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Closing the Book on Six Years at Bruins Nation and Beginning a New Chapter with The Mighty Bruin

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After six years of running Bruins Nation, this is a bittersweet farewell. I may not be around BN as much, but you’ll still be able to find me.

I’ve taken literally thousands of photos of UCLA student-athletes for Bruins Nation over the past six years, but this photo of Osa Odighizuwa remains my personal favorite.
Joe Piechowski

Nearly six years.

That’s how long I’ve been blessed to run Bruins Nation, first with gBruin and, then, on my own after he “retired” from writing for the site.

Six years is an eternity on the internet.

But, today is my last day as the Managing Editor of Bruins Nation due to a law passed by the California State Legislature and signed by the Governor. Unlike my previous rant on the subject, I’m not going to go off on the individuals who may or may not be responsible for this situation.

It is what it is.

Instead, I’m going to look back with some pride at what has been accomplished during these past six years.

When Greg and I took over the site back in August 2014, we felt that it was important to have a kinder, gentler Bruins Nation, a site where all Bruin fans could come and discuss UCLA sports rationally without the fear of a moderator breaking out a ban hammer just because someone disagreed with them.

If we accomplished nothing else, I believe it’s safe to say that we accomplished this.

Bruins Nation went from being one of the sites with the most complaints to being one of the sites with the fewest. We went from having the most members banned to being one of the fewest. In fact, it gone downright hard for someone to get banned from this site. You basically need to show up here with the desire to get banned in order for that to happen.

To be sure, those folks who showed up for no other reason than they were looking to get banned were almost certainly banned, but the days where anyone could get banned simply for not agreeing with the BN team are, in fact, long gone.

The result has been a place where members have the freedom to disagree so long as they remained respectful to one another.

In fact, one of the best examples can be seen in our long going discussion over football recruiting. I staked out the position that, in order to win a national championship, a team’s Blue Chip Ratio needed to be above 50% over a four-year period while others have argued that the “star system” is hopelessly flawed.

Despite spirited discussion from folks on both sides of that argument, UCLA is still no closer to winning a national title now then they were when the Bruins lost to Miami during the first season of the Bowl Championship Series.

One thing we were almost entirely united on was our general disgust and disappointment in the job performance of Dan Guerrero. In fact, from the site’s very founding in June of 2005 up to and including the announcement that Dan is FINALLY retiring at the end of June this year, Bruins Nation has consistently questioned Mr. Guerrero’s job performance.

Now, we don’t do it quite so...ummm...colorfully, some might say, or rudely, as others might suggest as it was done under the site’s original management.

But our strong disapproval in Director Guerrero’s job performance can be seen in the fact that we still proudly display the announcement of his pending retirement on the front page of this site and I encourage whomever SB Nation tasks to run the site going forward to leave there until he is finally gone after June 30, 2020.

Speaking of the site’s original management, I don’t think I can honestly walk away from running this site without a tip of my cap to Nestor and every BN team member who got this going so many years ago. While they may not approve of the kinder, gentler version of the site over the past six years, my time at the helm was certainly influenced, both positively and negatively, by how they built BN.

To be sure, they turned off a lot of fellow Bruins. That made it that much harder to change the tone and have people believe that we meant what we said about the changes we were making to the site.

In fact, I was flabbergasted just a few weeks ago. I was on Facebook discussing the amazing job which Coach Mick Cronin had done with someone who is still not convinced that Cronin did a very good job this season when someone who clearly hasn’t visited the site at any point during the past six years started talking smack about BN, even though I was there actually writing positive things about our basketball program! She was the very last person I tried to convince that BN has changed a lot and she was the first one who needed convincing in a very long time.

I do have a few regrets about things I wasn’t able to accomplish over the past six years.

For most of my tenure, I felt like we needed to increase the number of members on our team. My goal was always to get us to about 10, 15 or even 20 members on the team, but we just never got there. Part of that had to do with trying to maintain the balance between the BN community and just growing the staff. Ultimately, I always ended up trying to maintain our “watchdog” role rather than just increasing our numbers for the sake of having more people writing for the site. I wish I had been able to accomplish both together simultaneously.

My other big regret also stems, at least partially from the size of the staff. I always wanted to have a Bruins Nation podcast. When I first started, it was more of a matter of trying to make sure we had enough people getting our writing done first because I felt like that needed to be our priority. Then, more recently, as SB Nation put an emphasis on podcast development, I wasn’t thrilled with the proposal to actually make it happen.

One thing that has me glad that I’m leaving now is that SB Nation is getting more and more “corporate” and I’m concerned for the future direction of where things are going to go from here. Despite that, it was still my desire to stay on with SB Nation in a paid capacity after today, but COVID-19 has seemingly thrown an absolute monkey wrench into all of the plans they may (or may not) have had.

With all of that now off my chest, I want to share with you all what’s next, not just for me, but for the team of writers which have brought you this site for so very long.

Over the past few weeks, you’ve certainly noticed that contributions from the current team have been dwindling.

Part of that has to do with the rather abrupt end that was college sports for this school year due to COVID-19. In fact, I had saved a lot of my AB 5 allocation of 35 articles for the month of March. I planned to do a lot of writing on Spring football and both men’s and women’s March Madness.

All of that came to a quick end just as the Bruins were about to play UC Berkeley in the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the start of this month. In fact, behind the scenes somewhere, there is a still unpublished preview, how to watch and game thread for that game between the Bruins and the Golden Bears as the game was cancelled shortly before the article was scheduled to publish.

But, since then, I’ve been working quietly with the team to put together our next chapter. While every current team member has been invited to join the team at the new site, some are taking some time off to consider what they want to do, but we have extended the invitation to the entire team to join us.

In fact, we are proud to officially announce it here on BN with this blessings of SB Nation College Manager Matt Brown. You may have seen an announcement on one of several Facebook groups earlier today but, for those of you who haven’t, I’m pleased to announce a new UCLA sports site: The Mighty Bruin.

Why “The Mighty Bruin”?

Ultimately, we settled on a name meant to embody both our passion for the Four Letters and the Bruins while also wanting a name that would be meaningful.

What, after all, does the Mighty Bruin do?

He ROARS, of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That could be the roar of the greater UCLA community when the Bruins excel while it could also be the roar of the community when things aren’t to our liking because we believe that the Bruins can and should do better.

We plan on bringing the same honest coverage to The Mighty Bruin that we brought to the this site. We will call it like we see it. ALWAYS.

That was our commitment to our readers before and we remain committed to it as we move forward.

It doesn’t look as pretty as BN looks, but we aren’t looking to win a contest in website design (at least not yet) and familiar features like Fan Posts and Fan Shots aren’t available through the Substack platform we’ll be using, but the folks at Substack have demonstrated a willingness to listen with respect to adding features which are desired. So, we feel that they will do what they can to make that happen. In the meantime, if someone wants to contribute, we’ll figure out a way to make it happen.

The best part of the Substack platform in my opinion is that everyone can sign up to receive a free subscription to the Mighty Bruin and get our musings delivered straight to your inbox! Because we know there are folks out there who seemed willing to pay for the content and community we provide, we also have a paid subscription option. We’re still working on the exactly what the benefits of the paid subscription will be, but we’ve tried to price it reasonably at just $5 bucks a month to subscribe. Normally, it’s going to be $50 for a full year, but, to kick things off we’re offering The Mighty Bruin Launch Special. For a limited time, you can get a full year for the price of just six months! Hopefully, you guys will be willing to part with $30 bucks to get a full year subscription.

It’s our hope that TMB will have a symbiotic relationship with BN. After my conversation with Matt Brown today, I actually envision cross-posting some articles on both sites as we will continue to have posting privileges here at BN as well.

So, come on over to TheMightyBruin.com for everything you’ve come to expect from the team that has brought you BN for the past six years.

In closing, I want to express some gratitude. Thank you, Bruin fans, for reading and conversing with us not just for the past six years but well before that as most of us date back to a more than a decade here at BN as members before we became a part of the team. Thank you to everyone past and present, on the web page and off, who has contributed to the success of this site. Thank you to everyone who has made this transition possible. Thank you to our colleagues across SB Nation who have encouraged and challenged us to make this site what it is.

Thanks for reading and, of course....


Go Bruins!!!