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O/NSO: Man of Steele edition

The Obvious: While the Trojans continued with Friday’s early morning players-run-practice, perhaps the most highly anticipated preseason college football magazine was making its public appearance, Phil Steele’s 2018 College Football Preview.

The Not So Obvious: What sets Steele’s publication apart from the others is the volume of information and number of pages. The publication is 352 pages compared to others that are currently on newsstands. In comparison, Athlon’s national publication is 256 pages while their Pac-12 Preview is 192 pages; Street and Smith publishes 208 pages, and Lindy’s national preview presents 232 pages. While the O/NSO has purchased all the available magazines, Steele claims his accuracy over the seasons and yearly volume of information is the best and most accurate. We say that while all the mags have their good points, it you need to make a tiebreaker, you can’t go wrong with Steele’s publication. The only real knock is that the size of the type is very small, so make sure you have your reading glasses available.   

The Obvious: Consumers of college football preseason publications are wary of magazine costs.

The Not So Obvious: With 352 pages, the Phil Steele publication sells for $13.99 compared to. Lindy’s $8.99 in the USA and $9.99 in Canada, Street and Smith’s $8.99, and Athlon’s national and Pac-12 preview selling for $9.99 each.

The Obvious: All of the national publications have regional covers and Phil Steele’s national preview is no exception.

The Not So Obvious: On the cover of Steele’s national preview is Trojans linebacker Cameron Smith (photo above – No. 35), Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae, Stanford tailback Bryce Love, and Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.  

The Obvious: All the current publications have their conference previews and rankings.  

The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele’s divisional forecast for the Pac-12 has the Trojans capturing the Pac-12 South followed by Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Arizona State and UCLA. As for the Pac-12 North Division, Steele calls it Washington winning the division followed by Stanford, Oregon, Cal, Washington State, and Oregon State.

The Obvious: All the current publications have their versions of the 2018 preseason All-Pac-12 teams.

The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele’s Pac-12 first-team offense includes Trojans’ wide receiver Tyler Vaughns and center Toa Lobendahn. Defensively, the Trojans named first-team honors were linebacker Cameron Smith, and corner Iman Marshall.

The Obvious: For each preseason publication, there is a brief summation of the university’s seasonal prospects.

The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele writes, “The Trojans lose QB Darnold. USC has been ranked preseason Top 10 (like 2017) 22 times and finished lower than their preseason rank 16 times (5 times NR). This year, they will not be in the Top 10. USC has one of the nation’s best defenses and avoids both Washington and Oregon out of the North. USC is my pick to win the South and My #6 Surprise team.”

The Obvious: Like some of the other publications, Phil Steele ranks each team’s positional “unit” against the other teams in the conference.

The Not So Obvious: Steele ranks the Trojans’ positional units compared to other Pac-12 schools as follows: QB-10, RB-3, WR-1, OL-2, DL-2, LB-1. DB-1, ST-3.

The Obvious: Perhaps the most controversial of the magazine rankings are those that pit coaches against each other.

The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele’s publication coaching rankings is no exception. In terms of the Pac-12, Steele’s coaching ranking, top-to-bottom, are as follows: Washington’s Chris Petersen and Stanford’s David Shaw tied at No.1; Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre tied at No. 3; Trojans’ Clay Helton and Washington State’s Mike Leach tied at No. 5; Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin and UCLA’s Chip Kelly tied at No. 7; Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, Cal’s Justin Wilcox, and ASU’s Herm Edwards tied at No. 9, and Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith No. 12.    

The Obvious: Most publications vary on whom they think will be the Trojans’ starting quarterback for 2018.

The Not So Obvious: Phil Steele and Street and Smith predict the starting QB for the Trojans will be sophomore Matt Fink while Lindy’s and Athlon call it J.T. Daniels.

The Obvious: Each publication has their Top 25 preseason rankings.

The Not So Obvious: Athlon ranks the Trojans No. 21, Lindy’s says No. 19, Street and Smith comments No. 15, and Phil Steele forecasts No. 14.

The Obvious: And finally, some of the publications have predicted post-season bowl destinations for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious: So, where will the Trojans be spending their bowl destination time? According to the mags that made a prediction, Phil Steele and Street and Smith predict the Trojans in San Diego’s Holiday Bowl on Dec. 31- that’s right, New Year’s Eve – facing the Iowa Hawkeyes. Athlon forecasts San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl for the Trojans against West Virginia on Friday night, Dec. 28. If given the choice of the above, the O/NSO says there are worse places to spend a New Year’s Eve than San Diego.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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