It’s a tradition like no other: the late-December Football Study Hall post in which I compliment myself. Here are the 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions. (It’s such a tradition that I’m basically plagiarizing myself in this intro!)
Here’s the annual disclaimer:
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!
10. Not football
I don’t think I realized this until just now, but I didn’t write all that much about non-football sports this year. Here’s a pair of my favorite such pieces, though:
Nothing like reliving one of your school’s most painful, unexpected losses in the name of art.
Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody seemed to pick up quite a bit of steam this year, which was very exciting to see. Here are a few of my favorite episodes.
Please, lord, let Tennessee land Jon Gruden:
Jim Harbaugh's moving goalposts, Illinois' upside, and the future of beat writing:
My co-host Steven Godfrey had to miss a few weeks of PAPN this year, first for paternity leave and then for assignment. Here are a couple of my favorite guest host spots.
Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz: Havoc, analysts, stopping the RPO, and relegation:
Holly Anderson: The Godliness Bowl and Tennessee's very, very dumb week:
And finally, this fall I piloted a potential new podcast called Great Sports City. Here’s to hoping I get to put out a few more of these in 2018.
8. The top 100
My Top 100 Games of the College Football Season list: a tradition like no oth—oh wait, I already used that phrase.
The SB Nation college football team put out a massive, thrilling series on the wondrous 2007 season this summer. Here are my contributions:
6. In-season analysis
The offseason is for creativity; the in-season is for reactions. Here are some of my favorite reaction pieces from the 2017 season.
First things first: this piece, on big plays and their randomness, is one of my favorite stat pieces in recent memory. It changed the way I look at college football and stats, and I look forward to looking further in this direction in the offseason.
Here are some more stat things:
I went to Boise! Loved this piece.
I went to Stillwater! Loved these pieces — a profile of sorts and a piece on how “basketball on grass” is taking on more and more specific meaning.
2. 50 Best* and stuff
My second book, The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All Time, came out in March, but since I wrote it in 2016, I’m not counting it here. I will say I enjoyed the hell out of two of the series I put together to help promote it: the College Football Dream Tournament and the Game of the Year of the Day.
1. The commish
I ran for College Football Commissioner this year. The platform:
- The student-athlete bill of rights
- How to modernize amateurism
- Let's fix recruiting
- Bring back the video game
- Promotion and relegation (I further expanded on this one later)
- Expand the Playoff
- Fix scheduling: Scrap divisions
- Non-con scheduling? Get weird
- The games are too damn long
Did I earn your vote?