The college football season is rapidly approaching. Before we know it, they'll be kicking off for a run at the BCS title game in Pasadena this year. In honor of that fact, I wanted to get one of our best college football bloggers to join me for this week's edition of Better Know a Blogger. Sam Eley of the fantastic Ohio State Buckeyes blog We Will Always Have Tempe graciously agreed to be the subject. Without further ado, let's get to know Sam.
It was in the interregnum between the Michigan game and the bowl game when I got really bored one December night and fired up a blogspot blog, apocb.blogspot.com. I essentially started it so that I could express my opinions in a way that wouldn't interfere with conversations going on at other blogs; I could even post them in TL;DR form without trimming them down to reasonable length, which was a huge bonus, because I am the king of wordiness.
Blez: How did you become a big Ohio State fan?
For the first ten years of my life, I watched football only in passing. Both my dad and my older brothers were heavily into football, but I, thinking myself a rebel, didn't really care for it. In the year 2000, John Cooper was let go, and it was all that was ever on the news in Columbus. Then came the coaching search, and it seemed like the whole damn city was in upheaval. I was fascinated by the coverage, and was presented with a choice: stay annoyed and continue sulking, or give in and go over to the dark side. I did the latter; the first of many times in my life I would make such a choice. Before anyone labels me a bandwagon fan for the Jim Tressel era, I had to go through 2001 before the Glorious Revolution of 2002.
Blez: Our college blogs are unique in that they cover all sports for one university. Do you find it challenging to go from writing about football to writing about basketball?
Well, basketball isn't exactly my area of expertise, but in writing about it, I try to apply the same levels of fanaticism and the same level of analysis as I do when I talk football. It's difficult, but I'm getting used to it; even now, when basketball season is a distant memory.
Blez: Do you find members of your community that only want to hear about football or vice versa and how do you walk that balancing act?
Not so much, but I have seen it happening on other blogs. I tend to think that coverage should be divided into the actual seasons of the sports being discussed, and in that brief two-month overlap period, you just have to work overtime in providing relatively equal amounts of coverage. You can't please everyone, as they say. In the offseason, anything goes, because content is content.
Blez: What's your general approach to your blog and how important is it for you to foster a sense of community?
I rarely take things seriously, because sports should above all be fun, as should sports fandom. I hate the use of terms like "unacceptable" to describe losses, and I can't stand it when fans come down on players after a game - questioning their heart, their toughness, whatever. It just irks me, seeing grown men (and occassionally women) criticize college kids and justifying it with "well, mah tax dollars are PAYIN' for them to go to SKEWL!". So when I blog, I try to apply these principles, because to me, being a fan of a team implies not just wanting the team to do well, but caring about the players as individuals as best you can from afar. Labeling someone a "goat" for a blown play is fine, if it's accurate; questioning a kid's heart because Ohio State didn't beat USC is a bit over the line. As far as community goes, it's a nice byproduct of blogging, but I've found that overly-large communities lead to a steady, but noticeable deterioration of quality discussion. I want people to discuss and exchange ideas on the blog, but if WWAHT ever becomes an unfunny trash-talking behemoth, I'll probably hand over the reigns to someone else.
Blez: Do you ever want to rumble, West Side Story style, with the Michigan blogs out there? MaizenBrew and WeWillAlwaysHaveTempe are the Jets and Sharks of SB Nation?
No, but I have gotten behind-the-scenes offers from Beauford to start a blog war. Perhaps we'll do it the week of the The Game. Finger-snapping and all.
Blez: Who is your all-time favorite Ohio State player?
Troy Smith. Watching him getting fed to the dogs against Florida was a bit rough, but it never dampened my apprecation for what he did at Ohio State.
Blez: What about your all-time favorite Ohio State moment (something in Tempe, I suppose)?
Almost. For me, it was the final moments of the '06 Michigan game. Antonio Pittman taking the hand-off left, falling forward for a first down, and raising one index finger into the sky as the final seconds ticked away. This was bigger for me because I was in the 'Shoe that night, hugging my brother, my father, complete strangers, the pillar next to my brother, anything and anyone I could find. Even the bowl game doesn't tarnish my memories of that one clarion triumph over the bad guys.
Blez: What do you do in your day job?
Well, since my internship fell through (grr Ohio job market) and I'm no longer resorting to working at the drive-thru, I'm helping my dad around with his small business. When school's in session, I'm an accounting major at Ohio State, having just recently switched from Communication.
Blez: Tell us something about you that your readers might not know or expect.
When Ohio State isn't playing them, I like to root for the Texas Longhorns and the Iowa Hawkeyes. I get a feeling I'd root for the 'horns no matter how many times they rip my heart out; it's a great school with a terrific fanbase - arguably one of the best in the country.
Blez: What do you think Ohio State's chances are in 2009 in football and basketball?
2009 should be a set-up year for a massive 2010 in both sports; 2009 should see a young Ohio State football team taking its lumps but becoming a killer by the end of the season, and the year should also see Evan Turner mature into a draft pick and a truly dangerous offensive weapon on the court. It's an exciting time to be an Ohio State fan, even if our enthusiasm should be tempered by the general youth and/or potential inconsistency of both squads.
Blez: Thank you so much for your time and please keep up the outstanding work.