The Dirty Little World of Preseason Magazines
Monday, July 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
By Sean Mossman-kotv.com
I must admit to everyone that I have a problem. After all, they say admitting your problem is the first step to true healing. So, hereâ€™s my confession. Iâ€™m addicted to those nasty little preseason magazines, specifically college football magazines.
Just a few days ago, I walked innocently into my local, corner convenience store with, thoughts of buying a soft drink. Honestly, that was all that was on my mind. Then I saw it, like a bright, shining beaconâ€¦ the magazine stand. Every year I promise myself I wonâ€™t be sucked in by the need to over-prepare myself for the college football season in July. I never seem to keep that promise.
It usually happens like this. I see the cover of one of those magazines with the face of an area superstar looking right at me. The next few minutes are like an X-Files episode. Thereâ€™s at least three minutes of lost time before Iâ€™m seen walking out of the store with my arms clutched around a paper bag. Inside are the same three magazines I bought last year. Conspicuous by its absence is that soft drink I was after in the first place.
If any part of the preceding story sounds familiar to you then the next few minutes of your life could be very cathartic. In my attempt to save just one soul from the same pathetic fate I face every summer, Iâ€™ve compiled the highlights and lowlights of what the three most popular magazines are saying about â€œBig Fourâ€ schools. Theyâ€™re the same three publications that most crazed fans buy every year; The Sporting News, Lindyâ€™s and Street and Smithâ€™s.
Keep in mind as you read about their observations that the real experts, college coaches, hate them. Every year, one of the areaâ€™s coaches is asked their thoughts on a magazineâ€™s prediction. It normally goes about like this, â€œCoach, what was your reaction to (insert magazines name here) prediction that your team would finish next to last in the conference?â€ The next thirty seconds are filled with the sound of crickets chirping as the coach shakes his head in a disapproving fashion. â€œNext question please,â€ says the schools sports information director.
Thatâ€™s OK, while coaches hate them, we the fans love them. After all, those preseason magazines arenâ€™t for coaches, theyâ€™re for sports junkies, like you and me. Hereâ€™s what they have to say about our little corner of the world.
The Sporting News- The Hogs slide in at third in the SEC West. Inexperience seems to be everyoneâ€™s hang up with Arkansas. Massive graduation losses have the Razorbacks slotted as thirtieth nationally by TSN. â€œIf Arkansas gets solid play at quarterback it could challenge Alabama,â€ the magazines pick for the division crown. Sophomore tailback Cedric Cobbs makes the magazineâ€™s first-team all-SEC squad.
Lindyâ€™s- Like TSN, they select the Southeastern Conference as the nationâ€™s best. Unlike TSN, Lindyâ€™s has no such respect for the Hogâ€™s, picking them to finish last in the SEC West. They slot them ninth overall in the entire conference. There are no mentions of a Razorback on the all-conference team until Cobbs and linebacker Quenton Caver spot the second squad. Key losses are the reason the writer gives for the low ranking, offering one glimmer of hope. â€œOpening with five home games gives the rebuilding team a chance to gain confidence and return to the postseason.â€
Street & Smithâ€™s- They donâ€™t rank conferences, just teams within the conference. They think the Hogs will finish fifth in the west. There are no Razorbacks on the all-conference team. The magazine doesnâ€™t rule out a bowl berth, noting head Coach Houston Nuttâ€™s flawless home record during his tenure. â€œThat will serve the team well, withâ€¦ seven home games in all.â€
Concensus- Combine the three predictions and you end up between fourth and fifth in the west. Six wins from a power conference should have the Razorbacks bowling. Everyone seems to be high on sophomore tailback Cedric Cobb(s), although thereâ€™s some disagreement about his last name. Two magazines spell it with an s, one does not. Oh well, if heâ€™s as good as everyone says weâ€™ll all know how to spell it very soon.
The Sporting News- TSN ranks the Big Twelve conference as the second strongest and Oklahoma as the third best team in the conference. Ranked 17th nationally and second in the Big Twelve South, TSN says, â€œThe team can vie for the south title if it can balance itâ€™s offense.â€ They question the running game and say the Sooners could lose a few games due to lack of balance. Oddly enough, not one Sooner is on the magazineâ€™s first-team all-conference. Four make their second team.
Lindyâ€™s- Neither the conference nor the Sooners are as highly thought of by this magazine. The conference ranks third, behind the SEC and Big Ten, and Oklahoma is picked sixth overall in the Big Twelve and third in the south. Linebacker Rocky Calmus is the only player from the team ranked 27th overall to make first-team all-conference. The magazine points to a mid-season scheduling stretch that could be key to the teams success. â€œAfter four straight home games to begin the season, the Sooners face a key run of Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska.â€
Street & Smithâ€™s- They rank the Sooner 23rd nationally and even place Calmus on their second team All-American list. S&S picks Oklahoma second in the south, behind Texas. They too look at offensive balance as a key. â€œOklahoma views this season as the next step. A more well-rounded team could mean another victory or two.â€
Concensus- All anyone really wants to write about is the loss of offensive coordinator Mike Leach, now head coach at Texas Tech. Everyone expects Josh Heupel to put up big numbers, but everyone also expects heâ€™ll need help from a running back to lead this team to a division crown. The Sooners average between second and third in the Big Twelve South.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Sporting News- TSN is a little lukewarm on the Cowboys. They chose them fourth in the south and 46th overall. Thatâ€™s a pretty safe pick, while others call for a more gloomy result for the Pokes. Lineman Josh Lind is the teamâ€™s only first-team all-conference pick. Like the other two magazines, there is a little reservation about quarterback Tony Lindsay. â€œLindsay can be brilliant, but missed time last year. His health and the development of some wide receivers are essential.â€
Lindyâ€™s- They are a little more skeptical of Oklahoma Stateâ€™s chances. Lindyâ€™s ranks the Cowboys fifth in the south and ninth overall in the conference, pointing out the losses of defensive leaders at linebacker. The magazine is complimentary of underclassmen like running back Reggie White and linebacker Dwayne Levels. However, they do buy into the theory that head coach Bob Simmons may have a lot riding on this season. â€œSimmons needs a winning season to show fans that the program on the right track. That will be toughâ€¦but is possible because of a tamer schedule.â€
Street & Smithâ€™s- Fifth in the south again for S&S. Josh Lind is on the first team as well. This magazine thinks that new offensive coordinator Del Miller should bring more offensive diversity than former coordinator Ron Calcagni. They say Miller will run a one-back offense he used at Kansas State. They like running backs White and Jamaal Fobbs. Once again, theyâ€™re leery of the defensive losses. â€œExcitement marks the offensive potential, but thereâ€™s a little more fear of the unknown on defense.â€
Concensus- Fourth or Fifth in the south is the trendy pick. Josh Lind seems to get a lot of respect as one of the top linemen in the conference. Everyone seems to think a fairly easy non-conference schedule could get the Cowboys enough wins to be bowl-eligible.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
The Sporting News- They rank the WAC as the ninth best conference overall, interestingly enough, two spots behind the Mountain West. TSN likes Tulsa in the middle of the conference pack at sixth. A couple of TUâ€™s players make second-team all-conference, but none made the first. The magazine places the team 89th overall and says it will be the most improved team in the conference. TSN says that will be true â€œif the players keep their heads up after what figures to be a tough non-conference start.â€
Lindyâ€™s- Ouch!! I donâ€™t know if this magazine could have been any tougher on the Golden Hurricane. â€œEven with a new coach, thereâ€™s not much wind in the Golden Hurricaneâ€™s sails,â€ they say. Ashon Farley makes their first-team all-conference. Overall, though, Lindyâ€™s doesnâ€™t seem to think TU has much talent, much hope or even any good games on the schedule.
Street & Smithâ€™s- This magazine canâ€™t help but be a little higher on Tulsa than Lindyâ€™s. S&S likes the Golden Hurricane to finish seventh in the conference. They did not pick an all-conference team, although they did for the Mountain West. Maybe thatâ€™s because theyâ€™d have felt guilty about naming TCU tailback LaDainian Tomlinson to all 22 positions (thatâ€™s just a joke, but based partly in reality). Hardly any other player gets much of a mention from the conference anywhere. S&S is very complimentary to quarterback Josh Blankenship and his wide receivers.
Concensus- Iâ€™m not sure many of these writers could find Tulsa on a map. The WAC is treated as an afterthought by the magazines. Itâ€™s a little sad, because there are more likely bowl candidates from this conference than from their old partners the Mountain West. Tulsa averages about a seventh place finish in the three magazines, but donâ€™t look for anything but cursory information about the squad.
The Best of the Lot
If standing at the magazine rack, faced with the task of buying only one of the three, hereâ€™s my vote for which of the magazines offers the most.
Third Place- Lindyâ€™s has one glaring problem. They donâ€™t offer nearly enough information on recruiting. This yearâ€™s classes and next yearâ€™s recruits are sorely overlooked. In a sport with so much turnover of talent, fans want to know who will be wearing their jerseyâ€™s next. The magazine also has too many black and white photos on color pages. It looks a little boring. This magazine needs to catch up to its competitors.
Second place- Street & Smithâ€™s could have been the best if it wouldnâ€™t have sold nearly twenty-five consecutive pages near the front of the magazine to the NCAA. The â€œspecial sectionâ€ has no journalistic merit and comes off as one long advertisement. The pictures look great and the layout is eye-catching. There are plenty of pictures of local stars like Blankenship, and Tulsa Union senior Jerome Janet. Thereâ€™s a small capsule about Jenks as one of the best high school teams this year as well. Worth the money, but give it a test drive before you take it out of the showroom.
The Champ- The Sporting News wins by a nose. First, Iâ€™ll give my beef with the magazine. A picture of Texas quarterback Chris Simms graces the cover of our area edition. Who made the decision to put a backup on the cover? Why, one other magazine actually named Major Applewhite, the player ahead of Simms on UTâ€™s depth chart, as their offensive player of the year in the conference. OUâ€™s Heupel or Nebraskaâ€™s Eric Crouch would have been much better choices. That being said, the look of TSN is awesome. There are more information capsules on each team, including a depth chart and a schedule on each teamâ€™s page. That means no filing to the back pages to find your teamâ€™s schedule. Also, each team gets an entire page, from Florida State to Nevada. The recruiting info is solid and the features are entertaining. If you only have six dollars to spend, this would be my choice.
All of that being said, Iâ€™m sure (if youâ€™re like me) youâ€™ll be running down to the corner store and buying all three and more. As soon as your done, grab the yellow pages and look into a twelve-step program for sports junkies. The season will be here soon.
Sean Mossman is a content editor and writer for kotv.com. His specialty is local sports. Sean can be reached at 732-6228. Questions, comments or story ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas must include a name and phone number.