State of the Hogs: New Partnership

Razorback Central and its wealth of UA sports coverage has joined the HI.com website. Look for "free" daily stories on our site written by The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas staffers on all things related to the Hogs.

There have been many long days during football season over the past 13 years since Hawgs Illustrated was born on April 13, 1992. I've done lots of jobs through those years as we've published some 220 issues.

Most of its been fun, but football season has often been something that taxed my mind and body because of the long hours. That's when Hawgs Illustrated publishes every week (except for the open dates).

I've been the publisher, editor, writer, photographer, webmaster, business manager, errand boy, secretary and about every other job required to run a magazine business. For most of that time, I was the only fulltime employee, although some like Tom Ewart and Dudley Dawson did their part in a huge way as free-lance contributors.

There have been times that I've actually hated the arrival of football season. I love the games, but there often wasn't enough time between them to get the next magazine out and to subscribers. We never missed one deadline, although there were times that the U.S. Postal Service failed so miserably to deliver the product that most believed that we had missed deadlines.

So why is it that I'm so excited about the arrival of this football season? No, it's not because of newcomers like Peyton Hillis, Marcus Monk, Fred Bledsoe, Cedric Logan, Marcus Harrison and so many others who have turned our heads in practice this preseason.

I'm excited because this is the start of a new era for Hawgs Illustrated. As most know, I sold Hawgs Illustrated to Stephens Media last October. Over the course of the last 11 months, I've turned over many of my hats to capable hands within the Stephens family. Folks at the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas and at the Southwest Times Record in Ft. Smith now handle so many of the odd jobs that I often fumbled.

It makes me recall the days when I'd ask my father, then the sports editor of the Arkansas Gazette, about how he handled the hiring and firing for his staff. He'd say, "Find someone who does something better than you and get out of their way."

That's what I've learned to do with Stephens Media. I've had fun getting out of the way of late. The pages of HI are now produced in Ft. Smith by a capable staff of graphic designers. I don't have to build ads any more. A talented creative staff does that.

In summary, it's been a great partnership, at least in my eyes. I've gained some of my personal life back. I actually take vacations in the summer now. I am going to have a day off each week this football season. (I'm fly fishing for trout on the White River near Bull Shoals Dam as you read this column as Friday is going to be my [one] weekly day off this football season.)

I hope it's been a two-way partnership. I hope there are things that HI brings to the table that helps the rest of the Stephens Media family. I hope that what we've worked to create this week with the HI website and a new partnership with the Razorback Central website is something that everyone will enjoy.

Kevin Taylor, the website guru at The Morning News, has worked this week to move Razorback Central onto the HI website, one of the stronger sites in TheInsiders.com network. You can find it by going to hawgsillustrated.com, or by going to the Arkansas site at TheInsiders.com.

There are many strong aspects of our web presence, including a popular premium message board with several thousand members. Things can be interesting and informative there.

But there are also many other strong aspects, like daily practice reports during football season, within minutes of the end of the workout on most days. Game reports are available on-line at HI.com within minutes of the final whistle. We also have a premium recruiting message board with daily visits from Dawson and other staff members. We also provide bonus coverage on the message boards with Don Oglesby at most pickup basketball games.

But along with all of this premium coverage (and that means you have to buy a subscription), there will be much free content with the addition of Razorback Central. There is also a "free" message board, HI's popular Hawg Lounge, to take the place of Razorback Central's free forum.

The good news is that our website has a long history of stability. It's hardly ever off line. I can only remember a few minutes total over the last three years.

I think this is going to be a fun website partnership. I hope it's a sign that HI is giving back to Stephens Media for all the things that Stephens Media has given to me and my family.


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