One of the interesting things around Vox’s wide sports cuts at SB Nation last year (they attributed those to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that logic doesn’t really hold up) is how many of the impacted people have wound up with prominent roles elsewhere in sports media. For example, Spencer Hall, Jason Kirk, Richard Johnson and Alex Kirshner started a Moon Crew newsletter and Discord server and wrote a book, and Hall and Johnson wound up as ESPN/SEC Network contributors. Many other ex-SB Nation people have found some level of media success, whether with newsletters (Matt Brown, Scott Hines, Mike Prada, Ryan Van Bibber/Sarah Hardy/Christian D’Andrea, and Paul Flannery are a few examples, but there are many more) or other media jobs (including Brendan Porath at Golf Digest and Louis Bien at Player To Be Named Later Quarterly) or freelancing (Matt Ellentuck and Natalie Weiner in particular come to mind) or work with teams (including Kim McCauley). And the latest person to add to that list is Alex McDaniel, who announced Monday night she’s joining USA Today‘s For The Win as their new managing editor:
thrilled to tell y’all i’m joining @ForTheWin next month as the site’s new managing editor and i’m celebrating by watching hot rod, per usual
— Alex McDaniel (@AlexMcDaniel) June 15, 2021
From this corner, McDaniel seems like an excellent choice for that role. She was one of the people hit by the July 2020 round of layoffs at Vox/SB Nation, and previously had been a college football writer and editor for both SB Nation and their Banner Society spinoff. Since then, she’s done some interesting stuff, including working as a video strategist for Southern Living, co-hosting Big Screen Sports: The Sports Movie Podcast, and serving as a regular on the Old West Call of Cthulhu podcast Ain’t Slayed Nobody (which, yes, please, give us more content involving college football media members and role-playing games). And her SB Nation writing and editing showed her as an insightful sports voice, and one of the people who helped make that corner of the college football internet truly special for a while. (And also, there are far too few women in key editing roles in sports media, so it’s nice to see that change a little bit.)
None of this is to say that the SB Nation cuts have all worked out fine. Those impacted a ton of people, not all of whom have been able to continue in sports. And even those who have found new things now likely had to scrabble following that decision, and that decision was not carried out in a way that provided good exits for many. (And it’s notable that since then, the main SB Nation news has been about appointing new executives, not bringing in talented writers.) But the pick of McDaniel to lead FTW does appear to be the latest indication in a long line of those that SB Nation and parent company Vox didn’t realize the incredible sports talent they had in their sports staffers, and that their short-sighted decision to slash sports as a revenue area “where short-term demand will be lower” has cost them a lot of top people. There are a lot of ex-SB Nation people now doing good things elsewhere, and that’s good for the internet as a whole, but not as good for Vox.