A REPORTER "OUTS" A MESSAGE BOARD MEMBER

Someone who I respect in the college sports community recently told me that he wasn't really fond of internet message boards. He did not elaborate on his point, but since I have the utmost respect for him, I immediately felt a little dirty for being such a fan of them, well, a fan of one in particular – the GoMids.com message board of course.

And recently, as most of you know, as a columnist/reporter I was able to break some pretty big news on GoMids.com. That's right, you heard it here first about Kevin Ross being fired. Someone even on the Army message board wanted to know if this report was anywhere in the "mainstream media" because, I assume, he did not trust the information on this web site.

These two happenings got me to thinking about my future role on GoMids.com and what a better week than post-National Signing Week to tell you all about it.

The story about my participation on GoMids.com dates back to December 28, 2005 when I became a card-carrying member of the message board here. What exactly was I thinking when I joined? I don't remember the details of that day or my first posting, but I do remember why I stumbled onto the site – I was desperate. You see, a few weeks earlier I was watching the Army Navy game with a good friend when the most important play of that contest occurred. It was when Reggie Campbell decided to do his best Superman impression by running through the entire Army defense. I remember turning to my friend to see if he realized how much of a defining moment that was in the Army Navy series. He didn't. He didn't realize in that one moment, in that one play, Navy had just demonstrated how far ahead of Army it was in terms of pure talent – and speed. I mean Reggie had another level and Army didn't. But instead of dissecting what this one play meant in the greater scheme of life, my friend wanted to talk about how I managed to not drink my allotment of beverages that were placed in front of me. That is when it hit me that I needed to find someone who I could talk to about every aspect of Navy football.

A simple Google search led me to the GoMids.com web site. When I started reading some of the posts on the message board, I felt as if I had just struck gold. There were all kinds of people, albeit some with weird names, talking about the impending doom that awaited the Colorado State Rams in the Poinsettia Bowl. And it didn't stop there. I found a bunch of folks who despised Air Force. Never mind striking gold, I was in heaven!!!

According to the web site, one of the steps I needed to accomplish before I could enter my little piece of heaven was to come up with a User ID. Well, that was easy I would just use my name. But before I hit enter to complete the on-line application, I decided to check out some of the other User IDs already in use. I was pretty sure that nobody had chosen David A. or Ausiello, but I was curious to see who else was out there. Maybe there was someone on the board whom I had come across in my travels. There was somebody named Phat Phelix; there was Gibson87; there was whereischarlie, and on and on. It seemed as though nobody really came out and used their real name as their User ID. Being new to the message board world, I did not immediately know why this was the case. However, I decided to go with the crowd, so I used my child's nickname as my User ID.

Soon thereafter something in my brain clicked and I realized that by using an unrecognizable User ID, I could pretty much say whatever the heck I wanted without any consequences. I could just go off on anybody or anything, and there would be no trail of Reece's Pieces back to my spaceship. Finally, I could put the word "Navy" and the phrase "no accountability" together in the same breath. Where the heck were message boards when I had a bone to pick at a certain job? Ah, the good old days.

Anyway, I started posting some stuff under my new alias, but I tried to not get caught up in too much of the ‘back and forth' type discussions that once in awhile found its way onto GoMids.com. I have to admit sometimes it was tough, especially during Air Force week.

Then, a few months after joining the club, a message appeared asking if there were Navy fans who would like to write articles for the web site. I immediately submitted my resume and soon thereafter I was bringing fans all kinds of news about Navy and on occasion (Army) sports.

I have to admit being able to interview Navy coaches and players has been a lot of fun because first and foremost, I considered myself a fan. And for a Navy fan to be able to spend 20 minutes talking with Coach Paul Johnson, well, that's pretty cool. However, last week part of the fan in me fell asleep when I received some good scoop about a staff change at Army. I knew this news was not being reported anywhere, so I decided not to wake up "David the fan" while immediately grabbing for my tape recorder and keyboard. I was now a reporter on the trail of an exclusive story. And as much as I LOVE yelling my head off at the television during Navy football games (much to the dismay of my wife), this was much more fun.

So after some digging, I was able to get another source (now two) to confirm to me that Kevin Ross had been fired. However, I held the story overnight as I awaited a return phone call from West Point to see if they would go on the record regarding my report. Much to my dismay, they wanted nothing to do with me – a non-accredited member of the media. I'll save those details for another day since I am hoping that Army will change its stance on me, this web site, and its media accreditation policies. I was about to run the story, when the fan in me awoke - probably because he was nervous. He wasn't sure I "had the story." He wasn't sure I should be writing about this without being 100% certain. He was, however sure, that if I got it wrong, I probably could say good-bye to any chance of being taken seriously as journalist. He was right. As much as I wanted to be the first person out there with this report, I knew I had to be sure. So after finding his listed number, I picked up the phone and called Kevin Ross. 20 minutes later, I was sure. The story ran on GoMids.com 30 minutes later. The next day, West Point issued a statement from its head coach acknowledging, in essence, the GoMids.com story.

And with that, the fan in me went back to sleep – and I'm not sure I have any plans to wake him up soon. Therefore, I have decided to "out" my User ID name. As much as I would like to be an unknown poster during Air Force week, I think it makes more sense to be open and honest and pretty much just stand behind anything I write – regardless of the forum. Will anyone care? Who knows… Will West Point call me tomorrow and extend an invitation to its next media event? Probably not…But, I'll see how it goes. I have another child due soon, so I guess I can always get back into the fray with a new nickname, but until then if you see DeliMeat on the message board, you know it came from me.

If you would like to give David feedback regarding this column or any of his previous columns or stories, send him an email at Ausiellodp@yahoo.com.


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