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Hair of the Bear: We’ll Meet Again

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at UCLA
There was no way my final official post here wasn’t going to have this picture at the top.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On July 10th of 2016, I sent out the following email:

Hey Joe (and other editors who might be reading this),

I’m formally putting my name into the hat to take up a writing spot at BN. I’d probably be best at the two major sports (football and mens BB) but could do some spot coverage in others spots when available.

- Nirya

Boy, times were different then. I had a screen name! I had no idea what I was doing! Joe literally had to use my very first Spaulding Report as an example of what to do and what not to do.

Somehow, I stuck around for 4 years.

It’s been a long, strange trip. I got handed the keys to the Eye Test, which became one of my favorite series to write, even when UCLA was giving me nothing to work with. I somehow lucked into becoming one of THE basketball people on this site, and conned my way into doing post-game reports during the Lonzo Ball year. At one point, I had Fresno State fans looking up my address and personal Twitter account (@DDorlis, just in case you were wondering) because I had written mean things about their podunk town.

I got to write Hot Lists for two major coaching searches. I went on podcasts and radio shows that touted me as a “Bruin Insider” even though I was just a guy writing on a blog. I ran a Twitter account with over 13k followers, which may not be a lot, but felt like it was. I made friends with writers from all over the country, through a mutual love of the insane world that is college athletics. Oh yeah, and I was here when everything, not just sports, shut down.

Maybe I should get to the point.

In case you haven’t heard the news, March 31st was our last day at the helm of Bruins Nation. I’m not going to get into the specifics of why we’re leaving here, and I wish Cam and anyone coming in behind us well, but it became pretty clear that if we wanted the Bruins Nation we’ve built to continue, it would have to be somewhere else.

So we went and made that somewhere else. It’s The Mighty Bruin, hosted by our new friends over at Substack.

I will be honest with you all here, I was starting to feel burned out. Sure, I wasn’t writing nearly to the degree that Joe was near the end, but that had a lot to do with just losing the drive to write. Maybe it was how bad the second year of Chip Kelly was, or how poorly basketball season started, but I was pretty spent as far as writing goes, and I started to see the end of our contracts here as an easy out.

Also, before anyone asks, this has never been about the money. Sure, we got paid, but at $100 a month, that’s nothing. We all have jobs outside of this, and the money really just amounted to a “thank you for your time and energy”.

But I think the late run by the men’s basketball team reawoke the passion within me. Suddenly the fire was relit. I went to the last UCLA home game this year, where two nights after Jaime Jaquez splashed a buzzer beater to knock off Arizona State, the Bruins executed another comeback to take out the Arizona Wildcats. And getting to be in that crowd roaring with approval as the UCLA men’s basketball program announced to the world that it had been renewed was the final straw. I wanted to keep writing about UCLA. It’s given me too much enjoyment to just abandon it now that things have gotten harder.

If you’ll permit me, I’d like to say thank you to a few people. First off to Joe for taking a chance on bringing me in when I had no experience, and always letting me run with whatever ridiculous idea popped into my head. Somehow after four years, he still hasn’t caught on to the long con I’ve been running where I pretend to be a good writer, so we’ll see how much longer I can pull it off!

Also, a thanks to Gbruin. Greg was on his way out as I was on my way in, but we had traded emails before that, and he encouraged me to apply, so if you really think about it, these last four years of bad writing have been all his fault!

Thanks to my basketball partner in crime, DCBruins. DC picked up the slack for me more often than not when I was stuck in football coverage, and I think it’s rare to find a writing teammate who you are so in sync with. Plus, with him being East Coast, it meant I never had to wake up way too early to write a basketball news roundup.

Thanks to Anteaters&Bruins for all of her hard work. She’s coming along for the ride over at the new site, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. A&B is one of the most versatile writers I know, and just having another fellow educator on board can only mean good things.

Thanks to orlandobruin. OB will always be one of my favorites because he covers my favorite sport in baseball, and does it in a way I wish I was able to. Selfishly, I hope he continues to write wherever, just because I enjoy reading his words.

Thanks to the Unpaid Intern. I know he’s reading this right now, and I half-expect an angry text demanding to know why he wasn’t thanked sooner. And yes, we are talking about bringing him on over at TMB, though his new job may make that a bit more difficult (and I’m being vague because I like his new job and want him to keep it for a long time).

And finally, thank you to you, the readers. None of this would be possible if not for you all. Again, I hope you come join us over at our new site The Mighty Bruin, but don’t feel any pressure to sign up for a paid subscription right away, especially with everything else in the world that’s going on. But hopefully UCLA athletics comes back someday soon, and we can all join in on rooting for the Bruins.

So that’s all from me. Like Joe said in his goodbye, I don’t plan on giving up on this site cold-turkey. I might pop into the comments now and again, like some lonesome drifter.

So this isn’t a goodbye. It’s a see you later.