Who Will Preview the Previewers?

One of the many things a man learns between the time he gets engaged and the time he gets married is that you can invite 40 people to your wedding, you can invite 125 people to your wedding, or you can invite 5,000 people to your wedding.  No other numbers are possible.  If you're going to invite one second cousin, one sorority sister, or one junior high classmate, you have to invite them all.  

It's just going to be a small ceremony with a few family members and close friends.  Right . . . and everybody who ever got stopped for a D.U.I. just had a couple of beers and everybody who comes in for an estate planning consultation just needs a simple will.

The same thing goes for preseason college football publications.  You can pick one as your favorite (as, for instance, College Football Resource has done) and just buy that one.  You can buy each of the four traditional preseason preview magazines (Athlon, Lindy's, Street & Smith's, and Sporting News) and stop there.  However, if you buy any such magazines and you neither stop at one nor stop at four, you have to buy them all.  

I fall in the "buy them all" category.  Yes, it's obsessive.  Yes, it's excessive.  However, I just happen to be a 100 per cent sort of person.  

So far, I have found three such publications on the magazine racks of local newsstands:  Athlon, Lindy's, and Sporting News.  I picked up the Southeastern Conference editions of each and I have summarized the salient details below for your ease of reference.  

Image courtesy Athlon Sports.

Athlon Sports
Cover Photograph:  Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, and Danny Ware.  
Cover Blurb:  "Dawgs Boast Nation's Best Backfield."  
Overblown Cover Claim:  "America's Premier Sports Annuals."  
Edition:  40th
Pages and Paper Type:  256; slick.  
National Champion Pick:  Oklahoma.  
Southeastern Conference Champion Pick:  Florida.  
S.E.C. East Champion Pick:  Florida.  
Georgia Ranking:  No. 15; 2nd in S.E.C. East.  
Interesting Factoid:  "Georgia has been ranked in the Associated Press poll for 78 straight weeks.  Only Miami and Texas have longer active streaks."  
Annoying Tic:  It's bad enough that my S.E.C. annual contains 25 pages devoted to Conference U.S.A., nine more devoted to the Sun Belt, and an additional 10 taken up by "regional teams" Louisiana Tech, Louisville, and South Florida.  However, the four pages expended upon the Notre Dame Fighting Irish---also characterized as a "regional team" in S.E.C./Conference U.S.A./Sun Belt country, despite the fact that the school is located in Indiana---appear before the table of contents for the Southeastern Conference section . . . of the Southeastern Conference annual!  If they want to include a few pages about the Golden Domers in the back of the magazine for the subway alumni, fine, but putting the Irish ahead of the S.E.C. in the S.E.C. preseason magazine is preposterous.  

Image courtesy Lindy's Sports Annuals.

Lindy's
Cover Photograph:  Mohamed Massaquoi (with Jenn Sterger inset).  
Cover Blurb:  "New Dawgs, Same Bite."  
Overblown Cover Claim:  "America's Leading Football Authority."  
Edition:  25th
Pages and Paper Type:  224; slick.  
National Champion Pick:  Notre Dame.  
Southeastern Conference Champion Pick:  Florida.  
S.E.C. East Champion Pick:  Florida.  
Georgia Ranking:  No. 14; 2nd in S.E.C. East.  
Interesting Factoid:  "The Dawgs have four consecutive Top 10 AP finishes (only USC can also make that claim)."  
Annoying Tic:  On pages 92 and 93, the football annual provides its position-by-position rankings and lists the Red and Black as having the league's ninth-best Q.B. corps and eighth-best secondary.  Clearly, the yutz who wrote that looked at the depth chart, didn't recognize the names, and didn't bother to do any digging.  There may be fresh faces in the lineup in September, but, by November, no one will claim that there are eight better quarterbacks and seven better defensive backfields in the S.E.C.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that, by the end of the season, no one will claim that there are eight better quarterbacks and seven better defensive backfields in the N.C.A.A.  Also, could they have posted a dinkier picture of the magazine cover on their website?  

Image courtesy The Sporting News.

The Sporting News
Cover Photograph:  Auburn's Kenny Irons (with Alabama's Kenneth Darby inset).  
Cover Blurb:  "Ole Miss will go bowling."  
Overblown Cover Claim:  "Your Ultimate Guide to the nation's best league."  
Edition:  None noted.  
Pages and Paper Type:  128; thick newspaper.  
National Champion Pick:  Notre Dame.  
Southeastern Conference Champion Pick:  Auburn.  
S.E.C. East Champion Pick:  Florida.  
Georgia Ranking:  No. 12; tied for 1st in S.E.C. East but losing the tiebreaker to the Gators.  
Interesting Factoid:  "The Dawgs have won 52 games in [Mark Richt's] five seasons, the most by a coach in his first five seasons in the school's storied history.  More than Wally Butts or Harry Mehre or even---hushed tones, please---Vince Dooley.  Fourteen more than Dooley."  
Annoying Tic:  Page 38 features three cheap shots at Ray Goff.  On two occasions, he is referred to as "Goof" and, in another instance, the writer cracks, "Now, someone have Ray Goff go get Uga a bone."  I was calling for Coach Goff to be fired five games into the 1993 season, so I have been as critical of Coach Dooley's successor as anyone, but Ray was a good guy, he's a Georgia man, and he's been gone for a decade.  There's no excuse for making smart-aleck jokes at his expense at this stage of the game.  

You can rag on Jim Donnan all you like, but leave poor Ray Goff alone.

I know Gator fans like the ones at Swamp Ball and Every Day Should Be Saturday are all over the preseason magazines, but surely I'm not the only loyal citizen of Bulldog Nation to have bought at least one of them.  

Which ones have you purchased?  What is your assessment of the best and worst of each?  Let me know in the comments below.  

Go 'Dawgs!

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