It is with a mix of emotions that I write for you today, this my final blog on Gatorsports.com.
Lightning has struck twice. Just over seven months ago, my protege and predecessor in recruiting, Edward Aschoff, wrote to say goodbye and tell you he was leaving to work for ESPN. Here I am now saying the exact same thing.
It’s a bittersweet day. I am so incredibly proud of what we’ve done here at Gatorsports.com that I can’t help but feel some sorrow about leaving The Gainesville Sun, where I have worked for nearly seven mostly amazing years. On the other hand, I am thrilled to join ESPN and help launch a new website to cover the University of Florida athletic program and recruiting. It’s called “GatorNation.”
I came to Gainesville in January 2005 to be a humble copy editor on the desk of The Sun. Within a couple of months I was promoted to Assistant Sports Editor. Somewhere right in the middle of the Gators’ unbelievable run of national championship success from 2006-08, I took over Gatorsports.com and was named the Online Sports Editor.
Our list of accomplishments on Gatorsports is simply too long to publish. I’m most proud of the innovation we brought to this market. We did a one-of-a-kind, live video pregame football show with guests and fans and trivia contests and tailgating. We gave away a brand-new Gator-themed car. That’s crazy! We were the first to do live practice reports (back when people were allowed to watch practice). We shot video shows in our studio and all around town. We had message board wars between Gatorsports and TideSports during the SEC Championship Game.
Clearly, one of the best things I ever did here was decide to enter the fast-paced world of recruiting. In Aschoff, I knew we had the perfect person to get us started. He was a one-man show, ambitious and hard-working. I knew we’d have a hard time keeping him in the long run, so when ESPN came calling it wasn’t a big surprise. Having worked closely with him to shape our coverage of recruiting and having done lots of highly entertaining and memorable recruiting videos together, I thought I’d be the best candidate to replace Edward.
Right away I could tell it was a much different gig. The camps, combines, high school games, 7-on-7s, the parents, the coaches, the groupies, the competition, the radio-show interviews, the interaction with readers — it’s all been an eye-opening and wildly fun ride.
But it’s not over. I’m pleased to say I will still write about recruiting and about the Gators, who I’ve been covering since 1990. Over at GatorNationESPN.com I will team up with beat writer Mike DiRocco and recruiting writer Derek Tyson, two of the best in the business.
That’s the near future, but not the present. Today is about saying goodbye to The Gainesville Sun. I hope I’m not saying goodbye to you, my valued readers, because I will still be around. You can still tweet me and email me.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge our tremendous run of success here. I want to thank The Sun’s sports editor and my good friend, Arnold Feliciano, a man who I always say is not just the best boss I ever worked for but the best boss around. He has been the guiding light for The Sun’s sports department, and you can put your faith in him to continue the excellent work both in The Sun and on Gatorsports.
Heeeeeere comes the future!