In the fall of 2003, I left law school at Duke to embark on what I thought was going to be the first step towards a blossoming legal career. I took a job as a law clerk on the D.C. Circuit for a well-respected conservative judge with a reputation of being one of the feeder judges to place clerks on the Supreme Court. Before I left for DC, I had a number of Duke professors give me “motivational” speeches that essentially amounted to a polite way of telling me, “hey dont screw this up…he hasnt hired a Duke student in ten years and he will never hire one again if you somehow bomb this opportunity.” I remember distinctly getting in my grey Toyota Camry (a car that later smelled so bad that the Turkey Hunter named it the “Manatee”) and driving to DC playing “Chasing that Neon Rainbow”, a song that deals with going after your dreams, whether it be in honky tonks in Texas or law libraries in a courthouse in DC. It tells a great deal about my sentimental/sappy nature that I got any motivation at all from an Alan Jackson song, but nevertheless I was certain great things were to come.
Within one week, I knew that what I once thought was a dream opportunity, was going to be a year of drudgery and soul-sapping realism. My judge and I were opposites in every sense of the word. He was conservative; I leaned to the left. He believed that men should wear suits every day, once telling me that blue jeans were “the beginning of the downfall of society; I embraced the greatness that is a hooded sweatshirt. He said the only sport worth watching was baseball because it was played “with a sense of refined goodness”; I still watched the WWE and took eight DC Circuit law clerks to see Monday Night Raw live. I quickly knew (even before he busted out a copy of the “Bell Curve” and told my clerks and me that it was an “intellectual tour-de-force”) that this opportunity which seemed so amazing on the surface, was probably going to end with me questioning my initial decision to go to law school. The term concluded with the judge missing my departure day and leaving me a note that said (I am not kidding), “I wish you well in life and don’t hesitate to call your co-clerks if you ever need anything.”
I thought of that experience this afternoon when my time as a blogger for CBSSports.com came to an end. If there ever was an example of a “square peg/round hole” relationship, my experiment at mainstream writing for CBS would certainly qualify. After the KSR gang did a nationwide road trip for the site 2 years ago, I was brought on to help launch the new college basketball blog and try to bring the sensibilities that we showcased at KSR to a larger audience. However from the get go, it became clear that what I envisioned for the relationship was not necessarily shared by those in charge. Whereas I thought we could make a blog in which KSR staples such as photoshopped coaches pictures, News and Views and “Fans of the Day” could become national phenomena, CBS understandably wanted to remain a news site and pushed towards more standard reporting. The result was me never feeling completely comfortable and unable to capture the real zest for writing that I had on this site. It culminated in January, when I sat down at my desk to do a blog post and realized I was going to have to write about the effect of an injury on the Virginia Tech defense heading into their “battle” with Clemson. I was so uninterested that I contemplated going back into the legal profession, a signal that I was probably not cut out to be a college basketball national “beat” reporter.
Many parts of my time at CBS were amazing. It was a great experience to cover a Final Four, especially one in which UK was involved. I loved being able to visit other college arenas and pick the brain privately of coaches such as Tom Izzo. And I enjoyed getting the chance to interact with fans of schools all around America. Even more importantly, I enjoyed writing with my fellow bloggers Matt Norlander, Jeff Borzello and Eric Angevine and my friend Gregg Doyel, with whom there is never a dull moment. I always wanted to try and give the national thing a try, and I enjoyed having that goal come to fruition.
The reality is however that being a college basketball reporter for a national site is not my forte. While I do think my original vision of a KSR on a national scale can (and will one day…hopefully with me on board) work, that isnt the CBS vision. Thus parting ways at this point makes the most sense. With Jeff Goodman joining the CBS site, it will become the go-to place for college basketball news and those of us who prefer drawing unibrows on Tyler Zeller may now have to find a different home. I still will have a relationship with the site and may still do the Oddcast with Gregg Doyel, allowing my country accent to continue to have a wider audience than it should. I also still have my CBS Twitter (which needs a new name at this point…anyone have a good suggestion?), but my days of chasing down the latest coaching rumors at Fairfield are, thankfully for all involved, coming to an end.
I am still doing the KSTV television show, our daily radio show and working on a potential book about next season’s Kentucky team. Plus, I do plan on writing a bit more on KSR, including about topics that were somewhat off limits while at CBS. Beisner will still run the site day to day and I will continue to be the site’s owner/meddler, stopping in a bit more often to make fun of BTI and praise the greatness that is Lukask Obrzut. I want to thank all those at CBS who gave me a chance and you the KSR nation for supporting me when I was there. You guys would never believe just how big your numbers truly are and it is because of you that the Kentucky articles I wrote on CBS were some of the most read articles on the entire website. Everyone at CBS knows the power of the KSR nation and I can never thank you enough.
So now we move on to the next thing. After I left the DC Circuit clerkship, I moved on to clerk for two women, Allyson Duncan of the 4th Circuit and Karen Caldwell of the Eastern District in Kentucky, both of whom were amazing mentors and became great friends. My two years with them were infinitely better than my time in DC and both taught me lessons that placed me on a path of following my actual dreams, which eventually led me to creating KSR. The same thing will happen here as we focus on the redesign of the website (which yes is FINALLY coming this summer) and the continued goal of making KSR the dominant name in sports media in this state.
When Jeffrey Ross considered stopping his career as a staple at comedy roasts, Dave Chapelle told him it was a mistake and said while it is ok to experiment with other things, always remember to “stay in your lane.” If my time at CBS taught me anything (besides the fact that writing on a deadline does indeed suck), it is this. The writing style and mindset of KSR/KSTV is my lane. I appreciate you being along for the ride as I go back to what I was meant to do: bring down the Fordes/Thamels/Bobby Knights of the world and more importantly, give UK news in the “most ridiculous manner possible” once again.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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