There is an old saying that goes along the lines of ‘You never really know how much something or someone means to you until they or it is gone.'
That is certainly the case with the Hawkeye Nation and me.
I can not even begin to tell you how much I have missed the message board conversations with the Hawkeye fans over the course of the last four months and 10 days. To be honest, the message boards are a labor or love. It takes a lot of work to build a thriving message board community, something I have been able to do over the course of the last four years on three different occasions.
I have come to know so many of you through the message boards, and though I have not met the tens of thousands of people who were participants at HawkeyeNation.com, there is a sort of virtual relationship that is formed.
Not being able to talk about potential two deeps, predictions for the following season, issues that came up during the summer like the Adam Haluska transfer, Iowa football media day and the first month of this season was very, very hard for me.
There are times when the message boards are not fun, just like there are times when your job may not be fun. But what I learned this summer is that interacting with the great fans of the University of Iowa is what I missed more than anything else.
It feels very, very good to be back, and I am so excited to once again be free to do what it is that I have chosen to make my life's work: covering University of Iowa athletics and speaking with Hawkeye fans from around the world via the Internet.
To keep in step with the changes going on at the official hawkeye website, www.hawkeyesports.com, I guess you could call this HawkeyeNation.com version 3.0. I have a long-term contract in place with TheInsiders and I am putting down deep roots. After this summer's experiences, one of the most important lessons that I have learned is a very simple one: be still.
HN.com v3.0 has a collection of writers and recruiting analysts unlike any other outlet covering Hawkeye sports today.
Rob Howe has been covering various Iowa Hawkeye beats for the last several years with the Iowa City Press-Citizen, including the football and men's basketball beat in 2002-2003. He also wrote columns for the ICPC during his nearly six years of service with that paper and he had spent nine years with Gannett Newspapers prior to joining this website.
Howe is also the Senior Editor and Writer for Hawkeye Nation magazine, formerly known as Hawkeye Illustrated.
He is also someone that I consider a great friend. I have admired his work over the last several years and I am very excited to be able to work with someone that I have such a great deal of respect for. I know that I will be able to learn a lot from Rob and he and his wife reside in Iowa City, giving Howe and HawkeyeNation.com instant access to any last second press conferences that might be called during the course of the sports year. Having a ‘man on the street' in Iowa City was a matter of the highest priority for me, and Rob certainly fits that bill and then some.
During the last few months Rob has done yeoman's work with the website and magazine. He has written more content items on Iowa sports than any other person in the world (seriously) since starting on the website in late June. He has nearly single handedly kept pace with a competing website as far as content goes.
But he has not done it all by himself.
Jamie DeMoney, Recruiting Analyst. A 1994 graduate of the University of Iowa School of Journalism, DeMoney is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and has been involved with prep recruiting and evaluation for nearly a decade. We are pleased to have his expertise on board with this website in addition to Hawkeye Nation magazine.
In his current role with The Forbes Report, DeMoney literally views thousands of high school football players each and every year, so his critique of players will be an invaluable service to this website and the magazine for years to come.
Jamie is a recruiting analyst in deed as well as in title, something you will not always find on college sports websites. A lot of people will slap the ‘Recruiting Analyst' title next to their name, but it is nothing more than just that: a self-applied title.
Jamie and I have been friends for several years and he was teamed up with Hawkeyenation.com during its infancy.
Josh Clark, Recruiting Analyst, Site Contributor. Clark has been covering Iowa Hawkeye football recruiting on the Internet longer than anyone. Clark and I teamed up back in 1999 and built Superhawkeye.com, the first ever Iowa Hawkeye ‘Super Site'. Clark is most well known for his ability to break football commitments and his inside slant in all areas of Hawkeye football recruiting. He is now a recruiting analyst for TheInsiders, covering many of the Big 12 states in addition to Iowa Hawkeye recruiting.
Again, Clark breaks down tape on prospects across the Midwest and is gaining more and more connections at colleges across the nation's heartland, something that will benefit the readers of this site and magazine. Look for Clark to continue to be a key contributor to this website as well as a constant fixture in ‘The Iowa Insider' forum for HawkeyeNation.com subscribers.
Marty Gallagher, Columnist. Marty created the popular www.iowasportsopinions.com website and is well known for his head-on approach and fearless opinions as they relate to the Iowa Hawkeyes. He also has a knack for looking at things in a fashion that is always informative and entertaining. He is a great addition to the HawkeyeNation.com family and we are lucky to have him.
Barry Crist will be a contributor to the site, as well as some new names that will show up from time to time. You have already gotten to know Scott Wilder and Sean Dumm, in addition to contributions from one of the most decorated sportswriters in Iowa history, Ron Maly, former writer for the Des Moines Register
There will also be more staff announcements in the near future, including one of the most respected voices on wrestling that there is in the state of Iowa.
Jon Miller, HawkeyeNation.com Publisher. I have been covering Iowa Hawkeye athletics in an ‘official' capacity for the better part of the last five years. It all began with the ‘MillerTime' email newsletter, then with Superhawkeye.com and HawkeyeNation.com. I will continue to do all of the things that you have seen me do in the past: recruiting stories and interviews, feature articles, columns, stat crunching and more. In the past, I also served as the beat writer for HawkeyeNation.com, but that role is in much better hands with the addition of Rob Howe who resides in Iowa City.
Having Rob covering the beats will allow me to focus on growing the message board community at this site, as you will likely see me online between 8am and 2am. I believe that it takes that type of commitment to be the best and that is what we are going to strive to do again, as HawkeyeNation.com has been the ‘Granddaddy of Iowa Hawkeye Fansites' since it's launch in April of 2002.
Of the four major Iowa fans sites that are in existence today, two of them were built under the name of HawkeyeNation.com. This new site is one of the four and it gives me the biggest ‘head start' that I have ever had, as the websites I built at fantalk.org and rivals.com were virtual start up operations. The Hawks Nest is the only other stand-alone site, meaning it was built of its own accord.
This time around, the task is going to be more difficult, as HawkeyeNation.com was immensely popular over the last two years. During the 19 months of its existence at rivals, it generated more than 73,000,000 page views. That is well over 100,000 per day.
Of course, the rabid Iowa Hawkeye fans are to thank for that, and I certainly have appreciated your support of my work over the years. I am under no illusions that we are just going to flip on a switch, hang our sign out in front of our office and say ‘OK, we are now open for business, you can come back now'.
Some of you will and some of you will not; I knew that when I made the decision more than a year ago to change companies and I understood the risks involved.
A website community is a magical thing when it really gets rolling, and that is what I take the most pride in when I look back on the body of work I have put in over the last four-plus years. That is why I drive to and from Des Moines each and every Wednesday to do a one-hour Hawkeye radio show. It's not just to hear myself talk, as I do enough radio shows for that. The community is the most important aspect of any website, and I intend to get out and promote HawkeyeNation.com just the way I did when I started it back in April of 2001.
That means handing out thousands of fliers and magazines, going up to total strangers and telling them what we have going on, working long and hard hours so that when you click on the home page of the website, you can see the proof. That means approaching every single person I see in Walmart's or grocery stores that has on any Iowa gear and striking up a conversation. That means investing a lot of my personal resources to make certain that this venture can be as good as what you have all come to expect from HawkeyeNation.com, and then beat those expectations.
Thanks to God, he has given me the energy that I need to work the hours that I keep, he has surrounded me with the most talented and experienced staff that focuses on Iowa athletics that exists in the world today and he has given me a great opportunity to hit the ground running again.
I will have more to say on this matter on the message boards.
Some of you may be checking this item out to see if I am going to blast away at how things went down on May 21st.
If that is your sole reason for reading this, I am sorry to disappoint you, as I am not going to do that.
I have learned a lot of things this summer; about myself, about other people and about business.
Business can be cold, hard and unforgiving. A business decision that works against you can make sense while at the same time be void of compassion.
But in the end, it is what it is.
However, I told you that once I could, I would tell you exactly what happened to get us to where we are today.
Should you want to know the entire truth on the matter, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you the accounts of the matter.
But I am not going to talk about it on the message boards, as most of you really don't care about contracts and such, you just care about the Hawkeyes, as it should be.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of this, and it is great to be back! To those of you that have supported me over the years, I sincerely appreciate that. To those of you who are ‘first timers' to the brand name HawkeyeNation.com, welcome!