For senior editor Richard Demak the ideal lunch consists of a plate of mashed-up sardines sprinkled with lemon juice, a bag of potato chips and a can of Coke. He developed a taste for that combo while growing up in Oak Park, Mich., and over the years he has turned sardine schmushing into a fine art. "My father taught me his technique, which has been handed down through the family for generations," says the 31-year-old Demak. "This used to be my lunch every Saturday during college football season, when I'd sit on the couch reading the paper and watching games on TV."
Demak's appetite for college football, as well as for tiny fish, has continued apace. Before the season he ranked each of the 106 Division I-A teams for SI and predicted their final records, boldly listing Wisconsin No. 22 at 8-3 (the Badgers are 14th and 7-1-1) and Fresno State at No. 10 (the Bulldogs are 6-3 and unranked).
Now, as editor of SI's INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL feature, he combs files sent in each week by 30 correspondents from around the country, orders photos and decides what will appear in the column. "We want a mix of profiles on players and stories about teams," Demak says. "We also want diversity among the various divisions and regions of the country."
On most Saturdays, while watching half a dozen TV games from the couch in his Manhattan apartment, Demak practically embodies the spectrum of college football, often sporting a UCLA cap, Notre Dame sweatpants and a sweatshirt from his alma mater, Michigan. Demak graduated with a B.S. in biomedical sciences in 1983 and attended medical school there for a year and a half.
In addition to his INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL duties, Demak oversees the notes column in our new bonus coverage of the Southeastern Conference, which is distributed to readers in the Southeast. Over the past year he has also served as an editor on SI Classic and on the special issues that have commemorated Alabama's national football championship, the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl victory, North Carolina's NCAA basketball title and the Chicago Bulls' third NBA crown. He is currently busy gathering information for a study on the life expectancy of former pro football players. Says assistant managing editor David Bauer, "Richard has so many niches of expertise, ranging from torn collateral ligaments to the latest computer software, that he seems to get involved in virtually every project we have."
But Demak seldom has the time to fix his favorite lunch. On workdays he usually eats at his desk, ordering the same meal from a nearby deli: sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese on semolina bread—with the obligatory chips and Coke. Often he doesn't get around to finishing the meal until early evening. "I wander into his office at five o'clock and sometimes his sandwich looks more tired than he does," says senior editor Greg Kelly. Demak will get away from his desk this February when he heads to Lillehammer as part of our Winter Olympics team. "I know they have good sardines in Norway," he says. "But I'm a little worried about the chips."