Another Alliance Publisher Defects to TheInsiders

Top High School Guru in Talent-Rich Florida to Bolster the Dominance of TheInsiders.com's Jamie Newberg in Southeast Football Recruiting

SEATTLE - North Miami (Fla.) Senior High School claims two illustrious pitching alums. One, named Steve Carlton, is in the Hall of Fame. The other, Larry Blustein, compiled a 27-3 record, topping the school standard once held by Carlton.

High school, in other words, was an extremely pleasant experience for Blustein. So he tries - very hard - to make it such for youngsters today.

"I've always loved high school sports," said Blustein, publisher of FlordiaKids.net, the largest and most prominent Web site covering Florida high school sports. "I put my heart and soul into this stuff."

As Jamie Newberg, TheInsiders.com's nationally renowned recruiting expert, puts it, "Nobody covers high school sports in the Sunshine State better than Larry Blustein, especially football."

So searching for the perfect home for his labor of love, Blustein is moving to TheInsiders.com, lured, he says, by the three new revenue models for high school publishers and the network's recent partnership with Internet giant Yahoo! Blustein joins Tim O'Halloran, publisher of popular EdgyTim.com, a site covering Illinois prep sports, in making the jump from Alliance Sports.

O'Halloran, who announced his switch earlier this month, said Blustein's addition significantly bolsters TheInsiders.com high school coverage. "Larry is one of the hardest working guys I know," O'Halloran said. "That's what makes him successful. He is undying in what he does. He's a great addition to the network."

As Jamie Newberg, TheInsiders.com's nationally renowned recruiting expert, puts it, "Nobody covers high school sports in the Sunshine State better than Larry Blustein, especially football."

Blustein and O'Halloran join forces with CalHiSports.com, which covers talent-rich California, and GAVSV.com, the largest high school site on the Web, whose Jack Keith was among the original TheInsiders.com publishers. "I certainly welcome Florida Kids; it's right close to home for me," Keith said. "I look forward to a robust high school network with Larry and Edgy Tim. This is a great start."

For Blustein this move is a circle back to TheInsiders.com CEO Jim Heckman, with whom he teamed at the original Rivals.com.

"I remember being in Seattle for a convention of high school publishers, and something Jim said really sticks in my mind," Blustein said. "He said we were as important as anybody in the company. It made us feel like we weren't just cattle. It really came through that Jim cared about the people he had in his company. That's important."

O'Halloran says the new high school revenue streams and Yahoo! deal are examples of the lengths to which TheInsiders.com will go to make its publishers successful. "It is just proof positive that TheInsiders.com goes all out to do things to benefit publishers that other networks don't even consider,'' he said. "From a business standpoint, Heckman and TheInsiders.com have a vision that benefits publishers in the long run."

Heckman said TheInsiders.com's new High School venture "offers publishers like Larry Blustein an unusual business opportunity previously unavailable. We're going to offer this program to a select few, but Larry is certainly at the top of our list. Florida and California has more football talent than any other state in the country. With Larry and CalHiSports, we now have the top two sources for each. Larry's a total gentleman and we're lucky to have him part of our growing family. He's respected by everybody."

Blustein has covered sports, particularly high school sports, in Florida for 28 years. He has published Florida Kids magazine for 17 years and operated his Web site for four. Such is his passion for high school sports, Blustein says he sees an average of three or four games and speaks to 200-300 athletes a week.

Such a workload is not daunting, Blustein says. After all, in his first relief appearance for the University of Nevada Las Vegas, he faced Arizona State, whose first three batters were Bob Horner, Hubie Brooks and Alvin Davis, who all eventually went on to fruitful major league careers. Then, after a childhood of rooting for the University of Southern California, Blustein earned his first collegiate victory against the Trojans.

"Things worked out," Blustein said.

That continues to be the case.

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