Three years ago - to the day - I set out on a brand new adventure in Barnin' Hard. I like so many other college football fans had posted plenty of thoughts and comments on message boards and even published an article or two on The War Eagle Reader but that was the extent of my writing on the internet. When Chris Fuhrmeister moved on from College and Magnolia, I threw my hat in the ring to run this little orange and blue corner of the Internet.
The good folks at SB Nation - Luke Zimmerman and Matt Brown in particular - chose me out of the candidates they interviewed and gave me the keys to this here site and let me run with it however I wanted. It was often trying - one of the very first stories I wrote was about the death of Philip Lutzenkirchen - but mostly it was a lot of fun.
Now, it's time I take a step back. I'm not quitting entirely, I still hope to write the occasional thing, but I just don't have the time or the heart to use the time that I do have to keep this site going the way you, the readers, deserve. It started with getting married and just wanting to spend my evenings with my wife but the changing of jobs from ROTC Instructor in Auburn to full-time Reservist in San Antonio added to it. So, I'm going to be handing the reigns over to someone else in the next few weeks. It may be a familiar name/face from the current staff. It may be someone entirely new. Even, perhaps, you reading this. SB Nation will put out the announcement and interview candidates and make a choice in the very near future.
Until then, I'm still going to be putting out the daily link dumps. I'm still going to write a few articles; maybe a collection of my favorites that I've written. And, I do still plan on posting the Georgia Southern Q&A with myself.
After that, though, I'm going to quietly begin transitioning away. I'm ready to fade back into enjoying Auburn sports as a true fan without having to worry about the "How to Watch," the recaps, not letting the site stagnate with no articles publishing, finding things to write about in the offseason, and worrying about who can write the breaking news stories if I'm too busy or away from the ability to write it myself.
I've loved interacting with all of you. If there's one thing I'm proud of, it's that I only ever received one e-mail from someone mad at me and that was for banning them from the site. I did, however, receive a number of e-mails from the parents of players in a number of sports thanking me for articles I've written. If I take away nothing else, I think I'll take away the fact that I did this the right way. I tried to never disparage a player. I chose not to publish something I overheard firsthand from a player about an arrest because that player didn't know he was being listened to. I tried to only focus on Auburn without attacking our rivals or even writing about them unless it was directly relevant to the rivalry itself or about the SEC in general. I tried to be fair and not shy away from the negative stories about Auburn while at the same time attempting to keep the site - and the comments - a haven from plenty of the other places I've been to on the Auburn corners of the web and the extreme negative folks you can find there.
I'd like to thank SB Nation for the opportunity to run this site. I'd like to thank every writer who has given of their time - unpaid, by the way, all of them - over the last few years to write things when I couldn't or just because they wanted to. I'd like to thank every one of you who came here and read our articles and I hope you'll keep coming back when the new manager takes control.
It's been fun. I'll still be around in the comments even when I'm not writing. I'll still be around on Twitter on the personal account - @AU_GS_Walt when I turn over the College and Magnolia account. You can bet my commentary during that opening game against Georgia Southern will be epic.
It's not quite goodbye, not yet anyway in spite of the tag at the beginning (I couldn't resist referencing Bilbo's Party Speech from The Lord of the Rings), but it's close. Until then, War Eagle. Always.