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What We’re Thankful For — UDD Edition

A happy holiday season to all. Except the team you don’t like.

Dear loyal Underdog Dynasty readers,

At the risk of coming across self-indulgent, please allow myself and my fellow UDD Co-Managing Editor Joe Londergan the following 1,600 (or so) words to give thanks with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us.

As some of you may know, it’s been a bit of a tumultuous few months for the SB Nation community. Several long-standing sites were notified earlier this year that they would no longer produce new content and would cease to cover their respective beats.

Thankfully, UDD was spared but that doesn’t take away from the feelings for those who weren’t as lucky. As one half of the site managing combination for this outlet, I understand the time, effort and energy that goes into not only writing, editing and covering games, but the backend work to help keep things afloat.

I’ve been privileged to cover Conference USA and FIU football for five seasons, in addition to hosting the C-USA version of our Underdog Pawdcast and as a result, I’ve been able to do several outside media spots representing the site. Those opportunities are beyond exhilarating, but the fact of the matter is our staff members are the ones who truly make this site what it is — and I want to take the time to recognize them.

Joe and I were handed the site-managing baton from Cyrus Smith and Jared Kalmus in September 2020 and we’ve had two prime objectives: Further what they’ve built in establishing the site in the Group of Five and FCS football landscape and provide an outlet for writers to develop.

Steve Helwick: What can I say about Steve that his work doesn’t already say for itself. I’m always impressed with his dedication to his role and his professionalism in going about it. On multiple occasions, Helwick has covered two games in the same day — something that’s much easier said than done.

Emily Van Buskirk: Emily is one of the most creative and gifted storytellers that I know. She manages to make verbose seem concise and when tasked with a story to tell, has hit a homerun every time. Her unique charm and wit as one-half of the AAC podcast make it a must-listen weekly.

Kevin Fielder: Kevin’s attention to detail when producing content is second to none. Without being prompted, he’s taken the time to research and write features while still holding down the Florida Atlantic beat for 247 Sports. He’s a talented young writer whose best is yet to come.

Jared Miller: The amount of work that we’ve given Jared is immense and he’s done nothing but produce. He’s single-handedly held down the fort with our FCS coverage and does his job with enthusiasm every single time.

Dan Morrison: Although Dan’s writing has taken him to On3, he still takes the time to co-host the AAC version of the podcast with Emily — something I’ll openly admit I didn’t think would work when we initially paired them together. Before joining On3, Dan stepped into the role vacated by Joe Broback and seamlessly filled it.

Brian Stone: Take one listen to the Sun Belt version of our podcast and you’ll hear Brian’s knowledge and passion for the FunBelt. To be honest, Brian and his co-host Zeke Palermo don’t get enough love for what they bring to the table every week in producing that pod to a loyal (and very vocal) fanbase.

Zeke Palermo: Like Kevin, Zeke is contributing for us while finishing his undergraduate degree — that in itself is a feat. When he joined the site last year, he jumped in head-first to taking on the Georgia State beat and instantly became one of the best follows for Panthers’ coverage.

Pat McKelvey: Pat joined us earlier this year and took on one of the most thankless roles that we have — researching and writing game previews for areas that we don’t have full-time coverage. It’s been a pleasure to watch his development as a writer and I’m looking forward to your role evolving with UDD.

Sumner McDaniel: Sumner has been with the site for a few seasons now covering UTSA after Jared took on a reduced role. Like Pat, Sumner took on his role as a passion project with a desire to get better as a writer and he’s done so with each piece he’s published covering the Roadrunners.

Jeremy Grandison: After Hunter Bailey left to join the Charlotte Observer in a full-time role covering Charlotte, Jeremy joined the site this year to step into one of the more vocal fanbases we have in the Niners. He’s grown with each piece that he’s published and I’m looking forward to seeing his development in establishing himself with the Charlotte fanbase.

Taylor Bauer: Taylor is truly an unsung hero. Without him, we would sound like complete idiots on our podcasts and we can’t thank him enough for his time effort and dedication in producing our pods as quickly and as well as he does.

Joe and I wish we could pay all of/those of you on payroll more — in lieu of that, what we can do is take the time to individually spotlight each of you — because without your work, there’s no guarantee that the site would still be standing today.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Hello friends and/or foes.

Unlike Eric, I have no problem indulging myself. Just ask the drive-thru workers at the Taco Bell by my house.

This holiday is odd to me. On the one hand, I’m never angry at good food and an abundance of good sports on television. On the other, I know there’s a heavy family element of this holiday that’s tough for me to get into.

Also, why does this holiday insist on pretending that cranberries are good for anything but a cocktail mixer?

Nevertheless, I appreciate this time of year for how much it seems to make most people take stock of the good things happening in their lives. Over the better part of the last decade or so that I’ve been a part of Underdog Dynasty, I’ve been thankful for every second.

On top of allowing me the opportunity to channel my obsession with this sport into something productive, this site has brought an abundance of awesome people into my life. Obviously, I’m thankful to have a professional partner in Eric whose skills and strengths complement mine.

Because most of my good ideas are just re-skins of ones Eric has already done, I’d also like to take a moment to thank the members of the UDD team (who all work full-time jobs in addition to this, by the way) that keep this thing moving forward.

Steve Helwick: Steve is a superstar. This man is all over the country covering G5 football for us as well as Hustle Belt and has such an impressive knowledge of every program under that banner. We’re lucky to have someone so dedicated working alongside us.

Emily Van Buskirk: On top of Emily being a great writer and podcaster, she’s done such a fantastic job in her career building her credibility as a storyteller to the point that coaches and players are genuinely excited to chat with her. It’s hard to maintain relationships in this industry, but Emily is exceptional at it.

Kevin Fielder: Kevin has a great football mind. He has a great grasp of how to tell stories that examine both the human side of this game, and the analytical side. Maybe someday we’ll go on Maury to see if you really are my son or not.

Jared Miller: Jared is the best in the business when it comes to FCS coverage. I love that we have someone on our team who is so eager to dedicate their time to covering programs that other outlets don’t have the interest or resources to do so.

Dan Morrison: Dan continues to crush the AAC Pod every single week alongside Emily. The man sticks to his guns. I’m glad that pairing has worked so well. Genuinely, thank you for making the time to continue to work with us in addition to your full-time gig.

Brian Stone: Brian has been a mainstay with UDD for many years and I’m glad he continues to be that every season. Georgia Southern has one of the most passionate fanbases in the SBC and Brian’s knowledge of the program continues to be a huge piece of the puzzle for us.

Zeke Palermo: Zeke’s been a really strong addition to our team and has helped us take our Sun Belt coverage a step forward. I feel very confident he will have a great career in this field.

Pat McKelvey: Pat hit the ground sprinting when he joined our team this year. He’s been a great addition to our coverage with in-depth previews of the AAC and more. I’m excited to see what he can do in bowl season and beyond with us!

Sumner McDaniel: Since Sumner’s joined our team, he’s done a great job covering UTSA. It’s not the easiest beat. But, he’s continued to improve every week and has a great attention to detail.

Jeremy Grandison: Jeremy’s been with this team the shortest amount of time, but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen from his Charlotte coverage so far. I really want to see where this work takes him as he continues to gain experience.

Taylor Bauer: We ask an awful lot of Taylor…and we’ll likely continue to do so. The real technical brains behind this operation. Thank you for the considerable amount of time you put into editing and distribution of the Underdog Pawdcasts.

Getting to spend so much time writing and talking about college football is a job that ten-year-old me would be incredibly stoked to have. I wouldn’t get to have it if it weren’t for this group. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being on this journey with me.

Later, taters.