Preseason Home Review Index

Phil Steele's College Football Preview

Phil Steele Publications
25935 Detroit Road, Suite 183
Cleveland, OH 44145
Phone: 866-918-7711 (orders)
Web site:
Rating: 78
$9.99, 352 pp.
Year reviewed: 2013

Overview: Phil Steele's format is again the same as the previous year's -- with eight additional pages -- but it is a very good format, so tinkering is not needed. The magazine has great in-depth coverage. All teams get exactly the same amount of coverage: two full pages, of densely packed text. A full page per team for Athlon implies about 500 words of discussion; for Phil Steele it is closer to 2,000. The magazine is fairly long, and it contains relatively few advertisements and few feature articles. As a result, it contains maybe twice as much information as any other preview magazine. In addition, about a hundred abbreviations are used to increase information density. Most of the abbreviations are standard (e.g., "DB" = "defensive back"), but some are not (e.g., "VHT" = "very highly touted (top recruit)"). The result can be a little hard to read, but well worth the effort.

Phil Steele's conference predictions rank #1 over the last five years.

Per-team information: Two pages are devoted to all teams. Per-team coverage includes: a paragraph of discussion of each unit on the team (e.g., "offensive line"); a list of individual statistical leaders; previous five years' game results and pointspreads; projected starters with short commentary on each player (and second-string players in most cases); list of top recruits; some gambling-related statistics (e.g., the team's record over the last eight years as a home favorite); and a worksheet/schedule for the current year's games. The commentary is very detailed.

Per-conference information: two full pages are devoted to discussion of each conference. A predicted order of finish is given with a couple sentences' commentary per team; a four-deep all-conference team is given; previous year's final standings and individual statistical leaders are given. There is a section giving "in-conference statistics" (counting conference games only), which can be used to compare teams against more equivalent opposition. Phil Steele's was one of the leaders in giving equal coverage to non-BCS conferences, though that has become the standard over time.

National information: A national top 40 is given with a short commentary on each team. There is a four-deep all-America list, with a separate ranking of players by position, with about 60 players for most positions. There are lists of the top 30+ "units" nationally (e.g., "offensive line.") There is some analysis of schedule difficulty, and a discussion of top Heisman contenders.
There is a small amount of recruiting information: a list of the top frosh by position, a ranking of recruiting classes, and the last five years' recruiting-class rankings.

Recap (previous year) information: In each team's section there is a recap of the previous year. In addition to the pointspread and final score, game statistics (yards rushing/passing, for example) are given. On the conference page, the last three years of conference standings are given.

FCS information: In the past there has been a single page, but I didn't see any FCS information this year.

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