Behind The Scenes

Inside the game plan for The Mag’s College Football Preview issue

ESPN The Magazine College Football Preview

Even though ESPN The Magazine’s 2012 College Football Preview hits newsstands Friday, it’s already causing a stir in some circles.

On topics ranging from voodoo dolls and honey badgers to live mascots and power rankings, Front Row speaks with Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman on how The Mag’s issue came together.

How did the concept behind the SEC voodoo dolls come about?
We knew the issue was going to look at the game through the prism of the SEC’s dominance but we realized we didn’t have any natural SEC-focused covers. Our main SEC player profile was on LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, but we knew he wasn’t available. Another player-driven feature was on USC, whose players did sit for a shoot.

We started talking about doing an SEC concept involving the mascots, since we had a mascot photo act [see pages 66-73 in the issue] in the works. We worked on several different ideas and this is the one that felt like the best combination of fun and capturing an attitude a lot of fans outside of the SEC have about the conference. We considered doing split cover — a USC cover for the newsstand and the voodoo dolls for subscribers. But it felt strange to have an SEC-themed issue and put USC on the cover.

Why were LSU, Georgia and Alabama selected to be represented? And where are the dolls now?
LSU and Bama are both Top 5 teams this season and because of their dominance in college football the past few seasons, including last season’s BCS title game. Georgia because it’s another SEC team garnering so much attention this year based on how well it did last season. Georgia was the wild card for us. It just as easily could have been Florida or Arkansas or South Carolina. The actual dolls are now in our office in Bristol.

How far in advance do you plan the College Football Preview Issue?
We try to plan most preview issues three months in advance. We know what the big stories are going to be, what the big themes for the season are going to be and like to give ourselves time to get in front of as many of the subjects as possible. We also need to time to scramble if ideas don’t work out as we planned. Also, because we coordinate so heavily with and TV on preview packages, it helps to get out front.

In this video interview, The Mag speaks with USC’s Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee about getting ready for the 2012 season, being bowl eligible, what the offense will look like, Coach Kiffin’s 2012 team motto, and the return of USC football.

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