in town for free camps
Hey. Remember last April Fool's Day when the banner on this site mysteriously changed to this guy?
Toby Hopp is the guy who sent that banner in. So you owe him. He's a grad student at SDSU studying user-generated content and he's got a survey for you. You should take it, because it will help him out.
My name is Toby Hopp and I’m a longtime college sports blogger/blog reader. I’m also a graduate communications student at San Diego State University who is interested in studying how and why Internet users generate content online. What precisely, you may be asking, is “user-generated content?” Well, “user-generated content” includes comment sections at the end of news/blog articles, messageboards, diaries, polls, and the like.
To me, one of the great parts of the blogosphere is the interaction it enables between readers. As a community, we’re able to provide feedback and discuss issues in real time. However, the concept of “user-generated content” and its subsequent social applications has not, at this point, been thoroughly studied by communications researchers and is, in my estimation, completely misunderstood by the mass media.
So, if you have 10-15 minutes to spare and support empirical media research (and the social sciences in general), please click the survey link below. Even if you NEVER create/read content on blog or newspaper websites, PLEASE consider taking the survey as your answers are as important to me as the answers supplied by individuals who DO regularly create content. Rest assured that all answers and provided information will be strictly anonymous and kept totally confidential.
Survey Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WSQGPZ2
For those of you interested in statistics, all collected information will be scientifically analyzed and utilized to create an inherently unique structural equation model. To that end, I’ll send a report out to each participating blog which details general trends and reader utilization issues of note.
Again, please consider taking this survey (Survey Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WSQGPZ2) whether or not you ever create or read “user –generated content” on blogs or newspaper sites. The survey itself will take 10 – 15 minutes and, I promise, will be quite painless. As stated above, research on the topic of “user-generated content” is incredibly sparse and your participation will go a long way in understanding the environmental factors that encourage meaningful intra-community participation. And, of course, you’ll be doing me a great and immeasurable favor.
The survey will be active from Monday, December 14 through Friday, December 18. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions relating to the survey or my over-arching methodology/conceptual framework (obviously, there’s a lot more to the study that can be reasonably described here).
Thank you for your time and please know that your participation really does mean a great deal to me on both a professional and personal level.
Survey Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WSQGPZ2
So your favorite former collegiate head coach, the guy in charge of your favorite team, one of college football's top coaches, and a guy with a meathead haircut all found themselves on the receiving end of various kinds of unfair, incorrect, or nasty-but-deserved media attention. A confusing allegorical play in four mostly unrelated acts:
It's Just A Flesh Wound
Last week on The Sporting Blog I called Bob-Stoops-to-Notre-Dame an "unkillable zombie rumor" after Stoops had to make four progressively more emphatic announcements that he wasn't going to make an unprecedented leap from a program he built into a national power to one that's been no more successful than Purdue over the last 15 years.
It has now graduated to Black Knight status, though:
Saturday's edition of the Chicago Sun Times reported that multiple sources told the newspaper on Friday that "Stoops hasn't said 'no' to Notre Dame."
This was an interesting take on the words "I will be at Oklahoma. Any reporting to the contrary is completely unfounded." Technically, the words "wild elephants could not drag me to South Bend" are not in that statement. That, however, doesn't make it any less definitive. "I will be at Oklahoma." End of story. Unless you're the Sun-Times and you're bound and determined to keep after the dumb rumor you're almost singlehandedly responsible for perpetrating in the mainstream media.
Bob Stoops on saying no to Notre Dame:
"For the third, and hopefully final time, let me again state that I will continue to be the coach at Oklahoma. I appreciate the history and tradition of Notre Dame. I also appreciate the history and tradition of Oklahoma, and I have been part of building that tradition here.
"I work for a wonderful president (David Boren) and athletic director (Joe Castiglione), who have created an incredible work environment at OU. There haven't been any plans for a meeting or negotiations with Notre Dame and there will not be. Any reporting to that fact is completely erroneous. I will not be the next coach at Notre Dame."
This is how plains Indians must have felt after the United States broke yet another treaty with them, right?
Checking Is For Commies
Fake email that started minor Bielema-to-ND meme that would probably still be going on if ND sites hadn't posted the reveal.
All right, lolmsm and all that. But Stoops isn't the only guy batting away meritless rumors about his involvement with Notre Dame:
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who's with the team in Hawaii, said Friday morning that he has no knowledge of any interest on Notre Dame's part in speaking with Bielema.
"I haven't heard anything," Alvarez said when reached on his cell phone. "He hasn't said anything to me, and nobody's called me for permission."
Bret Bielema? No offense to a guy coming off a bounce-back year any Michigan fan would kill to have, but NDNation would have a meetup just to kill and eat each other if Bielema became head coach there. And, lo, the faintly plausible rumor was created whole cloth by one guy emailing a disreputable web site that just posts whatever crap someone sends in:
2. Friend composes a very short, but specific email: I used to work in the athletic department at Notre Dame (a lie), and I have heard that Jack Swarbrick is interested in Bret Bielema, the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. This was at 6:56pm last evening. The email is sent from a free gmail account. There is no other email sent from friend, no attempt to "sell" the rumor beyond the initial communication, and nothing else to back up his credibility.
3. Meanwhile, friend has another buddy randomly tweet a few times about the Bielema rumors, and goes to bed.
4. FootballCoachScoop does not reply to the email. FootballCoachScoop does not ask any followup questions. FootballCoachScoop, to friend's knowledge, makes no attempt to verify emailer's bona fides in any way.
5. The next morning, FootballCoachScoop runs the rumor almost verbatim. Friend chuckles and shares the development with a few friends.
This expands, getting picked up by "the Examiner," which is like a Bleacher Report that people haven't figured out is almost always garbage yet, then hit rumor first, accuracy later College Football Talk—an offshoot of Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk—and poor Rittenberg's Big Ten blog before the hoax was widely known. (BGS had actually already posted it.)
Your blogger has a couple emails in his inbox that might be innocent but look pretty hoax-y declaring that Rich Rodriguez will be fired the Monday after the Ohio State game, by the way.
This Direct Quote Is Out Of Context
Meanwhile, Charlie Weis ceased speaking to the media in the final days of his regime. I get this. If I was a head coach who knew his head would be on a platter in a matter of weeks, I wouldn't waste my time with a bunch of tedious questions about what went wrong. I might even call a special press event type substance with five hand-picked media members, and I might even go all FootballCoachScoop on tales of Pete Carroll's mysterious grad student affair:
Q: Is it frustrating to Pete Carroll, for example, portrayed in one way...
CW: Let me ask you this question: You guys know about things that go on in different places. Was I living with a grad student in Malibu, or was I living with my wife in my house? You could bet that if I were living with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news. He's doing it in Malibu and it's not national news. What's the difference? I don't understand. Why is it okay for one guy to do things like that, but for for me, I'm scrutinized when I swear. I'm sorry for swearing; absolve my sins.
At this point I would diverge, though, since attempting to take something off the internet is pointless and once you say stuff it's impossible, and a little dishonest, to try to take it back. Weis said it and he meant it and if it was supposed to be off the record that's only 5% less of a nasty move. He's then put this thing in the heads of five people off the record and set Pete Carroll's Grad Student on the same path as Rich Rodriguez's Impregnated Cheerleader, a zombie meme that lives in dark corners and emerges every time School X has a problem with Coach Y.
This One Really Is Out Of Context
I didn't mention the "Rich Rodriguez doesn't care about black people" moment from the bust in anticipation that a fuller picture of the comments would come out. WTKA's Ira Weintraub mentioned via email that Rodriguez's faux pas was a reference to an earlier speech by a regent. And lo, Dave Birkett provides:
Regent White talked earlier about, uh, it’s really kind of ironic that the New Orleans Saints overcome the hurricane a few years back. And I used to live in New Orleans, coached there for a couple years (at Tulane), and I know how devastated that city (was) and how they overcome and rebuilt their stadium, rebuilt their program from the ground up. And we’ve had a few hurricanes of our own. And we had a big hurricane in August and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks. But you had 120 young men and a bunch of people on staff say this is not going to tear our program apart. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, bring us together.
So, yeah, I wish Michigan had a coach that didn't misuse the world "ironic" and am pretty sure at some point in his life Rich Rodriguez has used the word "literal" to emphasize a literally untrue assertion. But Rodriguez is making a nod at one of the regents' Michael Scott impersonation and then riffing on it extemporaneously in a fashion that probably seemed unwise to him as the words were coming out of his mouth. (This has happened to me, plenty.) No one bothered to mention it except one of the two freakin' guys who wrote the piece Rodriguez is referring to, and that guy removed important context that would have taken one sentence to provide. Too good to clarify, I guess.
As for how much this matters, TSB colleague Andy Hutchins provides the right comparison:
These comments may actually match Nick Saban's penchant for grabbing Pearl Harbor and September 11th as metaphors for tragedy, what with Rodriguez talking about the human cost of Katrina purely in the prism of football, but it's less outrageous than it is ineloquent.
What difference does it make? It makes none.
I don't really have one. I just had all this media stuff in my open tabs.
I do think there's some common theme here about partial information being evil: Stoops rumors are utterly baseless but go out of control so much that Stoops has to issue five separate denials of varying strengths, Bielema is momentarily implicated in the ND coaching search and only the hoax reveal keeps him from being hounded further, Weis throws a nasty rumor into the pool that will stick with Carroll forever, and Rodriguez's comments are removed from their context by a guy with a stake in public opinion of Rodriguez. In the one instance where the comments are a full transcript of the words spoken, the speaker's problem is that his comments were not elided from the record and leaked as a whisper campaign.
I guess the thrust is this: I don't believe Weis's retraction for a second because his response to it was to have the offending passage excised from the Rivals transcript instead of demanding that the context be irrefutably provided by one of the guys who was taping the conversation. The evidence is there. Release it. Similarly, Rodriguez's inelegant statement was made to look worse by the omission of information. The Sun-Times failed to clarify just why they thought Bob Stoops was going to be Notre Dame's next head coach at any point; by now they owe the public a detailed explanation of why they kept beating the drum long after any sane organization would have stopped. And Coach Scoop Unsubstantiated Football Site just posts unconfirmed stuff without any attempt to confirm or clarify the origins of the rumors, and doesn't even respond when hoaxed.
Because they're just "rumors," right? You can term whatever you want a rumor and be free from judgment when that rumor fails to come true.
My advice to internet publishers is be as honest and transparent as possible, and people will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you show good judgment over the long haul. This philosophy has been in place at MGoBlog for as long as it's been around. The first bit of news the site ever originated was a report that Morgan Trent had broken his hand and would miss the Minnesota game in 2006, which Rivals snarkily dismissed in premium content, causing me to post a retraction. When several people reiterated that no, seriously, Morgan Trent's hand was broken, I posted the chain of events and provided enough information for readers to judge for themselves with some guidance—I believe me. Morgan Trent's hand was indeed broken, and I've tried to follow that template ever since. That managed to get this site through the coaching search and Sam McGuffie's Cuban Transfer Crisis stronger. I don't think you can say that about the Sun-Times above.
My advice to consumers of information on the internet is to look for this sort of transparency in the things you trust, and look dimly on anyone who would misrepresent information, intentionally or not, and refuse to apologize or clarify when called on it.
I… here. This is for you. Is there a thing that makes these things? If there is a thing that makes these things, this is slightly crazy. If there isn't I don't know what you can even say. Other than FTW. It came from the message boards.
This is where we are this week.
Thank God for Adidas. I know Michigan would never go for something like this…
…or do I? I mean, we are currently enduring hyper-loud blasts of Bob Seger and AC/DC on a regular basis. There is some possibility Special K, Michigan Marketing Droid, thinks "wicked sweet" when he sees things like this "tribute"…
…to Ohio State's championship team on their very special 55th anniversary. I think you're supposed to get her a wicker lawnchair. 54 is a tea set made from the bones of your enemies. Adidas may have put stupid piping* on the away jerseys and convinced a lot of players to wear weird stripey undershirts, but it's not Nike and their band of evil scientists.
Yes, yes, I know. There's a "get off my lawn" tag for a reason.
*(Nameplates on the back cover up the piping if the name is of any length—Smith works, Forcier does not—and look stupider than even regular stupid piping, which also looks stupid.)
I don't know the answer to this complicated question, let's ask someone else who doesn't know and be kind of a jerk about it yay. This is just another stock answer to a dumb press conference question that's sort of adversarial and makes the questioner feel fuzzy about asking truth to power, but it's more irksome than most because of MCalibur's extensive offseason research project on the matter:
Rodriguez disputed the notion that his spread-option offense puts quarterbacks more in harm’s way than other systems.
“I think when you’re a younger guy and you’re 180 pounds and you hadn’t had a chance to get a couple years in the weight room and a couple years of maturity and growth, I think you’re more likely to get banged around,” Rodriguez said. “But other quarterbacks when we were in the system played entire years without missing a snap. So I don’t think it’s the system.”
The MCalibur study has five years of numbers behind it now and has a clear outcome: quarterbacks who run the ball more often actually miss less time than quarterbacks that are exclusively passers. (They are slightly more likely to get injured, but tend to lose fewer games when they are.) You could ask the coach about something or you could do it yourself—in this case you could just look it up. Who cares what Rich Rodriguez—who might have a stake in this—thinks about this? You might as well ask Bobby Bowden if he thinks he is awesome.
While I'm on the kick. Michael Rothstein put out an article at AA.com disputing the notion that Michigan is a particularly young team:
On this week’s depth chart for Purdue (noon, Big Ten Network), Michigan will start eight players on offense who have been in college for three years or more, including redshirt years.
On defense, eight starters fall into the same classification.
So to point to the roster and say 60 freshmen and sophomores are on it, including walk-ons, as a youth excuse a false truth.
This has been picked apart on the message board already, but to echo: just because the starters have "experience" doesn't mean they are good options. To cite another extensive research project by a diarist here, Michigan has endured four years of terrible retention on defense, giving them few or no options beyond players who do not appear very good at football. Not every high-rated recruit works out, and not every "experienced" player—and Kevin Leach counts in this metric as an experienced player—is good when you have recruited Penn State-sized classes and experienced sub-Alabama level retention.
Arbitrarily drawing a line at redshirt sophomores and arguing that Michigan is plenty experienced enough to win without providing any context is not a good way to argue when there's an extensive study that shows Michigan has fewer, and much younger, options than its primary competitors. Youth does not exist in a vacuum. Michigan is vastly younger and thinner than its rivals, and that's a valid reason they are not very good at football.
This is why UFR exists. It's rip on people for not being engineers day, apparently. BTN analyst Chris Martin never says anything useful as a color guy so it's unsurprising he's dead wrong about Michigan's problems on defense this year:
Big Ten Network analyst Chris Martin, who’ll broadcast his third Michigan game Saturday against Purdue, said the secondary has played like “part of the hospital burn unit,” and its problems are compounded by issues up front.
Michigan ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 16 sacks and has one of the smallest defensive lines in the league.
“I think their inability to get pressure up front has kind of caused them to pressure a little bit, no pun intended,” Martin said. “Now it’s like they’re working so hard to get to the quarterback and get sacks, they’re getting gashed on run plays."
"Inability to get pressure" is something you'd say if you looked up those sack numbers and had no other context in which to judge Michigan. Other than the Notre Dame game, Michigan has gotten to the quarterback plenty, they just haven't ever covered anyone long enough for Graham to get his due.
That article cites the following people in a discussion of Michigan's defense: Martin, Lee Corso, Shawn King, Ray Bentley, and Matt Millen. Other than King that's a short list of people I wouldn't trust to count to five.
This unnamed "evaluator" is interesting, however:
According to one talent evaluator, defensive end Brandon Graham is Michigan’s only high-level NFL defensive prospect. Warren projects as a "later"-round draft pick, and Mike Martin is “a good college player” who “might have a chance at the next level,” the evaluator said.
Here's hoping Warren is indeed a "later" round pick and decides to help his stock by coming back, because Michigan needs him badly next year.
Run chart. The run chart from the Illinois game is up; I think it's a little less harsh on Brown than it should be and packs it in after the rage-inducing goal line stand. A reader emailed me a good point: if Minor wasn't available on the goal line, wouldn't a package of Moundros and Grady gotten the job done? What is with the marginalization of Moundros this year anyway?
Apologies for a moment of meta and self promotion, but we are the champions.. This is apparently the best college football blog in the universe according to Sports Media Challenge, a consulting/marketing firm that operates in the digital space and other such droidwords. It's a narrower field than it should be, though, with the exclusion of a subset of blogs that tend to be good ones:
We do not include blogs that are subscription based or backed by traditional media outlets. This is especially true of blogs that do not have full editorial control over their content.
That's the only reason Doctor Saturday isn't anywhere on the list, right? I get that they're trying to distinguish between blogs run by newspaper folk that are mostly extensions of beatwriting and fan-driven media, but DocSat is firmly One of Us.
A couple of notes on the list:
- The Big Ten lands five of the top ten slots, the SEC two, the ACC and Big 12 one each. Two general blogs (EDSBS and the Wizard of Odds) show; if you want to file EDSBS as a Florida blog I think you're wrong but whateva you do what you want.
- SBNation has either six or seven of the blogs on the list, depending on how you classify EDSBS. Hall gets his funding from SBN but has not converted over to the software monolith. This place, the Wiz, and Eleven Warriors are the only indies.
Etc.: We are on the spot this week, and how. Michigan has a huge hockey series against #1 Miami of Ohio this weekend; I would have said more but the only non-exhibition game I've seen this year was the Thursday night Niagara game so I don't have any smart opinions. Having this series so early is frustrating.
Brian will appear on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA in... oh, about 10 minutes or so. Presumably, he'll be discussing the Freep Jihad.
Listen live on WTKA's website, or at 1050 AM here in Ann Arbor.
Hi. I'm formerlyanonymous. You may recognize me from other Michigan sports blogs as Maize 'n Brew and Varsity Blue. For those of you not familiar with my posts, my primary topic has been Michigan baseball. Obviously the season is a well over, but I'm also following our players through their summer leagues. There are plans on the table to include more non-revenue sports in the future, and info on that will come after the dust of MGoMerger settles.
Also, for those with concerns about "non-revenue sports clogging your mgoblog internet tubes," the current plan is for my posts to be presented on Sundays. Brian's previous football season schedules have generally left Sunday open for reflection on the previous days game with the column like post on Monday. I'm hoping these non-revenue posts will take up that open space and not interfere too much with your football dependency – at least during the football season.
To see the previous summer baseball update, visit Varsity Blue (July 4th Edition). Also, those of you familiar with the team or my previous posts, I'll try to remember to include some information on who these players are in this post, but I'll go ahead and apologize up front. You're basically walking into the last line before the credits of a movie. You've missed all of the introductions, action, climax, and a majority of the falling action. I promise there will be less parentheses in future posts.
Honors – Several players have received honorable mention for Pitcher and Hitter of the Nights, as well as Team Players of the Week. Hitter and Pitcher of the Night are named by SummerBall. Charts:
|7/9||Tyler Mills||Northwoods||Hitter of the Night Honorable Mention||2/4, HR, 3 RBI, R|
|7/11||Tyler Burgoon||Cape Cod||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, 3 K|
|7/16||Kevin Vangheluwe||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, K|
|7/17||Matt Miller||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||2 IP, BB, 4 K|
|7/24||Mike Dufek||Leesburg||Player of the Week||On Sunday,went 3/5 with HR, and a walk of single|
The Cape Cod League (the most respected league) – Tyler Burgoon (Michigan's sophomore closer) has continued to be the best Michigan player this summer and ergo making the most news. As of the 20th, he’s racked up 17.1 innings of work with a 1-1 record and a 0.00 ERA. His 9 saves lead the league and his 27 strikeouts (14.2 per 9 innings) is ridiculous. He made the Cape Cod All Star Game at Fenway, but alas, the rain ended the game in just the 4th inning. He was slated to throw the 9th (or as necessary). Meanwhile, Ryan LaMarre (Michigan's starting left fielder and 3-hole hitter) still struggles, but less badly by comparison. He’s now got his average up to .243, good for third on the Gateman team. He’s also second on the team in RBIs with 12.
Prospect League – Garrett Stephens (back up 1st baseman who sees time when Dufek pitches) represented UM and the Richmond RiverRats at the Prospect League All Star game. He’s currently 8th in the league with 21 RBIs. John Lorenz hasn’t seen much playing time since the last update.
Lima Locos – Lots of good has been coming out of Lima lately. Kolby Wood (occasional 4th starter) has his ERA down to 0.66 in 11 relief appearances stretching 13.2 innings. His three saves are good for second on the team, which makes me contemplate his role next season for Michigan. Could we see another attempt at moving Burgoon to starter and put Kolby Wood as the closer? Looks good on paper right now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Brosnahan (redshirted last year as a freshman) is cruising right along with a 2.35 ERA over 15 innings pitched thus far. He’s making his case to be a middle inning or set up guy next season as a redshirt freshman. The last Michigan player with the Locos is short stop Anthony Toth (starter) has raised his average from .215 to .281 and has played solid defense.
Also, Toth was interviewed in a piece about baseball gloves by the LimaOhio.com. To give you a small sample of why baseball budgets are fairly large:
“We have a contract at Michigan with Louisville Slugger. The rep just came, had a bunch of models out and we got to pick out whichever one felt best. I went with that one and it worked out pretty well. … I think this is a $320 glove.”
That’s just one glove for one player. Not multiply that by the 20 or so on the roster, plus backup gloves each player probably has, you’ve got yourself quite the bill just for fielding gloves.
Alexandria Beetles – Again with the closers Michigan’s been developing, Matt Miller (one of our setup men) has 7 on the season, 4 in the last three weeks. He’s dropped his ERA a full run over that time. Kevin Vanghelwue (saw very limited time during the season and what he did wasn't good) also is pitching better and has lowered his ERA almost 2 runs. Tyler Mills (redshirted as a freshman this year) isn’t playing much. The freshman is just 6/36 hitting in limited playing time.
Valley League – At Fort Royal, Jeff DeCarlo (left handed reliever who saw little time) is pitching so far above his normal level I’m just perplexed. The guy has a 2.35 ERA now, and since the last update he’s thrown 5 appearances (9.2 IP) and only given up one earned run. He hasn’t even hit a batter in that stretch. He got a save? Who is this guy? His teammate Kevin Krantz (redshirted as a freshman this year) has tailed off and seems to be seeing less and less playing time. Krantz's defense has been spotty at best at third/shortstop. His batting average has also fallen .050 points to .239.
At Winchester, Brandon Sinnery’s (another occasional fourth starter) had a rough 3 starts, but his team has bailed him out each time. His ERA jumped from 2.00 to 4.31, but he has kept his 9 K’s-per-9-IP. Teammate Matt Gerbe (one of our setup men) continues to watch his ERA fall, this time from 9.69 to 6.29. It’s good to see he’s doing better since moving back to the bullpen.
Mike Dufek for the Lightning
Leesburg Lightning – Alan Oaks (right fielder and pitcher) went 1-1 over three starts in the last 3 weeks. His ERA has dropped to only 3.89, but his strikeout to walk ratio over the last 3 starts is 9:7 which isn’t good. Those walks have to go down. Eric Katzman (left handed pitcher) has just one relief inning in three weeks. He’s become buried in the pitching depth it looks like.
Mike Dufek (first base and sometime closer) has held down the closer role for the most part, recording 2 saves in 3 outings in the last three weeks. Not much playing time, but he’s made the most of it to a 0.93 ERA. At the plate, Dufek is only hitting .268, but he has cut down his K’s per At-Bat to just about 1-in-5. During the season he was closer to 1-in-4 at bats. It became crippling at times. I think our strategy for next season should mimic the MLB All Star Game. Let’s just throw 5 closers to shut down every game.
Travis Smith – Looks like Smith (3rd or 4th starter) has lost his spot in the rotation. After a few tough luck losses of the 1-0 variety, he lost two ugly starts over the last 3 weeks and was then used out of the bullpen. He’s currently 0-5 with a 4.58 ERA. Not good my friends.
Coley Crank – Crank’s (backup catcher or designated hitter) struggling. He’s still the everyday catcher, but his average is down to .198, third lowest on the team and lowest regular starter.
Matt Broder – Despite Broder's (redshirted as a freshman this season) team’s horrible website, I ran by an article in The Observer. Broder went the full 7 innings complete game, facing only 24 batters in the effort. Great job Matt.
Hi. MGoBlog was a one man show, and then a guy I didn't know emailed me a bunch of stuff about how he was pretty sure Bryce McNeal was going to decommit given his Facebook status updates and wall posts. As per standard policy, I noted the information and didn't say anything about it since the tipster in question hadn't proven his mettle. Bryce McNeal proceeded to decommit, and Tom VanHaaren proposed he function as an MGoBlog recruiting correspondent using the magic of the internets (and, soon after, his phone).
I'd been thinking that social media was an untapped source of information and agreed, and soon started posting things like Anthony Fera chillin' with JoePa based on Tom's sleuthin' and talkin'. Tom set to providing a ton of valuable content and being the main force behind much of the news this site has managed to break in the last seven or eight months. It's surpassed all my expectations, and just goes to show that if you find someone with the right skill set and put them in the right spot, Good Things result.
MGoBlog is absorbing Varsity Blue, and intends to deploy Tim Sullivan as an internet-aware beat writer this fall. We've talked with the athletic department—which has been shockingly open and helpful with all this—and Tim is good to go. Paul will also join up in a capacity we'll work out as we go along—he's got a "job" that requires him to "go to work". Formerly Anonymous' outstanding baseball content will be imported 99% untouched. Important: I will not be writing any less.
This represents quite a reversal from MGoBlog's previous position on being a primary source and requires some explanation. So:
I don't plan on being the guy. One: I'm bad at it. Two: I'm good at other stuff. I've spent four years developing an expertise that has nothing to do with the tasks commonly associated with sports journalism. That expertise has propelled this blog to a living and represents a nigh-insurmountable hurdle for any other organization to clear. Spending my time doing something other than that's pretty dumb. So I won't.
I'd like to remain insulated from the corrupting influences of access*, and this arrangement will allow me to do that, mostly. The threat of losing access for your content is unavoidable once you start to benefit from it, but this site has already positioned itself as a site that's usually in Michigan's corner. I know they monitor this site and others, closely. They have not mentioned any issues.
The Varsity Blue guys all bring valuable expertise to the table. Paul and Tim were longtime WOLV stalwarts and have a four-plus-years head start on me in the stuff I'm bad at. As you might imagine, they also can do stuff with video that is extremely helpful on the web. And FA has encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan baseball, again something I lack. They all can use bigger platforms, and by joining up they can use some of the institutional cred I've accumulated over the past four years.
I think it can work. I'm not sure if twentysomething beatwriter with an internet orientation who might ask questions like "what's the deal with that formation where Greg Mathews is covered up in the slot?" will bring a ton of value to the table but it's at least worth an experiment. I'm going into this with the expectation it will be a two-year trial on both the part of the AD and MGoBlog, one that might not work. But think it will be valuable.
Offloading a portion of the daily burden should allow me to focus on some other stuff. Mostly this refers to recruiting, which VB already covers with aplomb. I plan on handing off a significant chunk of it to them, which will give me some extra time to work on research-heavy posts and more columns and whatnot.
This will also necessitate some changes as far as the presentation of information goes. Right now there's just a front page that gets updated 1-4 times daily and then the diaries and message board. More stuff will be hitting the front page now and we'll have to work to make that make sense for readers. I've always tried to avoid bombarding readers with way too much stuff to grok; that's going to be tougher now.
As always, try to bear with us—and it's now an actual us!—as we feel our way through this… undiscovered country. Spock.
Tim's first foray here is a trip to the Big Ten Media Days, where he will hopefully end up less pwned than I did.
*(I don't want to write something critical in UFR and have to worry about whether the player in question will give me the evil eye. And I don't want to get all friendly with another guy and pull my punches. Sportswriter bravado about facing down the subjects of your pieces is just testosterone.)