Monday, August 13, 2012

College Football Pieces by Rick Bragg, Wright Thompson & Kevin Van Valkenburg for ESPN

Three features from the Aug 20 ESPN the Magazine College Football preview stood out to me as excellent.

Lengthiest was the profile "Urban Meyer will be home for dinner" on the Ohio State head coach. It's an excellent piece by Wright Thompson that delves into whether Meyer will be able to coach at the level he's accustomed to while avoiding the deterioration in health and loss of family time that plagued him at Florida. It's definitely a question with an unknown outcome and Thompson frames it exceptionally well (with a Thompson interview about the piece here).

Also from this issue was another another excellent profile revealing internal conflict. From Kevin Van Valkenburg, "Who's afraid of the Honey Badger?" is on Tyrann Mathieu, the now dismissed from the team Heisman trophy finalist for LSU. It's fascinating to know that Van Valkenburg wrote this piece questioning whether Mathieu's story "the beginning of a cautionary tale?" prior to him getting booted from the Tigers.

Final story that stood out was from Rick Bragg with "Down here: To understand football's place in the South, you first have to see it from the inside." Reminiscent of the Warren St. John book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania, it shows (for better or worse) just how much college football matters to people in SEC country.