With This Army We Push Into Crimea Comment Count

Brian July 24th, 2009 at 1:30 PM

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.

So.

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.)

Comments

Yostal

July 24th, 2009 at 1:39 PM ^

Only Nixon could go to China. It doesn't actually mean anything in this context, but Brian brought up Star Trek VI.

Good luck to all involved, I think and hope this will work well.

bouje

July 24th, 2009 at 2:53 PM ^

With more than 20 points (like Dex, Chitown, Shock) then by all means yes I would understand the sarcasm but it didn't seem like humor to me hence why I always try to make my "humorous" posts extra special with a lot of exclamation points, bold type, etc so that it is not mistaken for a serious post.

MichiganAggie

July 24th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

Makes my favorite Michigan site better. Makes my second most frequented site non-existent. Now, if we can only get Johnny to start publishing more frequently...

David

July 24th, 2009 at 1:58 PM ^

Hey there MGoBlog "team," this sounds like a really awesome new combo and I just want to wish y'all good luck.

One incredibly minor suggestion moving forward: Brian, on the MGoBoard sidebar, you might want to make the "MGoBoard" text in the heading a link to the board itself. My guess is that most visitors use the sidebar to access the threads and never make it to the main board itself.

Again, best of luck.

GNM

July 24th, 2009 at 2:04 PM ^

It takes stones to pass along a chance to sit in the press box on the basis of preserving the impartiality and integrity of content.

I'm looking forward to the format tweak.

WolvinLA

July 24th, 2009 at 2:16 PM ^

FTR, no one has frowned upon reading a recruits facebook page. What has been attacked is messaging or wall-posting a recruit saying "Hey Kyle Prater you should totally come to UM to Fuck.Shit.Up because I look at all your pictures and you look like you had a really fun day at the water park yesterday and I really want you to play football for us fuckyeah!"

His Dudeness

July 24th, 2009 at 2:24 PM ^

I would beg to differ. I said that I had "befriended" M players in the past on facebook and was mocked for it. I also have simply shared information I recieved from facebook status updates of recruits and have also been mocked for that. So yes, they have actually frowned upon it.

Brodie

July 27th, 2009 at 3:14 AM ^

I agree with this. Sorry, but it seems to me that Tom did something creepy that had never even occurred to Brian so Brian offered him a spot as a contributor and then Tom did something even more disturbing and eventually gained some degree of access. I appreciate the interviews, but come on. Getting a kids email off Facebook is fucked up no matter how much you try to frame it as journalism.

TomVH

July 24th, 2009 at 2:36 PM ^

I might as well address this. This started a big argument with WLA awhile ago, which is fine.

As Brian said, the stuff with Bryce McNeal was off of facebook (I'm 25, just moved to Arizona. I use facebook to stay in touch with my friends). That was before I thought about doing interviews, or anything like this. After I had emailed back and forth with Brian, I thought I might as well see if he wanted to add me.

He did. So, I then thought of what I needed to do to add value. Interviewing kids was my first thought. Initially, there were about 2 or 3 kids that I got email addresses from facebook (which is viewable off of their profile). Jeremy Jackson was my first interview. I contacted him via email, and requested an interview. He obviously said yes. We talked on the phone, and did the interview. Jeremy became a valuable resource to me. He gave me other recruits numbers, and email addresses, etc.

I noticed this was a trend, that the kids that were genuinely interested in Michigan were willing to help me out, and offer numbers.

There were then kids that I couldn't find in this network I built. So I reached out to AD's and coaches at their high schools. This was also successful.

After talking with these kids for awhile, they became comfortable with me. Some requested me on facebook, some told me to request them, since I'm still pretty young.

Like WolvinLA said, I don't write on their wall, or bug them about coming to Michigan. I've kept it professional, in that I don't try to convince them one way or the other. Some have asked me for advice, and a couple have actually contacted me about helping their friends get recruited. I'm in the process of helping them right now.

All of my interviews are conducted over the phone, despite what Tom Beaver likes to report when MGoBlog beats him to a story. I've actually been recording them for the past couple months, and will be adding (hopefully) the next interview I do in audio format.

Take from this what you will.

yvgeni

July 24th, 2009 at 2:08 PM ^

sounds like a great union.
i would only suggest that since you are going to be making some drastic changes already, that you also look at improving the MGoBoard.

Our community is really missing a first rate, go-to forum (not sponsored by a major recruiting site), one that I think MGoBoard could easily provide if only you changed the format and layout.

It's sad that mostly all of our rivals (even sparty) have a place for free, easy to use discussion and we don't. Again, not saying MGoBoard doesn't work, I'm just saying it could be better and much more robust.

Anyway, not trying to hijack the moment. Great move Brian and good luck to the new team!

ShockFX

July 24th, 2009 at 2:24 PM ^

I tried to get Paul and Tim to create VBulletin style forum a while ago. They did one in bbPro instead. /sadface. Maybe now that they are tied with Brian they can figure something out.

Brian, if the WLA is in your M&A plans, just note that I require stock options. Dex requires Zima, and chitown needs a safety harness to help him handle jack.