You may be asking yourself "Why this guy?" or "WHY ME!?" or "Why not me?" Let's fix that with a bit of introduction and a bit more housekeeping.
A confession: I was an obnoxious little bandwagon fan as a child. The things in sports I'll root for until I die are the things I fell in love with around 1995 and 1996, which explains being part of Gator Nation, an Atlanta Braves fan who cringes at being called "a member of the tribe," and a Green Bay Packers backer. I'd like to think that growing up on the Space Coast — I was born in Cape Canaveral, and Rockledge High is my alma mater — is slightly more excusable to those who subscribe to Bill Simmons' "Root for the home team!" theory and would deem me a bad fan, but, then again, I don't really begrudge anyone the roots of their fandom: I'm just passionate about their passion.
And, of course, I'm passionate about the Gators.
I remember watching Danny Wuerffel get hit during and after the echo of the whistle, and I remember sleepily watching (I was six years old, give me a break) Wuerffel carve up those same Seminoles in the best 52-20 game I've ever seen. I pretended I was Teddy Dupay and Brett Nelson on the plastic hoop in my backyard; I think Jabar Gaffney really did catch that ball against Tennessee (for a second or so, anyway); I consider Joakim Noah my favorite Gator ever, and Percy Harvin the best Gator athlete of my lifetime; I still like Chris Leak as much as I do Tim Tebow; I've been to Gators volleyball, soccer and baseball games, and I've been trying futilely to get to a lacrosse match. I remember Doug Johnson being Bad Doug Johnson, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh being the proto-Erving Walker and proto-Kenny Boynton, and Dan Werner being, er, Dan Werner. I remember Taylor Jacobs; I remember Christian Drejer.
My allegiance to the Gators played only a small role in me choosing to enroll at UF in 2007, but though I still screw up the words to "We Are the Boys from Old Florida," the "In all kinds of weather, we'll all stick together" part is one I hold dear. So, yeah, I'm a Gators fan — and, word to the wise, you're a Gators fan, not a Gator fan, signs on The Swamp about recycling be damned.
You probably don't care about my blogging bona fides, but I want you to trust me when I say this: I may be young (I turned 21 last month), but that doesn't make me dumb, and that's not going to stop me from trying to make Alligator Army the best Gators community you can find. I've been with SB Nation since last fall, and previously blogged for Sporting News' The Sporting Blog, at The Big Lead, and, in a brief, amusing series of cameos, at Deadspin. (If you remember either of the latter two, I have an Internet No-Prize for you!) And that covers a little more than half of my blogging career. So, mostly, I've been doing this for a while, and now I'm here.
Now for the fun part: the work to make Alligator Army even better.
I hope your outgoing fearless leader is going to be here as he can be, but his recap of the Orange and Blue Debut was his last bit of coverage at the helm. I'll be around as much as I can be, and my mother would believe a doctor's diagnosis of a sleep allergy for me, but I'm still just one person; armies need more than that.
If you inquired about helping out, I have those emails and will be contacting you by Friday at the latest. If you missed that call for writers and you want to write for Alligator Army: fire me an email and we'll discuss it. If you saw that call for writers and thought, "Eh, I don't want to write all the time, but...": fire me an email and we'll discuss it. If you hate mailto: links and/or me: fire me a personal email or a tweet and I promise I will read it. And if you want to rake me over the coals (or praise me, for some reason?) on Twitter, follow or mention @AlligatorArmy and we'll do it; same goes for Facebook.
I want Alligator Army to be a few things: as thorough a chronicle of how it feels to be a fan of the Florida Gators as there is; a respected source of news and analysis of Gator Nation's goings-on; a comfortable outpost in the strong and well-populated swamp that is the Gators Internet ecosystem; the single best (read: most fun) place to follow along with every John Brantley dart (or duck) and Bradley Beal swish (or clank) as they happen as passionately as Gator Nation does.
But I also want Alligator Army to be what its fantastic community wants it to be, and that's why I want you to comment, write, share, rant, challenge, complain, enlighten, email and more. You know what you want from Alligator Army, and I need to know that; I know you can contribute to this here blog, and I'd love for you to want that. You see Uncle Albert up in the corner: I want you, and I promise I, we, and Alligator Army will be enriched by your input.
The tl;dr version of all this: I like the Gators, will make sure you like Alligator Army, and want to hear what you want to see here or your ideas for pieces you can write here. Oh, and I apologize in advance for the puns. Between that and occasional ALL CAPS moments on Twitter, they're probably my best uses of Championship Mode, and since Alligator Army is forever the home of Championship Mode, I'm going to have to try them out here, aren't I?
This is Alligator Army 2.0. This is a new dawn. And the orange sun and blue sky look pretty good from here.