Travis: Well it’s pretty obvious that you and the boys didn’t have quite enough good vibes to help Tech pull off the impressive comeback win against TCU on Saturday. It was another one of those “tale of two halves,” where Tech started off extremely slow but battled back to take the lead before ultimately falling short. I want to focus the first part of this week’s convo on a somewhat hot taeky article that the AJ’s Don Williams wrote on Monday where he pointed out that even during the excitement of the comeback on Saturday there wasn’t very many folks in the stands to see what was going on. And he tied it back to Kingsbury’s struggles, and Tuberville’s struggles before that and how a vocal portion of still blame the past 10 years of failures on the firing of Mike Leach. For me, I still think it’s more of a chicken and egg type of deal where as soon as Tech starts fielding a consistent winner, the fans will come back in droves. The easiest evidence of this is the Tech basketball program. What are your thoughts?
Seth: There are a couple of different things here. I was on the west side of the stadium and it was pretty danged full, probably 90%, at least from my point of view. I was on row 50 on the second level, so I had a pretty good view. The student side was appreciably not very full, sparse at best maybe 60% full, perhaps less than that.
I think that Don’s right on some level. Even to this day, we have fans comparing what’s happening now to Leach and I do think there are a group of fans that would like Wells to fail because Texas Tech fired Leach. And that was a decade ago. To think about this, your sons don’t really know what winning Texas Tech football actually is. They’ve never been alive for that. That’s how old this has been happening. Gosh, even on STP, there are people who have the same conviction of when Leach was fired a decade ago. I wish they could channel that conviction into something more altruistic, but for whatever reason, I think there’s this group, probably not a large group, but very vocal, that wants to see Texas Tech football fail until restitution is paid to Leach, whatever that is. The problem I think is that this most likely will never happen.
And maybe the difference here is that with the basketball program, there wasn’t this similar situation. If Leach was fired because he didn’t win, well, then I don’t think we’re having this problem. Ultimately, yes, I think fans would most likely show up if the wins happen. Winning cures all and I think that’s what you have to decide are you going to the games because you only support winners or you are going to the game because this is where you attended college? My dad was at TAMU when TAMU was terrible, but like a pilgrimage, we went to a football game every year growing up in College Station. Sometimes we met up with family, and sometimes we just did it by ourselves, but we always did it. There’s not a right way or a wrong way, yeah, there are fans that would love to see Wells fired because he’s not Leach, but then there are people like me who will show up year after year because I love this university.
For most fans like me, that lives 6 hours away, 2 games is a significant investment and I’ve been fortunate to go with friends and family where we didn’t have to pay for anything except for gas and some food.
And I’m really glad that I didn’t some across this until Monday, I had no idea it was written. I essentially stayed off the internet Saturday and Sunday and am glad to talk this out with you. Would love to see what you think Don’s article.
Travis: I think Williams’ has some valid points but I also think he’s got a bit of a different perspective than you or me because he’s been drinking from the fire hose for 30+ years. His life revolves around Tech athletics so he’s basically inside the fish bowl. I’m sure every tweet he posts and every article he writes is followed-up by @’s or comments bashing the current regime and bringing up Leach. I don’t necessarily see it as that large of a contingent because in the circles I run in, no one ever brings up rehiring Leach as some sort of solution. But I can see where Don could get the perception that there is a massive group of fans that will never be happy until that happens. It’s like I said, he lives and breathes it every day and he’s in Lubbock, where the passion is much more pronounced than it is where I stay or where you stay.
With that said, I do agree there is an apathy around the program that’s gonna take some time to reverse. I’m not ready to give up on Wells and staff just yet. It’s crazy to think that we’re legitimately three plays away from having three more wins on the season. If that were the case we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. And yes, you can always throw out “what-ifs,” in any situation. If Bowman had stayed healthy last year Kingsbury would still be the head coach. Those sorts of things happen for every coach and staff. I’m just not ready to throw them out until I see another full season.
So, speaking of the last decade, we’re coming up on my ten year anniversary of dipping my toes into the blogosphere and becoming a sort of quasi writer/blogger. I know you’ve been doing it for what, fifteen plus years now? I wanted to get your feedback on things you’ve learned, what you would do differently if you could and any other thoughts on being the foremost independent Texas Tech blogger out there. I’ll circle back (CORPORATE LINGO BINGO!) with some of my thoughts and learnings after you reply.
Seth: These are 10 things that I’ve learned in no particular order. There’s a pretty good chance that if I think of others I’ll amend this list, but I think this is a pretty good start.
1. Working for other people or networks can be incredibly difficult and the pay you receive usually does not equal the effort you’ve put into it.
2. Be really selective about who writes for you because they are a representation of you. I’ve been too picky to a fault and I’m okay with that.
3. Don’t ever give up what you created unless it is to someone that you know will take care of it.
4. Be kind. On Twitter. In comments. On the internet in general. If you’re being mean in order to get clicks you’re doing it wrong. Nothing substantive has ever been gained by being mean on the internet.
5. Be yourself.
6. Be consistent. You don’t always have to be the best writer for a community. Lots of times it is better to be consistent in how you operate.
7. Family is always more important than blogging.
8. Sleep is important, but you will not have as much of it if you didn’t blog.
9. If you’ve picked the right people to write for you trust that they’re going to do a good job (they will).
10. Enjoy the moment. Winning is awesome, but the journey or the season is where the joy is at. You won’t realize it until you give yourself time to breathe, but the journey is special.
Travis: That’s a fantastic list. I think I’m drawn to #4 and #5 most particularly because it is in #4 that I think I’ve made some mistakes but in #5 where I try to stay the most. When I sit back and think about the journey it’s really pretty cool. I’ve gotten to do some really cool things and has some very surreal moments, all as a result of a sappy Fan Post I wrote about Mike Leach in January, 2010. I’ve asked Gregg Popovich a question in a press conference, had Charles Barkley call me an idiot blogger on national TV and Rush Limbaugh has read one of my articles critical of him on air. I had breakfast with Stuart Scott and made more money writing words than I’ve made in any other hobby in my life.
But there were times when I was too mean either on Twitter or in some of my writing. It took a while to learn to stay level-headed. In fact, it was probably after I started receiving negative feedback that I realized the impact words can have. It never really bothers me, but I’ve had many ridiculous generalizations made about me by people that have no clue who I am. It can kinda guide how you approach your interactions going forward.
And I’ve gone through all the iterations of having a presence in the blogosphere from the early, combustive days of SARR to the now more absent Travis. And in the most recent iteration I try to just stay true to who I am. When I was covering the Spurs I settled in on my own style. Early on I second guessed myself a lot because I wasn’t putting out the same type of info as most everyone else but I learned to lean into that and hone my own style. It’s paid off in a sense because I’m comfortable in not modeling myself after anyone else. I want to write a flowing, colorful story against the backdrop of a real event- sports or otherwise. It’s never gonna get me a mainstream writing gig, but it’s what I enjoy most, and where I get the most satisfaction. It took me quite a while to get comfortable with that because there was a time when I had dreams of being the next Wright Thompson or Bill Simmons, but in the end I realized that was never going to happen. And there was a sort of freedom in that realization. I didn’t HAVE to break my back in my free time trying to get famous on the internet. I can just write when an important idea comes to me.
So it seems like we’ve covered a lot but I want to wrap up and get you to expand on #1. In the aftermath of the Deadspin fiasco and the overall change in the industry, there’s been a lot of opinions swirling about who is professional and who isn’t; who is getting paid to do a job and who isn’t, and how that is impacting the industry. Looking back on my time covering the Spurs I can kinda see both sides. I was there with essentially the same access as Mark Stein, Sam Amick, Zach Lowe and any other nationally known writer and I wasn’t making a dime from it. There are those that say that somehow wasn’t fair to me, but at the same time, those guys look at someone like me as a potential threat- as someone who could take food off of their table. That was the problem with Deadspin and even the restructuring at SI. Those large companies realize they can get a guy like me to write for free, so why pay Mark Stein et al presumably large sums of money to do that?
It’s just an interesting dynamic that we haven’t discussed in a while so I’ve been meaning to get your thoughts on the current state of “media,” and “access.”
Seth: I have a tremendous amount of respect for good writing and I don’t care how that comes across to me. Guys like Mark Stein and some of the people at Deadspin (some of them were content aggregators and some were original writers). I consider myself mostly a content aggregator and the original work that I do isn’t necessarily special. I don’t know that people would pay good money for my insight. They might pay me money because they like me, but not because I’m some terrific writer that has this terrific voice.
But I think we need people like Stein and **** and **** (decided to not use the names of the writers as to be careful not to dip my toes into the political realm) and a bunch of other people that I tend to forget, but are equally as talented. Great writing is something that’s not in great supply at the moment and I think that if you really wanted to be a writer, you could do the same thing, but with writing, especially about sports, there’s this fear that the people who have the money (i.e. not you or I) don’t think that your original writing is worth anything. I totally get why Stein would be nervous around you, you’re putting out similar products and he’s getting a salary and you’re doing it for free, or maybe the experience (you should have gotten paid and that’s a full-stop). But I don’t think there are a ton of SARR’s out there and I think that people should be compensated for what they do really well. That goes for Don Williams and Carlos Silva and anyone else that’s trying to make a living out of being a reporter and maybe an opinion maker. I like them and I think they’re good at their jobs and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. The same goes for guys like Chris Level, Aaron Dickens, and Jarrett Johnson. They’ve scrapped and clawed their way to make a living doing what they do and I can tell you that’s not easy. It may have been easier for some than it was for others, but hats-off.
The problem with the SI restructuring is that they want to pay people next to nothing for writing a ton of content and there’s no way that people should sign up for that. In the world we live in today, you can gain the same traction by just doing it yourself. You can figure out who to contact and maybe tag in a post on twitter asking them to check out your site. But the catch is that you had better be damned good because generic sports writing isn’t going to make you a ton of chedda (as Lenny Dykstra would say). You might be a beat reporter and if you’re good at that, maybe you’ll eventually be a columnist. Maybe you can carve out your own space on the internet by doing it by yourself, but just like anything else in life you need to be really good at whatever path you choose, you need to be unique (you don’t have to be Screamin’ Stephen A. or Skip-Shot Bayless), thoughtful and you need to pound away, perhaps in obscurity. You might get a small boost from saying that you’re “writing for SI” but you’re just creating meaningless content farm posts where you’re probably not creating anything special.
Any closing thoughts on my ramble or should we just cut to the chase and ask if Texas Tech is gonna win like 100-0?
Travis: You know I could go on for days on this topic but it’d probably be best to wrap it up here this week as I’m sure the readers are exhausted. And heck yes, Tech will win by tons of scores.