All Good Things…

It’s so easy to be a Navy football fan today. Every game is on television, and the internet allows us to follow the program from all corners of the globe. The days of dialing into Teamline to listen to the radio broadcast over the phone are long gone, and coverage only increased as Navy started winning again in 2003.

It was boom times for the program back when I started this blog nine (!) years ago. Yet even though there was more access than ever to Navy football, I didn’t feel like people were any smarter about it. You know the feeling… Navy’s got a big game coming up. You tune into TV to see what the supposed experts have to say about it. Then you’re treated to a buffet of platitudes. Navy’s a plucky bunch of overachievers that will never quit, you see. They’ll play all four quarters. And that offense, it’s tricky, but I just don’t think they have the athletes to beat the defense’s speed.

At some point, you realize that you’re hearing the same things over and over again.

And that was my problem. The program was treated as a novelty. The offense was viewed as a gimmick. Nobody took either seriously. I remember Sonny Lubick, at halftime of the 2005 Poinsettia Bowl, saying that he was caught off guard by Navy’s speed. The comment caused Chris Fowler to remark, “If you’re impressed by service academy speed, then your team must have some thick ankles.” Reggie Campbell was running fast enough to travel back in time in that game, but not fast enough to escape the clichés. There was no shortage of news, but analysis and educated discussion that treated Navy with respect as a football program was in short supply.

That’s really all I had in mind when I started: to write the kind of stuff that I wanted to read.

By that measure, I’d say that The Birddog Blog has been a success, not that entertaining myself is the highest standard to meet. I think it’s accomplished a little more than just that, too. This has become a great community of die-hard Navy fans, and there has been more than one occasion when your comments were better than what I wrote in the post. Other outlets might have a bigger audience, but I doubt they have a better one. I’d never be able to prove it, but I firmly believe that some of the discussions we’ve had here have even had a small effect on how Navy is covered by more mainstream outlets, particularly with regard to the option offense. This blog has been a great learning tool for me, and a pretty significant part of my life.

That’s why it’s difficult for me to announce that this will be my last post here.

OK, so that’s a bit misleading. Yes, this is my last post here, but this doesn’t mean you guys will be rid of me. I’m turning out the lights on this site and moving to a new building. Today, I am launching The Mid Report, the new Navy site on the Rivals network.

This was a difficult decision for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the time commitment it takes to run a Rivals site. Here, I just write a couple thousand words whenever I have something to say, but with Rivals, I’ll have to churn out a lot more on a regular basis. That’s going to be a challenge, but it will also make me a better writer. It’s a tremendous opportunity.

Still, it’s not a change I’m entirely comfortable making. As with all Rivals sites, there will be a subscription component to it, and I feel like it’s arrogant to think that anyone would pay to read what I write. Maybe nobody will, although apparently someone seems to think that it’s worth the risk. I’ve gone back and forth on whether I agreed ever since I was first presented with the possibility a little more than a year ago. Ultimately, I do, for a few reasons.

I’ve been approached with offers to write for other sites in the past, but Rivals is the first one I’ve felt comfortable with. With Rivals, the site is mine. I keep editorial control. I get to choose who contributes. I get to choose what I write about. I can essentially keep writing the things you’re used to seeing from The Birddog Blog, but with access to more resources that will allow me to provide even more content. There will be growing pains as I figure out the best way to utilize those resources, but over time they will make it possible to fulfill my vision for a hub of intelligent Navy discussion.

Besides, if I don’t do it, someone else will. Navy is coming off of its best football season in decades. They’ve joined a conference, which adds a whole new group of people who will want to follow the team. There is more interest in Navy football now than there has been in my lifetime, yet coverage of the program hasn’t grown along with it. With consolidation of different media outlets and newspaper budgets being slashed, the opposite is true. There is more demand for Navy coverage than is currently being met. Someone is going to fill that vacuum, and the way I see it, it’s better if it’s me. Otherwise, the moment that some other person writes something I disagree with, it’ll be my own fault for not seizing the opportunity when I had the chance.

In a small way, I think it will be good for the program. It’s one thing for me to pontificate from my little soapbox here, but it’s a whole different ballgame to do so as part of an established national network. Rivals gives me the chance to bring a Navy point of view– whether it’s with recruiting, conference realignment, or any other trending topic– to a much larger audience. The more people who understand Navy, the better. I also think it helps with overall perception; it simply looks good to have a presence on Rivals. Sometimes news will be good, sometimes news will be bad, but honest coverage leads to greater understanding and will be beneficial for everyone in the long run. Sure, it’s only a small impact, but it’s the impact I’m in a position to make.

So that’s that. Before I close up shop, though, I need to thank a few people who helped me out here and made this opportunity possible. (I’m not sure who wants to remain anonymous so I’ll keep it vague. You can out yourselves in the comments if you want!)

I am exceedingly grateful for the trust placed in me by several people at the Naval Academy, particularly the Sports Information staff. The fact that I was already credentialed made me an easy choice for Rivals once they decided the time was right to launch a Navy site. I also am thankful for members of the media that have treated me as a colleague and not some random internet dweeb. Both groups have extended me every courtesy even though I deserved none of it.

Finally, so many readers have pitched in behind the scenes to make my life easier. I’ve received countless notes of appreciation. When my DVD recorder broke, another one appeared on my doorstep a week later thanks to a reader that didn’t use his. When family duties required my attention, some of you even wrote blog posts to cover for me. When I wanted to design a logo for the blog, another reader actually paid for a graphic designer. Two blog readers with businesses even made Birddog-themed items for me. A few readers found recordings of old Navy games and were kind enough to send them to me. I have been the recipient of many beers and dinners. Some of you have acted as my proxies at the Sale of the Century. I know that whenever I go to Annapolis, I’ll have a place to stay and a tailgate waiting for me. I’m grateful for everything.

This is all sounding way more melodramatic than I wanted. The bottom line is that I think this is a good thing. I’m excited about the opportunity. Thank you all for reading this blog, and I hope you will join me at The Mid Report.

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56 Responses

  1. Also, if you’re so inclined, there’s a free trial:

    https://n.rivals.com/users/sign_up/175?promo_code=GoNavy30

  2. Congratulation are in order even though I may have to spend a little money. Your efforts have made this “Blue and Gold” fan’s life more enjoyable. Thank you, wboj

  3. What about Haiku?
    DotBone-san needs an outlet
    Section in (Mid) Report?

    Heading over there anon!

  4. I love the Birddog! Tell the new rivals site will be every bit as good or better, and I’ll sign up!
    Charlie ’74

    • I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think so!

  5. Thanks for all the posts – i’m certainly a more educated Navy Football fan for having been a faithful reader of this blog. Looking forward to moving over to the new home on Rivals!

  6. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll subscribe…As long as there is still a Haiku and your good sense and sense of humor.

    It won’t have the same ring as standing around the watercooler (Not kidding, we talk about you at work) as asking if they’ve seen the Birddog. Can you at least fold the moniker in there somewhere?

    Good luck, Mike. I’ll log on.

  7. Over on Rivals, when you go to: Teams/Colleges/AAC – there is no “Navy” listed. I got the email, but it is not clear how to get to and follow the Navy – Mid site. I can send you a screen shot if this is now clear. See my email in my profile. Good Luck

    • The site hasn’t officially launched yet. I’m giving you guys the first notice. The link in the post will take you to the site

  8. I have looked forward to reading your articles each week during the football season. Never posted, but thanks for all of your work on the Birddog. I’ve already signed up for the Mid Report and looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks Mike!

  9. Will DDTurboG post at the rivals site?

    • If you claim the username!

  10. Congratulations. Keep up the great work. Beat Army.

  11. Mike you’ve done a phenomenal job with this blog. Many times I’ve read it and thought, “Jeez this guy’s really knocking himself out, and for free.” I started to feel a bit guilty to be honest. With the amount of work you’ve put in and will continue to put in, you totally deserve to get something in return. I’ll gladly sign up, and hope many others do too. Cheers

  12. Before anyone asks, yes, there will be a message board. It’s being set up, but I didn’t want to wait to tell you guys.

  13. Thanks a ton, Mike. I can’t wait for the new site to go live. You earned this opportunity, and I am looking forward to more of your insight.

  14. Mike- VERY excited for you! I look forward to getting my Bird Dog fix somewhere else. Like others have said, I feel like I know more about Navy football, and by extension, I feel closer to the team and even the Institution as a result. I share you knowledge with my boys, and it has allowed us to enjoy Navy football even more — and I didn’t think that was possible!!

    I hope most of the gang comes over to the new place, and we get to enjoy all that we have thus far. You Rock Mike, and best of luck with the new venture!!

  15. Thanks Mike and best of luck in this and every future endeavor!

  16. Mike,
    Wow! Didn’t expect this. I remember you were thinking of cutting back with the girls on traveling teams but you seemed to work thru that. This sounds like a great opportunity for you and a BIG win for Rivals.
    Thanks for all you have done for us Monday morning quarterbacks.
    See you on the other side.
    Harry

  17. BZ Mike!
    On to the next level! I’ll be there.

  18. Mike thank you so much for the birddog blog and all the great reads that have educated me on our beloved Navy football program. Looking forward to the rivals site…Go Navy!

  19. Mike-
    Already subscribed premium for a year. Loved your Fordham write-up, happy about the O line comments since I was not sure how to judge re: Fordham defense. Good luck with the new gig, and I’m happy to help you in any way. I have gotten so much enjoyment out of bird dog I feel like I owe you!
    Charlie ’74

  20. Mike, we have never met nor have we tailgated together. However, I love Navy football and the Birddog has meant the world to me. You own the post game haiku. If you do not wish to see it die, I will continue your good work. If this baby is still yours or dies with the Birddog, God bless its memory. With your approval, I will set up a blog for post game haiku only.

    • Guys there’s gonna be a message board. Let’s just haiku there!

    • I’m in. I am a subscriber.

  21. Mike,
    Congrats! Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into The Birddog. When I mentioned your site, I knew I was talking to a true Navy fan if they were already following it. I am happy for you. You are a very talented writer, and the Rivals site is fortunate to get you. I am just glad to hear that you will be still be writing about Navy. All the best in this new endeavor.

    Regards,
    bosch ’91

  22. Mike, best of luck in your new journey…

  23. Your writing is worth reading wherever you go.

  24. Mike,

    When I discovered this blog, I was looking for something to (1) keep me more in tune with the goings on of Navy football, (2) understand what the hell kind of scheme was helping us win after so many years, and (3) help me procrastinate at work. My mission was accomplished. Thank you for following your heart and making me look and sound a lot smarter about football than I actually am. Will be subscribing to your new writing forum as soon as it’s out – keep us posted!

    Thank you!

  25. Congrats, Mike. I have no problem paying for something that should never have been free in the first place :)

    One question, will we still have access in some way to all of your old content from this site? You have some great triple option instructional posts that I reference from time to time to better understand the basics of offense and defense with the option. It’d be a shame to see those go away. Maybe you could Archive it on the new site if you can’t leave this one up?

    • That’s a good question. I’ll definitely be reusing a lot of the videos since I have a pretty big library now and it’d be dumb for it to go to waste. I’ll look into the best way to handle it.

  26. Mike:
    Your blog has been a joy for a Old Fart Alumni to read during football season especially but at all other times as well. Your insight and analysis have helped this non-football player understand the nuances of what Coach Ken and his guys do every weekend. Also just how danged hard it is to do what they do so well. Thanks much for your hard work over the years and good luck in the future.
    Fair winds…

  27. Mike….I have been a fan of yours since I met you at the first Poinsettia Bowl. Thanks for all you have done for fans of Navy football. I’m in! Best of luck. I know you will be a great addition to Rivals. Tahoemac/Jim McConnell ’60

    • Thanks! We go back even further, actually. I think the first time we met was in the Superdome.

  28. Mike, Congratulations on this new opportunity. Count me in on following you to Rivals.

  29. Mike….Good for you. We have schlepped off your talents far too long. I will be delighted to pay.I always marveled at the effort you put in to this work of love. I never felt like I understood what happened in a game until I clicked on to this website and read your analysis. Your X’s and O’s were always enlightening , but, more than that, I knew that you understood what “NAVY” means to your readers. So, Bard of Navy Football, I will follow you on the new website. You have the Right Stuff and many thanks with sharing it with us.

  30. You guys really are the best.

  31. Mike…….Break a leg!

  32. Thank you Mike. Actions speak louder than words so I just paid my $99.95 for the year to continue reading your insights, and to share your love of Navy and Navy Football. I consider it a thank you after the fact for much hard work on your part, thoroughly loved by me for many years. Good luck! Crush particularly air force!

  33. I have loved your blog from the first day I read, looking forward to bigger and better things!

  34. BZ Mike! Like the rest of the Navy fan-base, I visited regularly to gain insight and understanding of the intricacies of our offense. Time and tide wait for no one….and carry on sir!

  35. Mike, I’ve already followed you to Rivals.com and couldn’t be more tickled to do so!

  36. Mike,

    My first thought on reading your news and going to the Rivals sign-up page was, “Yikes!” (Both because of the news and the subscription price.) I don’t think of myself of a hard-core sports fan–I don’t even subscribe to SI or Sporting News (that is still a thing, right?). Could I justify $100/year? That’s more than triple the cost of my next-most-expensive subscription.

    Then I started thinking about all the pleasure I’ve gotten from The Birddog over the past 8(?) years, and how much it has improved my experience of watching Navy football as more and more games were broadcast (and kept me grounded in reality when games didn’t always turn out like I’d hoped). Then I recollected some of the deep-end-of-the-pool discussions we’ve had in the blog comments and the fun of the haiku “competitions” (yes, even the comments of the haiku police). Apart from my local Alumni Association chapter (where I have Birddog-generated discussions before chapter lunches), The Birddog is probably what’s kept me closest to the Boat School in recent years.

    It’s hard to put a price on that.

    Thanks for making The Birddog such a quality experience–both a learning experience and a USNA community experience. No other sports-related outlet that I’ve visited since the Internet came into existence holds a candle to what you’ve built here.

    bethel95 ’78
    (What? Did you really think I was class of ’95?)

    • NICE…..
      Best of luck with Rivals Mike….. can’t wait to check out your new site. Your pre-game and post game breakdowns are the BEST.

      BEAT UCONN and all the rest….

      My heart skipped a beat
      When you said this was last post
      Rivals made my day

    • OK we need to get some thumbs up for the haiku over here.

    • And bethel I absolutely thought you were ’95 lol

  37. Mike–
    Any way I can meet you at Notre dame game in Jacksonville? Are you playing in golf tournament?
    Charlie ’74

  38. Mike,
    I am glad you decided to go BIG instead of going home. Thanks for sharing your insights and creating this community for us die-hard fans. We all probably owe you a lifetime subscription just for the haiku therapy. Best wishes for your new venture. If ever in Charleston, there will be a beer with your name on it.
    Mack ’90

  39. Congrats. Always enjoyed your insight. Wish you all the best.

  40. Also, don’t let the subscription scare you. If you’re hesitant to commit, there will be free content and a free message board too. At least come for the haiku!

  41. Congrats Mike! I’ll be on the new site as soon as I finish writing this. One thing you should be very proud of is how rival blogs (no pun intended) always reference your blog when the unknowing ask questions on the Navy option! You are THE source!

  42. https://navy.forums.rivals.com/threads/postgame-haiku-vol-102.13/#post-35

    There’s still Haiku!

  43. UConn Huskies are
    Runt of AAC litter
    We say “Fear the Goat!”

  44. Mike, I was happy to follow you to the paid service at Rivals.com…your analysis is definitely worth it. However, I am having difficulty cancelling my subscription now that the season is pretty much over…the Rivals site suggests two methods for cancelling, a 1-866 number and a link to an online Help form. The number says that it is no longer used by Rivals, and the link does not work. I now feel a bit duped by Rivals. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • The only idea I had was to put in a fake VISA number. Now at least when they try to charge the card it won’t go through. But it would have been nice if I could actually contact the company.

    • Hey CJ– I asked for clarification and got this:

      (Contact Hours – Monday through Friday – 8 AM to 5 PM CST)

      Link: https://io.help.yahoo.com/contact/index?page=contact&locale=en_US&y=PROD_SPORTS_RIVAL#

      Select “Billing” under 1. Topics

      Then choose the appropriate category under 2. Sub-Topics (Select appropriate category)

      Then hit “Chat”

      On the next page, fill out the necessary fields, including the security code.

      (Make sure you don’t have a pop-up blocker on)

      You should then see a pop-up chat window (or be given one more link to launch the window).
      ===========

      Let me know if that works for you… I’m more likely to see it though if you email me (thebirddog99@gmail.com) or if you use the contact form at the top of the page.

      Hope to see you back next year!

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