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
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
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)
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.
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.
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?
7. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?
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.
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.
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?