I have always been a sandwich guy. It can be said that sandwiches made America!

What would Elvis have been without peanut butter, bananas and honey between two pieces of bread? Would America be great without the mighty hamburger and the all-American hot dog? Everyone loves a good sandwich, but what sandwich is the absolute best?

There are so many to choose from and who is to decide what is best and who the actual contenders are? It is like when my high school son says, “Dad, what is your favorite classic rock song?” Yikes, my head starts spinning thinking about the choices. Iggy Pop immediately comes to mind because of his sandwich lyrics “Tuna on white, that’s alright, blah, blah, blah!” Great song, but not classic rock.

Well, put your mind at ease, I am here, like the college BCS committee, to determine which sandwich is a contender in my own version of the football playoffs. I have adopted a pro football approach of 32 contenders, only 12 of these make the playoffs. Eight division winners and four wild cards, that will match up and advance to four division conference games, then on to two conference championship match ups, then to the ultimate battle between the top two for the “King of Sandwiches” title.

This, of course, will spark much debate and disgruntlement, to which I respond, “blah, blah, blah!” Like the BCS committee, I alone will decide a sandwich's fate.

Let’s get one thing clear, the hamburger and the hot dog have forged a place of their own and are already in the Hall of Fame. For the sake of simplicity, I am keeping contenders to general sandwich categories and not a specific recipe or business, as there are thousands of combinations.

After much debate and pestering folks I know for their opinions, here are the 32 contenders for the title. These are the 32 sandwiches that made the “pros.” If your favorite was not included, it was clearly a minor league sandwich, but it has potential, I am sure.

Hot Sandwich Conference:

East

1. Cheesesteak (division winner); 2. Reuben (wild card); 3. Gyro; 4. The Primanti

West

1. Italian Sausage (division winner); 2. Cuban (wild card); 3. Egg McMuffin; 4. Panini

North

1. Italian Beef (division winner); 2. Meatball Sub; 3. Grilled Cheese; 4. BBQ Chicken

South

1. Pulled Pork (division winner); 2. Fish Sandwich; 3. Fried Bologna; 4. Monte Cristo

In the first round of match-ups, I have the Cheese Steak and the Italian Beef as the top seeds, getting a bye, and the Reuben facing off against the Italian Sausage and the Cuban facing off against the Pulled Pork.

Rueben came out victorious over the impressive Italian Sausage in a messy, very close battle. Reuben will move on to face another Italian, the Italian Beef.

Cuban absolutely shocked Pulled Pork with a complete package and international flair. Cuban will go on to face America’s sandwich, Cheese Steak, in the next round.

Cold Sandwiches Conference:

East

1. Lobster Roll (division winner); 2. Subs/Grinders/Hoagies; 3. Club; 4. BLT

West

1. Banh Mi (division winner); 2. PB&J (wild card); 3. Roast Beef; 4. Turkey

North

1. Pastrami/Corned Beef on Rye (division winner); 2. Tuna; 3. Chicken Salad; 4. Ham and Cheese

South

1. Po Boy (division winner); 2. Muffaletta (wild card); 3. Egg Salad; 4. Tomato Sandwich

In the first round of match ups, I have the Lobster Roll and the Banh Mi as the top seeds, getting a bye, and the PB&J facing off against the Po Boy and the Muffaletta facing off against the Pastrami/Corned Beef on Rye.

PB&J put up a great fight with a simple game plan against the Po Boy, but just could not overcome the New Orleans classic. Po Boy will move on to face the Lobster Roll in a classic East versus South match up.

Muffaletta brought its New Orleans street cred to the fight, but just could not overcome the over-stacked Pastrami/Corned Beef on Rye. Pastrami/Corned Beef on Rye will move on to face the beast of the west, Banh Mi.

Next week we will profile the Division Championship match-ups.

Cold Sandwich Conference games: Pastrami/Corned Beef on Rye versus Banh Mi and then Po Boy versus Lobster Roll.

Hot Sandwich Conference games: Reuben versus Italian Beef and then Cuban will face Cheese Steak.

Feel free to email me today your input on who should advance to the Conference Championship games and to the ultimate game, the winner of the Hot Conference versus the winner of the Cold Conference.

May the best sandwiches win!

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