Archive for July, 2011

Updated Predictions on Ohio St, Wisconsin and North Carolina

July 30th, 2011 No comments

Since my magazine went to press in early May there have been three significant changes in college football and three of the most popular questions asked of me on facebook and twitter concern North Carolina, Ohio St and Wisconsin.

I will address these three teams and my updated outlooks on each team in today’s blog. First, I want to say that many magazines and publications specifically websites/writers when predicting the conferences this upcoming season have two advantages over my publication and the other three publications that go to press in May (Athlon, Lindy’s, Sporting News). First, when these writers make their predictions in July/August they are reading the material/information from the already published magazines and have our predictions right in their hands. All of the countless hours we spend coming up with our picks and forecasts are now there at their fingertips to go off of. Second, they also have the advantage of having the latest news/rosters/transfers and happenings. Let’s face it a lot can happen in a 3-month period in college football especially with recent history.

For example, last year I was blind-sided with both USC and North Carolina as the NCAA hit both teams hard after my magazine was sent to press. USC was my pick to win the Pac-10 last year before scholarships were taken away, players transferred and a bowl ban was set in place. I also had North Carolina picked much higher than other publications because they had the most talented defense in the country only to have nearly a dozen players suspended for much of the season. Because I had both these teams picked higher than my competitors and with a few surprise victories by some teams I though less highly of, I did not finish 2010 as the most accurate magazine for the season (over 13-years still #1). Read more…

2011 Coaches on the Hot Seat!!!

July 29th, 2011 No comments

The last three years in July I have posted my Coaches on the Hot Seat. Here is a quick recap of how those coaches fared. In 2008, my #1, #2 and #3 coaches on the hot seat were all fired BEFORE the end of the season! My #5 and #9 coaches on the hot seat were also fired before the season ended. Two more coaches were let go after the year, so 7 of the 12 lost their jobs. Two coaches in Kirk Ferentz and Mike Stoops did what they needed to do as Ferentz got the Hawkeyes to a New Year’s bowl winning in blowout fashion and Stoops guided Arizona to a bowl and then won it. Both coaches were OFF the Hot Seat last year. The three remaining coaches who kept their jobs all made my hot seat list again the next year and all were fired during or after the 2009 season.

In 2009 I had 13 coaches on the list and this time actually missed on a couple but a lot of that had to do with the Economy. It was tough times for a lot of schools financially after the season and that made paying off a coach for multiple seasons on his contract and then having to pay a new coaching staff unpalatable. Therefore six coaches who were on the list and had losing seasons, all kept their jobs in Dan Hawkins, Doug Martin, Todd Dodge, Rich Rodriquez, Bill Lynch and Mike Price. Naturally all those coaches remade my list last year. My #1 coach on the hot seat in 2009 was Steve Kragthorpe of Louisville and he was let go after the season as were the #3 coach Al Groh, #5 Mike Sanford, #11 Charlie Weis and even my #6 coach Mark Snyder was let go after guiding Marshall to a bowl.

Last year I again had 13 coaches on the list and had great success. My #1 coach on the hot seat was Rich Rodriguez and I mentioned that his magic number for wins was 8 and after a 7-5 regular season then an embarrassing bowl loss he was let go. Ron Zook and Les Miles rounded out my top 3 but both did what they had to do to keep their jobs with Zook guiding the Illini to an unexpected bowl and Miles getting LSU back in the top 10. My next 5 coaches were all let go including #4 Dan Hawkins, #5 Tim Brewster and #6 Todd Dodge who were all gone in the middle of the season. #7 Ralph Friedgen was named ACC COY but was still let go while #8 Bill Lynch despite improving the Hoosiers win total was let go as well. Two other coaches were also fired in #10 Doug Martin and #12 Steve Roberts.

Here is this year’s list of coaches on the hot seat. I want the coaches to know that I am rooting for every one of them to have a good season and get off the hot seat. I know that coaches can do all the preparation and have a team poised to win, but costly turnovers or injuries can result in some tough losses and the fans usually only look at the wins and losses. My rankings factor in how hot a seat the coach is on, the national awareness of the program and in some cases my chances of the team having a big year for 2011. Read more…

2011 Homefield Edges

July 28th, 2011 5 comments

I have gotten many requests to do a blog to explain how I compute each teams home field edge in the magazine. I have 27 different factors in my computer’s grade of a team. I then compare the computer’s analysis to my own and make the final decision.

While I mention that there are 27 factors in my home field computer ratings, there are actually nine individual factors that I use each year and I then combine the grades for the last three years giving half of the grade to last year, 30% to the numbers from two years ago and 20% to the computer rankings from three years ago.

Today I will go over the nine different areas that I use to rate home field edge. The first category is the stadium capacity. The largest stadium in the country last year was Penn St which held 107,282 and my computer gave them the maximum score of 6 for that category. My home field edges go from 0 to 6 in the magazine so they have the same scale in the computer. The smallest capacity is Idaho’s Kibbie Dome which seated just 16,000 and they received a 0 in that category. The rest of the capacities are done with a simple equation of Capacity-16,000 divided by 15,250. The reason I divide by 15,250 is that Penn St at 107,282-16,000 = 91,282 and 91,282 divided by 6 (0-6 scale) = 15,214 and I rounded up to get the 15,250. You can figure out what your favorite team is graded in this category by using this simple equation.

The second category is actual attendance reported by the school in 2010. Once again Michigan was at the top with 111,825 and this time the team at the bottom was Ball St which averaged just 8,947 fans per game last year. I used the same method as above to turn this data into a 0 to 6 rating where Michigan received a 6, Ball St a 0 and as an example Florida St with an attendance of 71,270 earned a 4.15 grade. Read more…

Pre-Season Top 200 2012 Prospects!

July 27th, 2011 No comments

Covering college football as I do takes 52 weeks a year as it is and while I personally do not scout the high school games and rate each player I do compile my rankings based on the many different recruiting services across the country that follow and scout HS football year round. I not only like to use all of the biggest and best services, but I also use regional reports as well. The colleges themselves use many of these services to get the latest information on recruits.

When we receive a recruiting magazine, we translate each player’s ranking into a points system from 1-100 and then log each and every player into the computer and give them a point total from each source. Naturally, the more they are mentioned and the higher they are rated by each publication, the more total points they accrue. After months of entering all of this information, I sort the list by position and by total points and then rank the players from most points to least. The preseason top HS Senior lists have already been released by ESPN, Rivals, 247 Sports, Scout, Tom Lemming and G&W and all of them were compiled into this Pre-Season list.

In today’s blog I have included the top High School Seniors that will be incoming frosh for 2012. By no means is this list final and it will be fluid until next February after the players sign. Since we want the college preview to continue to be the most in-depth and accurate magazine out there, if you find any information that is wrong or if you are questioning a player’s ranking please contact Read more…

Top College/NFL Team Performances of 2010!

July 27th, 2011 No comments

Most of you have been buying Phil Steele’s College Football Preview for years and you know just how much that magazine has improved throughout the years. Thanks to your input I continue to make improvements and add information that you cannot obtain from any other magazine. I am extremely excited about the 3rd edition of Phil Steele’s NFL Magazine as I continue to make it better and I hope that it will rival my College Preview Magazine as being “the one the experts cannot do without”.

One of the new features I added to the 2010 CFB Preview was the team’s grade for each individual game. The grade represents not only how much the team won by or how much they outgained an opponent by but it’s also compared to what my computer forecasted. For example, TCU in week 2 last year played against Tennessee Tech. They won 62-7 and outgained them 452-150. That game grade was only 85.0 because the Horned Frogs were expected to win easily and in fact the game was rated as their second worst performance of the season! TCU, however did have the #2 best game grade of the entire NCAA last year with their dominating 47-7 win over an undefeated #6 Utah team on the road as they outgained the Utes by a 558-199 mark. Stanford’s win against Washington was #1 as the Cardinal knocked off the Huskies on the road in dominating fashion. While other teams won & outgained opponents by more (see Oregon vs New Mexico), when you add in the strength of opponent and where the game was played you get the true Phil Steele Game Grade. Read more…

Repeating as NFL Division Champ

July 26th, 2011 No comments

The NFL lockout looks like it finally may be over with today so with that in mind I am going to switch the blog topic up a little bit with an article that is featured in our NFL Magazine. Normally by now our NFL magazine has hit the newsstands but with the lockout in place, I have decided to postpone the magazine because I want to be the most accurate NFL magazine on the market that takes into consideration all the free agency moves that are about to occur.

You should be able to find my NFL Magazine on the newsstands in late August. However, with this being just the 3rd year I have put the magazine on the newsstands it will only have about half of the distribution that my College Magazine has. If you cannot find my Pro Football Preview anywhere near you, try ordering thru the store or call our offices at 1-866-918-7711. The cost is just $12.70 (includes priority shipping) and we will ship it out of our offices within 24 hours unless ordered on the weekend and in that case it will get shipped 1st thing on Monday.

In the inaugural Phil Steele’s Pro Football Preview, I made a forecast for each division and I am very pleased to announce that I correctly forecasted 7 of the 8! I was the ONLY major magazine to pick the Super Bowl winning New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South. I followed that performance up by picking three of last years first place teams for an impressive 2 year record of 11 of 16 division winners or 69%.

The NFL is certainly a league of parity and in fact going back to 1998 only 31% of the time has a team repeated as a division winner. In 2002 the NFL went four divisions of four teams each, making it much easier to repeat. Taking those 9 seasons plus the previous two, only 27 of the 72 division winners or 38% repeated. Those numbers include both New England and Indianapolis who have dominated the AFC East & AFC South as each has repeated 5 times and were the ONLY 2 teams to repeat again last season.

Since the start of this decade there have been 78 division winners but ONLY 11 of the NFL’s 32 teams have been consistent enough to bag B2B division titles. I mentioned NE & Indy and they are followed by San Diego, Philadelphia and Seattle with 3 repeats. Oakland and Green Bay each have 2 while Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago and Arizona each have 1 repeat. Read more…

Advertisers in the Magazine

July 25th, 2011 No comments

This year when you add up the national Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, the FCS Preview and the NFL magazine we are closing in on printing close to a million magazines. Now when you factor in the actual printing cost, shipping and distribution of the magazine and my staff of roughly 25 people, the cost becomes exorbitant. My employee’s work on nothing but football year round and I would like to thank them for the massive amount of man hours it takes to produce these in depth and meaty magazines.

To do all the research that we do and print all the magazines, the costs continue to climb. This year you will notice we have expanded our advertising in the magazine and are pleased to have our new advertisers but are still happy to have fewer ads than the competitors. These advertisers are crucial for me to keep expanding the amount of information that we produce every year. There are two things you can do to keep us putting out more and more information. The first is to buy the magazine at the newsstands or ideally buy the entire set of magazines thru the offices and get them sent to you priority mail for just $36.75. The second is to patronize our advertisers. Read more…

Who Will Win the Top Conference Games of 2011?

July 23rd, 2011 1 comment

The last couple of years I have put up a poll for everyone to pick who would win each conference game. I found these results fascinating prior to the year. When you vote in the poll, it tabulates the current % of votes for each team in each individual game. Here are the results of the fan poll from 2010.

Two years ago you guys scored a low of 121 points, which was 11 points lower than GamePlan. Some of the conferences and divisions you did the best in were the SEC East (0 pts!), SEC West (4 pts) and the Mountain West (8 pts).  Last year you guys finished right behind Lindy’s and ATS Consultants for 4th place with 116 points.

If you have any questions on the scoring or need further explanation please refer to pages 306-307 of this year’s magazine or visit or check out the May 16 Blog.

We put the conference polls up a couple of weeks ago for this year’s games and this is a great way for me to gauge how the public views each game. When you vote you have the entire conference schedule in front of you and the home team is capitalized. To vote you do need to register your e-mail address but this is just to make sure there is no stuffing of the ballot box.

Here are the top games from each conference and how the public views each game to date. Keep in mind these percentages will change between now and the start of the season.


  1. LSU (34%) at Alabama (66%). In what could be not only one of the biggest SEC games this year but also a national title elimination game, 66% of you have the Tide getting revenge from last year’s loss. Read more…

2010 Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: SEC

July 22nd, 2011 No comments

One of the more popular sections of the regional magazines was the Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios where I take a look at the 2010 season and what teams records could have been in the Best Case and the Worst Case scenarios. Sometimes teams with solid winning records caught some breaks and were actually just a few plays away from a losing record. Some teams with losing records may have been just a handful of plays away from a winning record. Listed below are the SEC teams. The Best Case scenario record shows them winning all the games they lost by a TD or less. The Worst Case scenario shows what their record would have been if they had lost all the games they won by a TD or less.

Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: SEC


Alabama 2010 Best Case 12-1 Close Losses (2)


LSU – It was only 7-3 at HT but the offenses got rolling in the 2H. Bama led 14-10 into the 4Q but trailed 24-21 with 3:23 left after a TD pass to Julio Jones. LSU on 3&13 from its own 20 opted to pass the ball and got a 47 yd pass to the Bama33 and they punted with just :18 left.

AUBURN – Alabama led 21-0 and fumbled at the Auburn19 before Auburn even got their first FD. Bama had a 1st & gl at the 3 but settled for a 24 yd FG and then Auburn got a 36 yd TD pass to Blake with 5:08 left in the half to get back in it at 24-7. Bama went 65/9pl but fumbled at the Auburn12. At half Bama had a 379-87 yd edge but failed to put Auburn away. Auburn took their first lead on a TD with 11:55 left. Bama punted with 5:18 left from the Auburn40. McElroy suffered a concussion and was out. Auburn converted on 4&inches with a 3 yd run by Newton when it looked like they were just trying to draw Bama offsides. They punted with :51 left. McCarron threw four incompletions on the final 4 plays.


Alabama 2010 Worst Case 9-4 Close Wins (1) Read more…

2010 Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: Big Ten

July 21st, 2011 No comments

One of the more popular sections of the regional magazines was the Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios where I take a look at the 2010 season and what teams records could have been in the Best Case and the Worst Case scenarios. Sometimes teams with solid winning records caught some breaks and were actually just a few plays away from a losing record. Some teams with losing records may have been just a handful of plays away from a winning record. Listed below are the Big 10 teams. The Best Case scenario record shows them winning all the games they lost by a TD or less. The Worst Case scenario shows what their record would have been if they had lost all the games they won by a TD or less.

Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios: Big 10 (excluding Nebraska):


Illinois 2010 Best Case 10-3 Close Losses (3)


MICHIGAN – See Michigan

MINNESOTA – Minny did lead 24-20 at the end of 3Q’s. Illinois took the lead 34-24 with 8:14 left. UM ret’d the KO 90 yards to the 4 and got a TD 2 plays later. UM took over at their 20 with 2:44 left and on 3&G a 2 yd TD run gave them the lead. Illinois was int’d at the UM40 and ret’d 24 yards.

FRESNO ST - Illinois got a TD but missed the 2 pt conv and trailed 25-23 in the 4Q. Ill got 3 FD’s to the FS 37 but on 4&16 punted 33 yards to the 10 with 9:31 left. FS went on a 9:13 drive incl a gutsy 4&1 conversion in their own terr and didn’t punt until :18 were left in the game. Read more…