Daily Blog • December 3, 2014

Magazine Writing Process

Just to give you an idea of how the magazine writing works I thought I would use today’s blog to show you the three different write thru's I do for each team and answer some FAQ.

FIRST WRITE THRU - This process starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving each year so this year it was November 30th when I officially started working on the 2015 magazine. Naturally I write the teams one at a time and there are 128 to go thru. The first question is how do I choose the order. Well each write thru has a different order. For the first write thru I do all of this years bowl teams first. Now I am writing the teams before they have played a bowl game, players that have left early for the NFL, late transfers, etc. I know this but that is why there is a 3-step process. As far as the stats go when I put them in the writeup pre bowl, someone goes back in and updates the numbers. If someone has a huge bowl game I usually go into the text and change some wording. I usually have a pretty good idea of players leaving early but for those that surprised me, I will catch that in the second write thru.

This write thru consists of me going thru each teams season day-by-day. We have a news media service, which sends us articles from all the newspapers that cover each team out there. The staff underlines all the important info and it gets typed into a file for that team. At the end of the year, every meaningful story is in there and I get ready to just submerge myself on that team for the next 3 to 6 hours. The reading will be anywhere from 50 (Sun Belt team) to 250 pages (SEC team) depending on how much media coverage a team had. As I read thru the report I get a glimpse of the team from every day during the season. I see all the ups and downs at each position and the highs and lows for a team during the year. I do the bowl teams first because when I am analyzing the bowl matchups I like to have reacquainted myself with the team to know it inside and out just like when I wrote the magazine the previous year.

During the reading process I have a yellow highlighter and highlight all notes I want made on my Phil's Notebook pages under each position. These then get typed into my personal (Phil's) note page. This allows me to drill into each team on a individual position basis at any time with a complete recap of the position, injuries, breakout players, etc during the year. I refer to these often.

After the stack of reading is gone thru and all the notes are made, I write 4 different positions for the magazine. I write the Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Receivers and Special Teams. I do the entire magazine into a tape recorder because dictating a paragraph is much faster than typing a paragraph and I have 128 teams to do (3 to 6 hours per team) and have to get them done in a span of about 50 days. At the time I write the position, I look at my computers grade for each team for this year and compare my ranking to it. I then do my ups/downs which I grade each position from a -5 to a +5 as to whether it is improved or weaker than last year. I also put my preliminary grade on each of the 4 positions in my power rating for 2015.

After this process is complete I then have my power ratings updated for 2015 in my computer. This accounts for returning starters, 2014 production, talent grades, etc. I then have the computer open and go thru all the offensive lines in the country over a 3-day period. I look at last year’s writeup and all the notes I made when I did my reading, what they have coming back and do each writeup. When I do all the offensive lines I am comparing apples to apples and have my original grades on all the top offensive lines in the country and in each league. I then do the same thing for the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. At this point it is the end of January and I have the entire first write thru done for each team. I also have all the base sets for my 9 sets of power ratings done and can do a pre spring run thru of each teams games for the upcoming season during the month of February.

If you think that means I coast during the months of February, March, April and May you would be mistaken as each of those months are more intense, as I have to do my 2nd write thru's, 3rd write thru's and All Conference Forecasts, etc during that span. I will have a blog on all of those procedures at a later time.