With 22 seasons under his belt at the time of this writing, steinrat: has acheived some nice success, with a 245-66 overall record, 7 Conference Championships, and one National Championship.  He's also co-coaching under the gcfs id, to add a 108-25 record in ten seasons, and four more conference championships.  We sat down together in the luxurious world-wide headquarters of the GUESS Ratings Service for a short chat.  (Well, we would have if there WERE a luxurious world-wide headquarters.  It sounds a lot better than saying we exchanged several site mails.)

bhazlewood:  Ok, let's get started with the obligatory demographic questions.  What's your real name (only need to give your first name if you want), age, marital status, children?
steinrat:   Chris Steiner, 35, divorced father of a hellraiser soon to turn 11.

bhazlewood:  Any story behind the 'steinrat:' id ?
steinrat:  It's an old college nickname with a long and boring story. To shorten it, all of us were either "Dogs" or "Rats" back in the day for some reason that wouldn't make sense to anyone but us, and mine was the only one that stuck forever. Lucky me.

bhazlewood:  What do you to pay for your WIS addiction? (Or how did you pay for it before you had so many Rewards Points ? LOL)
steinrat:  That question should be so much simpler at my age. OK, here goes: I was an attorney but got into it because I wanted to practice law for the financial sector and got out of it because they made me do litigation instead. I took my expertise and went to work for a mortgage bank, which promptly went out of business in the subprime meltdown. Then I started my own business consulting for mortgage bankers and brokers, and watched my clients go down one by one until I had none left. So now I'm finishing up my requirements to get a Farmers Insurance agency, which I should be doing by the New Year. In other words, thank God for Reward Points.

bhazlewood: How did you discover WIS / GD ?
steinrat: You all have joannes to thank (or blame) for me. I somehow stumbled upon an off-site thread of his detailing one of his teams over the course of several seasons, and was enthralled. As soon as time and finances allowed, I got an account.

bhazlewood: What are your favorite sports / teams / athletes?
steinrat: Sport: College Football. Nothing else even comes close anymore.
Team: Ohio State Buckeyes. Ditto re the proximity of others.
Athletes: That's a bit harder. I think I still have to say Omar Vizquel. He played SS unlike anyone I'd ever seen before or since, and I got the privilege of seeing Ozzie Smith pplay in person. Others include LeBron James (I'm not a big BB fan, but day in and day out I see him do things that aren't possible), Ozzie Newsome, Marvin Hagler, and Anderson Silva.

bhazlewood: You're sitting in your favorite restaurant with any four people who ever lived... what's on the menu, and who's at the table?
steinrat: I suppose that depends on what kind of mood I'm in. Most days I think it would be Sam Kinison, Bob Schimmel, Andy Kaufman and Richard Pryor, and the only thing on the table would be a huge mound of coke. Then we'd all sit around and make fun of Robin Williams because we can still be funny without it. But in my more enlightened moments I might choose Abe Lincoln, Aristotle, Jesus, and an interpretor all munching on fish and bread, with wine to wash it down. And in my hornier moments Jenna Jameson and three "friends", and we'd just skip the meal altogether.

bhazlewood:  LOL this is going to be a great read...
bhazlewood:  You're stuck on a desert island with your iPod (or its other-branded equivalent) and a solar-powered battery recharger, but somehow you had the feeling something like this was coming. What's on the playlist?
steinrat: My Dad's a musician, so I have pretty eclectic tastes. The Eagles are definately on there, along with all the Southern rock stuff. And there was this 2 or 3 year window in the mid-90s when country didn't suck, because basically it was Southern rock. All that stuff is on there. But so is Devo, the Beetles, some old Blues, Deep Purple, Billy Joel, The Killers (everything that was great about the 80s, AND the groupies know what a razor is for), Snoop, Emminem, 38 Special, that one song by Men At Work, the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, Glenn Miller, Beastie Boys, Counting Crows, and so on. Basically everything that doesn't suck.

bhazlewood:  You also managed to pack a case of your favorite beverage and some books you always wanted to read but never got around to it. What's in that package?
steinrat:  Amber Bach, and The Egyptian, by Mika Waltari. I've actually read that one two or three times, but I've never read it drunk on a deserted island before. And if I could get another copy of it in its original Finnish, that would be cool too, because at least then I could do something interesting to keep myself occupied. Not many people come off a stint on a deserted island bilingual, and those that do always seem to know some crappy native language ... like they'll ever use THAT again.

bhazlewood:  After you are rescued from the island, you're given the opportunity to attend one sporting event, and one non-sporting event of your choice. What are you going to see?
steinrat:  I've already got an Ohio State National Championship game under my belt (2003 Fiesta Bowl), so for the sporting event I'd go with the Super Bowl, because that's so much more than a football game and the occasional nipple. As for the non-sporting event, I'm going to avoid the temptation to say The Masters, because golf isn't a sport. Oh no wait, I'm NOT going to resist that temptation, am I? But I'd still rather go to the Playboy Mansion Halloween Party dressed as Wilmer Valderrama (just in case).

bhazlewood:  Dude you are either sick, or funny as hell, or both. :)
steinrat:  I'm thinking a little of both. ;-)

bhazlewood:   OK, here comes the GD stuff.  What do you like BEST about GD?
steinrat:   There's this unusual mixture of fierce competition amongst people who seem to want everyone to succeed. Everyone wants to win, but yet there aren't very many people hiding the ball in terms of how they succeed and what to do to get better in the game. It's very peculiar to come into something where the vast majority of the better players can maintain that high degree of decorum and sportsmanship while simultaneously being such tough competitors.

bhazlewood:  What would you change about GD if you could?
steinrat:  Easiest answer since favorite team: I'd eliminate the imbalance towards offense. There are other tweaks that people have mentioned that I'd favor, including adding some depth to recruiting, the ability to set aside money for things other than simply individual recruiting (for example, the scouting services that are available in HD), customizable formations, DIA playoffs, etc. Also, I'd formulated an NFL level to the game, complete with rules and a different, but coinciding schedule, that would kick ass but may be very difficult to program. But as for the single thing that would add the most depth and intrigue to the game, it would simply be programming in more tackles-for-loss on running plays.

bhazlewood:  When you first started playing GD, did you have a mentor (or mentors) ? And if so, who? What did you learn the most from them?
steinrat:  I mostly was self-taught until I got into the Northwest Conference in Leahy. The guy who absolutely owned that conference at the time, Mark at Eastern Oregon (and if anyone out there can spell his last name without looking it up, you're a better man than I), gave me a few good whoopings. But each one taught me something. Up until I won my first NC, I considered it my highest honor in GD that I finally beat him in his last game ever at EOU, in the playoffs. But after he left, he sitemailed with me back and forth and filled me in on some of the things that I hadn't already figured out, like defensive aggressiveness settings and little-used freshmen position switches. I've always remembered that, and have tried to pass it along to the other coaches in the NWC in Leahy even now that I've moved on to D2.

After that, I joined the coaches group started by Shain (akua29, pounder, etc. ad nauseum). I'd consider him a "co-mentor" at this point, or perhaps a very heavy influence. He turned me on to my current theories on player development and recruiting. Although I've modified his methods to suit my own tastes, I don't think I'd ever have come this far without him spurring the ideas.

bhazlewood:  What do you see as your strengths as a GD player, and what would be the area you'd most want to improve.
steinrat:  My strengths are recruiting and offensive gameplanning. Although I suppose saying you're good at offensive gameplanning in GD might be redundant. As for weaknesses, I'm really not satisfied with my defensive scheming. I can generally do whatever I want on offense even with inferior talent, but on defense I feel like I should be doing better regardless of the programming imbalance.

bhazlewood:  You are currently co-coaching under the gcfs id with - who ARE you coaching with? What have you learned from that, and what (would you like to think, anyway) your co-coach has learned from you?
steinrat:  gcfs started out as just my account (owing to me being cheap and it being free for a season), but in my fourth season there, I asked fasteddy88 to take over the gameplanning aspect of it for me because I was chin deep in my fledgling (i.e., "failing") business and I just didn't have time to do everything. He was my first mentee, so I thought it would be a good chance for me to work through things with him in real-time. I took on the GM role, scheduling games, recruiting, and setting lineups, and he did everything else with my input. At this point, I'd say he's become a better gameplanner than I, so I plan on perusing his gameplans to try to improve my defensive scheming. You'd have to ask him what he's learned from me, but I'd hope that I've helped him in the talent evaluation and recruiting departments, and maybe gave him the starting points to become as good as he has at gameplanning.

bhazlewood:  If you were in the $1,000,000 winner-take-all GD Championship finals, who would you least want to face, and why?
steinrat:  Christ, I imagine if I was in THAT tournament, what I'd want least would be to have paid my own entry fee. I don't have much experience against some of the marquee names yet, but I know that it took me 6 tries to beat hokie11, and when I finally did I won the National Championship that season. I also had a whale of a time beating mele, although my record is a bit better there. I'm only starting to take my shots at the cravedogg's and plague's of the world, but since I haven't beaten ANY of them yet (DKC once beat me in Dobie twice in one OOC schedule - once with each ID), I'm gonna go ahead and add "anyone else who's done an interview" to that list as well.

bhazlewood:  I know what you mean about hokie11 - we're in the same division in Leahy NJAC and he's kicked my team's tail every season since I joined the game.  Since recruiting is one of your strengths, let's go there for a bit.  What are some of the recruiting "tricks" that you're glad very few people know about? :)
steinrat:   I'm glad not as many people go nationally. Not many people seem to realize that, if they know what they're doing, they can get a QB from Hawaii even if they coach Maine Maritime, but you can, and fasteddy88 did in the first or second season I was helping him out. My most recent mentee just mentioned to me yesterday that one of the reasons he contacted me was that my FSU team had more players from farther away than any other team he knew of in Leahy Dsteinrat: I thought that was pretty cool ... and I hope it doesn't change any time soon for me in GD.

bhazlewood:  OK, you get a sitemail from some guy who says he's a total noob and needs help with recruiting. What advice do you offer?
steinrat:  It's too complicated to get into in detail, although I've given out some lengthy sitemails doing just that. But the gist is that you can expand your recruiting search after awhile to grab guys from farther away by just sending HC visits or Campus Visits. The trick is to know when its safe. For example, I found that Hawaiian QB for fasteddy88 in the afternoon of Day 2, and he wasn't considering anyone even though he was the second-best QB in the talent pool. That tells me either no one knows he exists, or no one who does thinks he's worth the money to recruit. So I have eddy send nothing but a CV and a scholarship offer, and after a few tries with the CV he goes green for less than $3000.

The other really important thing I tell them is to decide very quickly what battles you can win and what battles you cannot. If you cut bait quickly on the battles you can't win, you save that much more money for the battles you can win.

Finally, I've been alpha- and beta-testing a maddiesdad-esque Recruit Management Tool with the people who've asked for help, so I send them one of those. They tell me it's been very helpful in sorting through the gobs of information you get in the recruiting process. I'm planning on going live with that in the coming weeks on the same basis that maddies and leppy have with their team management spreadsheets; it'll be free, but voluntary donations would be swell (I'm going to use the proceeds to start up a website for it and maybe pay for a season or two while the insurance business gets up and running).

bhazlewood:  Assuming the NC win was your favorite GD moment - what would be your second favorite? And, what goals do have for yourself in GD?
steinrat:  Beating Mark in his last game at EOU barely edges out watching my core of kids at FSU slice through everyone in my first year away from them on their way to a second NC. Congrats to benyjerry on that - he did the gameplanning and should be very proud to get a NC in first season there - but it was still incredibly satisfying to see the talent that I recruited and developed being able to win for me in one scheme, and then turn around and win for someone else under a totally different system.

As for goals, I wanted the gcfs account to be the first coach to 100 wins at D2, and that looks pretty likely. Also, I want to win a National Championship at every level in Leahy.

bhazlewood:  Sometimes, the "prevailing wisdom" about something is less than completely accurate. Is there anything about GD where you find yourself going "against the tide" ?
steinrat:  Well, I don't think I recruit like many others, just in that I go farther sooner and more often. I also never tell new guys not to battle; it's not really accurate. You HAVE to battle to get better relative to the best teams in any division. But I tell them to choose their battles very carefully and very wisely, which is what everyone else means, but not what they say.

I'm also convinced that GD groupies exist; no matter how useless bizarre or your talent is, if your one of the best at it there is some girl out there who wants to sleep with you because of it. My Dad is one of the world's foremost experts on vintage and antique toasters, and my uncle's current girlfriend met him because she mistook him for my Dad. If a freaking toaster can get a guy laid, I'm not going to rest until the pickup line, "Hey, you know I won the National Championship with my Leahy Frostburg State team" gets me some action.

bhazlewood:  Formation practice - yea or nay?
steinrat:  It depends on how far the players have to go. I think there's a direct correlation between how much your players can improve and how much individual practice they need. In D3, even the best players have a long way to go, so I go 180 in individual. In D2, probably the same. In DIAA, the players start to get closer to their capacity, but still can improve a lot at the lower levels of it. So I go with one offensive formation for 12-15 minutes if you're competitive and looking to go farther, or all individual if you're rebuilding. In DIA I've used none at Rockne Middle TN State with some success, but that was just shy of a rebuild. After this season I'll have to institute formation practice if I want to take them to the next level. I'm guessing I'll go 12 minutes for 1 formation on each side of the ball if I stay at MTSU. I've never been at a BCS school yet. and I'm WAY OFF an elite job still, but I'd imagine I'd go at least that much formation practice at one of those schools, and probably more.

bhazlewood:  Any strong opinion on having multiple ID's in the same world?
steinrat:  Only that I wish WIS would be more proactive with their rules about it. There's too much gray area, and it really hangs a guy like DKC out to dry because he never knows what they're going to say in the gray area. Personally, if I was making up the rules, I'd say no multiple IDs in the same division in the same world, and I'd count DIA and DIAA as the same division. After that, the chances of self-colluding are pretty slim. And since the vast majority of actual self-collusion is probably accidental (i.e., subconsciously not battling yourself for the same players), simply not taking your players from the same talent pool ought to eliminate it.

Under the rules as they stand, though, it's legal. And if you know your GD history, you understand that multi-IDs was almost necessary at first with such limited number of worlds. So I don't really have a problem with it so long the players make a concerted effort not to abuse their position. I've seen no evidence that the current multi-ID players are anything but ethical.

bhazlewood: GUESS ratings - God's gift to GD, a sign of the pending apocalypse, or somewhere in between? ;)
steinrat: Depends on where you rate my Western State team this season. :-P No, really, I think you've done a good job. One of the things I still have to do to my RMT 1.0 before unveiling it is incorporate your GUESS ratings into the spreadsheet so people can see approximately how their class stacks up against previous classes. I did have ardikus in there, but you've become the dominant Mel Kuiper of this era.

bhazlewood: I hope my hair turns out better than Mel Kuiper's. :)  What division do you like best and why?
steinrat: Outside of the glut of easy wins D2 is the most realistic division in GD. If it had some more high-quality coaches it would be even better. So if you're stuck behind, I don't know, say hokie11 in the NJAC ... And you know that no matter how good your recruit-ratings website is, and no matter how many interviews you do, you're still going to get your ass kicked every single solitary season for the rest of your pathetic life, maybe ... Something like that or something ... Then come on up to D2 and stay awhile.

bhazlewood: Ok, continuing the dubs' tradition of trios, here's some quickhits:

bhazlewood:   Burger King, McDonald's, or Wendy's ?
steinrat:   If calories and impending middle age weren't an issue, Burger King. As it stands, Wendy's has more grilled chicken options.

bhazlewood:  Star Wars, Star Trek, or Dancing with the Stars?
steinrat: Stars Wars. All the cool geeks watch Star Wars.

bhazlewood: Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, or Steven Wright?
steinrat: Ugh. None of the above. Steven Wright is the best of the lot, but the delivery gets old after awhile: " I took a class online at the University of Phoenix. The professor traded me grades for cyber-sex."

bhazlewood: PC, Mac, or Abacus?
steinrat: I like the idea of Mac better, but frankly I've only ever used a PC.

bhazlewood: Blackberry, DayMinder, or "What's an Organizer?" ?
steinrat: Gotta have my Crackberry.

bhazlewood: Superman, Sherlock Holmes, or Jack Bauer?
steinrat: Sherlock Holmes is cool and all, but dude ... X-ray vision. 'Nuff said.

bhazlewood: Ginger, Mary Ann, or .. uh, The Professor? (not that there's anything wrong with that.)
steinrat: Mary Anne. Incidently, have you seen her mugshot? The one where she's like, 97 years old and on weed? Yeah, I'd still hit it. I figure I owe her after all the sex she had with me when I was 13.

bhazlewood: Tastes Great, Less Filling, or "Does it have alcohol in it?" ?
steinrat: Tastes Great.

bhazlewood:  Any last thoughts you'd like to add before we close this up?
steinrat::  Nah, I'm good. Gotta go recruit ...

Thanks Chris!