Ever wonder where a lot of “journalists” today get the inside scoop or the early hint something big is going down on major stories, particularly in the sports world? It’s no longer a guarantee that it’s from the trusted person you may know by their birth name. It’s likely not even the public information source who occasionally funnels journalists information in exchange for good publicity.
Nope, it has zero to do with some of the old exchanges made in the traditional journalistic way. Today if you want to find something, you often hit up folks whose names are hidden behind an alias, an avatar and often times, amongst a whole lot of nonsense.
Yet, if you know where to look and who to trust, you may just have known that Pitt and Syracuse were being wooed by the ACC almost a calendar year before the move was announced in the mainstream media. You may have known that Alabama and then Michigan were legitimately courting Rich Rodriguez and that current Florida State coach and Harrison County native Jimbo Fisher was actually offered a deal to become West Virginia University’s football coach. You would have known days, if not a week, earlier than anyone else that this guy named Dana Holgorsen was in the mix for the WVU job. Heck, when you get right down it, the deal that landed WVU in the Big 12 Conference was stagnant in the mainstream media but as fluid as a professional wrestler on baby aspirin with a razor blade (Google it) in the place I’m about to talk about.
You want the dirt when it’s still gravel? If so, you’ll want to hear from the GreatOnefromMatewan, Eerhole, Mexman, TheBigSkinny, BigCatsCooler, WVHuggs, WVUWeaponX, Pizzathehut and any other list of distinguished folks who make up the world of the message board forums. Chances are good if there’s something brewing, someone on a message forum is not only talking, but spewing the truth.
The problem? For every bit of legitimate information, there’s dozens – and in cases such as the Rich Rod saga or the Big East dilemma – and sometimes hundreds of random posts with no information, rehashing of old information or simply those having fun posting misinformation. The thing that’s important is being patient, knowing who to trust and understanding that even those who are sometimes wrong in the end post correct inside information at the time it’s posted.
For purposes of this discussion, I’ll limit talk to a WVU sports forum on the Bluegoldnews.com site. Without question, there is no bigger message forum in the state for WVU sports than this site. Every single name listed above is the screen name (and if I’ve spelled anyone’s name wrong, I know the wrath of God will soon be spilled at my feet) of a poster on that site. And if you opt to head onto the site and get involved with those individuals or the thousands of others who have a presence, have thick skin, good posts and the ability to create a rapport with the crowd.
During the height of the recent Big East/Big 12 switch, thousands of individuals were on line at the same time looking for anything. If something got tweeted, it was posted. If something appeared on a video, someone posted. If John Marinatto was spotted at Subway, it was mentioned. It’s that serious. Hell, if you don’t believe me, consider this: You have people that actually track airplane flights on the site and if you think the information on those flights isn’t spot on, realize those with this particular skill set posted the times of the departure and arrival of multiple flights involving Rich Rodriguez.
Crazy? Not really. It’s a by-product of the information age. In the world of getting the word out first, there are more folks than ever wanting to break the inside scoop on a story that is sitting in a position of authority. In year’s past, that had to be an anonymous phone call to someone at the local newspaper or television station. With that call was the chance that someone in the readership or viewership would know that the reporter had a cozy relationship with someone in the athletic department and suspicion would immediately follow as to where the leak came from.
Today, you put the WVU Board of Governors in a room and all it takes is one of them to tell a friend who tells a friend that posts on the Bluegoldnews.com and it’s not only out there for the whole world to see, it’s fact or at least the fact a few times removed. Even better, I’m not so certain some of those posting aren’t just getting information from the folks in the know, but are in fact THE folks in the know.
That doesn’t mean that stuff still doesn't get broke in regular news cycles in the mainstream media. It still happens, and it happens often. But when it comes to recruits, issues involving the behind-the-scenes negotiations and the other intangibles that form the basis of college athletics, the folks with the knowledge or connections to those with said knowledge are on these boards.
If you don’t think the regular media is prowling these boards you’re kidding yourself. And if they’re not, then shame on them. I can assure you in my last media gig dozens of stories on the high school level – such as the release of North-South rosters to changes in classification – all had their genesis by reading it on the high school section of message boards. Plenty of times there were links to the information, such as the reclassification figures, that were out there but never sent to media outlets. Again, it’s all part of the wacky world of today’s information age.
And I’m going to come clean here. I post. Not to the point of absurdity, but I have a screen name and an avatar. And let me assure the few folks that know my name, if you try to pull back the mask from this Zorro, I simply won’t approve the comment. I’ve got a message board reputation to uphold. Those who post know how important that is.