After a little more than three years, it’s time to move on. I’ve delayed posting this because some of the particulars were still being finalized, but several followers of this blog and their intrepid Internet sleuthing revealed that I’ll be leaving the Auburn beat soon.
Beginning next week, I’ll be the Virginia Tech football beat writer for the Roanoke Times and The Virginian-Pilot, a position based in Blacksburg, Va.
First, a few details about this blog. The War Eagle Extra will continue to be operated by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, along with the Twitter handle and Facebook page that bear its name. So don’t abandon either while the search for my replacement takes place (in fact, follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook if you’re not already).
I’ll be assuming the Twitter handle of my predecessor at the Pilot and renaming it. If you enjoy my occasional musings, you can eventually follow me here.
Why am I taking the new job? A couple of reasons. It’s a prominent beat at a large set of papers with a wider print audience, a big step forward in my journalistic career. It’s also a return to my old stomping grounds. I spent nearly seven years in Virginia before moving to Auburn. It’s where I met my lovely wife and where her family still lives.
It won’t be an easy move. I’ll leave behind good friends, an enjoyable group of beat hacks and the most dominating Niffer’s trivia team in this lifetime, but it’s a move I have to make.
I dislike when writers get all sappy in these things, so I keep this brief. I’ve enjoyed my time in Auburn immensely. It’s very rare that a reporter covers a program at its lowest and highest moments in such a short period of time.
I joined the beat in 2008 when Auburn was 3-0, ranked No. 10 in the country and set for a top-10 showdown with LSU on ESPN. Things didn’t go well for the Tigers from there, if you recall. Auburn lost to LSU in the final minutes, Tony Franklin was fired three weeks later and Tommy Tuberville left two months after that. A little over two years later, Gene Chizik, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley were hoisting the crystal football after leading Auburn to its first national championship in 53 years. I don’t think anyone envisioned that entire scenario playing out, and I had a front row seat for it all.
I’ll say this about Auburn: it was never dull. A midseason firing, a surprise resignation, a shocking hire, two airport hecklers, NCAA accusations, a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a tree poisoning — that pretty well sums up my three years on the Plains.
I’m not gone yet. I’ll still do one final live chat on Thursday, so stop by. And I’ll have my usual matchups post on Friday before calling it a wrap.
I’d like to thank all the loyal readers of this blog. It’s been enjoyable to see it grow from the 200 daily hits I’d get in those first few months (thanks, Dad!) to the several thousand it gets now. I’ve enjoyed reporting for a fan base so passionate about football — one not afraid to say exactly what it thinks of me, both good and bad — and I hope you continue frequenting this site after I’m gone.