It's Official - Football Season Has Begun!

As a boy in the forties and fifties, my father always insisted that football season did not begin officially until he saw the first copy of Street & Smith's College Yearbook on the newstand at Taylor Street Pharmacy. Those days are gone. Not because the various magazines are not out there for the fans, but more because they have made themselves virtually ineffective and therefore worthless ...

I am constantly amazed, if no longer surprised, by the early arrival of the various college football publications on the newstands these days. With the majority of spring games being played across the country in April, how is it possible to publish an accurate and informative college periodical in early May?

It is not.

For a magazine to be on the shelves by early May, they would have to go to the presses by mid to late April. That would leave the so-called experts only days to compile injury information. Coaching change information. Suspension and/or dismissal information and a plethora of other information, most of which they have no access to until May or June.

Yet the rush to the presses continues and the distribution dates continue to come earlier and earlier each summer. The joke among knowledgeable, hardcore fans, is that soon we will see preseason publications in time for Christmas stockings.

Quality has suffered and perhaps the magazine publishers feel they were forced into their current predicaments by the advent and subsequent popularity of the Internet and networks such as ours here at Scout.com.

Whatever the reason, the writing is on the wall. Interent sports networks are here to stay and magazines are on their way out unless they change their marketing strategy and return to later press dates and more original and accurate content.

Pick up any preseason publication this year and thumb through the SEC rosters. If you are up to date with regards to the opposition, you will find no less than two dozen players mentioned who are no longer with their teams for various reasons that played-out over the spring or summer. Many key players who, according to the magazines, were expected to contribute to their team's chances this season.

And like spring games and preseason polls, the preseason magazines have become useless in retrospect. When was the last time you saw a magazine actually get it right?

Phil Steel's Preseason College Annual may be the one exception. His is always well written and packed with quality information that concentrates on what it takes for a college football team to be successful in today's landscape. Perhaps that is because he is a gambler and the worth of his publication is gauged by those whom depend upon his information to be successful in their betting endeavors.

Whatever the reason, Steel's magazine, along with the later published Larry Phipps Gamecock Magazine, are the only two worth sitting on the toilet and reading. And let's face it. The only reason any of us want a printed copy of anything these days is to have something to read during the morning constitutional or the summer trip to the beach. But some of the earlier published magazines need to be used for wiping more than for reading.

So today I buck what my father taught me. This will be one of the very rare times that I claim him wrong about anything. But today I declare a new start to the college football season. One that can be adjusted and applied to just about any football program in the vaunted Southeastern Conference.

When I see mention of Steve Spurrier's Media Golf Event having been played (or any subsequent coach for that matter), followed by the Gamecock Nation Summer Camp Out, then and only then will I know that football season is upon us. Then I'll know that SEC Media Days are only hours away and it is time to start concentrating all of my attention to the upcoming season.

Football season is officially here!

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