About a decade ago, I was moving from Dallas to San Antonio and wondering how I would continue blogging about North Texas without being based close to the program. I was watching UTSA play in the NCAA tournament and tweeted about UTSA football just getting started and the direction the school was heading. I speculated about starting a UTSA blog. I imagined there would be plenty to write about as I spent time in my old home town after years away (for college and then just living). I loved me some college football and it would be cool to see the local university starting up a program. I liked to blog. It made sense.
A UTSA student saw my tweets and asked if I was seriously interested in blogging about the new program and if so, to consider him as a fellow blogger on the site 1 We started a Blogger site, then a self-hosted WordPress one, then I wanted to start a podcast — this was when it was in its infancy then. Like, I had to figure out how to do everything that many sites will do for you today — and that was fun. Then a name change because we had been pressured by the AD.
All of these memories flooded back to me when I was cleaning up old emails. It is a strange thing to read your old correspondence, being briefly transported to the mindset of writing them.
In college, I started blogging about the alma mater because I had hot sports opinions and they needed an outlet. This was before the UTSA stuff and I continued doing both (to the annoyance of some trolly fans of both programs). Eventually as UTSA got the call up to join CUSA along with NT, and the grind of blogging taking its toll (in cash and mental strain), we lost momentum and basically paused it. 2
Let me just note that I am by no means the best or most interesting blogger. I would not mind making a living doing this but I have maintained my day-job because I am fully aware of my strengths. Many other people have turned blogging about Sun Belt and CUSA teams into actual well-paying careers. Writing and reporting and doing the actual job of beat writing is a tough gig and I respect the people that do it and do it well. That said, there are plenty of people that just mail it in, and it was to fill that niche that I jumped in with some of the opinions and “coverage” I thought was necessary.
My early NT and personal blog stuff is clearly influenced by my writing idols (some of whom I am ashamed to list), and there are lots of paragraphs that make me wince. I see all the try-hard posts, and a sprinkling of decent ones. There is some clarity along the way and every once in a while I have something of which I am proud. I was writing in class or at my mall job so they were half-baked thoughts. Aside from all that the thing that has plagued me and my sites while also benefiting my career as a web developer person is that I was always interested in fiddling with the stuff behind the words on the page.
The coolest things that have happened is making friends with this (CUSA Report) and other sites (MGN, Coker/Cooler Chronicles) and (later when I started to do it more seriously) I even made a little money. Beyond that is the improvement in the skills that come from writing all the damned time. The podcast has made me a better public speaker. 3 Communication is a skill that needs to be kept sharp. Writing and speaking my thoughts and synthesizing the inputs to create the above outputs is something that has benefited me in many aspects of my life.
A few of clarifications:
The above is not a complete timeline. Somewhere in there I did join up with a SBNation site to see if it was cool. It was not. The entire time I have been intermittent in sports podcasting, I have been doing a non-sports podcast called Deranged Pengwin. Because I liked fiddling with stuff I launched two or three attempts at a forum. They were hit and miss. There is a super secret slack that has been the much better form of community that I was after. The number of memberships across both MGN and CR are down after the pandemic years. I cancelled everyone’s for both and in terms of business that was a mistake. In terms of morality, and customer service, it was good.
This site will continue for the foreseeable future. The monetization efforts are there so I can recoup the costs of doing business. I want to grow it organically, and hire some writers and pay podcast contributors. I dislike the content-mill strategies — the “5 times your team was gut punched” or “summer roster series, DBs” — as they are cynical attempts to fill space. I do not read that shit and I would not write it and ask you to do the same.
Again looking back at those emails I am the same guy — but different. I am older, wiser, and less of the worst parts of myself in some ways. I still think that quality comes first but I do not think it is likely to become anyone great off of this nonsense. I always thought there was a small chance — like 5% — that writing about North Texas vs UTSA would lead to bigger and better things. I put that chance even lower now but I also do not think that is even a worthwhile goal.
So I am the same. I still think that writing about this league and these teams is worthwhile because I know I would read it. I want to read and discuss these teams and I have met people that care about their programs. So I take it seriously and try to limit the awful or carelessness that is published here or on the podcast.
He is out in this internet still blogging and podcasting about the program. Many of you know him and he is doing well ↩
This was also a time when every blogger entertained some dreams of getting picked up by a bigger publication. Lots of people then asked if we were trying to get turned into an SBNation site or something. It would have been cool. ↩
There are only so many hours of hearing yourself say “um”, and “uh” that make you adjust your speaking style. ↩