Let's be honest. I make things incredibly awkward. Very awkward. UNIMAGINABLY AWKWARD. In my daily life. So, being surrounded by awkwardness is not a new feeling.
But interviewing TedfordIsGod, former Daily Cal sports head honcho, has got to have been one of the most awkward things I've ever done. Interviewing the guy whose blog I stole was, let's face it, awk to the maxxxxxxxxxxxxx. And let's not mince words here. Stole. Yes, stole.
"Google Image FAIL". - Image via www.shawlsandscarfs.com
Stole outright. From his cold, dead hands. TedfordIsGod was just going along, blogging and minding his own business. Telling us interesting things like how unimportant college fullbacks are. During this time, we waited at the old Blogsome site. We bided our time. Bitter we were. Just wanting to get at that SBN Platform. So, like the fabled gold rush of old, we waited until TedfordIsGod left his land and then immediately staked our claim. Claimed our stake. And then, finally, after so many Machivellian manipulations, it was ours! All ours! The precious, the precious!!!!! TedfordIsGod was out, that knife stuck firmly into his back.
And, then, at that very moment, we turned around and said "Hey, will you tell us what it's like to be a Daily Cal Sports Guru?" Being the Bigger Man that he is, TedfordIsGod was more than happy to do so. He even wrote up a little spiel for us, so you could learn more about him. Although he outsourced parts of it, here is that spiel:
After completing my interview, CGB asked me to send some basic background information about myself to accompany this interview. As I am in the last month of my first-year of law school, and short on time, I have enlisted The Maharg, my official biographer, for a condensed version of my story:
"Tedfordisgod (TIG) is just a man. That's the first thing we have to be clear on. There's been a lot of talk recently, and I can honestly say that with the exception of six months of worship, I've never known him to be a god. Now that we're clear on that, let's take a look at the life of TIG, coming from a family of Cal grads, he is one of the many Cal fans that was in attendance during The Play, although he was one of the few Cal Fans that were a fetus at the time.
After a pretty standard childhood (renaissance fairs, photoshop conventions, superpowers), the time came to choose a college, and TIG chose the University of British Columbia based on his intense desire to be Canadian. Due to a (un)fortunate clerical error, and a $50 that a certain y. fever paid to the post office, TIG ended up at UCB instead.
Once on campus it was only a matter of time until he dominated the local Beer Pong scene, but shortly after his first year at Cal and numerous allegations that he'd honked numerous opponents during official matches, he was forced to retire from the sport in disgrace and was blackballed from every other competitive sport at Berkeley (Ultimate teams wouldn't even return his calls). Fed up with life and the way things were going, he decided to rob a liquor store, but on the way in he had a sudden change of heart. On the sidewalk outside the store was a Daily Cal, and TIG realized exactly what he had to do: he became a sports writer for the Daily Cal.
With his new found press pass, TIG became the new face of Cal sports reporting, providing phenomenal football and basketball coverage, and rebuilding his good name. After graduation, TIG started a blog with another Daily Cal writer, and became a staple of the alumni network at Cal. During this time TIG stayed in the Bay Area with two of his good friends and the Maharg while finding employment at a small family run business in Mountain View.
Unfortunately, all feel good comeback stories must come to an end and this one is no different. TIG's blog [the blog known as TheBandIsOutOnTheField] began to crumble. In a fiery blaze of bitterness, TIG left the blog world and refused to use the internet until Brad Pitt married Angelina Jolie. After many months of negotiations and two years of "This." TIG has emerged from his mountain cave and agreed to one question and one question only about his experiences."
I trust the veracity of The Maharg's statement enough to assert that at least some of the above is probably true to some degree. The following is 100% the truth...
1. What's the difference between running a blog and contributing to running a newspaper?
Blogs are a lot harder. There is no question about that to me. With blogs, if you make stupid argument - people let you know. If you make an egregious typo - people let you know. If you do either thing regularly, no one is going to read you. On a blog, you really can't phone it in.
On the other hand, I think the limits of a newspaper make you a better writer. A lot of people make good arguments on the internet. Blogs have lots of good information. But not that many bloggers are really great writers in the classic sense. I am a guilty as anyone, but too much on the internet is just ramblings rather than focused writing. On the internet, people think a lot about what they are saying, but not enough about how they are saying it.
2. Does the inside access to athletes and coaches give you better perspective of the situation, or did you find yourself on equal footing even when you were running the blog?
Especially for sports, access is pretty overrated. I think it helps you become more aware of running story lines - there are things you are aware of that you never write about, but then suddenly it becomes a bigger deal and you know a lot more about it than an outsider would.
But it takes your fandom from you. There is "no cheering in the press box." After I graduated and headed back into the stands, it took 3 or 4 games before I could even make myself cheer regularly. Plus you start to like and dislike players and coaches based on how they treat you. I don't think I would want to go back to that.
3. Were there any awesome stories you wanted to write for the newspaper that you couldn't because it was 'off the record'?
Not really, unless you consider Ben Braun's stories on where to eat lunch to be "off the record." (TwistNHook Note: Which I do)
Sometimes players would say stuff that wasn't too bright, and we would save them from themselves...after the Air Force game in 2004, a defensive back was asked whether the high elevation was difficult and he responded, "It didn't matter at all that the gravity is different up here..." Stuff like that is pretty hard to resist putting in the paper when you are 20 years old.
Otherwise, I guess sometimes we would get a little more details on why someone was dropping out of school than the general public might, but those are generally exactly what you would expect (Grades! Weed! Crime!).
4. Ah, forget that, just tell us all the awesome stories!
Gladly...Marshawn Lynch once made me drink out of his Gatorade bottle before he would talk to me (TwistNHook Note: What if it was toads a HydroTech concoction??). He once was asked which football player he thought he was similar to, and honestly answered, "Man, I only watch cartoons."
After the basketball team got blown out by Washington once, on the way up to the podium post-game Ben Braun told me to "keep my head up." I laughed, and then he said, "No seriously."
We got to take team flights to football games, which was awesome. On the flight back from 2004 USC, the 21-year-old me thought it would be a good idea to try to convince people that we dominated even though we lost. They didn't really want to talk about it.
I once declared to the newsroom that Aaron Rodgers was my friend, and was regularly mocked for it. He was, I swear!
Ray Ratto was pretty hilarious in person. The morning after the 2004 Southern Mississippi game, Ratto and myself were the only writers at the "We didn't make the Rose Bowl" press conference because everyone else was still in Mississippi. He was wearing a PowerPuff Girls sweatshirt.
The single weirdest time was riding on a bus from Corvallis to Eugene, sitting behind Adam Duritz and Joe Starkey. It was two of the world's most recognizable voices (to me) talking about random bullshit. That was surreal.
The inspiration for a brilliant career. - Image via upload.wikimedia.org
5. What roles did you hold at the Daily Cal?
Unlike most people, I just wanted to be a writer. I hated the idea of being an editor (though I loved my editors). I started my sophomore year when I just sent an e-mail to the sports editor and was writing two days later without any prior experience. Crew was my first beat. Crew is seriously the most difficult sport in the world to write about...it is people, in a boat, going in a perfectly straight line, in perfect rhythm with one another. There is no action to describe. That summer, I wrote about a lot of random stuff - track, swimming world championships, random national stories, etc as we tried to fill the summer editions when absolutely nothing is going on.
Moved on to men's soccer at the beginning of my junior year, but through a very odd set of circumstances, there was an opening for a football writer. So after writing about 15 articles, I was a covering the 2003 football season.
From there, I covered rugby in Spring. rugby was a great beat because you had to learn the game first, and then learn about the team. Nothing makes you a better writer and interviewer covering something that you don't understand at all.
Came back for my senior year (Fall 2004) and was the lead football writer. Then covered the awful Powe-less 2004-2005 basketball season, and then some more rugby. Along the way hit pretty much every sport, and wrote about 150-ish articles and columns.
6. What is the average day like for each one of these roles?
I didn't really attend practices because they were a huge time suck and had to worry about school (and other jobs too). Being just a writer, I would come in around 3 and try to be out by 6 or so. The average article is about 500 words, so it is like producing 3 or 4 two-page papers per week that everyone you know is going to read. Big Game week was always tough because we would have multiple special issues. My senior year, I probably wrote 5000-6000 words that week.
7. (From The Maharg) What was it like being a no talent hack?
If my life didn't seem awesome enough...The Maharg and I were roommates for a substantial portion of this time! The Maharg is actually very talented.......at World of Warcraft. He blocked out all light in his bedroom to cut down on glare.
8. (Also From The Maharg) How many people did you sleep with to get the Daily Cal job?
The real question is, how did The Maharg finally get his winged mount?
9. What do you believe will be the role of the Daily Cal going forward, now that Internet communities like CGB are beginning to power more and more of the discussion going forward? Do you see the best writers going through the newspaper world or just moving straight to the Internet?
Not having any inside info, I think the Daily Cal is in a weird spot right now. They are "independent" from the university, meaning that they don't take university money. I think that is the result of the Free Speech Movement, and I am sure it has some meaning on the editorial side. My guess is that this will end at some point in the near future - there is no way that they can keep publishing based on ad revenue, but on the other hand, I think people still really like picking up the Daily Cal on campus. One of the interesting things as a writer was that often the Daily Cal was the only paper that the athletes were reading.
As for writers, I think it is impossible to consider going into sportswriting as a profession right now. At some point in the future, I guess the best, most entertaining writers will find a way to make some money on the internet. The thing is, how that is going to work might not become clear for 20 years or more. There is going to be a huge period of uncertainty in my opinion. I had never really planned on going into writing as a career, but in a different era, I would have wanted to do it. I blogged because I liked writing, pure and simple. I still like writing, I am sure I will blog again, and I don't really care if I get paid for it.
10. What was your favorite article that you wrote?
This was by far the best game story (and one of the few stories I still like today):
This is a rugby story that I really like. The quotes are honest, which is incredibly rare.
This one won some award.
And because I am a much better writer now than I was then, here is a more recent guest column that tells you a lot about me as a Cal fan.
Yes, I have four favorite articles. I am a self-indulgent ass. But given the 700 comments in average DBD's I figure y'all have time on your hands.