In my job, I aim for both quality and quantity. By my estimation, I write about 1.5 million words per year, and a lot of the pieces that hold those words are, to some degree, duds.
I like a lot of the pieces, though, and all I can really hope is that I look back at each passing year and think, "This was my best writing year yet." Well ... this was my best writing year yet. I'm really proud of a lot of what I did, and as we reach the "year-end series" portion of the year, I wanted to share some of my favorites.
I can be awfully self-indulgent at times, so instead of sharing my 10 favorite pieces, I'm going to share far more than 10 favorites, based instead on 10 themes.
On to the list!
This was the second year of Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody, and I like to think Godfrey and I did some pretty cool things this year. Some examples:
Alternate realignment timelines and the Texas Brand™:
Armageddon and the Airline Conference:
The most PAPN PAPN that ever PAPN’d:
The PAPN AAC MEDIA DAY SPECTACULAR, Part 1: Lobster vs. catfish
The PAPN AAC MEDIA DAY SPECTACULAR, Part 2: Chad Morris and Tom Herman on stats:
PAPN loves Baton Rouge:
Race, empathy, discourse, and protest in college football:
9. The annual Top 100
8. Two ideas to change college football for the better
- Here’s how to beat Novak Djokovic — if anyone actually can.
- Lleyton Hewitt was a prodigy, a jerk, and a change agent.
- Tennis’ men can’t stop saying dumb things about the WTA and women’s tennis.
- Roger Federer's forehand, Thiago's passes and other beautiful sports things (co-starring Zito Madu).
- Sheffield Wednesday is 1 game from the Premier League, and last season they stole my heart.
- How college football is a lot like (and nothing like) English Premier League soccer.
- 6 numbers that illustrate how improbable Leicester City’s title run was.
5. A deep dive into historical stats
- Celebrating the 50 best college football teams since World War II.
- Ranking the 10 best college football programs of each decade.
- The 23 most perfect offenses in the history of college football.
- The 25 best college football defenses of then and now.
- The 20 best college football matchups of all time.
- Annual projected S&P+ review and season summary: 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970
4. Stats in the current day
- Alabama's 2016's projected best team, but Clemson's got the best Playoff chances.
- NEW MATH: S&P+ ratings with special teams efficiency.
- Ranking all 128 FBS teams by 2016 returning production: Louisville leads the country.
- The 2016 NFL Draft doesn't have a QB worth trading up for.
- Michael Thomas and Josh Doctson are the most well-rounded receivers in the NFL Draft.
- Why does elite recruiting help college football defenses more than offenses?
- Do bye weeks actually help?
- Which college football coaches consistently produce overachievers or underachievers?
3. 2016 in-season analysis
- The Colorado Buffaloes are college football’s 2016 dream-season team.
- 10 things to remember about Michigan-Ohio State, 2016’s greatest college football game.
- Michigan? Washington? Tennessee? Colorado? College football has gone back to the 1990s!
- How 1 play at Iowa State changed Bama-LSU (and all of college football)
- College football coaches, here are 2 very simple rules for hiring new coordinators
- The lesson from Nick Saban's championship reign is to stop trying to copy Nick Saban.
- Sure, Purdue could try to hire Les Miles. Or they could do what’s actually worked for them before.
- What is ‘MACtion?’ Let’s define it by its 10 greatest games ever.
- Here’s how Penn State went from ‘James Franklin hot seat?’ to ‘Playoff?’ in 2 months.
- Why each team in the 2016 College Football Playoff will and won’t win the national title.
2. The HBCU series
- Eagle-Aggie or Aggie-Eagle: The battle for MEAC supremacy.
- How Prairie View A&M emerged from the worst losing streak ever.
- That time FAMU nearly made it in college football's top level, but the timing was all wrong.
- Savannah State and the ultimate rebuild.
- Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams celebrates the past and future of HBCU football.
1. The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All Time
You haven’t actually read my favorite thing I wrote this year (well, you’ve read three chapters — 1945 Army, 1999 Virginia Tech, 2007 Oregon — but that still leaves 47 others), but I can now tell you when you can read it.
The publishing process is annoying and features random black holes, but The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All Time will be available to retailers on March 7, 2017.
From the back cover.
College football's history is rich and regionalized. You know your team's history and maybe your conference's, but our shared knowledge doesn't go too far beyond Heisman winners and recent national champions.
It's time to change that. In The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All Time, Bill Connelly dives into the history and evolution of the sport, telling its story through 50 particularly interesting teams. From 1906 Chicago through 2013 Auburn, Connelly tells the story of innovators, transcendent players, burgeoning dynasties, and greatness denied.
From Joe Guyon and Red Grange to Michael Vick and Tyrann Mathieu, from Amos Alonzo Stagg to Chip Kelly, from the jump shift to the spread offense, from world wars to integration, from the 1925 Rose Bowl to the 2013 Iron Bowl, learn what made college football so unique, maddening, and addictive.
This is not a book about college football's best teams; it's a book about college football at its best.
I’ve been ready for you guys to read this for a while. (And if you supported the Kickstarter campaign, you probably won’t have to wait until March 7 to get your hands on it.)