Can We Talk Some Pigskin?

Yes, it is the apex of summer. More or less.

The Temperature/ Humidity Index — that’s what we called it in the days of my yout as Cousin Vinnie would call them — is going to reach 106 this week. Not exactly outlined against the gray blue sky the Four Horsemen rode again weather.

Still I’m ready to talk about some college football . . .

. . . because I as is my custom annually wended my way out to my purveyor of choice to plunk down an Andy plus a bit of silver for Phil Steele’s ’22 College Football Preview.

It’s 352 pages of everything even the most diehard of diehard pigskin obsessives could possibly want to know about the upcoming campaign. And way too much more.

It is biblical. Even though King Phil updates his yearly, unlike King James I, f/k/a King James VI of Scotland, whose version of his treasured tome has remained relatively unaltered since some time in the mid 1700s. Which predates college pigskin’s first shrine, Franklin Field in Philly, by a century and a half, give or take a 365 or two.

We know for certain of the gridiron annual’s importance thanks to the imprimatur of “The Current Voice of College Football,” Kirk Herbstreit: “The season officially starts every year when I get my copy of Phil Steele’s magazine.”*

*Dispensation has been granted to the former QB at THE, even though, heretic as it may be, he’ll also be calling Thursday night NFL now for Jeff Bezos.

The reality is that Steele’s too much is truly too much. Way more analytics and numbers and breakdowns and team reports and abbreviations (there’s a glossary, also too voluminous) and history and predictions than I can or really wish to consume. Also there’s so much info contained therein, that the print is too small for my aging eyes to read more than a few minutes at a time, and I refuse to use a magnifier.

I buy it yearly when it’s published to herald a look toward Autumn, and to aid in the foolishness to come that are America’s Greatest Weekly College Football Predictions, “Seedy K’s Peerless Pigskin Prognostications.”

 * * * * *

Of course, I perused the breadth of the encyclopedia for insight into my favorite squad, the University of Louisville Cardinals.

First, a few words about Steele himself.

I know a thing or two about being obsessive and compulsive. I have a daily routine. I eat exactly the same thing for breakfast every morning. My bedtime and wake up time rarely vary, unless mandated by a Cardinal game time, or a rock & roll show. But this Phil Steele dude, he brings new meaning to being obsessive and compulsive.

His intro is titled “FOOTBALL 365 DAYS A YEAR.”

In it, the undisputed expert of experts shares that, during the season, he works 102 hours/ week. That’s 14 hours/day. In magazine season, he ratchets back to only 70/80 hours a week.

There’s a photo of his office setup. 12 screens with Saturday games on all, a different battle on each. He watches every game on tape, and chronicles every drive.

He collates and passes along so many numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes off like a compiler of 2d grade arithmetic.

He has a staff of 16. Wonder if they work by the hour, or on salary? Or, if they’re locked in the their rooms during the season to make sure they stay focused?

His has been the “#1 most accurate preseason magazine over the last 27 years.” Yes, of course, he gives the stats to prove it.

Even if he didn’t, who am I to disagree?

My point: The guy knows of which he speaks.

Which is college football.

 * * * * *

So, what does he say about the 2022 University of Louisville Cardinals?

That they have the 9th toughest schedule in the land

But he ranks the Cards, 6-7 last year, #33. (Two spots ahead of Arch Rival allow me to add parenthetically.) In his Top 40 ranking of the Cards he offers, “If QB Cunningham stays healthy all year then I picked the Cardinals too low.”

Because his algorithms tell him U of L will be the 5th most improved team in the country. Behind Southern Cal, Florida, Texas and Nebraska. And because he is convinced Coach Satt has the best OL in the ACC, that Caleb Chandler is 2d team All-America guard. He believes Louisville will finish in a tie for 3d in the ACC Atlantic with Wake Forest, behind NC State and the Dabos.

He has several conference schools ranked ahead of U of L nationally. #4 Clemson. #11 Pitt. #12 Miami. #13 NC State. #24 Wake Forest.

His Final Four is chalk. Besides Clemson, there’s Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.

My Final Four is coming soon. I have a hunch it will be somewhat more eccentric.

Far less reliable.

— c d kaplan


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