So You Want to Be A Sportswriter? A Week Behind the Scenes at The Lion Wire

Greetings, Lion fans, and welcome to the football off season, but the beginning of the men’s and women’s basketball season. Brian will have more of that on the Morning Wire tomorrow, but there are some very exciting things going on inside the Field House. Jason Burton has the women undefeated and ranked #7 in the country right now, and they scored 104 points in their latest win. Jaret Von Rosenberg directed the men to a buzzer beater win over D1 UT-San Antonio earlier, and has a very athletic and exciting club that is very capable of making noise come March.

Recruiting is the next big item on the football agenda, and there are so many questions and happenings concerning recruiting and the move to Division I FCS. There are many stories circulating about transfers and roster changes that Brian and I are currently working to find the facts on. We have contacted and received some answers and clarification from AD Tim McMurray, and are currently effort Ing an interview with head coach David Bailiff in order to sort through all the rumors and stories, and present the facts as they are. In short, fans, take what stories you may hear with a large grain of salt. Changes are sure to come, and some may or may not be pleasant. Change never is. From our perspective here at The Wire, we fully support and embrace these changes, and will do our best to give you the facts going forward. It’s a whole new world coming in 2022, one that while being filled with uncertainty, is also filled with opportunity and promise.

Brian and I have been discussing this for a while, and what follows is a typical football game week for us. There is some background needed here. This is all volunteer. Neither of us are paid, have no sponsors or advertising, just a love and interest in the athletic program and the successes or failures of the various sports. Neither of us have a degree in journalisim or web design, we just have a very good knowledge of sports, especially football and basketball, and we work harder than anybody else. When I say work harder than anybody else, it’s not boasting. It’s a fact. If you read this, you’ll see why.

SUNDAY- After somewhat of a later start to the morning(I live in northwest Houston, so on home game weekends, it’s a 4 hour road trip each way for me, and 95% of the time, it’s a day trip). Brian is writing the Five Post Game Thoughts, and we’re usually on the phone discussing the Game Balls awarded for the previous contest. Sometimes, I’ll write the Game Balls column, sometimes Brian does. Then, in between the Cowboys and Texans games(yes, I’m a fan of both, but that’s about it for the NFL), I’m poring over the statistics from the next week’s opponent. Let’s say it’s Midwestern. I go to their website, and note team offensive and defensive numbers. rushing, passing, and receiving leaders, and special teams stats for kickers and punters. Then defensively, leaders in tackles, sacks, interceptions, and special teams returns. I write these all down on legal pads that now are occupying most of one file cabinet. I then go to the box score of the last game, say Midwestern played, and get a starting lineup on both sides of the ball. We have no inside sources at any of these schools. so what we gather is entirely from their websites. I get an average size of the offensive and defensive lines and linebackers, then backs and receivers on offense, and the defensive secondary. Sometimes, there’s an advantage to be gained here. Also, little things like, Do the returners have a big average or touchdowns? Is there a sack leader that sticks out? Have they had trouble protecting the kicker or punter? Does the quarterback throw a lot of interceptions, or does the offense turn it over a lot? Then, if I’m lucky, there’s some game highlight videos on YouTube that I can get a look at. Then, back on the phone with Brian to relay anything I noticed about a tendency or a particular talent that may help the Lions, or cause concern. as well to let him know if there’s video, so can we be sure we’re seeing the same thing.

MONDAY-Brian has the Morning Wire out early, usually before 8AM. We both work regular full time jobs, so at some point late Monday evening. I’ll begin to work on the offensive preview, The Pre Snap Read. I take the information that I’ve gathered on Sunday, and weave a column around it. I’ll leave it saved for Brian to proofread (I’m not greatest at that), and Brian can edit and add whatever thoughts he might have More phone calls and discussions over what’s written and what our thoughts are.

TUESDAY-The Pre Snap Read is published, again usually before 8AM, and it’s another work day. Then, it’s scouring the message boards like d2football.com, and such. Also, and this began in 2017 with the aerial circus on offense led by Luis Perez, or the incredible defensive effort in 2021, one of us will be sifting through team stats at the NCAA.com website, and find out where the Lions stand nationally (Example: in 2021, the Lions finished the regular season #4 in total defense), and we’ll bake that into either the Pre Snap Read, or the defensive column, the Blue Gang Notebook.

WEDNESDAY-If there are multiple sports occurring, there will be the occasional column of a big win, or outstanding performance. We do our best to keep everyone informed, but we sometimes mistakenly overlook some. If we have, we sincerely apologize. It is just the two of us. That evening, the same process repeats itself with the Blue Gang Notebook. Brian and I felt it important to keep the legend of the Blue Gang alive. What began sometime in the early 70’s with not only a talent level, but a mentality, a style. It’s important that the tradition and legends are passed on. Again, the Notebook is saved for proofread, and edited if needed.

THURSDAY-Brian takes the reins here, gathering information and tidbits for the Storylines, Preview, and Things You Need to Know column. More phone calls and exchanges of information, and if we’ve heard or read of any developments. Any information we get is subject to verificaton. We don’t print anything that we haven’t checked or verified. Any infomation we get, especially if a source associated with the school or football program, we always ask permission before using it in a column. We’ve worked very hard to build our crediblity here, and we don’t take it lightly.

FRIDAY-The Storylines column goes up, and that evening, it’s more phone calls to discuss any last minute details, and coordinating travel and meeting up details, lunch or coffee, etc. This is probably our lightest night of the week.

SATURDAY(GAME DAY)-Depending on kickoff time, I’m on the road, headed north, early. Getting through D/FW traffic around Town East Mall in Mesquite, and then down the construction(it never seems to end)on eastbound I-30 is never without issues. More phone calls to discuss various details, then it’s meeting at tailgate, chatting with the two best radio guys around in Charlie Chitwood and Brock Callaway, who are so kind to share anything they have with us, as we do with them. Charlie is always good for a story and a laugh. These guys were among our earliest supporters. Then, it’s off to pick up our media credentials, and begin the long trek upstairs to the press box, and do what we’ve actually come here to do……watch and write about the game. It continues like this until about halfway through the fourth quarter, when I’ll pack up and head to the field to watch the last few minutes from the sideline, and visit with Tim McMurray’s wife, Vicki. Then, the best part…..I get to stand near the rest of the team for the Alma Mater, and never miss Calling The Roll after a win(As a former player and friend of Coach Hawkins, I just couldn’t). Then, it’s off to the locker room to wait on Coach Bailiff for a short post game press conference, and back out to visit with a few players (if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit with young men like Alex Shillow, Jake Viquez, or Antonio Lealiiee, you should). Brian and I share a last few bits from the presser, then go our separate ways. My wife, Tiana (who has the patience of Job, and loves football, no matter how many games where I’ve tried to roast her, get her soaked with rain, or freeze her to death), waits for me, and we’re on our way back to Houston. More phone calls to discuss who’s in the Game Balls column and the Five Post Game Thoughts, then finally some peace and quiet while on the road, getting home late, only to wake up and…..start the whole process over again on Sunday.

We love it. And wouldn’t change a thing.

Roar Back Here.....

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