Blogger Interviews: Christmas Ape

We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.

Up today is Michael Tunison, known in the blogging daisy chain as Christmas Ape. Ape is one of the founding fathers of Kissing Suzy Kolber but also shows his face at Deadspin and SportsbyBrooks. A former Washington Post employee, Tunison was recently dismissed after revealing his true identity. So, yeah, don’t be too hard on him…

1. The rundown:

Name: Michael Tunison

Age: 25
Location: Alexandria, Va.
Occupation: Blogger (oxymoron?)
Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Favorite posts:

Fearest No, Milady. ‘Tis Norval the Dragonslayer
High Risk Insurance/The Time is Right
Citing Executive Privilege, Bill Belichick Says, “Eat a Dick.”
Marmalard’s Moment of Douche

Time spent per day blogging/reading blogs: 2-3 hours

2. Your stepping out of the shadows of anonymity led to a rapid chain reaction of shitiness. First, we guess, why reveal your true identity now?

Ever since KSK started, a significant amount of our content has involved assailing other writers who cover that NFL, whether that be Bill Simmons, Peter King, Mike Lupica, Tony Kornheiser or whomever. A lot of the blowback we’d receive from these criticisms was that we were cowardly to level insults at these writers while hiding behind assumed blogging names. I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong to do that, but with KSK getting a paid deal and having built up a pretty large audience, it seemed like the responsible thing to do.

3. Take us through the series of events of The Post getting hold of this. Your manager call you into his office and let you know that he didn’t appreciate a Post employee making dick jokes on his own time? Was there a certain post or topic that really pissed them off? Was there a discussion or did they not even care what you had to say?

I put the “outing” post up on Monday and didn’t hear a peep. Tuesday, I took the day off to drive my parents to the airport in the middle of the day. Meanwhile, MediaBistro threw up this post about me, which I can safely assume is how my editors became aware of the blog. Later that afternoon, I got a call from the Metro section’s top editor, Bob McCartney, who demanded to know why I would do such a thing. I gave him the same explanation I detailed above and he told me he had spoken with Post managing editor Phil Bennett and some other personnel people and that they would discuss further but there was a good chance I could be let go for my actions. The next day, I went into the office, went about the usual business and got a call in the afternoon to come downtown to meet with McCartney (I worked in one of the suburban bureaus). There, McCartney told me I had violated Post standards and discredited the paper for the identifying myself as a Post writer in a blog post that contained obscenities and profanity. He gave me the option of resigning with severance or being let go outright. I choose the former. i was then led out of the building by security, lest I try liveblogging my dismissal or something.

4. What now?

My income from the three blogs I write for, KSK, Deadspin and SportsbyBrooks, is about on par with what I made with The Post. And the members of KSK got a considerable signing bonus upon entering into our contract. So my financial situation is okay. There have been some offers, full-time positions and freelance opportunities, that have come out of this fiasco. Hopefully those will help to fill the gap.

5. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

There are far too many great blogs out there to list, but the ones have have influenced me the most for what I do at KSK are Wizznutzz, The Dugout and MJD’s various works across the great tubescape.

6. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

Lack of censorship, interaction with your readership and instant feedback. I get to know right away what works and what doesn’t. When I first started the Hines Ward posts, I had concerns about how they would go over, considering that they send up racial stereotypes and just invoking them is usually enough to bother people, but I was shocked how little criticism there was about it. It was almost nonexistent.

7. Dream job? Go.

Kind of reevaluating what my dream job would be right now. When I got into journalism, it’s because I wanted something that would let me experience a lot of different things, interact with all sorts of people, do a lot of traveling and generally not get stuck doing mindless busywork. Of course, my actual experience in journalism was the exact opposite of that. I’m not saying some reporters don’t get to do those things, but it’s not worth what it takes to get to that point. I still have an interest in doing some long-form writing — be it magazine, features, books and screenplays. Being able to do a combination of those on subjects of my choosing is probably as close to a dream job as I have.

8. What’s the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

The goal of KSK is basically to write the funniest, most biting and timely dick jokes about the NFL. Once it makes Sean Mahan retire and Neil O’Donnell commit suicide, then my work is done.

9. KSK, from the get-go, seemed to get tons of traffic and comments. A piece of advice to some smaller sites how to get a prolific, interactive readership?

KSK had some help starting in the Deadspin comments. Will Leitch has been supportive from jump street. Being involved with established blogs is always a good start, whether it means being a figure in comments or bugging the writers about contributing.

10. Finding content for a general sports blog can be challenging on a slow day. How do you guys do it during the dreadfully long off-season? Isn’t it tough to come up with enough material to keep readers entertained? Any secrets you have to finding content on painfully slow news days?

It can be tough with the vortex of suck that is the NFL off-season, but KSK’s focus is so free form that it’s not that difficult to fill space. Our readers don’t mind if we go off-topic so long as we remain entertaining.

11. You’re on a deserted island with a dead president, celebrity and hot chick. Who are they and why?

I’ll go with Richard Nixon, Scarlett Johansson and Lucy Pinder. When I’m not banging Scarlett and Lucy, I’ll talk shit about The Washington Post with Tricky Dick.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals; Orson Swindle; Big Daddy Drew; Brian Cook; Awful Announcing; JoeSportsFan; Matt Mosley; Chris Mottram; Dave Lozo).

Blogger Interviews: Chris Mottram


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.

On the hot seat today is Chris Mottram of the recently-started The Sporting Blog at Sporting News; a blog with the corporate backing we all long for. He also co-writes Mr. Irrelevant with his brother, Jamie. Chris is like from the first family of blogging, if such a thing exists. So make sure you let him have it in the comments.

1. The rundown:

Name: Christopher Andrew Mottram aka C-Mott aka Lil’ Train aka Doctor aka Lil’ Pistol Starter
Age: 25
Location: Charlotte, NC (Northern VA at heart)
Occupation: Community Product Manager, SportingNews.com
Favorite team: Redskins, Nationals, Orioles, Maryland, Mason, Wiz (in that order)
Links to your favorite all-time posts you’ve written. (3-5)

Because I don’t really feel like digging through three years worth of Saved By the Blog content, I’ll limit it to just my favorites since my brother and I joined in July to re-launch Mr. Irrelevant.

The Dead Tree Crew Gives Exclusive, All Access Look at Their Notorious Tailgate

Urlacher Tit Grab Girl Is on ‘Rock of Love’

Hot Fitteds

I realize that last link is kinda cheating, but I’m quite proud of all the Hot Fitted entries. Look for that series to make a comeback in some form soon (that’s what we call a “tease” in the biz).

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: About 10 hours.

2. We’re quite curious how you landed at Sporting News. But first take us through your time in college, meaning. we want to know what you studied, internships, first jobs, what bosses you slept with, etc.

This exchange from “Tommy Boy” applies quite literally to my college experience:

Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?
Richard Hayden: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right.
Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
Richard Hayden: I know, they’re called doctors.

I too went to school for seven years. And I only have a Bachelor’s degree.

I attended four different schools, and changed my major as many times. In order, I went to the University of Rhode Island, Northern VA Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, and George Mason University.

I majored in Sport Management at Mason, mostly because it was easier than anything else (no math or language requirements), and it had “sport” in the title. Needless to say, school was never my thing.

Writing always was, however. I was the front page editor of my (award winning, I might add, no big deal) high school newspaper. During my three years at Mason, I was an intern at AOL where I started Show Me Your Blog — later called Saved By the Blog — in 2004 and co-hosted “Sports Bloggers Live” with my brother, among other, less exciting, duties.

I have never hooked up with any of my bosses that you know of.

3. Now that that’s established, how’d you hook up with Sporting News and create the awesome new The Sporting Blog?

Once I graduated from Mason, I could no longer suck on AOL’s corporate teet as an intern. I was thanked for my three years of service there by not being offered a job.

After being unemployed for about a month (blogging is A LOT easier without a job or school to worry about) I came to Charlotte to interview for the position of Blogging Overlord (paraphrased). I found out about the position from Shawn Schrager, who had been at SN.com for a couple months as their Director of Product Development. I worked with him at AOL and on “Sports Bloggers Live.”

I was offered the position, accepted it, and moved to Charlotte in late October.

As for The Sporting Blog, it’s still in “beta” mode, if you will. We’re still bringing in contributors (already have EDSBS’ Orson Swindle, No Mas’ Large and AA’s Brian Powell writing for it), and figuring out the exact direction of the Blog.

Although “the Internet does not need another sports blog” is mockingly hidden within TSB’s header, we’re hoping that’s not entirely true. I think there’s a place for us, and we’re still trying to carve it out. With the bloggers we have, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

We will also be launching First Cuts sometime after the New Year. I’m pretty excited (see also: stoked) about that blog. It will cover “sports culture,” to put it simply. Clothes, shoes, cars, hot fitteds, etc.

I feel like you’re being sarcastic when you say “awesome new The Sporting Blog.” Are you? If so, this interview is over.

4. Are you edited at SN or do you have the same liberties you do at Mr. Irrelevant?

I’m definitely edited, as is to be expected. I was reprimanded during the second week of The Sporting Blog’s existence for referring to a high school coach as a “fascist.” But the fact of the matter was that the coach was a fucking fascist, so I didn’t think it was too bad. I understood where they were coming from though. [Takes sip of corporate kool-aid.]

5. Take us through a typical day of blogging. Balancing The Sporting Blog and Mr. Irrelevant is probably time consuming, no?

I’m either blogging or searching for things to blog about from the time I arrive at work until when I leave. I try to post on Mr. Irrelevant in the evenings once I get home, but I’m usually drunk, asleep or drunk and asleep anytime after about 6 p.m. This would be why Mr. I is back to being almost all Jamie lately.

I love Mr. Irrelevant though, so getting back to posting more often there is, like, a goal of mine, or something.

6. Dream job? Go.

Senior Editor of Blogs & Community at Yahoo! Sports. The guy who currently holds that position has his head up his ass.

7. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few of your favorites?

I’d so much rather just list the ones that irritate the shit out of me, but then I’d make enemies, and I have enough of those already.

So let’s stay positive. My favorites would have to be, but not limited to, D.C Sports Bog, We Are the Postmen, Deadspin, With Leather, Awful Announcing, 100% Injury Rate, EDSBS, Hogs Haven, Scott Van Pelt Style, Bugs & Cranks, Sports by Brooks, KSK…shit, maybe I should just send you a screen grab of my Bloglines.

8. How’d you go about promoting the new SN digs? Email blasts? Word of mouth? And, if you’d be so kind, a piece of advice to some smaller sites how to build an audience.

First off, I would never do email blasts, so don’t insult me like that. People who do email blasts should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell. In case I’m not being clear here, I hate email blasts.

I have, however, shamelessly begged certain people (Will Leitch) for links. Other than that, I live by the same rules that all new sites should: If you build it, they will come. Post frequently. But it’s also about quality. Some sites (again, I’m not going to name names) don’t get that. Making 15 posts a day that are complete shit is not better than making three really great ones.

I guess what I’m saying is post a lot and don’t be shitty. Sorry, unlike my brother, I’m not good with the advice stuff.

And for the record, The Sporting Blog is still a “smaller site” itself. Sure, it has corporate backing, but the numbers aren’t changing the world. Yet.

9. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

Most rewarding: When Hot Clicks features one of your posts. Most Frustrating: When Hot Clicks doesn’t feature one of your posts.

10. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what’s the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.

I can’t say for sure, but I’m hoping it involves YouTube videos in full 1080i HD quality. That would be awesome.

11. You’re having dinner with four people — two athletes, one hot chick and a dead president. Name ’em. And, of course, why?

This is a tough question. What is the hot chick’s reason for being there? Is she my significant other, or just a friend? Because if I’m going to get to sleep with her after we eat, then I’m gonna go with someone smokin’ hot who likely has a shitty personality and an annoying voice. If it’s just a friend, then I’ll go with a cool and funny chick, assuming that exists.

And do the athletes have to be alive? If so, do they have to be in their current state? In other words, can I go with 1982 Joe Gibbs, or would I have to go with 2007 Joe Gibbs?

Forget it. I’m just complicating a rather straightforward question, so here goes: Allison Stokke, Anna Kornikova, Elisha Dushku, and JFK. This way I have three hot chicks and one dude who probably knows more hot chicks.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals; Orson Swindle; Big Daddy Drew; Brian Cook; Awful Announcing; JoeSportsFan; Matt Mosley).

Blogger Interviews: Matt Mosley


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.

Joining us today is Matt Mosley of ESPN.com’s Hashmarks. Mosley’s a former newspaper guy, but recently jumped over to the Net and the riches of blogging. Since he’s a real journalist, he talks to real people and does real life reporting. So play nice in the comments.

1. The rundown:

Name: Matt Mosley
Age: 34
Location: Dallas
Occupation: Sportswriter
Favorite team: Baylor
Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: I spend at least 10 hours a day on the Internet.

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging.

Wake up at 6:30 a.m. and see if I missed anything overnight. Spend a couple of hours reading stories from around the nation. I start with newspaper stories and then try to look at some blogs. Sometimes I’ll drive out to Valley Ranch and check in with the Cowboys. Most of the times I take a break from blogging at noon and start making calls. I call scouts, players and coaches. I do a lot of local radio and some national, so I’m having to constantly work around that.

3. Your résumé us loaded. Take us through your career path, starting with early internships, first jobs, etc.

I went to law school after graduating from Baylor. My father’s a lawyer and it seemed like the best path. About a year and a half in, I decided to bail. I took a job with a popular local sports radio show in Dallas called The Ticket and started free-lancing for the Dallas Morning News. At first, I covered primarily high school athletics. In 2003, I worked on the Baylor basketball scandal. Just before Carlton Dotson confessed to killing his teammate, he called one of my old professors to let him know. That professor called me, and we had a national scoop the next morning.

I suppose that was my “big break,” although it was a tragic story to cover. We won a couple of national awards for our efforts, and soon I was asked to become a Cowboys beat writer for the Dallas Morning News and DallasNews.com. In 2006, I became a columnist and launched a Cowboys blog called “Matt Mosley’s Cowboys Blog.” The blog had a nice following, and it’s probably the reason ESPN.com eventually hired me. It didn’t hurt that my old DMN editor John Banks had become the NFL editor at ESPN.com.

4. How’d you hook up with ESPN.com last January? You approach them?They come to you? Was the original agreement that you’d be the NFL blogger, or was it going to be primarily columns at first?

They hired me to blog and write columns. It took us a while to get the blog up and running, so I focused on writing columns for the first two months. ESPN.com approached me in late October and the process lasted until December. Again, they liked the Cowboys Blog and wanted me to do something similar for the entire league.

5. Talk about some similarities and differences between working for a newspaper and working for a major website. Are you edited the same way? Do you have more freedom at the .com?

I have a lot more freedom now. No one has to approve my entries. I have editors who might back read things, but I automatically post my entries. Just like a newspaper, I do have deadlines for most of my columns. With the DMN, I had my own niche. With ESPN.com, it’s a lot larger playing field. I loved the newspaper business, but the Internet gives your work a lot more immediacy. And quite frankly, I just feel a lot better about where ESPN.com is headed than I do newspapers.

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

I like a lot of the same blogs I’m sure you guys like. Deadspin is always fun and Kissing Suzy Kolber, The Big Lead and With Leather are all regular stops. I really like what my friend Dan Steinberg has done with the DC Sports Bog. He’s an excellent writer and he’s funny. My pal Ethan Skolnick does a really nice job with his blog on the Sen-Sentinel Web site. I also love The Bastard Machine, which Tim Goodman does for the San Francisco Chronicle. If you’re not on the blogroll, don’t read anything in to it. I just haven’t done a good job of adding links.

7. The blogroll on Hashmarks has a lot of well-known blogs, but –correct us if we’re wrong — the site doesn’t seem to reference or link to that many blogs or non-MSM sites. Any reason for that? Does your background in MSM and not as a blogger (like TrueHoop Henry) influence it?

It’s a good question. Quite honestly I need to become a lot more efficient in my research process. The problem with my gig is that I’m asked to express an opinion on pretty much every major story that comes along. Sometimes I couldn’t care less about a story. I think I should be issued some free pass. You want me to write my 500th entry on Mike Vick? Nope, I”ll pass.

8. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

Most rewarding is that you have a constant outlet. Most frustrating is that you have a constant outlet. We just had our first child and the time that a blog requires really dominates my days. It’s frustrating when you to try to keep 32 fan bases happy.

9. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what’s the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.

I think sports blogs could end up making newspapers obsolete. Right now, the good ones do a nice job of posting pics and other features. I would like to be a blogger who continues to break news instead of simply linking to other newsbreakers. There are a lot of great blogs, but not many of them take the time to do original reporting.

10. What’s the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

I’ll eventually return to a normal life of writing features and columns when I burn out from blogging, which could happen as soon as Monday.

11. You’re having dinner win an NFL coach, NFL player and a super hot babe. Who are they and why?

Cardinals center Al Johnson, Seahawks special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and 49ers offensive line coach George Warhop.

If you want me to name a head coach, I have to go with Mike Holmgren.

Hot babe? Meredith Mosley

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals; Orson Swindle; Big Daddy Drew; Brian Cook; Awful Announcing; JoeSportsFan).

Blogger Interviews: JoeSportsFan


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.

We got a goody today. Joining us is Matt Sebek, one of the great minds behind the wildly-hilarious JoeSportsFan. Sebek spoke on behalf of his colleagues and represented the site nicely. JSF has many great features, namely the JSF MediaSpace pages, JSF Radio and the Worthless Card Collection. You can learn more about JSF here. Through this, and other columns, they successfully “Celebrate the Absurdity of Professional Sports.” Feel free to poke fun in the comments…

1. The rundown:

Name: Matt Sebek (conducting the interview because — quite frankly — I’m the most intelligent and best looking of the crew), Josh Bacott, and Pat Imig with contributions from Jason Major and Alex Fritz.
Age: Collective average of 25.433
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Occupation: Web Developer, Professional Blogger (I prefer the standard “writer” or “journalist”…but Imig is pushing me to use “professional blogger” whenever possible in hopes that it enters mainstream lingo sooner than expected so it can get him laid).
Favorite team: Cardinals, Blues, Rams, MU Tigers…blah, blah, blah. Big shout out to the Meredith Gorillas too — the self-proclaimed best rec-league softball team this side of the Mississippi. We flat out rake.
Links to your favorite all-time posts you’ve written. (3-5)

My favorite all-time JSF column is Josh’s “Softball Guy” piece. We owe a lot of our early success to that column and it still makes me laugh every time I read it.

I know Pat’s favorite stuff is the “SC” radio skits. It’s always a good time to picture SportsCenter and ESPN in a “high prime-time drama” setting because they sometimes take themselves too seriously. Okay, lots of times.

We also have to pimp the JoeSportsFan Worthless Card Collection — which is probably our collective favorite content on the site. It was Josh’s creation, but we all share in the fun these days. It’s a surreal experience to walk into a baseball card shop and ask for the “shittiest card you got.”

From my collection of “Fans of the Week,” my favorite is the historical encountering of two of the greatest tattoos to grace our fair city.

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere:

3-4 hours a day, with the exception of Imig — who hasn’t sold out to the whole “get a real job to make money” sort of thing.

2. JoeSportsFan isn’t your traditional blog. (Hell, maybe “blog” isn’t even the right classification). Either way, why the different look and format? Is it to stick out? And, if not a blog, why the association with the blogs?

When we started the site in 2003, the idea of a “blog” was still in early development, so there really wasn’t a standard format to use. We aren’t the typical blog in format, but in terms of point of view and the style of our content, we’re on the same page — meaning that we try not to take ourselves too seriously and we make fun of Chris Berman a lot.

We have made attempts to produce more content per week, and we maintain an open website format to allow ourselves to promote other sections of our site — like the MediaSpace pages, JSF Radio, and the Worthless Card Collection. For the most part, we don’t view it as a “blog” or “not a blog” because, as silly as it sounds, we really strive to carry out the site motto — “Celebrating the Absurdity of Professional Sports.” We all share the belief that the writing will remain enjoyable when that’s the theme and direction of our content. If we’re not having fun, you can pretty much bet the readers aren’t either. And as we all know, having fun is one step closer to being like Brett Favre. All that sure means a whole helluva lot these days.

3. JSF MediaSpace and JSF Radio give us about as big a laugh as anything on the Internet. How’d you guys come up with those? How do you actually design the MediaSpace pages so they look, well, like a MySpace page? And how is the JSF Radio recorded? Who does it? The Coach K one is precious.

True story: the MediaSpace pages came about when I was on a flight home from Florida, and I was messing around on my laptop — changing my desktop wallpaper and other mindless crap. I set my background to a picture of Albert Pujols — because that’s what heterosexual men do these days, and envisioned that somehow, somewhere, Sean Salisbury was doing the same thing — only with Brett Favre, and with no clothes on. The MediaSpace pages evolved from there.

The pages themselves are one of my favorite pieces of the site. As I said, I’m a web developer by trade, so I built us kids a nice little system that allow us to go in and create MediaSpace profile, assign “friends,” leave comments, etc. Basically, a mimic of the real MySpace behind the scenes — which makes the creation of the content the simplest thing.

As far as producing the content within the MediaSpace pages, they’re usually hashed out among the three of us via email, and we usually fight over who gets to post Tony Romo asking every single respective MediaSpace member if they want to be friends.

The radio bits are pretty much all done by Pat Imig, who has more time on his hands than my retired Grandma. He uses Cool Edit Pro to edit everything and uses a basic microphone to record. And oddly enough, the Coach K Phone Call was never planned, it just happened spontaneously. Listening to his press conference on the ACC web site the day after Tyler Hansbrough was bloodied by Gerald Henderson was the inspiration. The guy acts so annoyed and disinterested with everyone.

Truth be told, Imig is our site’s heel for internal banter, but the guy is absolutely freaking talented with recording and editing. If he actually had a resume, he could list me as a reference and I’d say the exact same thing.

4. Why start the site? Why not just create a regular blog like the rest of males, 18-35?

We started in 2003 with absolutely no expectations, just as an outlet to write about sports from our own point of view. The way the site is set up now gives us some freedom to do pretty much anything we want — long-form columns, short blog-style posts, alternative stuff like JSF Radio, MediaSpace and the Card Collection, or just to post a picture of a guy that has Busch Stadium tattooed on his back fat.

It’s also important to mention we feel fortunate to have the working relationship we do with one another. We’re all close now, but none of us knew each other prior to working together, so it’s cool to be able to work with people who are all trying to build something bigger. Added bonus: it’s fun to introduce each other as “some guy I met on the Internet” in public settings.

5. Dream job? Go.

Making a living from JoeSportsFan in a variety of different mediums — online content, radio, and television. If you can’t convince yourself that any of that stuff is possible, it’s really hard to succeed (at least, that’s what John Madden once said…at least we think that’s what he meant). You might as well fool yourself into believing it can happen.

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

If I was forced to name five of the big sites that we all check frequently, I would say Deadspin, The Big Lead, With Leather, SportsbyBrooks, and Mr. Irrelevant. I know it sounds really cliché to list all of those in our “top five,” but there’s a reason why every single one of those sites are successful. As popular as Deadspin has become over the past two years, the one thing that is often forgotten is Will’s writing skills. There’s a reason he is where he is today. Matt Ufford from With Leather is someone that I really respect from a comedic perspective. The guy’s joke transitions are seamless, even when they start with things like Lance Bass and end with Rex Grossman.

We also enjoy the Sports Nation blogs for our hometown teams (Turfshow Times, Viva El Birdos), as well as Fire Joe Morgan and BallHype. The Sports Hernia is also solid and we’ve long been fans of the Sports Pickle — he has a new book out, by the way. We also have to give mad Stu-Scott-hugs and hand-pounds to The Sports Frog for being the first real sports blog out there.

7. Most rewarding part of the site? Most frustrating?

Most rewarding is when you hear other people say that JSF is on their list of sites they go to daily.

With so many sites out there that offer quality stuff, having our name amongst them is very satisfying. The most frustrating part of the job is when you write until 1:00 a.m. on a work night and then realize that it’s not your full time job. But then when you find out someone read it on the crapper, it’s all worth it again. The crapper is prestigious real estate, and to have a piece of JSF with them…well, it’s just brings a tear to my eye.

8. What’s the ultimate goal of the site?

The ultimate goal is to take JSF to the point where we’re doing this full time. And we’re talking about all sorts of stuff — writing, radio bits, TV, anything and everything that we can make funny/entertaining. Who knows if it’s realistic, but if its not, it’s going to take a hell of a long time before we admit that to ourselves.

One of things I enjoy the most about JSF is that we don’t really have a defined format, and being a web developer allows us to get creative with the powers of online media. We spend a lot of time pumping out daily content that we’re proud of, but we’re just as proud of the aspects of JSF that are unique — MediaSpace, JSF Radio, and The Worthless Card Collection. We hope to incorporate these unique aspects of our work wherever we go.

9. We imagine JSF gets a great readership now. If not, it fucking should. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow — especially at first. How’d the initial promotion of the site go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady, interactive readership?

Initially there was no promotion. The “blogosphere” wasn’t really in existence like it is now so we basically relied on word of mouth, e-mail blasts, etc. Links on some of the larger link-sharing sites are important this day in age as they can send thousands of readers. RSS feeds are fabulous and allow for immediate promotion of the site. We recently developed our RSS feed, and it’s done wonders for our site.

My advice would be to consistently pump out quality material. You’ll get a better feel for what you’re good at and what your audience wants, plus no one wants to go to your blog and see week old posts on there. That’s a key thing: you can get all the links and publicity you want, but if the content isn’t solid, readers won’t come back.

Specifically, for The Big Picture, I think something like this interview series is wonderful (down to Question No. 9, and time to suck off the guy giving the interview. If only Peter King was this lucky)…and I think the response you’ve gotten is legit. The interviews have given people a chance to get to know the intellect behind their daily reads. And, it’s given some great exposure to sites that you may not have heard of before.

10. Is JSF a paid gig? If so, um, yeah, you hiring or what?

Right now we pay our writers in Pete Vukovich rookie cards.

11. You’re having dinner with four people — two athletes, one hot chick and a dead president. Name ’em. And, of course, why?

Athlete 1: Brett Favre, to see if he picks up his wife and runs around with her on his shoulders after washing the dishes.

Athlete 2: Stone Cold Steve Austin, with the guarantee that he stuns Suzy Kolber while offering a sideline report during a MNF broadcast.

Chick: Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, I still like to think she’s turned on by tight-rolled Guess jeans, blond butt-cuts, and Bayside Tigers’ gear.

President: William Howard Taft — my God, that was one doozy of a mustache. Plus, he’s the guy credited with starting the wave, so I’d like to slap him with a 16 ounce strip steak.

Blogger Interviews: Awful Announcing


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.

Joining us today is Brian from the always on-point Awful Announcing. AA’s been at it for a long time, as he’s kept announcers on notice since 2006. Be careful what you say or you might just end up the subject of a post over at AA. So go easy on him in the comments. Aw, who are we kidding? Rip in to him!

1. The rundown:

Name:
Brian Powell, BP, AA
Age: 29
Location: Metro DC/Baltimore Area
Occupation: Does anyone ever answer this question?
Favorite team: Redskins, Terps Basketball, Wolverines Football, Orioles
Links to your favorite all-time posts you’ve written. (3-5)


The one that really put me on the map…

The one actual piece of journalism that I attempted…
http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/2007/07/about-that-whole-espn-radioscott-van.html

And I’m extremely proud of the work that I and the Channel 4 News Team did Live-blogging just about every First Round NCAA Tournament game last year which we dubbed “Liveblogapocalypse.”
http://awfulannouncing.blogspot.com/search/label/Liveblogapocalypse%202007

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: 4-8 hours a day

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging.


This is probably the hardest question on the list for me. I don’t want to reveal all of my secrets, but it’s TBP, so I’ll spill the beans. The thing is…I don’t ever have a plan. Some may view this as cocky and/or ill-prepared, but unless I’m doing a review of a MNF game the next day, I have no idea what I’m posting that day.

With that said, I have the sites I go to first in the morning (don’t believe in RSS Readers), and from there I plan out my day. Here’s how it goes…Get the first post (something substantial) down around 9/10 a.m. Usually when I find the first post I instantly find the second to throw up, but I have real work for my “real” job in between. I’ll post the second story at around 11…I’ll do some more real work, and then look for a third story around noon. Here’s where it gets tricky…

If I have a story at noon…I go with it…if I don’t you get the “Create the Caption” bit a little early, and then it’s a free for all the rest of the day. Whatever and whenever I find it. If I’m watching games that night and anything grabs a hold of me I’ll put it up around midnight or 1 a.m., so it’s the first thing people see when they head to AA in the morning.

3. What made you start a blog focused on announcers and media figures? Did Chris Berman touch you the wrong way when you were a kid or something?

Fuck if I know really. One (Playoff NBA) day, Hubie Brown used the word “Wideopenshotability”, and I lost it. From there it’s been a cluster fuck (I can curse here, right?) of nonsense, announcing, and bad writing (mostly from me).

I always wanted to do something in sports (hence working for the WUSA), but blogging was nothing that I planned for. I’d love to give you some Steve Jobs type vision that I once had, but I was just an idiot with a computer and Google. Blogger came up as a sponsored link and the rest is Cheerleader Ass and History.4. Awful Announcing is full of rare videos and transcripts of what announcers said during a certain broadcast. How do you get all of that material? Are you TIVOing games, then breaking down all the fucked up things these guys say?

One day when I write my memoirs everyone will see the notes that I take for each game. They’re pretty off the wall and scary actually. It would be a great read.

As far as videos…I’d like to have a fancy answer for this question too (something along the lines of 40 minions with laptops and a network of TVs), but you hit the nail on the head. I watch any and every sporting event that’s on television. It’s not an easy thing to do, The Awful Girlfriend hates me during Football Season, and I get about four hours of sleep a night. No offense to the love of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On a side note: I’ve had one YouTube account closed because of “legal issues”, so I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to get away with what I do. It sucks to have a video, that was viewed over 300,000 times like “Ty Thomas twisting his ankle after proclaiming he’s only entering the Dunk Contest for the Money”, removed forever…but such is life. Until the lawyers come knocking I think I’m good…although that could be any day now.

5. Dream job? Go.

Going back through the transcripts of previous interviews you either got “I love what I’m doing now” or “I want to sexually assault a female actress for a living,” so I’m going with something different. I’m going with what I wanted to be as a kid. As a kid I wanted to be Eddie Murray. Eddie Murray was the best switch-hitter that ever lived (fuck you Mickey Mantle) and hated the bastards in the media. There was something that I loved about him just ignoring the lemmings that were hounding him after verbally fellating Cal Ripken.

So when I grow up, TBP…I want to be Eddie Murray. Wait…what was the question?

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

First of all let me say that this question is the easiest to answer. Why? I love every blog. I love everyone who takes the time to write/type their thoughts down to express their feelings (90% for little or no money). Doesn’t matter if the writing is good, if it’s satire, or it’s just recapping the day. Having options is not a bad thing, and with the monopoly that is “The Leader” trying to shove shit down your throat everyday…blogs are amazing and a necessity for any sports fan.

With that said I’m breaking this into two parts…

First of all have to thank Deadspin before anyone else. I emailed Will with the weakest of intros ever and he linked me in Blogdome with a tagline something along the lines of “Hey, A Blog Completely Devoted to Crappy Announcers, Bill Simmons Would Be Jealous.” I couldn’t think of a better intro into the ‘Sphere. Second, I have to thank Brooks from SbB. He may not want to admit this ever happened, but for one day I wrote for his site. He was trying to find people to fill in the holes when he couldn’t and he gave me a shot. I failed miserably. I wrote a perfect piece on Michele Wie and her competition, but mistakenly named Morgan Presell, Paula Creamer, or vice versa (whatever). Brooks got probably a million emails calling him out on what was actually my mistake, and even though I completely botched that first post he gave me a second try. Well guess what? I fucked that up too….Really, really, really badly. Brooks still gave me pointers and politely gave me advice as he kicked my ass out the door. If it wasn’t for SbB, I wouldn’t even know how to write a post or what was relevant in Media.

Okay, now that my slurping is done I’m taking a page out of my boy NFL Adam’s book by not mentioning the sites that you go to everyday (my dad actually asked me about a site called Deathspin the other day), but maybe pointing out the ones you don’t go to everyday…I hope you can take this in list form…

100% Injury Rate, Babes Love Baseball, Blog of Hilarity, Bugs and Cranks, Bullets Forever, Deuce of Davenport, Digital Headbutt, Flyers Fieldhouse, Joe Sports Fan, Ladies…, Larry Brown Sports, Leave the Man Alone, Lion In Oil, Mondesi’s House, More Credible, My Brain Says Rage, NOIS, One More Dying Quail, Red Sox Monster, Run Up The Score, Signal To Noise, Strikezones and Endzones, Sons of Sam Malone, Stupid Sideline Reporters, Storming the Floor, The 700 Level, The Big Picture, The Hater Nation, The Money Shot, The Sports Hernia, The Wayne Fontes Experience, Thunder Matt’s Saloon, and With Malice.

7. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

The most rewarding part is the easiest…I love what I do. And that’s not working full time at a bullshit job and making a salary. I love blogging. I love that I’m (somewhat) respected in the “Industry.” I love making people take notice. I love my commenters. I love the people that link to me and vice versa. I love my “Friends of AA” section because every single one of those people have helped me at one point or another whether I mentioned them in the last question or not. I love run-on sentences. I love using…

The most frustrating? Three things…1.) Trying to gain and keep respect 2.) Getting people to comeback after I’ve been linked somewhere huge, and 3.) The lack of understanding from Mainstream Media…

(Without getting too preachy) Mainstream Media likes to throw around the word credible. Well what the fuck is credible?! WHO is credible? The person who touched me when I was young Chris Berman, Peter Gammons, f’ing Chris Mortensen?!?! How about Deadspin who had some stories proven to be false, or when I fuck something up?! Everyone makes mistakes, but people seem to take stock in the fact that blogs are rumor and garbage. Well you know what? (Most of) Mainstream Media is nearsighted, stubborn, and weak. Blogs aren’t your run of the mill spin that you read every f’ing day at ESPN, and I f’ing love that! I think it’s awesome that I have options. Blogs are perfect in their chaos because they are a self-regulating community. Anons told me 1,000 times over that I was wrong for praising TBS’ No. 1 MLB Playoff Team of Caray, Gwynn, and Brenly. I went back and watched them again, saw that they were right, and admitted I was wrong and that I was too quick in my judgment. When has that ever happened to Stuart Scott after he’s done his horrible poetry session on Sports Center, or Chris Mortensen when he reports incorrectly for the thousandth time? It doesn’t. Well it didn’t until sports blogs came along.

8. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what’s the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.

Fuck…I just blew my load on that one. I’ll make this answer short…just like any medium you have to eliminate the spin and nonsense and that’s what blogs do. Newspapers are a dying breed, but some get it…you know what…see Dan Shanoff’s interview for this answer. He summed it up better than anyone else ever could…he’s badass and went to Harvard.

9. What’s the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

When people use the term “writing” regarding me I just have to laugh. Just read the answers above and below…grammar is thrown out and English is questionable (although I am trying to get better. I actually proofread this interview before sending it to you, and I’m even taking English classes at the local Community College…okay, that’s a lie). It might surprise you, and the AA audience, but I don’t have it out for ESPN. They just make it so much easier than any other entity. All I want is magical land where not everything a sports network does is about the bottom line. There is someone always better and faster out there than you and I think ESPN is losing sight of what made them the great destination they once were.

It’s a double-edged sword (obviously) because if ESPN cleans up its act then I’m out of the job, but alas…I don’t see that happening. The main goal is and always has been to just have fun, make a few people laugh, and never take myself too seriously (something which I can’t say for most of the announcers out there today).

10. AA gets a great readership now. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow — especially at first. How’d the initial promotion of the site go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady, interactive readership?

I can’t stress hard work enough. You’re not just going to gain respect overnight, and you have to put the time in. Hell, that’s something I’m still struggggggling with. Everyone knows who works hard and who doesn’t in the world of blogging so if you post something one day, and then wait three days and post again….you’re going to lose readership. You don’t have to be FanHouse, but you need a few items/opinions each day. Another thing is to network and make friends. Email people, ask questions, ask for links…do everything. It’s grass roots marketing at its finest, and people will almost always help you out.

A term I hate is “finding your voice”, but it’s really what will set you apart from millions of websites out there. Having a niche was a blessing for me because people say stupid stuff year round, so it’s easy for me. What I find amazing is when football blogs keep their readership up year round. KSK and EDSBS are f’ing genius at what they do to keep people constantly checking in the offseason, but that’s a hard thing to do. I’d never tell anyone what to cover or not to cover, but make sure you think about it ahead of time.

Lastly, (and I learned this from MJD’s interview) don’t ever let anyone discourage you from doing what you want to do. Do you know how many “Industry” people have emailed me asking me what business I have in judging them? A ton. And you know what I tell them…I’m a fucking fan and I have an opinion. You don’t have to read it, but I know you will.

11. There are a lot of awful, awful announcers out there. But there are some damn fine ones too. Personally, who makes you grateful for the MUTE button? Who would you want calling any game? And who’s been the most fun to poke fun at since you started the blog?

I’ll give you a top 10 of who I can’t stand and then a list for the good ones…

10. Chris Spielman
9. Andre Ware
8. Paul Maguire
7. Charles Davis
6. Emmitt Smith
5. Pam Ward
4. Tim McCarver
3. Chris Berman
2. Joe Buck
1. Joe Morgan

Good Announcers/Analysts/Hosts: Gus Johnson, Pam Oliver, Matt Vasgersian, Troy Aikman, Sean McDonough, Kirk Herbstreit, Craig Bollerjack, Rece Davis, Brad Nessler, Marv Albert, Erin Andrews, Steve Kerr, Steve “Snapper” Jones, Ernie Johnson, Ron Pitts, JC Pearson, Ian Eagle, Chris Fowler, and Petros Papadakis (I’m probably missing a few, so sorry if I left anyone off).

The most fun to poke at is a three-way tie with Joe Buck, Pam Ward, and Joe Morgan. (Honorable Mention: Chris Berman). And If I had to choose one a team for one game…Marv Albert would be on the call, Gus Johnson would be the analyst, and Erin Andrews would be on the sideline (for journalistic purposes of course).

Blogger Interviews: Brian Cook


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.


On the hot seat today is Brian Cook from the outstanding Michigan blog, MGoBlog. He also shares his college football wisdom at The FanHouse. We imagine he’s been on a bit of a an emotional roller coaster of late, seeing as his beloved Wolverines are toying with their fans’ heads. So go easy on him in the comments. But not too easy…

1. The rundown:

Name: Brian Cook

Age: 28
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Occupation: Blogger (seriously!)
Favorite team: University of Michigan anything
Links to your favorite all-time posts you’ve written. (3-5)

Quod Erat Demonstrandum
Eleven Swans
Zen And The Science Of Third Down Conversions
And, while no UFR (Upon Further Review) is a treasure trove of bon mots, it has become something of a signature offering. A typical example:
Upon Further Review: Offense vs Notre Dame (2006)

Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere:
During football season: lots and lots, unless we lose to Appalachian State or something. (Like that would ever happen.) I would peg it at eight to twelve. During the offseason much less.

2. Take us through a typical day of blogging.


1. Wake up. If I have something prepared for the early part of the day, post it and enjoy a leisurely perusal of bloglines. If not, frantically scramble for something to put up.
2. Either way, I’m reading bloglines constantly for FanHouse items or MGoBlog stuff.

3. What happens after varies so much. I could be reviewing the game for UFR or compiling the stuff from bloglines into various things — recruiting updates, link dump posts, a sidebar widget I call mgo.licio.us — or typing out some screed I will probably be embarrassed about when I hit publish.
4. Put stuff up.

5. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s fairly typical, I imagine.

3. Your analysis and statistical breakdowns are incomparable. How do you do it? Have you always had a niche for making sense of numbers? Are these features of your site designed at all to help you stand out from other Michigan blogs?

Well, a large part of the reason the blog exists is my frustration with the conventional wisdom that gets thrown about constantly in both the media and the fanbase. A typical game review gives you a bunch of stats you could look up in a boxscore, describes the key plays, and offers no insight whatsoever that you couldn’t have figured out from watching the game. And when newspapers or TV talking heads actually try to get down to the nitty-gritty detail, the results are facile. Robble robble don’t turn the ball over robble robble time of possession (which is stupid) robble run the ball!

So how do you fix that? Making things not facile necessarily means putting some numbers behind them, or at least reviewing thing systematically to see where the points of failure and success are. It means doing something other than parroting conventional wisdom. Conveniently, I appear well suited for this task. I’ve always been good with numbers. This is where I note the engineering degrees: computer, two of them. I often joke about “not using” these degrees and how this distresses my parents, but that’s not actually true. I use both the skills and the viewpoint the degree imparted to me, and these are both very useful. While the analytical features of the site were not specifically designed to make the blog stand out from other Michigan blogs, they do so because there aren’t many engineers — and I remain one of those at heart — who ditch the whole well-paid nine-to-five for this adventure.

4. One of the things that impresses us most about MGoBlog is that it’s a narrow focus, blogging solely about Michigan. Isn’t it hard — especially during the dreadfully long off-season — to come up with enough material to keep readers entertained? Any secrets you have to finding content on painfully slow news days?

The blog does cover basketball and hockey, albeit not so extensively as football, so the true offseason doesn’t hit until summer. There is always recruiting, and previewing the upcoming season. But the blog’s focus does waver in the offseason. I post on the Piston playoff runs, USA soccer — though not any more since the FanHouse is a great outlet for that — and then just random things that bug me or come to mind. It’s usually not that tough to come up with at least one thing every day. Sometimes, yes.

I don’t have any secrets about painfully slow news days, unfortunately. Sometimes in the offseason you just have to put something of dubious interest up. I’ve found most people are forgiving enough of the occasional clunker.

5. Dream job? Go.

Aside from head coach at Michigan, Scarlett Johansson boytoy, and professional poker player, I think this blogging thing is pretty cool. I don’t have to wear pants unless I want to. (When to I want to? When I’m cold.)

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

I figure we can take the FanHouse, Every Day Should Be Saturday and Sunday Morning Quarterback for granted, right? Maybe not given SMQB’s traffic, which is good but depressingly low IMO. Everyone with even the slightest interest in college football should be reading SMQB. He is without question the best person writing about the sport anywhere. No qualifications, no restrictions. He’s the best. Read him. Also Orson is the unofficial king of CFB blogging. He is our leader.

I want to keep this brief, because if I list a dozen blogs it’s like “why didn’t you say mine”… so Hawkeye State. Er. Steve Alford’s Hair Gel. Uh. The Hawkeye Compulsion. Er the second. Ah-ha: Black Heart Gold Pants, an Iowa blog that keeps frickin’ moving but is fantastic. As funny as EDSBS. Seriously. Big Red Network is comprehensive and professional coverage of Nebraska; the Hog Blogger is a great Arkansas blog; Hey Jenny Slater and the Georgia Sports Blog are top-notch Georgia blogs; I love Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician for its “Octonion” posts; Bear Meat is a deeply hilarious Baylor blog; Braves & Birds covers Michigan and Georgia with more dead-on WWII era comparisons than you can shake a stick at; Burnt Orange Nation and Rocky Top Talk are flagship Texas and Tennessee blogs, respectively; I have *completely* failed at my attempt to not list every blog on the planet. I should give a shout to Ron Bellamy’s Underachieving All Stars, as well, a Michigan blog of erratic posting but one that is really gripping when you need to be gripped. And the M Zone.

7. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

The most rewarding part is being able to write something that people need. For a given definition of “need,” anyway. The first three posts above are written in the aftermath of big, remarkable wins that validated something about the program and by extension Michigan fans or the most surreal tragedy in the history of the program, when people sort of needed something to grab onto. Sometimes it becomes clear that the enterprise of MGoBlog is important to people, and that’s a nice feeling.

What frustration there is lies in a sort of always-on mentality. I was doing this as a hobby for a while, then starting doing it for serious serious just over a year ago. Sometimes in the maw of the offseason getting something up seems a chore; sometimes in the heart of the season I end up with 95 tabs open at once — this happened yesterday — and a game tape to review and it’s just a little much. Burnout is a threat at times. After the year’s over I’m taking a vacation.

8. This might be a loaded question, but, in your opinion, what’s the future of sports blogs? Enlighten us.
I think we’re heading towards a sort of free agent punditry. Occasionally I will follow my blog’s referrers, and of late I’ve noticed something interesting: people are referring to me by my full name. I don’t even use my full name except on the FanHouse — on MGoBlog it’s just Brian. But certain people are catching on that I am this person and I write things here and also there and that makes me an Entity. I occasionally get into conversations with people and the conversation veers to these things and I end up saying things like “please don’t throw me into a wood chipper, but I am a brand. MGoBlog is a brand, I am a brand, and given traffic vectors and suchlike and so forth this could end up being something major.” Orson is a brand, too, as is SMQB. And as these brands grow to a stature where they are not dwarfed by what I often uncharitably refer to as “lolmsm” you’re beginning to see credibility attach to them. As this happens and more people start finding blogs they like, the stigma of pajamas-wearing basement dwellers fades, and all we’re left with is the content. And, frankly, the best content on blogs slaughters most tepid MSM offerings. It has to to get attention.

You can already see the landscape shifting in newsy things. In college football, Demetrius Jones provides an interesting exemplar of the change. Charlie Weis made a huge deal of not revealing his starter before the start of the season to surprise Georgia Tech and keep the pressure off whoever it would be. People jumped all over him for this. Then a few days before ND’s opener a few blogs, including Rakes of Mallow, ferreted out that it was Jones via Facebook and just the general WOTS. Word spread like wildfire — I threw it up on the Fanhouse — and various newspaper articles picked it up. This is remarkable: they’re reporting based on blog assertions now. Of course they did the standard CYA thing by attributing it to “blogs” in general, providing no links, and making it very clear that they regarded this information as extremely dodgy, don’t know why we’re even telling you this really, probably full of crap, these blogs, underwear basement where’s my cranberry juice?

But Jones started. Then rumors started spreading on Notre Dame message boards that Jones was transferring. FanHouse’s Brian Stouffer was the first person to report on this, and SMQB was the first person to note Jones’ registration information popping up in the NIU online phonebook after industrious messageboarders dug it up. It was on ESPN hours later without accreditation. The Internet is becoming a source of information; it’s always been one but now all the best information trickles out onto message boards before it hits newspapers. Every major school has Scout/Rivals/indie message boards populated by sources close to players and coaches and these days I know 75% of the actual news before it hits the papers. Knowing the dimly lit alleys of the Internet and knowing who is reliable and who is not is now just as valuable as being an actual journalist, and at some schools even more so.

This isn’t to say newspapers or beat writers are obsolete. I think bloggers will reach par with the establishment in five years, though.

9. What’s the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

In Edmonton there is this dentist named Paul Laurieau (spelling not guaranteed). In addition to being a dentist, Laurieau also spends his evenings belting out national anthems at Oilers games. Edmonton adores this guy because he makes Oilers fandom better. I would like to be a version of that for Michigan.

10. The BlogPoll is a great feature that incorporates most of the CFB blog world and anyone else who’s interested. Where’d you come up with the idea for this clever poll? Is it a huge hassle tallying up the ballots and putting out a finished product? Think the real pollsters — those coaches and writers — are taking notice?

I don’t think I can take much credit for the idea, since the idea of polling supposedly knowledgeable people about who the best college football team has been around since zoot suits were cool. I just sort of thought “hey, what if we had our own poll” three years ago and then threw it together. The ballot tallying isn’t a big deal anymore, since it’s all done with PHP and MySQL — I basically hit a button and go type out the weekly post — but the original construction of the system was a remarkable exercise in procrastination and then rapid prototyping. Though I have a couple degrees in computer engineering, I had never done any web stuff outside of CSS until I realized that a spreadsheet was just not going to get the job done for the poll. I mean… *yes*, it takes an immense amount of time. I feel like that woman in the Rice Krispie Squares commercial.

As far as real pollsters taking notice: absolutely not if we’re talking about coaches. To paraphrase Nick Saban, they don’t have time for this shit. The AP? Maybe. Sometime last year they started making all their ballots publicly available in an easy-to-access database, something the BlogPoll has done from the start. Maybe someone noticed and decided this would help credibility. (It doesn’t, because now we know exactly who is rating Appalachian State #13.)

11. MGoBlog gets a great readership now. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow — especially at first. How’d the initial promotion of the site go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady, interactive readership?

The first trickles of readership came when I would occasionally link something I had written on The Wolverine, Michigan’s Rivals site. I was never comfortable with this. It felt like cheating. If the content was good enough, it would speak for itself. But when I put together a big post I wanted someone to read it, so I’d head over to a message board or two to promote it. Also, when I published a big preview of another team I’d slap up a plug post on their message boards. Once I started getting a few hundred hits a day, I stopped virtually all self-promotion and focused on the content itself; this strategy has been pretty successful. It helps that my content is exclusive: there is no UFR elsewhere. There is no comparable free recruiting coverage. And no one else writes columns from the perspective of a fan without access to lose. It has a high word-of-mouth quotient.

As far as advice for n00bs as regards getting traffic and attention: 1) write something great and widely accessible. The Joe Cribbs Car Wash was way more obscure than it is now before it put up a definitive post comparing Arrested Development to the SEC. The “college football teams as rappers/Simpsons/shoes/elements” post is played, but the JCCW did such a good job of it that everyone linked to it and now that blog has something of a profile. This is good for letting people know you exist. Then you have to keep doing this on a regular basis so people bother to pay attention to you on a regular basis. This is part 2) write great content. There is no way around this. Hits follow content. The thing of suck is this: you kind of have to be the absolute best at X to get attention.

The other thing I would like to stress: don’t write a goddamned picks column. This is a generally applicable principle — attempt to make your content unique, don’t follow the crowd — but also specific: don’t write a goddamned picks column. Unless you are beating Vegas something fierce we don’t care about your half-baked opinions about this week’s games. Do not write a goddamned picks column. Don’t. Don’t do it.

12. Dude, what’s up with Michigan? Two brutal losses. A big, yet possibly deceiving win over a Notre Dame team that might lose to a good high school squad. We don’t need your assessment on the team right now. Rather, how disappointing has the start of the season been? Still, the Rose Bowl isn’t out of the question at all. That’s gotta be a silver lining, right? What’s the sentiment around Ann Arbor right now?

The start of the season has been the most disappointing two weeks in the history of college football fandom. This is probably not true, but you can’t prove otherwise so I’m sticking by it. I call this “The Stewart Mandel Method”. We’ll know more about whether to care or not after this weekend: beat Penn State and the sucky Big Ten appears ripe for the taking. It would be a comedown after all the expectations heaped upon the program, but 10-3 with wins over Ohio State and in a BCS game would still be a satisfactory season. Lose to PSU and Michigan fans will be hoping for a New Year’s Day bowl but mostly focused on one question: Tedford, Schiano, Rodriguez, or Miles?

In general I would describe the fanbase as pissed but not despondent. Michigan will have a new coach by January after the first national search for a coach in 40 years. That’s somewhat scary, but also mitigates any depression we might feel at the program’s shortcomings. I mean, it’s not like we gave the guy a 10-year contract or anything.

Blogger Interviews: Big Daddy Drew


We’re running a segment here at The Big Picture where we’ll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What’s the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger’s version of a reach-around or something.


Joining us today is Big Daddy Drew, one of the jiz-mopping geniuses behind Kissing Suzy Kolber. Drew recently signed up to do a weekly NFL column for Deadspin — which, conveniently, runs today — titled Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo. With the NFL season just a week old, this seemed like the right time to talk to one of the Web’s biggest pro football fans. Let’s kick this thing off right. Let him have it in the comments.

1. The rundown:

Name: Drew (Sorry, the last name costs you extra)
Age: 30
Location: DC area
Occupation: Advertising
Favorite team: Vikings
Links to your favorite all-time posts you’ve written (3-5).
Tuesday Morning Pretentious Douchebaggery
If Super Bowl XLI Were An Episode Of House
KSK Clip Show: The Best of Big Daddy Drew
Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: It depends on my workday, and my work and my Internet perusing are tied together. Either way, I’m at the computer roughly 8 hours a day, doing whatever.

2. You juggle work, blogging and taking care of your family. That’s a shit ton of responsibility. How do you balance it all? And take us through a typical day of blogging.

There’s more time in a day than most people realize. 24 hours is plenty of time to get shit done. KSK posts don’t take much time to write, and my job involves lots of waiting for approvals, so those can get done during the day. There’s no set routine to it. If I have an open window to do something during the day, and I have a good idea behind it, then I do it and post it. When I’m home, I’m usually away from the computer unless my kid is asleep.

3. One of the many things that impresses us about KSK is that it’s a narrow focus, blogging solely about the NFL. Isn’t it hard — especially during the dreadfully long off-season — to come up with enough material to keep readers entertained? Any secrets you have to finding content on painfully slow news days?

Sometimes it’s a bitch, but then stuff like Michael Vick happens and it makes everything easier. Since our focus is really on humor and NOT the NFL, it means we don’t have to necessarily depend on shit happening for us to write. I wrote about pooping on my towel once. It had nothing to do with football, but I found it funny, so up it went. And, frankly, when something DOES happen, the rest of the blogosphere is already on it in a nanosecond. Much better to just think up shit out of left field. That said, the off-season does fucking suck. That’s why we had to come up with shit like commenter drafts and kill kill kill. They were clearly fillers, but they were fun to do and I still think people enjoyed them.

4. Columns seem like the new trend with blogs, as MJD’s The Debriefing, Ufford’s The Prelude at FanHouse and your Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo at Deadspin are getting notice. What’s up with this new movement towards longer, more thought-out (sometimes) posts? Is this where blogs are going? What’s the future of blogging hold?

I said yes to the Deadspin column because A.) I was offered money, which I never turn down, and 2.) I’d be an idiot not to write for that bigger audience. I think it’s a natural progression. It sort of gives you a tentpole to build an audience around. But otherwise, I think the future of blogging is simply that it will grow, and grow very fucking fast.

5. Dream job? Go.

Head writer and bit player for Conan O’Brien or Stephen Colbert. Though I must say I’m quite happy with my life as is right now.

6. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you’d recommend?

I usually stick to the big blogs like Deadspin, With Leather and The Big Lead. If one of them links to something interesting, I go. Otherwise, the only other sports blog I frequent is Nation of Islam Sports. Someone recommended Cajun Boy in the City, and that’s pretty cool.

7. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?

Rewarding: instant reader response. Frustrating: formatting. I fucking hate formatting.

8. Your first-person narratives and 10 yards of awkwardness are unbeatable. Fuck. The Sex Cannon shit. Precious. How do you come up with this crap? Are you ever stuck when you go to write these, or do the ideas just come to you?

I don’t know if anyone likes 10 yards of awkwardness anymore. I think I may have milked that teat dry. Same with the Grossman shit. I really beat that into the ground. If I’m ever stuck writing something, I usually just stop and dump it. But usually a post is fully formed in my head before I write it down. Usually, the idea just pops up in my brain and grows from there. I try not to think too hard about it, as you can plainly tell.

9. What’s the ultimate goal of your site/your writing?

Get paid lots of money. My life goal is to own a jet ski.

10. KSK, from the get-go, seemed to get tons of traffic and comments. A piece of advice to some smaller sites how to get a prolific, interactive readership?

I honestly have no idea. Sucking up to Leitch helps. But eventually, your site has to stand on its own. We’ve had the good fortune of being able to write shit people have enjoyed reading. I just try and write stuff I’d like to read. Lots of swearing helps.

11. You’re on a deserted island. You have three people with you. Who are they? Your family doesn’t count.

I swear this question was on five of the six college applications I filled out. The real answer is I’d probably take my two best friends, plus someone who knows how to build a boat out of driftwood. Apparently, that person is NOT Bear Grylls.

(Past interviews; also found on right sidebar: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram; The Big Lead; The Cavalier; Will Leitch; Dan Shanoff; Dan Steinberg; Brooks; Unsilent Majority; J.E. Skeets; Henry Abbott; The Dugout; NFL Adam; Bethlehem Shoals; Orson Swindle).