Stewart Mandel first caught the college football bug as a sophomore at Northwestern University in 1995. "The thrill of that '95 Rose Bowl season energized the entire campus, and I quickly became aware of how the national media covered that story," he says. "I knew right then that I wanted to be one of those people, covering those types of stories."
Mandel joined SI.com (formerly CNNSI.com) in 1999. A senior writer for the website, his coverage areas include the national college football beat and college basketball. He also contributes features to Sports Illustrated. "College football is my favorite sport to cover," says Mandel. "The stakes are so high week in and week out, and the level of emotion it elicits from both the fans and the participants is unrivaled." Mandel's most popular features on SI.com include his College Football Mailbag and College Football Overtime. He has covered 14 BCS national championship games and eight Final Fours.
Mandel's first book, Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy That Reign Over College Football, was published in 2007. In 2008 he took first place (enterprise category) and second place (game story) in the Football Writers Association of America's annual writing contest. He also placed first in the 2005 contest (columns).
Mandel says covering George Mason's run to the Final Four was the most enjoyable story of his SI tenure. "It was thrilling to be courtside for the historic Elite Eight upset of UConn," Mandel says. "Being inside the locker room and around the team during that time allowed me to get to know the coaches and players behind that captivating story."
Before SI.com Mandel worked at ESPN the Magazine, ABC Sports Online and The Cincinnati Enquirer. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1998 with a B.S. in journalism. A Cincinnati native, Mandel and his wife, Emily, live in Santa Clara, Calif.
Now that Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette have normalized the option of turning pro before the season ends and skipping bowl games, will other players skip them too? Will fans?