The editors of one of SB Nation’s longest-running and most prominent college sites, Iowa Hawkeyes blog Black Heart Gold Pants, have departed to start an independent site called Go Iowa Awesome. Patrick Vint posted about the move in a farewell post at BHGP last week, and then put up a welcome to the new site Sunday night. In addition to editor-in-chief Vint, the new masthead includes other prominent BHGP writers like Adam Jacobi and Ross W.B., with Mike Jones as football manager and Matthew Lundeen as basketball manager. Here’s what Vint wrote in the departure post about why they were making the change:
Back in 2006, there was no real Iowa blogosphere. There were the recruiting sites and message boards, to be sure, but anyone looking for a proper Iowa football or basketball blog were left lacking. I started a Blogspot site in September 2006. Jacobi started an Iowa basketball Blogspot site in February 2007. I don’t think either one of us knew the other existed. It took the departure of Steve Alford to put us in each other’s orbit, and a bit of work from editor emeritus Jebus H. Christ to put everyone together, but The Hawkeye Compulsion was born on August 1, 2007.
Six weeks (and one Iowa football credit-card-slash-hat-purchase scandal) later, SB Nation came calling. They wouldn’t allow us to use a team name or mascot in our name, which killed the then-current moniker. Jebus provided the developers with Black Heart Gold Pants as a placeholder, fully expecting we would pick a different name later. We never agreed on anything else, and eventually that was just the name of the site. It lasted for nine years, in which we added eight other contributors, posted 7,529 articles of varying quality, and registered 7,851 commenter accounts. We had a party for a deity that we created and got a not-insubstantial number of people to attend. We launched a podcast based almost exclusively on parody songs. I’m fairly certain we’re the longest-standing editorial staff of any SB Nation college site.
After a not-inconsiderable amount of discussion, we have decided it’s time for another change. On August 1, the BHGP staff will no longer be the BHGP staff. We’re going to hand off the SB Nation Iowa site to someone else and start a new site. It won’t be Black Heart Gold Pants. It will be us, as it’s always been. We’re still working out details, but we’ll release everything on Twitter/Facebook/etc. in the next week or so. We’re expecting to be up and running on August 1, with more than enough time to get you ready for football season. We hope you join us.
The welcome post emphasizes that the content will still largely be the same and will be free for readers (except for “one small barrier in the new forums”), and mentions that this is now on the platform used by Ohio State site Eleven Warriors and that they are “joined by some of our best blogfriends at the all-new Roar Lions Roar,” a new Penn State site with some people who had worked for SB Nation’s Black Shoe Diaries.
This will be an interesting move to watch; while much of the actual content at both BHGP and GIA is mostly relevant to Iowa fans (although these writers have frequently produced stuff that’s valuable to a wide range of readers), it’s certainly notable to see the team behind one of SB Nation’s most prominent college blogs set out on their own. Being part of a network like SB Nation obviously has some benefits in terms of affiliation and audience gained through that network, but it also does push blogs into more of a uniform pattern and carries some restrictions on how they act (both editorially and in terms of ad sales and partnerships). The BHGP staff appears to have decided more could be gained by setting up shop elsewhere.
For much of the last decade, the movement in the blogging community has been from independent sites towards network affiliations, whether with SB Nation or competitors like Fansided. Those network affiliations haven’t always worked out, though. We’ll see if the BHGP move is part of a trend the other way, or if it’s just a unique situation given these prominent guys and the audience they’ve built.
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