I debated whether to slide out quietly or to write one of these things, but I’m way too indebted to so many people that I can’t get out of here without giving them a public acknowledgement.
I’ve decided to step down as the day-to-day manager of Arkansas Fight. I took over what was then Arkansas Expats about five years ago, and it’s been a great ride. I’ve gotten to do a lot of things as a Razorback fan that I never dreamed I’d get to do. I got to be on the field for the end of memorable football games like the 2014 LSU game and 2016 Ole Miss game, and running back and forth to opposite ends of the field as the 4OT game vs Auburn went back and forth. I got to cover the 2015 College World Series live in Omaha and watch the opening ceremonies from the dugout. I got to see John Calipari all shook up in a postgame press conference after Michael Qualls made one of the most spectacular plays in Razorback history to beat Kentucky. It was a treat.
Getting to cover games is a ton of fun, especially if you’re a fan. If they happened more frequently, I’d probably do this forever. But there’s a lot of work that goes on with maintaining a site like this between those events, especially this time of year when there’s not as much news going on.
If you’ve been following the site for a while, you probably know I haven’t posted nearly as much as I used to, and I don’t see that changing much anytime soon. This was never my full time job. It started as a hobby and developed into something bigger, but for this site to be as good as it can be, it requires someone who can devote more time to it than I can, and actively wants to make as many updates and new posts as possible, and that’s a lot harder for me to do now that it was a couple of years ago.
So, I’m not going to be running this on a daily basis anymore. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to Arkansas Fight. That’s up to SB Nation. They’ll find someone else to run it. It might be one of the current contributors or it might be someone new. I may still pop up from time to time if I have something to say, or I might write something elsewhere. I really don’t know. I haven’t spoken with anybody about doing anything. I’ll still be available on social media (@doc_harper) and through email, and I hope to continue interacting with you.
I want to thank all of you, the readers and commenters. We ended up bringing more traffic to this site than I ever thought possible when I took it over, so thank you to all of you who read anything on here, shared it on social media, commented on a story, or participated in any way. It made it all worthwhile. I’d have hated this without you.
Further, I couldn’t have run this place by myself. All of the contributors helped build this thing, and I’m so grateful that so many were willing to participate, especially those that answered that very first call for contributors five years ago when this site and I were pretty much unknown. I’ll try to name everybody here, and I apologize up front if I forget anybody (it’s not intentional): KevinHog, Drew Fleming, Graham Reaves, Trent Wooldridge, Robert Boyd, JT Harper, Brent Holloway, Zack Veddern, Beau Wilcox, Ryan Higgins, Scottie Bordelon, Adam Peterson and the Hog Tough Fancast crew, Derek Oxford, Adam Ford, Mark Carter, Evin Demirel, Josh Goforth, Mitchell Alexander, Drew Angel, Eric Harris, Devin Lawson, Jamie Pilote, Randle Reece, Cory Thone, Jack Blanchat, and of course, Misti Harper and her devotion to Razorback gymnastics.
Special shoutouts to Stephen Ursery, co-founder and former manager of Arkansas Expats, for bringing me aboard the SB Nation train back in 2012 and helping me take over when he left. Also to Chris Bahn for breaking me into the world of Razorback media with ArkansasSports360.com, which helped me out here. And to SB Nation, particularly the college league managers Luke Zimmerman and Matt Brown, who’ve been really supportive of me and this site, and even helped me get some spare work at the mothership when I needed it in 2015. It’s also been fun to work with the other SB Nation communities on different projects over the years, they’ve been fantastic people to get to know. And of course, the SIDs at Arkansas for giving me the same access as everyone else in the Arkansas media. I never took it for granted. They never got on to me for any criticism I ever wrote. The only time they ever got on to me was for referring to Bret Bielema as [REDACTED].
With that, I’ll leave you with what is probably the best thing I did here in five years and these last words as manager: when it comes to the Razorback athletic program, there’s always lots of talk about “what’s best for the program” and how much money can be made and what’s best for recruiting and making decisions based off fan surveys and blah blah blah. Just do what’s fun. That should be the goal. Sports is supposed to be fun. Fun will translate everywhere else. The “brand” should be fun. I tried to do that here with our content. I might’ve been successful sometimes more than others, but that was the goal. I hope y’all had fun here and hopefully it will continue.
Let’s see what happens next.
Thank you and good night.