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On Pushing the Reset Button at Rocky Top Talk

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Tennessee Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

This is my last day at Rocky Top Talk.

First, a word of thanks to the folks at SB Nation. I’ve been proud to be a small, orange-tinted part of this network for the past eight-and-a-half years; this was my decision and I appreciate their patience as I’ve been in the process of making it. This includes the group of smart and talented writers I’ve had the privilege of sharing this space with for all these years, who helped me and I hope you make a little bit of sense out of a really weird, never boring time for Tennessee.

I became a pastor in June 2006, moved from Knoxville to southwest Virginia, and started writing about the Vols ten days later. At first it was mostly a way to connect with friends and family back home, but thanks to Joel Hollingsworth asking me to join this site in 2008 it became so much more.

As a pastor and a Tennessee blogger, any fruitfulness or failure I’ve had at the one has always come in the context of the other, and likewise I’ve always hoped the one was making me better at the other. I am incredibly grateful to the people I’ve had a chance to serve in Ceres, VA and Athens, TN, who in these 11 years have never once questioned how I spend my time.

When Joel left a few weeks ago, it created a great opportunity for me to reflect on a bunch of different things. And, to a bit of my own surprise, I realized pushing the reset button was the option I was finding most attractive.

My wife and I are thrilled to be expecting our first child in October (he’s due on the bye week, so we’re off to a good start). And there are one or two other things I’d like to write about that have never quite found their way to the top of the queue because I’ve continually enjoyed researching and writing thousands of words on RPI or Casey Clausen or some other historical rabbit hole.

So I’m going to push reset and step back. This site will continue with new leadership, and I look forward to seeing what’s next for RTT.

It’s always been our goal for this site to be in service to a healthy conversation about Tennessee. We’ve chosen thousands of words more often than 140 characters. And we have leaned optimistic (even occasionally idiotically so) because this is fun, even in down years, and we shouldn’t forget that. Having not lived in Knoxville all this time and having never sought media credentials, I’ve always felt free to write whatever I thought from a distance. But at the same time, that distance has kept me from really knowing the people I was writing about. And one thing I’ve learned from my other job is how easy it is to show less grace to someone you don’t know. I hope the words we’ve shared made the conversation better. And in moments when we’ve written difficult words about coaches, even when they were being echoed by everyone else, I hope we’ve been both fair and gracious, and am sorry for any time we may have failed to be either.

I’m stepping back, but don’t plan on stepping away. I’m going to blow the dust off the cartridge and play outside for a little bit, but chances are you’ll find me hanging out with some old friends sooner than later. If you’re interested in hollerin’ at referees during Celtics games (which can definitely be done without grace and in less than 140 characters), you can follow me on Twitter.

Lastly, thanks so very much for reading. I’m still just a kid from Knoxville who loves the Vols, and have so enjoyed getting to do that with all of you here. As I said when Joel left, this place has improved my quality of life in ways that have nothing to do with pageviews, and I am forever grateful for that.

Grace and Peace and Go Vols,