Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH TIM
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
The twelfth edition of MGoProfile! Hopefully it’s helped to make the summer feel a little cooler, the Thursday workday a little lighter, and most importantly, the offseason go a little faster. And certainly I hope you’ve all enjoyed learning a little bit more about your fellow bloggers.
That said, I think it’s safe to say this is the most informative profile yet. Our man Tim, most likely the Senior Vice President to the Fearless Leader here at MGoBlog, gave me a killer interview describing himself and some of the many contributions to the site. Once the proprietor of another Michigan blog, Varsity Blue, Tim joined the team last year and has never looked back. Let’s catch up with him in this exclusive interview:
1. Tim, the right hand man of Brian himself. The Little John to his Robin Hood, the Vader to his Palpatine. But as some of the more seasoned readers know, at one time you had your own UM blog that was something of a rival to ours. Describe the decision-making process behind the marriage of MGoBlog and Varsity Blue.
Originally, Brian approached Paul and me last spring and proposed a merger, because the Athletic Department had deemed mgoblog worthy of a press credential. He wanted me to be that beat reporter (and Paul to come along for the ride, I guess). Initially, I was hesitant to do it for a number of reasons. First, I had never been the "go to press conference guy," though I had occasionally with WOLV-TV, it was never my thing. Also, it really sucked to shut down Varsity Blue. That was something I had built from the ground up, and it felt like I was killing my own child.
I thought about the decision for upwards of a month, but eventually the desire to make blogging about Michigan sports a real life job(!) and the fact that I really think MGoBlog can grow into something special. It's already the biggest team-specific blog on the internet, and I think there's still a lot of potential for it to grow.
Yes, MGoBlog is certainly growing and evolving into what I'd be willing to describe as the premier online Michigan athletics community. With that being said, is this still Brian's blog?
I think it would be foolish to assume that MGoBlog will ever become something other than Brian's site. He started it, helped it grow into what it is today, and without him, it would be nothing. Brian produces the majority of the content, and although the user-generated content and the message board have become a big part of what the site is today, MGoBlog wouldn't be MGoBlog without Brian Cook.
2. If I recall, you're the MGoBlog on-site reporter, sitting in on official press conferences with the likes of Angelique and Pinnochio Rosenberg. Tell us what that's like. Do they look down at you as 'the web guy,' do they treat you like an equal, or are they threatened by you as an outward extension of the very digital age that has been sinking print media for over a decade?
First things first, Rosenberg doesn't work the Michigan beat. He comes to press conference only when he's looking for a certain story (and it seems as though they're all negative...), but the other mainstream reporters are Angelique, Mark Snyder, Michael Rothstein, Dave Birkett (football only), the reporters from the daily, and occasionally a couple other people. I think they understand that we internet folk (at least mgoblog in particular) aren't necessarily trying to take away from what they do. I don't go to a press conference to write my 800-word column, so it's not like we're in direct competition.
There are also a few other independent-internet-type folk there (particularly for football, though if the basketball team had been something other than awful this year it could have been a different story), such as Greg Dooley of MVictors and Phil Callihan from UMGoBlog. So, if it was just me, I might feel a little uncomfortable, but having those guys also around makes me feel like I'm not out of my element. Combine that with the fact that the mainstream is moving toward the internet - AnnArbor.com being the biggest and most obvious example - and I think (hope?) I fit in as just one of the guys.
What's your relationship with the University of Michigan Athletic Department? Do Bruce Madej, or anyone over there, read or even know about MGoBlog?
Before the MGoMerger was completed, Brian and I actually had a meeting with a few guys in sports information, including Bruce, to talk about what our goal was for getting credentialed, how we were going to go about doing it, what they expected from us, etc. We actually helped them hash out some of what they were planning to expect from other independent websites in order for them to get credentialed.
On top of that, Bruce is sometimes in attendance at various press conferences, and he knows who we are. The SIDs for the two main sports (Dave Ablauf for football and Tom Wywrot for basketball) are there every time, and Tom in particular has helped me a lot. Brian is in somewhat-regular contact with Bruce about various questions here and there, so he's definitely aware of our presence.
As far as athletic department staffers actually reading the site, I couldn't say for a fact. I would imagine that someone at least skims the content, to see what we're saying about them, and some might read it for entertainment, rather than in an official capacity. I know some players do read the site, and even some recruits.
You hear that everyone? PLAYERS READ THE BLOG. Remember that the next time you feel like badmouthing the team you love on the site you spend most of your day.
3. This Internet idea seems to be working. We've already approached an age where general information portals (Sports Illustrated, for example) are losing their ground with readers, simply because it takes no greater effort to find sites with very specialized content (ie. MGoBlog) that can probe deeper, longer, and uncut. With regards to Michigan sports in general, what does the future hold for readers looking for faster, more detailed, and more accurate information?
I think that niche-based media (i.e. MGoBlog fills the Michigan niche) is going to be a big part of the future of sports media, though I think at least for some outlets, like Sports Illustrated, the talent they're able to acquire, the resources they can use to pursue a story, and even just the momentum of having been around for so long, is going to prevent them from ever going away. It's sort of the same story for newspapers. Though they're struggling, and many have even folded, I think they won't go away. Maybe, in the age where we can get information right away, at our convenience, they'll play a much smaller role.
The immediacy of the internet, and the opportunities it provides (research capabilities, embedded video and audio, outlinking and networking) make it so important. Could you imagine, even just a couple years ago, hearing about the important news from a press conference as it's still ongoing (as I usually give from my Twitter account)? Probably not. Even user-generated content is something that newspapers, in their traditional format, can't really do. There are so many knowledgeable people on this site alone that simply needed a place that would give them a voice. That has improve the quantity and quality of information and analysis out there.
Speaking of the future, what will it hold for you? You've clearly made some in-roads as part of the media, and I've read that you once wore a TV producer's shoes as well. Any chance you're one day a part of the Sports Information department??
As much as student-run media can be a true position, I once held various roles at WOLV-TV, including producer of several shows, Programming Director, and I was the Co-General Manager of the station (along with Paul) as a senior. In fact, when I graduated from Michigan, I really wanted to get into some form of broadcast media, but those jobs were even tougher to come by than... well I guess I haven't really had a real job other than mgoblog since I graduated.
I would love to have a future in the Michigan Athletic Department (duh), and if they came knocking on my door, I would accept it in a heartbeat. For now though, I'm happy with MGoBlog, and helping this site grow is something that really excites me. It doesn't exactly pay like a full-time job, but I keep telling (fooling?) myself that if I keep working hard, I'll be able to turn those 60-hour weeks during the basketball season into a career.
4. I think the answer is obvious, but can you describe what you do for a living? And what do you like to do for fun on your own time?
MGoBlog is my job. It's not your traditional 40 hours a week (more like 50ish during football, 60ish during basketball, and 25ish in the offseasons), but this is what's paying my bills. It's also a perfect situation for me, because I'm definitely not the type of guy who can sit in one place for 8 hours, 5 days a week, and not do anything. I love being able to wake up in the morning, work for a couple hours, take a break to go for a run or play some video games, and then get back to the grind in the afternoon.
On my own time, as I just mentioned, I like to play XBox (NCAA, Fifa, and Red Dead Redemption are the games I've been playing the most recently), and do other stuff the semi-recent college grads like to do. I also like to try a lot of different beers, and brew my own. I was never much of a TV watcher (even when I could afford cable), but watching sports always gets its chance.
I know Tim and Brian won’t say it, so I will—this is their job, how they pay the bills. Your entertainment is their livelihood. More about that later.
5. Moving on—time for the old standards. Describe the perfect meal.
There are so many different ways I could go with this. I love so many different types of food that it's hard to pick just one type for a meal. I do know that, as much as I love beer, the perfect meal would accompany a bottle of Bo Merlot that I've been saving for the past few years, that I arbitrarily decided I wouldn't open until Michigan beat Ohio State on the football field. OK, I guess I'd have a couple glasses of that and then switch to some homebrew.
I guess the food would have to be something fresh off the grill, not only because it's delicious, but also I like the process itself. Beef and Chicken kabobs with grilled veggies would have to be my choice.
6. Mmmm, I love grilled anything. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
My answer for this question is definitely going to be a little different from your standard response, and probably a lot longer as well. May dad is an Ohio State alumnus, and though my family wasn't big into college sports when I was growing up, I would have described myself as a casual Buckeyes fan as a child (my parents still have an unopened 6-pack of "OSU National Champs" Coke sitting in their basement).
I grew up mostly in Illinois and California, though I was still in elementary school when I moved to Michigan, and I was more of a Cubs-Bears-Bulls fan as a child. Ironically enough, I can't stand pro sports today, but I'll watch any college contest I can get my greedy eyeballs on.
Fast forward to my final couple years of high school, and I wanted to, like, get a good education. The only two schools I applied to were Michigan State and Michigan, and I had to sweat out Michigan acceptance to get that good education thing I just mentioned. Even by the time I enrolled in Ann Arbor, I wouldn't have described myself as a Michigan fan. Sure, I learned the fight song at orientation, but that was about it. I didn't even know what time the 2004 Miami (NTM) game started, so I missed the first quarter of it.
It was that 2004 football season that really turned me into a Michigan fan. The wins were great, especially the Tyler Ecker rumble to take down Minnesota, but it was the heartbreakers that really made me fall in love with the Wolverines. Part of me died on the inside when Dusty Mangum baaaarely slipped the ball inside the goal posts to take us down in the Rose Bowl, and going to the OSU game in the Shoe with my cousin (then a high schooler, now a Buckeye alumna) brought me down a notch. The 2006 season ensured my Michigan love as a permanent thing, since I don't think there was any cooler experience than being on the field for Michigan's romp at Notre Dame, or the long, tired drive home from Penn State.
My parents are still Ohio State fans, but I've put in the necessary lobbying to make sure Michigan is their #2 team. I even bet my Ohio born-and-bred mother probably roots for Michigan - or is at least neutral - in The Game because she knows a Michigan win is much more important to me than is an Ohio State win to my dad. One of the downsides to being something of a Johnny-come-lately to Michigan is that I've never once watched live as Michigan beat Ohio State in football (the only game I watched before I was a student was the 2002 game).
Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
As I mentioned above, I've only been a fan for a few years, so my selections are going to be recent. I think most of my contemporaries can understand my Mike Hart love, and are similarly sad that he didn't emerge until it was too late to win the 2004 Notre Dame game. The guys who have stuck with Michigan through the rough years at the beginning of the Rodriguez administration will also hold a special place in my heart - especially those like Brandon Graham who excelled despite the poor teams.
A lot of my choices are current guys, that really haven't done enough yet to verge into "all-time" territory. As someone who gets to interview these guys, I get to see a lot more of their personalities, in addition to what they do on the field. My favorite press conference answer came from Denard Robinson, when a reporter asked him following the Eastern Michigan game if he really liked running into the South endzone (he scored going that way in the Western game too, as you may recall). His response?: "I think I scored one going this way, too [points North]." If he can live up to his tremendous physical potential, there's a good chance that he goes down in Michigan fan lore as well.
For so many of us, myself included, MGoBlog is a welcome distraction to the daily grind of our own jobs (and occasionally lives). It’s a place where we feed our devotion to Michigan football with to-the-minute updates on the team and its players. We also go here to fraternize with colorful characters, to rejoice victories, whether on the field or in a young man’s living room, and to lambast the enemy with like-minded people we may or may not truly know. It’s a clubhouse, a haven, a place of recreation.
For Tim, and Brian, and a select few others, it is their life. In terms of profession and productivity, it is literally who they are… so their investment in the quality and content of the blog is immeasurably higher than the rest of us who simply come here to play. If nothing else, I hope this entry gives us all a new sense of respect of their dedication not only to keep it going, but to keep making it better and better. I don’t think Brian will mind me saying that he’s hard at work on an improvement to the blog—why would he mind, he always is—and I’m sure he and Tim lead a pretty hectic life just to keep the ship on course throughout the season and year. So as we creep ever closer to the eve of the 2010 opener, remember all of the sacrifices these guys make, all for the sake of making the blog better. For you.
In a totally unrelated topic, there is a button on the top right, just below the main navigation called Beveled Guilt. All jokes aside, think of how much you receive from this blog even though you never pay a cent. Brian’s given us the ability to pay for what you receive, and even name your own price a la Radiohead. No one asked me to include this part (in fact, I hope they aren’t upset that I have), and I’m not trying to give anyone the guilt trip. Just consider what you’d be willing to pay for what you receive here, and if you’re so inclined, give it up. For these guys.
Thanks again, and I’ll see you all next week for another exciting edition of MGoProfile!