Mr Funk, if you please...
Let me tell you a secret. I hate writing. Hate it down to my bones. Since high school, the thought of writing anything longer than a couple sentences makes my skin crawl and leads to some debilitating procrastination. I would rather trim a ditch or clean the gutters than sit down in front of a keyboard and type out a quick couple of paragraphs. Most of the time I can power through it, or the panic of an impending deadline forces me into action, but sometimes not. Which is maybe why it’s taken me about three months to write this.
Honestly, I still have no idea why I said yes in 2009 when I got an email from Richard Pittman, asking me to take over as the managing editor of And The Valley Shook!. Over the years, we could hardly be called a “timely” news outlet and I’ve kicked myself in the pants for that repeatedly. But I must be at least half-way decent at writing and editing, because more and more of you crazy people kept coming back.
After 13 years though, the time has come to hang it up. This will hardly be a surprise to many of you, but the demands of my day job have increased over the years and there just isn’t the time anymore to pretend to be a journalist on the weekends. A long drawn-out endeavor to buy a home this past spring detached me almost completely from the baseball season, and that’s kinda when I realized it was time to make my exit. The intrepid youngster Zachary Junda has been in charge for a while now (how many years, I can’t even tell. The Covid Era has removed all sense I have of the passage of time) and ATVS has continued rambling on as it always has, lurching to and fro alongside the terrific highs and soul-crushing lows of the LSU Athletics program.
It wasn’t always the smoothest decade-plus, but I felt like every year we always made the site just a little bit better, a little bit more respected (or at least fooled more people into respecting us). I’ve lost count of how many late falls I’ve spent trying to find someone, anyone, to cover basketball, a beat that almost never rewarded the person who was on it. And so many bright young writers and football schematic geniuses have passed through our orbit like comets, on their way to bigger (and much better paying) futures. It was always tough when they left, but I take a little bit of pride whenever I see one of them up at the big outlets or even on TV. Is it foolish to consider that this silly little blog has a legacy? Maybe. But I’m leaving so I’m gonna say that it does and no one’s ever gonna be able to tell me otherwise.
2019 really was a magical year from start to finish. A 12 month fever dream where this site was taken seriously enough to be credentialed for the Sweet 16, the Gym National Championship, the SEC Football Championship and the freakin’ Heisman ceremony. We could do anything, go anywhere. It was an impossibility I could have never dreamed of.
It hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do either. There were plenty of days when management above us made tremendously terrible decisions. I still miss the old site design, dammit. Gimmie a wall of text and 100s of sidebar links any day over all of this interminably useless white space everywhere. Honestly, sometimes it was better when Vox forgot they still owned a bunch of sports blogs and just let us alone. I can’t tell you how many great counterparts to myself across SBN were driven away over the years. Hell, they canceled PaulDans contract ten days before Christmas. (I’m stopping this paragraph here before I get anyone in trouble, just imagine a few dozen more words of cussing and rage)
I can’t say I’m proud of everything we’ve done here. Like LSU itself, we’ve had some downright shameful days. And days where we all up and vanished. But in the aggregate, it was good. And that’s all any of us can really hope for.
Before I go, thanks must be paid to the many, many, many people who made writing here the fun and often ridiculous job it was. I will try to name them all, and in the process embarrass myself for forgetting people. If you’re reading this and you feel slighted, know that I am ashamed and am now in your debt. Please collect from me 1 beer and 1 koozie, which you can pickup at the next tailgate.
Thank You to LSU Baseball SID The Great Bill Franques who gave ATVS our first press pass, to Basketball SID and living Louisiana legend Kent Lowe who gave us our second, and to all of the SID personnel like Brandon Berrio and Alissa Cavaretta and all the student interns who made covering a game in person a great experience over the years.
Thank You to Charlie Whinham, my good friend Garrett Walvoord, and all the Alex Box camera crew that liked to chat in the hours before a Saturday game. Thanks to Butch Muir, who shared some of his incredible knowledge while hanging out in the back row. Thanks to the Tarp Crew of the mid-2010’s, who dont dance anymore, but are now some of my closest friends. And Thanks to Montral who runs the elevator, who always had something nice to say.
Thank You to The Professionals, actual real-life journalists who gave me the time of day when they absolutely did not have to acknowledge the existence of that weird guy at the far end of the press box. Thanks to Ross Dellenger, Chandler Rome, Luke Johnson, Chris Branch, James Moran, Glenn West, Amie Just, Brody Miller, Carter Bryant, Michael Cauble, Brooks Kubena, Hilary Scheinuk, and many others I am kicking myself for forgetting right now.
Thank You to LSUFootball.net, the most reliable person on the entire internet.
Thank You to the Moon Crew, the members of the EDSBS Extended Cinematic Universe who are an inspiration to so many. They taught us all to never take this nonsense too seriously and have made college football discourse better for it. Thanks to Ryan Nanni, Jason Kirk, Alex Kirshner, Richard Johnson, and Bill Connelly, who have all been so helpful over the years. Special thanks to Spencer Hall and Holly Anderson, who shared moonshine with me and I’m assuming helped me walk into WVU’s stadium (it’s blurry) And extra special thanks to Steven Godfrey, who is a braver driver in the hills of West Virginia than I could ever be.
Thank You to the extended family of SB Nation site managers and writers who’ve shared their time and effort with us on countless occasions. We’ve been boon companions and bitter enemies, sometimes both at the same time, but it was always nice to have someone to complain about Vox with, even if we could never do anything about it. Whoever’s left at the end, dont forget to turn off the lights. And Thank You to Kevin Ives at Plainsman Parking Lot, still the undefeated king of SEC baseball blogging.
Thank You to all of our cursed hoops writers over the years, who put up with a program that teetered from barely competent to barely alive and now sits…pretty much right back where it was 13 years ago, though there are a couple more banners up in the rafters. Thanks to Jrlz, Jeff Stachelek, Chris Abshire, Madi McDonald, Tony Marks, Dylan Akers, Marques Leger, and apologies to whoever I’ve forgotten.
Thank You to all the ATVS Kidz, the talented youngsters who’ve come through these doors for a brief, usually unpaid, pit stop on their path to greatness. Thanks to Seth Galina, Adam Henderson, Crissy Froyd, and Kennedi Landry.
Thank You to the current ATVS crew, who all have bright futures ahead in Zach’s capable hands.
Thank You Billy and Poseur, who trusted me when Richard gave me the keys, and stayed with us through the good times and the bad. Who were never afraid to dump a wall of text on this site and speak their minds, or to let me know when it was time to back away from the ledge or not light a bridge on fire (and when it WAS definitely time to light a bridge on fire). I could not have done any of this without your support and friendship from day one. Without it, I would surely have lost my mind. You have my unending gratitude.
And Thanks to You, dear reader. If you’ve ever said a nice word about this site, you can’t know how gratifying it is to hear each and every time. Also thanks to the many of you who have come by the tailgate over the years and said how much you like the site in person. It’s an amazing feeling that I never got tired of.
And to all those assholes who I’ve banned in the last 13 years, I’ll see you in Hell.