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Pre-Ranking College Football Preview Magazines

College preview mags are coming out, or are already out. I know. I've steered clear of reading any of these, but I've heard of where some of these have ISU located. But for me, I don't necessarily buy the mags just to see what they write about ISU. Why pay money to read about my own team, when we have access to plenty of free information about our own team?  Any ISU fan that buys the guides to read what they have to say about ISU only are bound to be disappointed. Sure it's interesting to see what others think of the program, but that's not the sole reason I pick these guides up. What I get these for is to a) see how crazy these prognosticators are, and b) where the other teams in college football (the ones I don't follow 24/7, 365) stack up.

Below is how I'd rank the magazines/guides based on previous year's experiences of reading them. After purchasing and reading the guides, I plan on posting a review of each one.

1. Phil Steele - Dude isn't perfect (who is?), and yes he has his biases like everybody else, but he (and his team) do a pretty damn good job putting together information. He covers every team equally (each team has same information), and there is a ton of information. I usually find myself reading his guide over and over in the preseason and through the first 4-5 weeks of the season... Then of course I bust it out at the end of the season to see how Phil stacked up. I think all things considered, he does the best job. I always heard people rave about his guide, and I was always incredibly skeptical, but I usually learn something from his guide, which is more than I can say about some of the others. If you're only going to purchase one guide, this is the one to get in my opinion. You may not agree with all of his opinions, but you at least gain information to form your own opinions, and I have to give him major props for that.

2. Athlon - I like the layout of the guide usually, and it's an easy read. Like the rest of the guides, unless you're a fan of the big programs, you aren't going to be the hugest fan of what they say about your team. Often times there's lack of research on the smaller programs, but I get it. They're trying to sell magazines, and appeal to those larger fanbases. People love to read what they already believe. For example, Notre Dame fans want to read that they're awesome. If a guide prints that, it's probably going to sell more copies. Now in this case, Notre Dame isn't getting rated like it did last year, but I'm sure there will be features about Brian Kelly in all of the preview magazines. It sells copies, and that's the goal.

3. Sporting News - This magazine sucks. I don't think I'm going to buy it this year. You don't get equal information, and they try to get all cute with categories that have nothing to do with wins and losses like "best player who's on the offense, has a hot girlfriend, plays video games, and plays in the SEC". I just don't get it. Like someone who doesn't like football is going to buy the guide. Going for cross-over appeal to a market that doesn't want it. Sporting News overall (not just preview guides) as a publication have gone downhill completely over the last several years, and I can't believe they still continue to exist. I'll probably still give them my 8 bucks or whatever, just for the heck of it.

4. Lindy's - These guys can get crazy. They aren't afraid to make outlandish/illogical predictions, but they at least mix it up, and provide a change in pace to the monotony Athlon and Sporting News may provide. For the most part, I don't take it seriously. I did look at their preseason Top 25, and while it isn't too crazy, they do leave out some teams, and overrate others (Wisconsin #6.... Really!???)

Stay tuned in a couple of weeks to see what I think about the 2010 edition of these guides. Also, which guides do you like best and why?