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October 5, 2011

Time to take on a new challenge

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.

60 Comments

  1. Wow, thanks for the past 3 years Andy. As much as I enjoy your style, VT is on the same list for me as Tennessee, MSU and ‘Bama. In other words, good luck up there. ;-)
    Seriously though, you were my favorite beat writer for AU and I wish you all the best!

    Comment by Don Crow — October 5, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  2. I hate it that we’re losing you but Va Tech is getting a great reporter. Best of luck in the future and here’s hoping that the snickers ice cream bars will be just as plentiful!

    Comment by Clayrob — October 5, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  3. AB -

    We have immensely enjoyed reading your blog, tweets and beyond these last three years and truly appreciate all you did to bring us the stories in the best and not so best of times.

    Best of luck to you in your new endeavors. War Eagle Forever!

    RIR

    Comment by RIR — October 5, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  4. Yep. Rock on AB. You’ll be missed.

    Comment by WDEwg — October 5, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  5. Just to echo everyone else, i hate that you’re going to be moving on but glad you’re getting to do what you want to do. this is actually my home page so hopefully whomever they get to replace you will be able to do as good a job as you did. i enjoyed your reporting and wish you luck on your future position. war damn eagle, sir!

    Comment by ATCVX — October 5, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  6. Andy, the reason this blog grew from 200 hits to several thousand now is because you are a terrific football reporter. You will be missed. Farewell, and good luck.

    Comment by TigerEyez13 — October 5, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  7. War Eagle Andy! You will be missed by the AU Family. Wishing you and yours the best as you climb the ladder! Please return anytime…as there is no place like Auburn!

    Comment by Mike Fillmer — October 5, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  8. Andy,

    Welcome aboard! You’ve got big shoes to fill. Kyle Tucker was terrific in covering Virginia Tech. Looking forward to your work. Hopefully, you can use some SEC insight into convincing our coach that it takes both offense and defense to win championships!

    Comment by Jeff Self — October 5, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  9. You will be missed. Best wishes in your new position.

    Comment by Tony Brooks — October 5, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  10. Congrats on the promotion, AB. Hope it wasn’t us that ran you off.

    I don’t think we’ll forget some of your excellent writing any time soon. I remember the Q&A you had with Malzahn about Cam right before the draft. And the Livechat right before the national championship game. And the Good Guy Award and general EAABWA shenanigans.

    It was all good stuff. God speed up there in Hokie-land. Should be interesting to have been on both sides of that rivalry.

    Comment by Justin — October 5, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  11. We’re going to miss your work. Good luck with new opportunities!

    Comment by Charles Roberts — October 5, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  12. Once I discovered blogs, which was only a few years ago, I found yours to be one of my favorites. Of particular note was you ability to refuse the partisan “koolaid,” the frequent posts, and the presence (but not dominance) of good natured humor. I am sure that any major team that can boast a healthy fan base (VT is one) will count your musings an asset. War Eagle.

    Comment by tptoomers — October 5, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  13. Always enjoyed your posts and comments, Andy. You were always a straight-shooter and real Auburn fans appreciate that. Good luck with your new job. Va Tech fans don’t know how lucky they are.

    Jack

    Comment by Subterranean Jack — October 5, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  14. AB I see how it is, finally get decent video on this site and you bail…probably with your new camera.

    In all seriousness, congratulations and welcome to the Norfolk area. Definitely one of the best football beat writers, you only have good things ahead of you. You’ll be missed

    Comment by Benjamin — October 5, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  15. Middle of the season Andy? Leaving these poor kids behind. That’s cold.

    Comment by Terry Bowden — October 5, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  16. Great job reporting; I’ve always appreciated the details you include. Best of luck and God bless!

    Comment by Lou — October 5, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  17. Good luck Andy. Hate to see you go. You’re easily the best of the Auburn beat writers (not that it’s hard beating out a sarcastic guy who comes off as a douche and a bama grad)

    Comment by Jonesy — October 5, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  18. As for Dave being in that photo, does that mean he’s leaving as well?

    Doesn’t surprise me. [/gus]

    Comment by Jay G. — October 5, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  19. Dangit. Oh well, all good things must come to an end.

    I have enjoyed your blogging and reporting immensely. Thanks for all the hard work.

    Your replacement has some large shoes to fill.

    Comment by RJ — October 5, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  20. I’ll miss your reporting, you did a good job. Good luck in Blacksburg. War Eagle!

    Comment by Jim Heard — October 5, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  21. Congratulations on your promotion and getting to go where you want to be. Good for you. However, not so good for us.

    Like a friend told me in the summer of 1972: “Auburn will get another quarterback but we won’t get another Pat Sullivan.” We Auburn fans won’t get another Andy Bitter either.

    You were appreciated and will be missed.

    Comment by MikeP — October 5, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  22. Keep on rockin, AB. You were my favorite beat hack out of all the Auburn hacks. If got a handful of VT friends that live up in the area…i’ll send them your way.

    Any word on the unfortunate soul that will take your place?

    You will be missed

    Comment by Kirk Lazarus — October 5, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

  23. VT? I feel like a stepping stone. At any rate, I’ve appreciated the hours of entertainment you’ve provided me, all for free. You’re the first place I go to every day for info and quotes. Thanks for your time and good luck covering those 2 or 3 games the Hokies play every year!

    Comment by AUDevil — October 5, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  24. I, for one, blame the random Bammers that would troll the site as the reason you are leaving.

    They kept baiting you, hoping to get a rise, but you were always calm, cool and collected (or at least seemed that way).

    Comment by Kirk Lazarus — October 5, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  25. Good luck on the new beat, Andy. It’s been a pleasure reading your insight and being a part of this community.

    Travel well.

    Comment by Simmons — October 5, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  26. Your first test: Define “Hokie”.

    Sounds like you’ve landed a sweet gig, no doubt due to your excellent coverage of AU football while at the Ledger. Good luck up there bro, I’ve enjoyed the reporting, the live chats, and the blog.

    Comment by jdinmacon — October 5, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  27. Good luck and War Hokie!!

    Comment by Patrick — October 5, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  28. Andy – I found you a couple years ago when I was looking for “local” insight into the AU program and you have become my favorite beat writer. Your have a great ability to cut through most of the fluff, get to the salient points, and even provide some original analysis. Unfortunately, this is rare in the SEC. Thanks for all your hard work and Godspeed my adopted AU brother. You will be missed.

    Comment by Atlanta Tiger — October 5, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

  29. …..You will be missed. You were the most thorough and consistent of the Auburn beat writers, and I’ve enjoyed your stuff immensely.

    Comment by Acid Reign — October 5, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  30. So….I guess the Ledger Enquirer did not get the EDGE !!
    We are now stuck with JGT.
    Go ahead and give Arky the edge now and get it over with.
    Seriously, good luck up there. It is beautiful in October.
    You will be missed.

    Comment by easyedwin — October 5, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  31. Great news! Welcome…

    Comment by atlgreg — October 5, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  32. Wow, I’m almost speechless. This feels like the day the Fat Boys broke up, lol. Naw, in all seriousness AB good luck. You Da Man!

    Comment by AUsome10 — October 5, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  33. Have you had a post with more comments? Shows you we care about our beat writer maybe more than our quarterback! You will be greatly missed and I can’t imagine anyone will be able to fill your shoes, but we’ll give him (or her) a chance.

    Comment by SB — October 5, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

  34. Andy:

    This is my first comment on your blog but I have been an avid follower for quite some time. I teach in Asia and one of the ways I stay connected to my beloved Auburn Tigers is through the internet and your blog is BY FAR the best I have encountered. I will miss your excellent writing and your balanced approach and also your occasional use of humor! Good luck up in Blacksburg and WDE!!

    Comment by Seoul Tiger — October 5, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  35. I’ll be honest. I won’t miss you. I always felt you were too easy on the coaches and accepted their “non-answers” to questions too easily. But, I know other opinions that felt you were an Auburn hater. So, if you’re getting criticism from both ends of the fan spectrun, you’re probably doing a good job of covering the team. You gott’a do what you gott’a do, so good luck up in Virginia. At least you know your trade and you’re not a hack like so many other wannabes.

    Comment by Captain Obvious — October 5, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  36. I’ve read some of your work for Auburn and I’m definitely looking forward to having you here in Hokie Nation

    Comment by MBMinor — October 5, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  37. Andy, I am so sorry to hear that you were fired from your position, but I hope things work out for you in New Mexico.

    Always remember that when God closes one door, he opens another.

    War Eagle and thank you for all hard work you did!

    Comment by 1849sf — October 5, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

  38. First Steve Jobs leaves me. Now you’re leaving me Andy. Although the scenarios are different, I have to admit that today is a tough day. Best of luck!

    Comment by Hunter-Gatherer — October 5, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

  39. Andy,
    Nice to hear they’ve finally found a replacement for KT (who defected to Kentucky). Just a few pointers, most all of Hokie Nation hate Bryan “Bubble Screen” Stinespring as an offensive coordinator. He’s an idiot. Case in point, the 23-3 debacle against Klempsun. Bud Foster is the main reason the Hokies have won 10 games a season for the past 7 years. Looking forward to a guy who doesn’t drink the Frank Beamer koolaid and calls a spade a spade when it comes to the completely inept offense.

    Comment by James — October 5, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

  40. Always enjoyed your reporting. VT is getting a great reporter.

    Comment by John — October 6, 2011 @ 12:46 am

  41. You will be missed, Andy. You were, in my honest opinion, the best Auburn beat writer around. Tech fans will be lucky to have you. Thanks for always being honest with us fans and not just telling us things we want to hear. Your work is quite refreshing. I wish you the best of luck.

    Comment by Ross — October 6, 2011 @ 12:48 am

  42. Andy,
    I am very sorry to see you go. You are the best Auburn beat writer we have had and I have been around for a few (Auburn class of 1992). Your constant posting puts you above the rest. You have given more info more consistently than anybody else I have seen. You will definitely be missed. Good luck and War Eagle.

    Comment by Sall — October 6, 2011 @ 12:49 am

  43. Farewell AB, and good luck. You were always my first stop on my daily jaunt through the latest Auburn news. Grateful for the two years of insightful commentary and news. Virginia Tech is gaining a good one.

    All the best

    Comment by sullivan013 — October 6, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  44. Good luck. Will really miss your reporting. WDE

    Comment by jimbo — October 6, 2011 @ 1:44 am

  45. I spoke with Coach Chizik this morning. He informed me that Andy called him, in tears, and made it clear to him that he wished he could be at Auburn, but that Cecil Bitter, Andy’s father, insisted his son attend Virginia Tech as they were offering more money.

    Comment by BagMan — October 6, 2011 @ 2:07 am

  46. Best of luck. You will be missed!

    Comment by JBT — October 6, 2011 @ 3:19 am

  47. Is that a green Members Only jacket on the table, by the way? Just curious…

    Comment by Simmons — October 6, 2011 @ 4:02 am

  48. Andy,

    You are by far the best Auburn beat writer. I’ve told several friends about “the best Auburn site”, wareagleextra, and they all loved your site as well. You were always concise and objective (which is appreciated), but somehow still had room for great insights and humor. Best of luck in the future.

    Comment by Tyson — October 6, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  49. Thanks Andy. You did a terrific job on the Auburn beat and I agree that I thought your coverage was the best. You consistently had the most information on the program with plenty of insight into what was going on behind the scenes. Good luck in Virginia and you will be missed.

    Comment by John — October 6, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  50. Andy, I was SHOCKED when I read the article. You can believe and trust that the kind words everyone has posted about you are true. You’re a good reporter and you will be missed.

    Comment by AUnMS — October 6, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  51. HOCKEY HAIR AND ANDY BITTER 4 EVER

    Thanks for all you’ve done. I second everything written above here. Gonna miss ya.

    Comment by Hockey Hair — October 6, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  52. Andy,
    Good luck in your next job! I really enjoyed reading your blog and will miss your outstanding coverage. I, and many others, will miss you covering Auburn. Thank you for everything. I wish all the best for you and your family.

    Comment by Tim — October 6, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  53. Thanks for the last three years. I have enjoyed your coverage very much and hate to see you go. Best of luck with the new gig.

    Comment by chris — October 6, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  54. All the best, Andy! You’ve done a fabulous job here, and I’ll keep an eye out for your Hokie stories.

    Comment by Andrew — October 7, 2011 @ 12:45 am

  55. damnit, andy! i.m addicted to the detailed reports that will clearly not be replaced. I, like all the others, wish you well, but i’m pissed! i’m glad clemson kicked their butts!

    Comment by tom — October 7, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  56. Thanks for being the best beat hack these parts have had in some time, Andy. You will be sorely missed, but I echo many others in congratulating you on the new job and smartly moving closer to your in-laws, aka future free baby-sitters.

    I guess we’ll all have to go back to correcting all of Goldberg’s typos and listening to Scarbinsky’s lame attempts to stir the pot with his limp spoon.

    Best of luck to you, sir.

    Comment by joe — October 7, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  57. Thanks for the memories Andy and all the hard work. You were the best Tiger beat writer around. I wish many happy days for you and your wife in Virginia. You will be missed.

    War Eagle!

    Comment by AubTigerman — October 7, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  58. Sad to see you go, but as a life-long VT & AU fan, I will still get to read your work! My uncle coaches football at VT so BE NICE :) and War Eagle!

    Comment by CarolineH — October 7, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  59. Andy,
    Thank you and good luck. I found your work 2 years ago and it is a daily check out during the season and a frequent check out during the off season. Best of luck with the new job. It was the best source of information about AU. VT will have a great reporter.

    Comment by DavidB — October 8, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  60. I will tell you what. Those folks at Auburn loved you. I know we will be glad to have you reporting on VT sports. Welcome!

    Comment by KnoxHokie — October 10, 2011 @ 10:27 am

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