edition of Friday Night Lights published in 1990.
Prologue Quotes

The tingling sensation stayed with him, and he knew that when he stepped on that field tonight he wouldn’t feel like a football player at all but like someone . . . entering a glittering, barbaric arena.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Jerrod McDougal
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 1: Odessa Quotes

There were a few who found its conservatism maddening and dangerous and many more who found it the essence of what America should be, an America built on strength and the spirit of individualism, not an America built on handouts and food stamps.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2: The Watermelon Feed Quotes

The fans clutched in their hands the 1988 Permian football yearbook, published annually by the booster club . . . It ran 224 pages, had 513 individual advertisements, and raised $20,000.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

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The standing ovation that he received at the Watermelon Feed wasn’t particularly surprising. Just as he was used to football injuries, he was also used to lavish attention, as was every former Permian player who had once been ordained a star. So many people had come up to him when he was a senior that he couldn’t keep track of their names . . . .

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Shawn Crow
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4: Dreaming of Heroes Quotes

After Billy died, Mike’s life didn’t get any easier. He had a brother who was sent to prison for stealing. At home he lived with his mother, who worked at a service station convenience store as a clerk. They didn’t have much money. . . . His mother was enormously quiet and reserved, almost like a phantom. Coach Gaines, who spent almost as much time dealing with parents as he did with the players, had never met her.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Mike Winchell
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5: Black and White Quotes

It wasn’t necessary to live in Odessa for long to realize that the Permian football team wasn’t just a high school team but a sacrosanct white institution. “Mojo seemed to have a mystical charm to it,” Hurd said.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Laurence Hurd (speaker)
Related Symbols: Black and White
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6: The Ambivalence of Ivory Quotes

Pastor Hanson welcomed Ivory’s conversion. He knew that Ivory was an influential kid whose actions made a tremendous impression on his peers. But there was something worrisome about it, and he didn’t want Ivory moving from one world of isolation into another where the only difference was the level of standards.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Ivory Christian, Pastor Hanson
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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They would still be gladiators, the ones who were envied by everyone else . . . who got the best girls and laughed the loudest and strutted so proudly through the halls of school as if it was their own wonderful, private kingdom.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8: East Versus West Quotes

The Mojo mystique was purely an east-side creation, and Permian supporters would almost certainly put up a hellacious fight if they were suddenly told they had to share it with people who didn’t act like them or think like them.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9: Friday Night Politics Quotes

When Tony was Brian’s age, the thought of college, any college, was as funny as it was ridiculous. Just getting through high school was miracle enough, and the way Tony and most other kids from South El Paso looked at it, everything after that in life was gravy, a gift.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Brian Chavez, Tony Chavez
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10: Boobie Who? Quotes

For LV, watching Boobie play against Abilene had been harrowing. On every play he couldn’t help but worry that his nephew would do further damage to his knee, even though the brace did provide good protection. He saw the emotional effect the injury was having on Boobie—the prolonged periods of depression as one Friday night after another just came and went.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Boobie Miles, LV
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12: Civil War Quotes

His ear had been throbbing for about two months, and it was just one of several ailments that had come up during the course of the season. He was glassy-eyed and barely able to say a word, his thoughts still fixed on what had happened on the field . . . .

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Sharon Gaines
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

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How could he have called the plays he did? What had happened to him in the second half, going time and time again with those plodding, thudding sweeps? Didn’t he remember the gorgeous bomb Winchell had thrown in the second quarter, so perfect it was like something in a dream? . . . .

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Mike Winchell
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13: Heads or Tails Quotes

As he tried to console them, there came a sound of high school football as familiar as the cheering, as familiar as the unabashed blare of the band . . . it was the sound of teenage boys weeping uncontrollably over a segment of their lives that they knew had just ended forever.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15: The Algebraic Equation Quotes

Will Bates was drummed out of Carter and reassigned to teach industrial arts in a middle school. He was given an unsatisfactory evaluation rating, placed on probation for a year, and had his salary frozen. And, of course, he was forbidden to teach and to prevent further threats to the sanctity of football.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Will Bates
Page Number: 335
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16: Field of Dreams Quotes

The season had ended, but another one had begun. People everywhere, young and old, were already dreaming of heroes.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 361
Explanation and Analysis:

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Epilogue Quotes

The Permian Panthers ended the decade exactly the same way they had begun it. Two days before Christmas, they became the state football champions of Texas.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker)
Page Number: 381
Explanation and Analysis:

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Buzz Bissinger Character Timeline in Friday Night Lights

The timeline below shows where the character Buzz Bissinger appears in Friday Night Lights. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
The narrator—the author, Buzz Bissinger—repeats that Boobie “feels good” as he goes through the preparations before the Midland Lee game.... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger shifts his attention to Jerrod McDougal, a defensive utility player on the team, who, before... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Mike Winchell, the quarterback for the team, remarks to himself—as Bissinger reports—that he wishes he could be “knocked out” until right before the game. He finds... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...game, encouraging them to play as hard as possible, for themselves and for their teammates. Bissinger also introduces Brian Chavez, a talented defensive player who loves to hit his opponents, and... (full context)
Chapter 1: Odessa
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger shifts to the August of 1988, the start of the 1988 Permian Panthers football season.... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger steps back, to tell a brief history of the town of Odessa, where Permian is... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...1920s, when oil was discovered in the “Permian basin,” a geologic formation in West Texas. Bissinger remarks that, when oil was found, the original claims of the Ohio real estate hucksters—that... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger describes some of the characteristics that make Odessa a complex place. Like many other small... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Watermelon Feed
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger describes the “Watermelon Feed,” an annual August event that officially kicks off the Permian season.... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger describes an incident earlier in the eighties, which some Permian fans still grumble about. Ross... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger then describes the Pepettes, the official cheer squad for the Permian Panthers, who are also... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger describes former player Shawn Crow, who is in attendance at the Feed. Crow is considered... (full context)
Chapter 3: Boobie
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger switches to a narrative of LV’s upbringing, in Crane, Texas. LV has become invested in... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Boobie, as Bissinger explains, is “classified as a learning disabled” student at Permian High. Boobie struggles in school,... (full context)
Chapter 4: Dreaming of Heroes
Football Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger recounts in brief the life story of Mike Winchell, Permian’s starting quarterback. Mike’s father, Billy,... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger then switches back to the narrative of the ’88 season, describing the Panthers’ first game,... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...piquing the coaches’ interest, especially after the devastating knee injury Boobie has suffered. Don tells Bissinger after the game that he is frustrated another black player has taken “his” job at... (full context)
Chapter 5: Black and White
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger traces the racial history of Odessa, which since its founding has been effectively segregated into... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger also traces some of the historical causes of ethnic distrust in the region. One man,... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...quality of schools and other services on either side of the railroad. But Hurd, as Bissinger reports, is in prison by the late 1980s, serving his burglary sentence, and the town... (full context)
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Hurd, as Bissinger reports (presumably having interviewed Hurd in prison in 1988) came to Odessa from New Mexico,... (full context)
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Bissinger notes, then, that a war of “gerrymandering” broke out, in the mid-1980s, where officials decided... (full context)
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Bissinger closes the chapter by asking Hurd about his thoughts on football. Although Hurd believes football... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Ambivalence of Ivory
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Bissinger moves on to tell the story of Ivory Christian, an immensely talented black player, a... (full context)
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Bissinger switches to a description of Permian’s second game of the ’88 season, for which Christian... (full context)
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...be especially talented this year, is struggling on the field, or at least apparently so. Bissinger briefly describes a party back in Odessa, the weekend of the Marshall loss, in which... (full context)
Chapter 7: School Days
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Bissinger describes the next pep rally, after the Marshall game, where the Pepettes, the Panthers, and... (full context)
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Bissinger notes that SAT scores and overall grades have dipped at Permian since the 1970s. Some... (full context)
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Bissinger interviews some female students, who claim that schoolwork is less important than finding a boyfriend—football... (full context)
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Bissinger follows Brian Chavez around the school, and finds that he performs well in class—he is... (full context)
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Bissinger interviews the Ector County superintendent, Hugh Hayes, who, like LaRue Moore, argues that football has... (full context)
Chapter 8: East Versus West
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Bissinger traces the football history of Odessa High, which, back in 1946, before Permian opened, was... (full context)
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...red and black, to show impartiality). But Permian continues to dominate on the field. As Bissinger returns to the 1988 game, he describes the Panthers’ steady progress up the field, as... (full context)
Chapter 9: Friday Night Politics
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Bissinger sits with Brian Chavez’s father, Tony, during the Panthers’ next game, against Midland High (not... (full context)
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Bissinger reports on Bush’s stump speech in Midland, where he decries the policies of Michael Dukakis,... (full context)
Chapter 10: Boobie Who?
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Bissinger returns to Boobie Miles, who, since that first scrimmage of the season, has been rehabbing... (full context)
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Bissinger notes that Comer retains the starting job, and that Boobie’s numbers continue to be pedestrian—an... (full context)
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Briefly, at the close of the chapter, Bissinger notes that Winchell has had a very strong beginning of the season, especially in the... (full context)
Chapter 11: Sisters
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Bissinger describes the uneasy relationship between the cities of Odessa and Midland, only a few dozen... (full context)
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Bissinger describes the way the oil boom of the mid-‘70s effected both Odessa in Midland, making... (full context)
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...Middle East—was flooding the market with oil, driving the price down with demand holding steady. Bissinger notes that, in Midland, a great many reputable businesses also failed, including the First National... (full context)
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Bissinger tours a field in Midland, where large pieces of heavy machinery and other oil equipment... (full context)
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Bissinger transitions to the Midland Lee-Permian game, and to a pregame speech that Coach Gaines delivers... (full context)
Chapter 12: Civil War
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Bissinger describes Gaines’ travails during the season: his physical ailments, including an earache, and the constant... (full context)
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Bissinger compares Gaines to the prior coach at Permian, John Wilkins, who is now the athletic... (full context)
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Bissinger ends the chapter by following Jerrod McDougal and his father and mother. McDougal is mature... (full context)
Chapter 13: Heads or Tails
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In a short chapter, Bissinger describes the end of the Panthers’ regular season. Permian beats San Angelo to achieve a... (full context)
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...TV celebrate wildly, knowing they are off to the playoffs. The Midland High players, as Bissinger remarks, understand that “segment of their lives is now over forever.” Gaines remarks aloud that... (full context)
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Bissinger describes Boobie’s remainder of the season. After the last regular-season game, Boobie officially quits the... (full context)
Chapter 14: Friday Night Addiction
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Bissinger follows the team as they prepare whole-heartedly for Irving, using the note as motivation. Irving... (full context)
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Bissinger, in the leadup to the state quarterfinal game against Arlington, interviews several former players, all... (full context)
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Bissinger follows Ivory Christian in the lead-up to the game against Arlington, in the state quarters.... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Algebraic Equation
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Before he gets to the semifinal game, Bissinger describes Carter High School in Dallas—in particular, its peculiar academic reputation. During the fall ’88... (full context)
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As Bissinger reports, the issue was resolved in a state legal case, broadcast by the media across... (full context)
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As Bissinger points out, the state judge ruled, finally, that Carter was eligible, that Edwards’ grade was... (full context)
Chapter 16: Field of Dreams
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Bissinger describes the state semifinal matchup between Permian and Carter. Carter is the more talented team,... (full context)
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Bissinger then summarizes the responses of various fans and characters to the events on the field.... (full context)
Epilogue
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Bissinger summarizes what happens to many of the book’s main characters, in a short epilogue appended... (full context)
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...players, all the way back to the state tournament, where they win the state championship. Bissinger ends the book noting that, although Odessa has received its fair share of economic setbacks... (full context)