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Coaching Changes? Don't Ask Me...

From the reader mail. I always try to respond to every email I receive; occasionally, if it merits public discussion, I'll do so on the main page instead of directly to the questioner. I'll never publish a questioner's full name on the board.

For the record: I appreciate every single email y'all send - I can't tell you how many gracious emails I've received over the years. For a full-time gig that generates very little income, those are enormously appreciated. As always, the email inbox is open.

Hey PB - I'm relatively new to this whole blog thing and just started reading them this football season. I'm amazed at how many great bloggers there are writing about CFB. It's a great supplement to the mainstream coverage I'm used to.

I've got a question, though. How come you aren't posting updates about potential coaching changes for Mack's staff? Is it because there aren't any or you just don't know of any? I know the mgoblog guy does a lot of that. You have any scoops for us?

--Larry W.--

Thanks for the email, Larry. You touched on a lot of things, quite a few of which I wouldn't mind responding to on the main board, so here we go.

First off, just a quick word on your note about all the great blogs out there. To begin with, you're absolutely right. I'm amazed at how much interesting stuff there is to read about college football, and each year, there's more and more. It's more than one reader can keep up with, honestly. And one of the things I love about this particular blog is that the Diaries allow readers to blog within the blog. I learn as much from the readers as I do researching things myself.

Additionally, I think your'e spot on to characterize football bloggers in general as a "supplement" to what the mainstream coverage provides. While it's a substitute for most opinion columnists in mainstream publications, it is a supplement to the actual news gathering that mainstream outlets provide. Beat reports aren't glorious, but they're important. The good reporters use their employer's resources to ask hard questions, dig out facts the public should have, and conduct legitimate investigations. It's good for them, good for the public, and good for bloggers. I'm glad you mentioned it.

As for covering behind the scenes stuff? There are a couple points worth discussing here.

Most importantly, I write as a hobby. For the first two years of this blog's existence, I worked full time. This fall, I went through my first semester of law school. And reporting behind the scenes news requires a more vested time commitment to your trade. Whether you're a full time reporter at Rivals, the Statesman, or a full-time blogger like Brian at MGoBlog, it takes a lot of work to cultivate sources. That's time I don't have.

On top of that, corroborating source material is a daunting, time-consuming task of its own. When credibility is on the line - as it always is with these kinds of stories - it takes ten times as long to build up your reputation as it does to lose it.

With those two points in mind, you shouldn't be surprised to learn that it's not part of what I write about at BON. Though I talk regularly with one well-connected person in the athletic department, it's always, always off the record. If it were my full-time job to write and manage this site, I might put in some time to that side of Longhorn coverage. As is, I rather think of BON as a sports bar for the obsessed, rational Longhorn fan. The level of analysis here - from readers as much as main page content - is truly something to behold. And the discourse is always friendly and courteous; even the occasional pissing contests between intellectual heavyweights tend to end in a handshake and a promise to be more courteous next time.

And finally, I just don't have the personality or patience to lose myself in the speculative reporting side of these things. It's the same as recruiting: every year I promise myself I'm going to get involved in covering the ins and outs of which player might be going where, and every year, I lose interest even before I begin. As much fun as the speculative merry-go-round can be, I really just want to know which kids sign in February.

The coaching search reporting is different because the outcome is, in many ways, determinative on the program's health as a whole. It matters much more which coach(es) your school hires than whether one particular recruit chooses your program or another. (Generally speaking, of course. Once-a-generation players can make all the difference in the world, but it's near-impossible to predict which ones will be transformational when they're only 16.) Even though the coaching hires are more important than an individual recruit, there's another reason I'm wary of the speculative reporting: it's always wrong. Kirk Herbstreit is this offseason's most ignominious story breaker, but he's also one of many in this offseason alone. For whatever reason, football coaching hires produce a hundred more false stories than true ones. Whether that's the product of intentional dissemination campaigns, over-eager sources, or something else - I don't know. All I know is that when the hire is finally made, 19 times out of 20 it's not been scooped beforehand. I guess it makes for fun chatter, but it's not something I have the time, resources, or interest in diving into.

In any case, I wanted to lay all that out; as the site continues to grow, we have a host of new readers each month and I like laying out what we're about from time to time. I love to watch sports, talk about sports, research sports, and analyze sports. I'm not much of a reporter, nor do I have time to be.

The only thing that I know for certain is that we won't hear a peep from the Texas staff about changes (or non-changes) until after the Holiday Bowl. If there are rumors at that time, we'll discuss them.

In the meantime, I hope everyone books their trip to San Diego for the '07 finale and starts getting behind this Texas basketball team. It's going to be a damn fun year.