With This Army We Push Into Crimea

Submitted by Brian on 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.


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.)



July 24th, 2009 at 2:29 PM ^

MGoBoard is pretty sweet. But I could see with all this new potential stuff showing up it could get fairly cluttered fast. If possible, maybe split the board up into multiple sections - like say one for recruiting, football, basketball, hockey, other sports and ot. I'm not sure how the board was made and how difficult this could end up being. Idealy could still probably keep the front page thing with the new posts or hot posts, but it would allow a bit more organization.


July 24th, 2009 at 4:53 PM ^

I agree 100%. Brian, I think there is a big void right now for a BuckeyePlanet style forum. This would be a link jackpot. Keep it organized into folders and have threads for each recruit and player. Conscript MGoBlog denizens to serve as moderators and keep it professional and organized.

Your message board is nice, but it seems to lack the software horsepower behind BuckeyePlanet board, for example.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:10 PM ^

Good news. Am excited about reading more research based content. Recruiting: will be good to feel 1/2 as creepy about checking on the status of 17 year olds. Now I will only be going to one website to follow their moves. Also, cool to hear that this site, and other well run michigan blogs, have earned a level of respect with the athletic department.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:18 PM ^

My initial thought and only question (at the moment at least) is which recruiting board are you going to use? Are we going to go for the targeted board that Brian's been using (complete with the family of faces and their arch rival the Nefarious Eduardo) or for the shotgun board from Varsity Blue?

Each has their own advantages. I always thought that the VB board was a little too big and players tended to stay on there too long but that's obviously just my opinion. I do hope that we keep the "Needs", "Status", and "Projected Commits" from Brian's board as I found those informing and fun to read.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:28 PM ^

I do love me some Nefarious Eduardo. He's begun to show up (in name, not image) on some of my grant status reports at work, prompting WTFs and LOLs, although in proper business-speak.

Brian: Do I owe you some kick-back on the usage? It does not seem to make government agencies any more or less likely to give me funding, so there is no plunder . . .


July 24th, 2009 at 2:19 PM ^

Looking forward to the new content--and very excited of the prospect of Mgoblog having increased access to the program.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:34 PM ^

Congratulations, Brian, on getting yourself to the point whre you can make such decisions.
FWIW, venture capitalists refer to "a nigh-insurmountable hurdle for any other organization to clear" as a "barrier to entry". Its valuable; protect it, keep it growing. But wait, you're doing that.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:41 PM ^

I've noticed as the site has grown that the forums are more lively and moving faster these days. Originally you said only 1 forum was fine and were right, but these days it might be nice with the influx of more posters (though most readers of Varsity Blue probably visited this site as well) to add a few different forums.

B Ready

July 24th, 2009 at 2:51 PM ^

As far as the front page goes, I think it would be beneficial to have a tool at the top as a way to navigate to different parts of the site. For example, have a tab at the top designated for a recruiting page. And then another one for baseball, hockey, basketball, etc. Putting the forum and diaries on a separate page may also be something to consider. Jmo.


July 24th, 2009 at 3:48 PM ^

Agreed, except for the forum/diaries page: I personally love that I can quickly scan the front page for new content (MGoBoard and diaries) without having to click on separate links. Considering how many topics and posts there are per day, and how often us fanatics check the site, separate pages for forums and diaries could subtly reduce the amount of content that is posted.


July 24th, 2009 at 5:53 PM ^

i think it might be cool to have like 4 or 5 tabs across the top (maybe parallel to 'beveled guilt') that were football, bball, hockey, other & recruiting but keep the forum in the same spot. or maybe be able to sort by author? i'm gonna miss VB


July 25th, 2009 at 3:36 AM ^

I'd propose all posts get posted on the front page, but having links in the menu to football, basketball, baseball, etc. posts. If posts are tagged correctly, it should be as easy as bookmarking mgoblog.com/basketball/ to get to the bball articles.


July 24th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

I like this move a lot, and from what I've read so far, seems most of the readers should too. I especially look forward to the more-eventful Fall for them to handle the news more efficiently. (No more Thursday recruitin'?)


July 24th, 2009 at 3:04 PM ^

As long as the WLA don't get added to the team. But you did mention that you chose those guys (Paul,Tim etc) because they have some skill of use to people in general, that should eliminate the WLA.


July 24th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

Have you even seen what they post over there (assuming they even bother to post in the first place)? EarthwermKurt chats? Private Dick crime fiction? Barwis pr0n? WTF is that crap and what does it have to do with football?

And then there's thousands of comments for each post. Bullshit. Stat padding, for sure. And it's probably the same two or three guys just using different handles with converstations like:

Dex: I like zima

Chitown: I like zima, too.

Dex: Have you had zima with jolly ranchers?

Chitown: hee hee hee, did you see what that guy posted at MGoBlog?

ShockFX - unicorn prettie. me liek more then zimma.

mjv: Where am I?

cfaller: Let's go to Cedar Point.


July 24th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

i join in congratulating you and thanking you for making this an even better place to use to follow the world of michigan. this will obviously benefit anyone who follows michigan sports. uh, yeah, everyone here.


July 24th, 2009 at 3:21 PM ^

Though the recruiting coverage of VB isn't as good as what you usually post, it'll be nice to know that you'll get to write even more meaty, high-quality stuff.

Deeply Researched Posts = Great, No-Sugarcoat Stuff

lexus larry

July 24th, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

I read about this HOURS ago on Varsity Blue! (Go PSU Pic of Artificial Insemination Marker! WOOT!)

Actually, this is an interesting evolution of this corner of the internets and football blogging. Will this be the General Motors of Michigan Football blogs, eliminating other blogs by absorption? Or will it become something else? Will Brian become corporate? (Brian Cook LLC perhaps? In other diaries/comments, he's been referred to as "a brand.") Will he become a "suit" and make Paul, Mike and FA adhere to some obtuse "Code of Conduct?"

Remember, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

(We need a pic of Brian in full "Wall Street" sneer and Brooks Brothers 3 piece suit. Don't know how the beard and pony tail will work with that, though.)

Best wishes on the expansion, and the increased content. Can't wait! HAIL!