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 10:28 PM ^

I am pretty serious about Michigan football, I just don't care about any of the other varsity sports.

Will we have access to saved filter settings for our account so we'll only see posts relevant to our interests?


July 25th, 2009 at 6:17 PM ^

there is. in the offseason you might have to wade through a lot of basketball or other stuff to get to a football post. ESPN has different homepages for different sports, so does mgoblue.com. filters or different homepages might not be a bad idea if there's going to be a big jump in content.


July 25th, 2009 at 11:50 PM ^

And this is a valid response to my question, how? No need to be snarky.

A site like gizmodo has a simple "display" box at the top of the page. It is automatically set to display all but you can only see computer posts or camera posts if you're not into all variety of gadgets. As I understand it, the sort is simply managed by the tags associated with a post.

I don't think this would be difficult to do for Brian and it would make the site more navigable and user friendly if the amount of content does skyrocket.

Consider it a suggestion.


July 25th, 2009 at 1:38 AM ^

painter's reference: paint adsorbs onto wood, creating a top layer of the adsorbate that bonds to the wood surface. stain on the other hand is absorbed into wood, actually getting soaked into the wood like a sponge.

In business terms: franchise licensors adsorb - If MGoBlog were to attach only its name to VB, and permit VB to be run as a stand-alone, that would be adsorption. On the other hand, when one outfit abandons its own enterprise to literally become enjoined with another, as is the case here, that's absorption.


July 25th, 2009 at 1:25 PM ^

I like the move. The two UM blogs I read regularly merging into one convenient source? That's a win.

An improved MgoBoard should be on the agenda before fall. With the increased traffic, stuff will be falling off the front page more quickly.

I may have missed it above, but I'm assuming TomVH is staying on in his current capacity?


July 25th, 2009 at 11:40 PM ^

Outstanding news! This makes so much sense. Wit, recruiting, editorials, etc. everything a UM fan could want in a Michigan Blog. I anticipate a long and fruitful partnership. I'm here for the ride. NC's to be covered soon.

Go Blue.