AJ's Weekly Musings

There comes a time in everyone's life and career when they need to make tough decisions. For me, that time has come. This will be the last piece I write for <I>Inside Carolina</I>.

For the last seven years I have covered North Carolina Tar Heels football and basketball for the web site and print magazine, but now I must move on.

I have driven and flown more than 60,000 miles and spent around 100 nights in hotel rooms covering the Tar Heels. I have written more than 2,500 web and print pieces for IC, been through two desktop PCs, four laptops, six tape recorders, ended an engagement and moved from Virginia to North Carolina.

The decision to leave IC was a difficult but necessary one. I have enjoyed being an ICer and working with fellow staffers. From David Eckoff, the owner when I came aboard, to current owner Buck Sanders, I have worked with people that care about the product they put out and the fans that read it.

I will miss people like J.B. Cissell, who has been on staff as long as I have and who has waited for me at deadline and always been there in other capacities. I always enjoyed covering basketball games with Thad Williamson, a writer and basketball mind worth anyone's time.

I thank Jim Hawkins for his great photography, wisdom and the interesting conversations traveling together last year.

I have worked closest with current editor Ben Sherman, someone with loads of potential to make it in this business. I thank Ben for waiting up for my postgame stuff from New York City to Illinois, Miami and Maryland and those extremely late nights from Durham, Atlanta, Charlottesville and Arizona.

I thank Ben for posting my "Good & Bad" reports and "Musings" well into the a.m. hours and waiting patiently for me to make deadline. Few school-oriented publications and web sites have someone with Ben's strengths running the show, and for that Carolina fans should be grateful.

But most of all I'd like to thank you, the readers. Through e-mail I have gotten to know many UNC and ACC fans over these seven years, and I can't begin to tell you what it means when someone takes time out of their day to say "thanks" and "keep up the good work." Nobody gets into this line of work for the money, especially when working at a publication like IC. I did so because I love college sports and the ACC, and wanted to communicate with ACC fans in the way that I do. To know that I am reaching people is my personal reward.

And to those UNC fans that have been critical at times, I say thank you as well. Anyone that has sent me a negative e-mail knows they not only got a reply but also a thank you. Nobody is perfect, not even sports writers (joke). And to have a sort of judge and jury waiting to give us their verdicts with everything that emanates from our fingertips is truly a unique and fortunate gift for us in this business. You have made me better, and I am forever grateful.

And for those that root for the other eight ACC schools, I thank you, too. I have received more than several e-mails from fans of each school, mostly from N.C. State and Duke. You guys made it fun and continue to in the other part of my journalistic life.

For the last five years I have lived in southeastern N.C. and worked at the Wilmington Star-News, a daily newspaper with a circulation closing in on 70,000. While also with IC, I have worked for the Star-News as a copy editor and staff writer covering the ACC for the first four years, and over the last year have covered the ACC more extensively and have written columns. I also spent three years hosting a radio show here in Wilmington, and look forward to getting back on the air soon, likely in another town.

Dedicating much of my time covering the entire ACC instead of just one school for a daily newspaper such as the Star-News and getting back into radio is something I must do. This is my dream, and I love chasing every bit of it. IC was a wonderful experience and place to learn and grow for the last seven years, but my other opportunities make this an easy time to go.

You can still catch some of my stuff at WilmingtonStar.com and stay in touch with me at Andrew.Jones@StarNewsOnline.com, or at totlsprts@aol.com.

Good bye and once again, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

- Andrew Jones

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