College Football's gazetteer is chock full of remote places dominated by outsize stadiums and served by regional airlines—places like Fayetteville, Ark., Starkville, Miss., and State College, Pa. Senior editor Steve Robinson, who's in charge of our college football coverage, has profound sympathy for the writers he'll be dispatching to such locations this fall for games like UCLA-Nebraska (page 62), played in Lincoln, and Penn State-Alabama (page 66), in University Park. For much of the past year, Robinson has commuted between his Manhattan apartment and Fort Smith, Ark., where until recently his wife, Elizabeth, worked as a TV reporter and anchor. Fort Smith isn't quite as small as Fayetteville, but the airlines treat them much the same. Steve spent his share of nights jawing with airport gate agents about missed connections. "It would have been easier if Elizabeth had worked in Los Angeles," he says. "Cheaper, too."
Robinson, 33, took his first job in the business with the brash journalism review MorE during the mid-'70s, and when that folded, he hooked on with LIFE, for which he covered the guerrilla war in Rhodesia, filed stories from El Salvador, Malaysia and Argentina, and served as a senior editor. Recalls Dick Stolley, a former managing editor of LIFE, "Steve never shied away from the action. He always had a sense of being much older than he was. You always had a feeling he had lived before."
Growing up, Robinson lived among words. His dad, Ray, is a former magazine editor. Ray collaborated with Tim McCarver on the catcher-turned-sports-caster's book, Oh, Baby, I Love It!, while his mom, Phyllis, wrote a biography of novelist Willa Cather. College football, however, somehow passed him by, even after a brief high school football career at New York City's Trinity School, also the alma mater of John McEnroe. "I was 140 pounds with my schoolbooks," says Robinson, who played blocking back and outside linebacker, "but the school was so small that if you went out for the team, you made it." After studying English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Robinson job-hopped for a couple of years, at one point driving a cab in New York City and later crewing for six months aboard the 63-foot Herreshoff sloop Safari as it cruised the Eastern seaboard.
Robinson joined SI last January and, in addition to college football, oversees our boxing and wrestling coverage. Happily, the discombobulation in his life has abated. In July, Elizabeth moved 1,200 miles closer to New York, to WBRE-TV in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. " Wilkes-Barre," says Robinson, who's getting used to the three-hour bus ride, "is a breeze."