Around this time last year, I got the chance to introduce myself to you all. Now, it’s time to say goodbye.
In the weeks following West Virginia’s win in the Cactus Bowl, you may have noticed that we haven’t been providing the same level of coverage that we normally do. We didn’t post anything on the staff changes, highlighted by Joe Wickline coming on as the offensive coordinator, nor was there anything on Wendell Smallwood’s decision to enter the NFL Draft.
There was a reason for this. Sometime late last year, the Post-Gazette decided that we would no longer cover West Virginia football as a beat following the bowl game.
Economic realities have forced every newspaper in America to evaluate where it invests its resources, and the Post-Gazette is a different newspaper today than it was when we decided to cover West Virginia full time several years ago.
My editors informed me that the Post-Gazette would no longer be able to cover West Virginia as a full-time beat. It was a difficult decision for the paper, but it ultimately was an unavoidable one.
I only got to cover the team for one season, but it was an exciting and rewarding opportunity. Dealing with limited space and days for stories was difficult, but it gave me the chance to venture away from some of the more tedious, everyday pieces to look at larger issues and topics. Reporting and writing the oral history of West Virginia’s 2005 win against Louisville, marking the birth of the Pat White era, is perhaps the most fun I’ve had on this job. It’s a great beat with a lot of great people who will continue to churn out some great work, just as everyone at the Post-Gazette before me did, from Stephen Nesbitt to Jenn Menendez to Colin Dunlap to Chuck Finder and so on.
And though we only got a year to know each other, I wanted to thank any West Virginia fan who ever read one of my stories, emailed me, chatted with me on Twitter or said ‘Hi’ to me at a game. You all are a passionate, devoted and, I would argue, misunderstood fan base, at least based on my brief experience. I doubt many of you all will continue to follow me on Twitter, but if you ever have a question about the Mountaineers or if you just want to vent, I’m always happy to talk via email.
This isn’t a permanent disassociation – we’ll still do the occasional enterprise story or feature on a local product, and we’ll still have AP stories on West Virginia both in print and online – but compared to how it has been in the past, it’s a pretty clean break.
Thanks to anyone who has followed along with our coverage over all of these years. It truly means a lot.