This year, that day was Sunday, May 31st. It seems like it arrives a few days sooner each year. The first week of June is always a good bet, but hauling those bad boys home before the calendar has officially turned to June isn't a bad bet. I think many of them have been on book shelves for at least a few days, or at least since the 30th, when a friend of mine called me to let me know he had seen copies of Phil Steele, Lindy's, Athlon and The Sporting News at the Barnes & Noble on University in West Des Moines.
I have been out of town this weekend, but thankfully, there are Barnes & Nobles where I was.
For my money, the best read of the year in this line of printing is Phil Steele's College Football Preview. I am a stats & numbers guy, and Phil's mag is chock full of stats, numbers, computer analysis, power rankings and much more. There is so much information in his book that he has come up with his own lexicon, a myriad of abbreviations he uses so that he can pack 328 pages into his annual offering. Plus, the type size he uses is smaller, so there is no denying his book has the most to offer in sheer word count.
This year, Phil picks Iowa to finish in a tie for fourth place, alongside Michigan State. He has Penn State winning the league and ranked #5 in the nation, with Ohio State second (#10), tied with Illinois (#19) and Iowa at #20. Michigan State is #29.
Last year, Phil and I agreed on Iowa's bowl destination; The Outback, and we were correct. This year, Phil tabs Iowa for another Florida bowl game, the Capital One. The Hawkeye Nation Iowa football preview should be arriving in mailboxes within the next ten days, so I don't want to give away all of our predictions, but I will just say that Phil Steele is one smart cookie ;)
Then again, I do not agree with his pick to win the Big Ten; I don't think Penn State is going to be the best team in the league, but I have nearly beaten that horse to death on this website, the radio show and in the offerings I write for collegefootballnews.com, to the point where I am no longer welcome in Pennsylvania. I do like his Illinois pick, however.
He loves Iowa's defense this year; he tabs the Hawks as the #12 rush defense, #9 pass defense, #4 scoring defense and the #5 total defense in all of college football. I don't want to give too much away here, as the man is in business to sell magazines. But as usual, I highly recommend his offerings, and that has nothing to do with where he picks Iowa and no, I do not have any financial stake in his product, or any preseason magazine.
Next we have Lindy's, and I typically purchase their national issue. Of the major magazines, this is typically my least favorite. I can't tell you why, that is just the way it is. Again, it has nothing to do with where they pick Iowa. This year, they tab Iowa for 6th in the Big Ten, with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin going 1-5. They list Dan Doering as a first team All Big Ten offensive lineman, alongside Bryan Bulaga. I would love for that to come to fruition, but Doering is going to have to win a starting job on Iowa's team before taking steps towards that honor. They rank Iowa #32, with OSU #8, PSU #11 and MSU just inside the Top 25.
Up next we have The Sporting News, and they peg Iowa at #4 behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State. They have Ohio State #9 and Penn State #12 with no other team from the Big Ten in the Top 25. They have Iowa playing Alabama in the Outback Bowl. They say Kinnick is the best stadium in the league.
Athlon has Iowa at #23, fourth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State (#5), Penn State (#7) and Michigan State (#20).
There won't be many more magazines that I will buy this year; I have hit the standards. The anticipation is always better than the destination in this case, and I am trying to cope with that right now. No, I am not talking about buyer's remorse, especially not with Steele's issue to pore over for the next month (or five)...just that it's another 365 or so days until I get to experience the rush of making that bee line to the news stand and turning the pages for the first time.
Even at the age of 38, it never gets old.