I realize the title of this article may be a bit of an oxymoron for many readers, as most people don't seem to know anything at all. In fact, as a New York Times profile revealed, many people believed college football's most voluminous prognosticator wasn't a real person at all.
For those who don't know, Steele's preview magazine is one gigantic data dump that reads like a language all to its own. Written in the tiniest legible type and filled with acronyms like VHT, Steele's magazine is the premier source for knowing things like Kent State's record the last seven seasons when out-rushing their opponents on the road. His office has a dozen (not an exaggeration) televisions and, together with his staff of more than a dozen people, he somehow manages to follow a game on each of them every fall Saturday.
Phil Steele exists. He is 53 years old, lives and works in the Cleveland area, and is, indeed, human, although a very particular type of one. He owns two rabbits in fact, Roxy and Bun-Bun. Here are some other things we learned:
- Kirk Herbstreit uses Steele's magazine exclusively. “To have it all in one source, where you can thumbnail through it and say, ‘Oh, that’s right, I haven’t thought about that guy’ — it’s really cool to have all that at your fingertips."
- He's kind of loaded. Steele lives on a six-and-a-half acre property with an indoor basketball court. He says his circulation has doubled from 200,000 subscribers in 2004, all paying $12.99 for the magazine or $9.99 for a digital copy. You do the math.
- He makes more than 400 radio appearances a year. I honestly thought it would be more.
- He got his start publishing a weekly newsletter picking college and NFL games against the spread. It took him seven years to become profitable.
- He's beginning to resent pro sports. Steele let his staff take over duties for his NFL preview magazine, and could do the same with college football in the not too distant future. "If they started going to the paid thing, yeah, I would become less of a fan of college football," he said. "There’s no doubt about it."
- His influence is only growing. The Times stated Steele is slated to begin appearing on ESPN this fall.