Friday, August 8, 2008

Q & A: Part Deux

As promised, we have our second interview of the day and it was conducted with the new Online Editor, Jesse Newell. On account of my poor questioning it's slightly repetitive at the start, but picks up nicely. Thanks for the time, Jesse.

I believe I know you to be a Kansas graduate, but little else. Care to elaborate?
"Sure. I'm was born and raised in Emporia, a nice town that doesn't smell as bad as people say. I always liked sports, and in high school decided that sports journalism would be the way to go. I started writing for The Emporia Gazette my sophomore year of high school. During my time at KU, I also had stops at the University Daily Kansan, Topeka Capital-Journal and Lawrence Journal-World. After graduating from KU, I went back to The Gazette to cover Emporia State athletics two years before accepting the Online Editor position a few weeks ago."

How long have you been with the Journal World? If I'm remembering correctly, didn't you tryout for the basketball team a few years ago? If so, would you say a few words on that?
"I've been Editor for a week now. In college, I was a part-time writer for the LJW, and that's when I wrote the column series about walking on for the men's basketball team. Journal-World men's basketball beat writer Gary Bedore first asked me to consider trying out, and I just laughed at him. Then, the more I thought about it, the more it just seemed like the right thing to do. I'd been a KU basketball fan growing up, and I figured I'd never have another chance to do that. It turned out to be one of the most memorable things I've ever done."

[Ed. note: Very jealous]

When did you start as the Online Editor? What do you think of it so far?
"I actually started on Monday. So far, I'm just trying to learn everything on the fly. There's so much more to it than I thought -- plenty of computer programs to learn and items to update. I love it, though. It's been a lot of hours, but it doesn't feel like work."

I like your idea for the Sideline Report; how often can we expect similar features?
"There should be five total coming in the next few weeks that I did during media day. We'll space them out a little bit, but I would expect that those will run about twice a week. Media day is the perfect time to get those, as you can get a lot of athletes one-on-one. I'd like to keep those going during the season, but a lot will depend on access once the year starts."

Did you have any desire to replace Ryan Wood as the Kansas football beat reporter?
"I did have interest in Wood's job right before the Online Editor position opened up, but I'm really happy with how things turned out. Honestly, I think I'm better suited for the Online Editor spot with my previous experience. Also, I know people won't want to hear this, but Dugan really is a good guy. I know he made some people mad with his first blog and also his alma mater, but it's way too soon to start trying to throw him out of town. I know for a fact he's a great writer, and though not everyone understands it all the time, it is his job to be objective. It’s my job, too. I know I mentioned being a KU graduate in my first blog, but really, our alma maters shouldn’t have an effect on the way we cover KU sports. We both have jobs to do, and that job involves reporting, not cheering."

[Ed. note: Couldn't agree more. However, the first game is a mere three weeks away and we're not even getting one football story a day in the LJW. Come on now, I need my fix.]

Who is your favorite Kansas athlete of all time? Why?
"I'm guessing this means basketball, too? I would say Jacque Vaughn. He was everything a student-athlete should be. I remember wearing rubber bands on my wrist during rec-league games just to be like him. Raef LaFrentz and Nick Collison would be a close second and third, with Darnell Jackson not too far behind."

Which Kansas team is your all-time favorite? Why?
"In basketball, it was the '97 team. That team was impossible to not like. Vaughn, Haase, Pollard, LaFrentz and Pierce with Thomas off the bench -- talk about loaded.

In football, the 2005 team was a lot of fun to watch. That, to me, was a great season because it was when the Kansas players and fans first started to taste success. The Nebraska victory at home was a huge step for the program, and I still remember driving down to Fort Worth thinking that this whole bowl game thing was kind of fun."

Does Chase Daniel look more like a frog or a toad?
"I’ll ask Dugan and get back to you ..."

Is there a player on this Kansas team that you expect to break out this year?
"It's pretty tough to tell this early. After talking to him on media day, though, I would expect tight end A.J. Steward to be KU's latest converted-quarterback success story."

[Ed. note: Another Steward vote? Very interesting. Perhaps I should have added to him to our poll...]

We have gone on record as predicting a 10-3 season for this Kansas team (with a loss to OU in the Big XII Champ.); what are you predicting?
"I'll go with 8-4. It's easy after a 12-1 season to quickly overlook the Colorados and Kansas States and count them as wins this year, but my gut tells me that KU can't go two years in a row without losing via an upset. In my eyes, KU loses one it's "not supposed to," then splits its six "tough" games (at South Florida, at Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at Nebraska, Texas, Missouri)."

Finally, feel free to opine on anything else that you don't mind 6, or possibly 7 people reading.
"Mark it down now: Texas Tech will win the Big 12 South. You heard it here first."

[Ed. note: Agree to disagree]

Again, big thanks go out to Online Editor, Jesse Newell, for taking the time to answer our questions. It should also be mentioned that in some correspondence with GingerBalls he promised pictures of the new hair trimmings of at least Darrell Stuckey and possibly Dezmon Briscoe as well.

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