NDInsider’s 2014 Notre Dame Football Annual is on the stands and in the App Store and if you’re looking for a comprehensive one-stop shop for all things Irish football, this is it. Brought to you by the South Bend Tribune’s “Big Four” writers, Eric Hansen, AlLesar, Tyler James, and BobWieneke, the magazine offers deep content paired with quality writing. At $9.95 plus tax for the paper product, it’s a bargain as well. $12.95 gets you the magazine shipped.
The Annual is broken down into a “Features” component and an “Analyses” component, with “Extras” thrown in as lagniappe. But whereas, on the bayou, lagniappe is extra pickles on your po’boy, the Extras section here includes very good profiles on the Golden Army, who make their debut this fall, a very good “Recruiting Roundtable” featuring the thoughts of Mike Farrell, Tom Lemming, and Steve Wiltfong, and opponent previews. If there’s a weakness, the 2013 Statistics are presented in an unappealing format that begs for some sort of stylistic upgrade.
The Features are terrific, with Eric Hansen’s piece on Everett Golson, “Unfinished Melody,” the best of them. The strength of this magazine, perhaps the strength of the writing, comes from the familiarity with the subject. These are not distant scribes, penning thoughts based on internet research. Instead, the writers use their proximity to the campus and the players to their full advantage. Bob Wieneke lets you tag along on a day in the life of Jaylon Smith. Eric Hansen doesn’t just give you Brian VanGorder’s take on his defensive philosophy, he gives you Malik Zaire’s and Lou Holtz’s and Steve Beuerlein’s observations and experiences to put the new DC in a larger, more thoughtful context.
The Analyses of the position groups, whether unique pieces, or compilations from other Tribune sources, are good to very good. Each provides a Depth Chart while a companion article,highlights a key player, or in the case of Quarterbacks Coach Matt LaFleur, a member of the staff critical to the group’s development.
Throughout the magazine, the writers go out of their way to get inside the personalities that make up the Fighting Irish. You can’t help but feel more connected to the team and its coaches and if you devour Tyler James’ article on what goes into an official campus visit, you come away with a deeper understanding of what goes into the recruiting cycle. The “Visit Itinerary” is a treat to study and sheds light on how choreographed these visits are.
The NDInsider iPad app is a fantastic, easy-to-use and navigate alternative to the magazine. All the features you would expect on such an app are available: searchable content, embedded links, two different ways to quickly view magazine content (a table of contents view and a scrolling thumbnail view), the ability to bookmark pages via the “Favorites” option, and bonus videos and photo galleries that can only be found on the app.
As a blogger, I keep the 2014 Notre Dame Football Preview next to my laptop throughout the season. It’s heavy-duty paper and glossy finish handle my marginalia, post-it notes and coffee stains with ease. The 2013 Statistics aside, the data is presented attractively and in convenient format, positioned where you’d want to see it on the page. This is clearly a magazine designed for the professional writer, or the dedicated fan who wants to be “that guy” at the game watch.
The 2014 Notre Dame Football Preview is a must have item that belongs on your shelf. It’s available on newsstands, the App Store, and for home delivery.