The tl;dr version of everything you’re going to read below, so there’s no suspense: I am going to be stepping away from Rock M Nation soon.
Now here’s the longer version.
Let’s be honest: I haven’t brought much new to the table in a while here, have I? Our beat-writing game is as strong as it’s ever been, and I love being able to say that. And we keep finding new voices to make the site interesting. But that only peripherally had to do with me.
Fact is, it’s been a while since I was truly obsessed with this site. From its origin in 2007 through, what, 2012 or 2013, it was an addiction, a labor of love. Maybe I’d get to drifting more toward my full-time SB Nation gig here and there, but something amazing — the move to the SEC, the 2011-12 basketball run, the 2013 football run, etc. — would get the creative juices flowing again.
It’s been a while, though. Now, to use Gary Pinkel parlance, I do what I do: links posts throughout the year, previews and BTBS during football season, Study Hall posts during basketball, random history stuff during the summer. I could do that in perpetuity and have no regrets, but honestly? This place deserves to be freshened up a bit, and I’m not going to be the person who freshens it up. This has been the case for a while, and I’ve been selfish to keep on as long as I have.
I love this place and owe it just about everything. In a roundabout way, it led to career changes for both me and my wife. This was a workshop for a lot of the stat stuff that ended up getting me the gig at Football Outsiders in 2008 and both Football Study Hall and the full-time SBN gig in 2011. This was a meeting ground for a lot of people I now consider friends.
This is the place where I have mourned lost friends. People here knew about the birth of my child almost before Facebook (and, therefore, most of my actual family) did. My wife, father, and (I believe) mother have all commented on this site. My best friend basically served as wartime consigliere for the first nine years or so.
For all intents and purposes, this is where I learned to craft my voice — sometimes analytics, sometimes emotional, and both at times — and create the kind of community I always wanted to create. I like to think I succeeded. I will be forever proud of that. We have tried to maintain our perspective even in frustrating moments (and we’ve gotten plenty of practice in that regard). We have raised $50,000+ for Missouri Children’s Hospital. For some writers, we have become a jumping-off point for bigger and better things.
But the voice that this site has allowed me to create has taken me beyond just the Mizzou universe.
I’m taking on a new role, or at least an expanded one, at SB Nation. I’ll be furthering my reach beyond simply college football to include some NFL topics I’ve become interested in and, if I can pull it off, some high school topics, too. If things work out right, I’ll branch into doing some stat stuff with other sports, too.
Keeping the RMN gig would prevent me from exploring these things to the fullest, and the new projects would even further prevent me from bringing anything of unique value to here, too. So I’m stepping away.
Mind you, “stepping away” is not “leaving for good.” Like Grant Brisbee, SBN’s primary baseball writer who has been maintaining McCovey Chronicles for even longer than I’ve been at Rock M, I reserve the right to drop by when inspiration strikes. And hopefully, when I’m not doing quite as many day-to-day things here, inspiration will strike in interesting ways and with decent frequency. (I’m also not leaving immediately. The search is only now beginning.)
This has become the SBN way, to a degree. Spencer stepped away from EDSBS and drops back in periodically. Grant’s doing it at McCovey. Mike Prada did it at Bullets Forever. Brian Floyd at Coug Center. Bud Elliott has taken on more of a big-picture role at Tomahawk Nation. Et cetera, et cetera. We’ve all been given a chance to craft broader voices, and eventually it pulls us away. I held out for quite a while.
I feel both sad and optimistic writing this, and I hope you feel the same reading it. There may be a sense of loss here, but there should also be a sense of renewal. This means, after all, that someone new will come in to obsess over this place and give it a new energy.
That person will inherit an exciting team of writers, video potential, a podcast editor, and the capability for enormous things on the football side. We have quite a few folks who probably would have written even more in recent years had I been on the ball enough to use them appropriately.
The tools are here. I just need to find the right person. Is it you?
If you’re interested in taking my place here and basically becoming a co-manager with Sam — your primary roles would be football, social media, and copy-writing — my e-mail address is Bill.Connelly@sbnation.com. Tell me about your experience and share with me your vision. Tell me what you would do with this site to take it to another place while retaining some of the perspective that has made it special. Tell me where your obsession could take this place.
Eleven football seasons and 11 basketball seasons. That’s probably long enough. We’ve been through a lot of good and a lot of bad — okay, this is Mizzou: a lot of great and a lot of terrible — and it’s time for someone new to take the baton.
I love you guys, and I can’t wait to see who I find.