It appears there will be one less college football preview magazine next season. Word is that Sporting News and Street and Smith's will be merged into one magazine in a cost-cutting move.
Although there remains plenty of competition, Phil Steele's preview is a clear favorite of Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal. He writes:
"The 328-page publication is the only one that has attained full reference status for me, meaning it must be saved from year to year. Steele isn't much worried about aesthetics. The print is tiny. Copy juts nearly to the end of the page and right to the borders of pictures.
"The front trumpets the magazine as 'jampacked' with information. There's no such word. But Steele has no time for hyphens."
Although Steele has a staff of researchers, the magazine is primarily his work. Steele, 47, is a resident of Cleveland who has 12 televisions in front of his desk and says he works about 100 hours a week on his obsession.
Now how accurate are the magazines? Chris Stassen ranks them from year to year, and Steele's was No. 1 last season, with Athlon No. 2. Over the past five years, Sporting News and Lindy's have been the most accurate.