BC Interruption is incredibly fortunate to be celebrating 10 years as a community this week. Through the highs and lows, from national championships to winless conference seasons, BCI has been here providing news, un-asked-for hot takes, and a place for Eagle fans to discuss their favorite team.
As such, we figure it might as well be time for a lesson going through the storied history of a small alumni blog and its journey to become
a journalism powerhouse a major community for Boston College fans. It seems only right to start at the beginning with Brian, one of the founders of BCI and BC class of 2004.
Brian, “The Blogfather”
When did you start BCI?
My Boston College roommate Jeff Martyn and I started BC Interruption in December 2007, mostly as a way to take our spirited debates on Boston College athletics and college sports to the Internet. Jeff was living in South Carolina at the time while I was living in New York, but our sports discussions and attention always came back to the Heights. I think Jeff approached me about starting a blog and it seemed like a fun project to talk more about BC sports and as an escape from the daily 9-5 associated with starting a career on Wall Street. If memory serves, Eagle in Atlanta was really the only BC blogging game in town, so figured we'd throw our hat into the ring.
Really, creating the site was a way of milking everything out of the 2007 Boston College football season. That was one of those truly special years where we attended every game we could -- road trips to Blacksburg, College Park (unfortunately), and Clemson, as well as the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville and the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando -- and one you just didn't want to end.
What inspired you to start a BC sports site?
Definitely that 2007 football season. Jeff convinced me to rent a car and drive the 8 hours from New York City to Blacksburg to watch 7-0 and No. 2 ranked Boston College take on 6-1 and No. 8 ranked Virginia Tech. Honestly, for 57 minutes I was seriously questioning my life choices and wondering why the hell I agreed to drive all that way in the pouring rain to watch BC lose 10-0 (Eddie Royal was out of bounds, btw). But then Ryan hit Gunnell to make it 10-7, BC recovered the onside kick, and Ryan hits Callendar and the place goes absolutely silent. Arguably one of, if not my favorite college football game I've ever attended. We were hooked.
I ended up attending five of the remaining six games that year, including the win in Death Valley to capture the Atlantic Division -- another top 5 game -- the ACC Championship Game and the Champs Sports Bowl. We took the excitement of that season and channeled it into creating a new BC sports website.
What was the scope of BCI at the beginning? What were your goals for the site?
As you can tell by the name (or if you can't, check out the site's original logo hat tip BCMike22), the original format of the site's posts was in the mold of ESPN's PTI segments. ESPN's Pardon the Interruption was really coming into its own around 2002-2003 when we were upperclassmen at BC, and I always thought it would be fun to have a version of PTI on BC TV focused solely on Boston College sports. I never really rolled with that idea while at BC, but decided to pick it back up once we had graduated from BC and joined the real world. Some of those early post formats -- Headlines, Five Good Minutes, Toss Up, Over/Under, Role Play, the Big Finish on Fridays -- were pretty good. Many were awkward. But we kept at it and found our unique voice on the internet.
Not sure I had any specific goals in mind for the site when we started, but it was incredibly rewarding to see the site grow over the years and develop the passionate community of Boston College fans that the site enjoys today.
How was the transition to working under SBNation? Did you have any concerns about becoming part of a larger entity?
Around 2008 or 2009, I noticed SB Nation was starting to build out an impressive collection of college athletics team sites. I ultimately decided that I wanted BC Interruption to be that voice for Boston College Eagles fans. Joining SB Nation helped us amplify our voice, collaborate with other SB Nation writers and continue to build readership.
You end up losing a little bit of flexibility when you become part of a larger entity, but I also don't think BC Interruption would have experienced nearly as much growth as it did over the years had we not hitched our wagon to SB Nation.
Has the site helped you in your career working at Stanford Athletics?
I'm pretty sure at some point Jeff told me I'd never truly be happy until I found a way to marry my passion for Boston College and college athletics with my professional career. I was fortunate enough to move out to California when my wife found a new job with her company. I took some time off work to care for our daughter and then when she was ready to go to preschool, decided it was the right time to jump back into the workforce. I applied to a job at Stanford University in their Athletics Ticket Office on a whim, got the job and haven't looked back since.
All the time and effort I put into managing BC Interruption over the years was definitely helpful in the interview process, and the combination of BC Interruption, education and professional experiences were a perfect fit for my first role in Ticket Operations. I could finally put all the random facts and thoughts on college football to good use.
I now oversee two departments at Stanford -- Business Strategy and Ticket Operations -- and my experiences with BC Interruption are definitely valuable as I work closely with the Communications, Marketing and Digital departments in telling the stories of Stanford's student-athletes and varsity programs.
What made you come to the decision to relinquish control of BCI to Joe? How did you feel about transferring the site over to Joe?
While it was certainly bittersweet to step away from BC Interruption after taking the opportunity with Stanford, it was definitely the right decision. I didn't think it would be appropriate to be, at times, critical of one college athletics department while working for another. That was a clear conflict in my mind.
It was also clear early on that Joe was the right person to take BC Interruption to the next level, so I didn't have any hesitancy with that decision. My gut told me that Joe's passion for BC, talent for writing and leadership skills would help take BCI to even greater heights and that was 100% the right call there.
The second ever editor of BCI was Joe, BC Class of 2010 and hockey addict.
Joe, “The Interregnum”
When you took over, what was your vision for the site? What was in place already and what did you hope to expand on?
I was fortunate enough to walk into a robust community that was already crushing football and hockey coverage. My goals were essentially 1) not mess it up; 2) allow the site to really find and use its unique voice; 3) leverage the community aspect through things like meet-ups, social activities, etc., and 4) really try to beef up coverage of the other sports one by one. It took some trial and error but we eventually got basketball staffed up. (Of course, part of the problem was that covering the team was really difficult during the absolute valley, and we lost a string of writers during that time.) Over the course of my time we were able to add pretty good coverage for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and a few other things from time to time.
If I had to summarize what we were trying to do in two lines it would be "become the central source for all things BC athletics from a fan perspective," and "not take ourselves too seriously, but try to do a good job."
What was your favorite part of running BCI?
It was definitely the people. Obviously, the family of writers that was already here, and then the ones we were able to add - but also the friends we've made from other schools, the people we interact with on twitter, even the commenters! Usually! :-).
Having these communal reactions to the highs and lows of BC sports has just been amazing, whether it be going crazy together after advancing to the Frozen Four, or commiserating in anger and sadness after Wake Forest 3-BC 0.
Also, the very valid excuse to commit mental energy to, like, the ACC Lacrosse Championship on NESNPlus when I probably should have been doing something more productive.
What challenges did you face running BCI?
Aside from the fact that it was extremely time-consuming -- I was constantly scouring for news and working early in the morning and late at night to try to keep things humming at full speed even though I was working full time at a "real job" -- the main challenge is just that whenever you put yourself and your opinions and thoughts out there for public scrutiny, you're going to face some blowback. Some of it very valid, some of it overblown. (Lord knows I wrote plenty of things that turned out to be very wrong.)
This is not a unique thing to BCI, but obviously one thing we experienced here was the people on one side of the fence screaming about how we're too positive about BC, shills for the AD, yada yada, and then people saying we were too negative, not real fans, etc etc if people got angry after losses. You also always have the people who say "why aren't you covering X more" or "you're covering Y too much." (The internet, unlike newsprint, is unlimited! So there's really no such thing as too much. But I agree, the site shouldn't rest until every single sport has top to bottom coverage. If you have some expertise in a sport BCI isn't covering - offer it up!)
Generally speaking we always tried to play it straight and be fair. I never got in the way of any of my writers' expressions of their own opinions, whether they be positive or negative - aside from the fact that I wouldn't tolerate personal attacks. The goal was to have a range of voices that reflected the current fan experience, since fans are not monolithic. Another thing I always tried to do was make sure writers had their opportunities to get their emotions out over the weekend when games were happening, but I tried to give the site more of an analytical or relaxed tone during the week. Obviously, we weren't perfect and we made plenty of mistakes, but that was the balance we tried to draw.
How has your involvement with the site influenced your life outside of it?
Massively. I mean, I count many of the writers and readers here as among my best friends. BC sports are still probably my top hobby as far as something I do in my leisure time. Maybe I would have drifted away if I wasn't working on this site for years? I doubt it, but it's possible.
The writing experience I picked up here also really helped me in my 'real life,' and I'm actually now working in a public-facing role at the university. I'm quite sure the body of work I was able to produce here and the relationships I built opened some doors for me.
How did you decide to step-down from running the site? What made you choose Laura as your heir?
At the time I stepped away, my real life commitments were really just making it impossible to devote the necessary amount of time for the site. Additionally, I was working in a public sector position with a lot of potential for public scrutiny and the last thing I needed was any controversy from one area to spill into the other. So the time seemed right to move on.
Laura pretty clearly demonstrated from day 1 of working on the site that she's reliable, energetic, loves BC, and is someone who cares deeply about the site. We spoke about it when I was preparing to step away and she agreed that she had the time and inclination to do it. A year later and the site is still doing great traffic and is a real leader among SBN team blogs. I'm very proud of the work she and the rest of the team have done, and I'm excited to see where she and whoever comes next take the site over the next 10 years.
And finally we come to our current commander-in-chief, Laura, a double Eagle (BC 2013, BC Law 2016) and cat philanthropist.
Laura, “Ruining the Site with Taylor Swift and Cat Gifs”
Where was the site when you took over?
Obviously everyone before me did a great job of building BCI into a top source for BC news. I was lucky that when I took over we were in such a good place that I could really focus on adding additional content and writers instead of worrying about having to fix anything.
What goals did you have for BCI? How have you tried to accomplish them? (I know there’s been a considerable increase in women’s sports coverage)
My main goal was to add coverage of all of the varsity programs to some degree, particularly women's sports. That has been pretty easy to achieve, especially since BCI has always been known for things like women's hockey coverage.
What’s your favorite part of running BCI? What are the challenges?
I've always been a huge BC fan, so I love getting to write about something that is such a big part of my life. Honestly though, I think my favorite part of BCI is the people I've met through it.
Content-wise, even though hockey is my #1 sport, I loved covering WLaxin the NCAA Tournament last year - I'd never watched the BC team before but now I'm a big fan!
It's definitely challenging managing so many writers (and keeping an eye on commenters), but that's a challenge that I don't mind. Balancing articles so we have a good mix of positivity and realism and a good mix of seriousness and fun is also tricky, but I think we do a pretty good job with that.
Why have you ruined the site with Taylor Swiftgifs and cat videos?
Because I’m a woman.
[Please recognize the sarcasm.]
It's all going to be okay, you guys. I’m just having fun. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it!
What does the future of BCI in the short term? What about the long term?
I'd definitely like to add some diversity to our pool of writers to continue to add to the variety of perspectives we have on staff. Long term the goal is always just to keep adding unique and detailed content for every BC varsity program! Also, probably continuing to troll people with Taylor Swift gifs :)
And with that, we’d like to once again say thank you all for your support of the site these past ten years. We hope to be with you for the decades to come, covering every BC sport. Even the ones that haven’t been picked up yet (BC Varsity Curling, anyone?)