By Stewart Mandel, SI.com
If you're the kind of fan who simply can't get enough of college football, you presumably spend a healthy amount of time trolling the Blogosphere for the type of insight, analysis and amusement that can only add to one's enjoyment of this wonderful sport. We at SI.com hereby invite you to add The Sweep to your daily reading list for the 2008 season.
The aim of this blog -- which will be feature several new posts a day, every day, for the duration of the season -- is to provide a sweeping scope of the national landscape thanks to an extensive team of contributors. In addition to myself, SI.com writers Andy Staples, Cory McCartney, Luke Winn, Bill Trocchi, Arash Markazi and Gennaro Filice will each provide their unique takes on news and developments across the sport. The Sweep will be their place to discuss any and all aspects of the sport they find intriguing, amusing or down-right infuriating -- and your place to react to them.
The centerpiece of The Sweep will be wall-to-wall Saturday coverage both from those of us on the scene at big games and those monitoring other action on television. In addition, The Sweep is pleased to welcome Jay Christensen, proprietor of the highly popular TheWizofOdds.com, who will provide daily "Reporters Notebook" roundups with links to the most interesting news stories around the country as well as his own personal insights. Other voices from across the Blogosphere will contribute throughout the season as well.
The blogging will begin in a moment, but first, here's a quick introduction to The Sweep's main contributors ...
· Stewart Mandel first caught the college football bug at Northwestern during the Wildcats' run to the 1996 Rose Bowl. Over the past decade, he's covered nearly 100 marquee games, including the past nine BCS title games, and believes most American workers would be far more productive if accompanied by their own personal marching band.
· As a 240-pound University of Florida freshman in 1996, Andy Staples was perhaps the worst walk-on offensive lineman in major college football history. He can't help that his posts tend to trend toward the sweet tea belt; his parents met in class at Alabama, and his stepdad -- who taught him all about football -- holds a master's from South Carolina.
· Cory McCartney believes college football is a religion. He believes there should be a constitutional amendment making college cheerleaders a national symbol and most importantly, in the immortal words of John Heisman he believes "when in doubt, punt!"
· Luke Winn's saddest college football memory is not being able to tear down Ryan Field's goalposts following Northwestern's epic 2000 upset of Michigan. Supposedly the posts were cemented deep into the ground with the explicit intention of preventing tear-downs, but it was nonetheless depressing.
· Bill Trocchi joined SI.com in 2006 after covering college football and basketball in one form or fashion for 13 years. Raised in Massachusetts, Trocchi attended Vanderbilt and experienced the phenomenon that is SEC football. His biggest problem with the great sport of college football: no playoff.
· Arash Markazi was born in Oklahoma and raised as a wishbone-running Sooners fan but soon switched allegiances once he arrived at USC. Despite partying with Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush after their respective Heisman wins, he claims he's tougher on his Trojans than most. He promises neutrality on the football front while admitting it may be harder to hide his affinity for the Song Girls.
· Born in Berkeley, Gennaro Filice grew up a die hard Cal fan. He adjusted from Blue and Gold to Maize and Blue during four glorious years at the University of Michigan. Although he's already requested his ashes be spread in the Big House, Gennaro promises to think outside of the winged helmet.
· Jay Christensen is a veteran of four newspapers, three of which have folded, and he recently left the fourth -- the Los Angeles Times -- after nearly two decades. When he's not killing off newspapers, Jay is working on his blog, The Wiz of Odds.com, or dabbling in radio. He once won an office bowl pool and has a deep dislike for valet parking.