In journalism, you’re taught that the lede of your story — that very first sentence — is the most important. Gotta hook the reader and bring them in. But I’ve always been a believer that how a story ends is almost as important. Gotta leave the reader wanting more, but you also have to end the story you’re trying to tell. There’s a balance to it, and it can be really hard to get right (fiction included).
The time to exit the stage always comes, and it’s come for me, here at And the Valley Shook. Ten years is a long time. Technically, I’ve been with this site as long as any other job I’ve ever had — seven years as manager of this site and lead writer.
We’ve seen a lot in that time. Crazy endings. Crazier endings. Craziest? I don’t know, y’all pick that one. Championships. LSU to the mountaintop, including one disastrous fall short of the summit. We’ve knelt before Zod, thanked Chavis and been sneaky good. We’ve all been lucky enough to live through the Golden Age of Tiger Football. Lucky enough to see that last through two coaches in my time here. And amazing players. Some of the best in school, and college football history, including maybe the greatest quarterbacking season any of us have ever seen.
I definitely couldn’t go out on a better note in football, right? This past season was every bit of a dream on the field, and waking up next year has no chance of being as much fun. And if I’m honest, the thought of having to write about that follow-up isn’t something I would look forward to. I believe in the vision and direction Ed Orgeron has for this program, and I’m confident he’ll keep it all moving forward. But I also remember how miserable the 2004 and 2008 seasons were.
This is the right time for me. In my time at ATVS I’ve gotten married, had kids and gone through several career shifts. And as much as I’ve always enjoyed my work here, I’d be lying if I said it can’t be a grind. Coming home after an eight or 10-hour work day, only to break down some opponent film, study some new scheme or just write up a new coaching change or recruit commitment. I’ve been lucky enough to turn a hobby into a job that’s been a crucial source of income at times. And, if I’m honest, something of a prolonged adolescence to indulge in my creative side. But that’s a sacrifice I’ve asked of my wife for too long. I owe her more, and I certainly do to my kids.
Please don’t take any of that as ingratitude. If you’ve ever read anything we’ve done here, I thank you for that. In my heart, I always wanted this place to be something of a refuge from some of the other corners of the LSU interwebz. A place for the people that want to think deeper, look beyond the initial reaction, want to learn more and most importantly, have fun. I hope that’s come through, and I hope that all of you will take that spirit beyond my work.
I can’t thank PodKatt, Dan, Poseur or the rest of our staff, past or present, enough for all of the work that they’ve done here. Or our commentariat for adding to the discussion. When I started here, I was a recovering sportswriter that looked around the internet and saw this great college football blogosphere with places like Every Day Should Be Saturday and the host of SB Nation sites and thought “there’s gotta be a place like that for LSU.” So I always strove to write the kind of things I wanted to read. And I’ve been fortunate enough to receive guidance from people like Spencer Hall, Chris Brown, Holly Anderson and Jason Kirk over the years and support from countless others.
And I’ll still be around. Of course you can always find me on Twitter. And you might see me in the comments, or maybe for some emeritus post when there’s something I have to say. Think of me as Sting, hanging out in the rafters, looking for the right time to drop in with a Scorpion Death Drop.
Not sure what’s next. A break, for sure. A recharge. This won’t be the last you hear of me, but I think I need to find a voice again. Something will bring me back on stage, someday.
As Bono once said at the end of the LoveTown tour in 1989, it’s been one big party. And it’s the end of something. It’s no big deal, it’s just that I have to go away... and just dream it all up again.