After 5 years as a member of the Underdog Dynasty community, with 3 of those years under the role as Managing Editor, this month will be my last with Underdog Dynasty and Vox Media.
I’ve spent just about my entire adult life associated with Underdog Dynasty. When I first joined UDD as a contributor I was a senior at Florida Atlantic University just looking for another space to carve out my writing skills. As it turns out, UDD turned into more than a place to sharpen my craft. It became my safe haven and my fellow staff writers in turn, became family.
To all of the 30-plus contributors in the past five years that broke some news, informed, entertained, enlightened, pissed of a fan base (inevitable) and made sure there was a place where the college football community can still read about G5 and FCS football, thank you.
When I took over as the Managing Editor in 2017 the website was a shell of its former self when Nic was running the website. The skeleton crew that remained was myself, Jared, Chas, Brian Stone, and Haisten Willis. We all did out best to fill in the gaps that were left behind by some of the most thoughtful and talented writers I’ve ever come across but the odds just weren’t in our favor. I remember during that time how a good friend of the site, Dave, mentioned how far UDD had fallen.
Then Matt Brown gave me a chance to run the website. Thank you, Matt. I had never really saw myself as a boss of anything, much less a website about college football, the best sport in the world. The experiences I’ve gained over the past couple of years will stay with me forever. Thanks again Matt, and Luke, Caroline and Morgan too. The site doesn’t come this far without your wisdom, belief, and ultimately the resources you all invested in the website.
A couple of years ago Jared believed I could do this and gave me a recommendation to Matt. I don’t think I would’ve stayed with UDD for this long if not for our friendship. As soon as you gave me the assurance that you would stay as the Assistant Manager I knew we could bring the website back to the standard Nic had engineered once before. Thank you Jared for believing in me. Our first ever interaction was back in 2014 when we did a Q&A together when you were part of the blog Cooler Chronicles. It’s crazy how our paths would cross again a year later as contributors to UDD. I’ve only met Jared in person a couple of times but I can say without a doubt he is one of the closest friends I have. The UTSA-Baylor game in 2017 is one of the best experiences I’ve been apart of. The UTSA tailgate that day is the best tailgate I’ve ever took part in to this day. Thank you again, Jared. I hope our friendship continues to grow as I enter the next phase in my life.
Months after I became the Managing Editor we added contributors Tanner Spearman, Adam Luckett, Joey Broback, Joe Serpico and Justin Dottavio among a few others to the team. A year or so later Eric Henry and Joseph Londergan came into the mix. Our slack room became an hilarious, insightful channel about college football.
Joey Broback, Joe Serpico, Eric Henry and Joseph Londergan helped lead my vision for having a podcast. To see that its come to the point where players, head coaches, conference commissioners, and college football writers across the country have been interviewed on the podcast is the accomplishment I’m most proud of.
A few of these folks have moved on to better things in the coming years but their time with the site was greatly needed. I appreciate their contributions dearly. Thanks y’all. Without your help UDD is nowhere near what it is now. You guys and many others, believed in my vision for what this place could become, trusted the coverage, and helped this place grow.
The thing I’ll miss most about UDD is helping fellow writers find their purpose and achieve their goals. I’ve always seen UDD as a stepping stone, a place where folks can springboard their careers. The happiest moments I’ve had is when a contributor told me that they had received a better opportunity. Former North Texas writer Dekota Gregory grew up reading the Tulsa World. A year later he then became a staff writer for the Tulsa World. Adam Luckett handled our Sun Belt coverage and joined me in participating in UDD’s first ever podcast. Now Adam contributes for Kentucky Sports Radio where he covers the Kentucky Wildcats and is a host for KSR’s podcast. There are several more examples like this where talented writers came to UDD and went on to achieve bigger jobs and I’m so lucky and thankful to have played some sort of role in that.
UDD will always mean everything to me because it’s more than about coverage for teams, this place is a community (shout out to C-USA Twitter!). Every Saturday I’d get together with friends to watch college football and I’d always make sure to keep my laptop on ESPN+, ESPN3, watchSTADIUM, etc. so I can keep up with what’s going on outside of the P5. At some point during my 5 years with UDD, I gained the belief that covering G5 football should be considered a civic duty. As the P5 looks more like the NFL with each passing year, G5 football looks closest to the sport most fans fell in love with. I hope that whoever is the next Managing Editor will continue to stay true to our readers and keep the passion alive.
So I guess I should tell you why I’m leaving now huh. If you’ve made it this far, thank you. The readers of UDD are what kept me and Jared late at night editing articles, tweeting during games, etc. so I just want to say thanks again. There were days when we were amazed at how many people actually read our articles, and visited the site.
I don’t like talking about myself so I’m sorry for the wait. I’m leaving the site to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine Arts with a focus in creative writing and script writing at the end of the month.
I’ve been lucky to place in a few script writing competitions over the past couple of years and have received some positive feedback on the contest circuit. During my time with UDD I couldn’t juggle doing both at the same time. So in the offseason during the summers I focused on my screenplays. During the season I focused on football and recruiting.
Well now the time has come for me to focus my energy solely on creative writing. My mentor at FAU told me that this is where I would always be and she was right. I love sports and I love writing. But I never loved writing about sports. Once I turned down an interview at the Sun Sentinel I knew that my days as someone who wrote about sports for a living were numbered.
But I promise you all I gave this site my everything. In 5 years there are exactly 642 articles to my name, countless articles I’ve edited, and an insane amount of time spent on Twitter. But it was damn sure worth it.
I don’t like saying goodbye when I know I’ll see my friends again so goodnight. Goodnight UDD, and all of the readers who made this experience worthwhile.
Thank you for welcoming me into this amazing community.