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Farewell, Maize n Brew: A thank you and passing of the torch

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Maize n Brew’s next chapter is here, and it does not include me.

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dearest readers and followers of the Maize n Brew platform,

There’s a rule in journalism about not burying the lede, so let’s cut to the chase. After 7.5 years of providing Michigan Wolverines coverage here, today is my final day with Vox Media/SB Nation. The opportunity to lead this site and connect with Michigan fans from all walks of life is one of the great honors of my career. I am humbled you’ve let MnB carve out a space in this corner of the internet.

This site is being left in the capable hands of the staff that remains. Everyone else is climbing the ladder and will be taking on more responsibility. This group of contributors has everything they need to keep this site rolling and crank out quality Michigan coverage.

It is difficult to put into words how much this community means. It has been the backdrop of many amazing moments in both my career and personal life. I grew up here as both a writer and a person. I’ve experienced heartbreak and loss. I’ve been a part of some incredible teams and highlights. The platform has given me the chance to go places and do things I never imagined I would in my life, let alone before I hit 30-years-old.

I’ve been to iconic college football venues. I’ve been to conference basketball tournaments. I’ve been to a bowl game. I’ve seen some of the best college football games of the last decade in person. I had a weekly column in the Detroit Free Press for a bit, which, um, got some attention from a prominent figure within the Michigan football program.

Over the last seven years, MnB has had over 99 million pageviews with 18 million unique visitors from all over the world. Our Twitter account grew by almost 27,000 followers. The Facebook page organically grew by 41,202 likes.

I am so incredibly blessed to have been a part of all of it.

I published my first post here on May 5, 2014, where I took over the recruiting roundups from Josh Henschke. Josh would wind up running this site, then cash in his chips for a gig with Sam Webb and The Michigan Insider. The man is a grinder, and I learned a lot from him. His future is bright, as well.

Recruiting was tanking at the end of the Brady Hoke era. It was a dirty job to cover what was occurring, but someone had to do it. This was the season with the Shane Morris concussion game and the media circus that followed. One of the first non-recruiting things I remember writing was the famous Dave Brandon late-night press release admitting Morris suffered a “probable, mild concussion”. Fun times!

Better days were ahead for everyone.

Josh moved on to his new opportunity and I was allowed to step in and lead the site ahead of the 2015 football season, Jim Harbaugh’s first at Michigan. I was alive when the 1997 team won a national title, but this was the most excitement I can remember the Michigan fanbase having. That gave me a lot of energy when I took this job, which at the time was still on a contractor basis that more or less covered my beer and food money.

It didn’t matter. I was in the driver’s seat now.

I was a senior at Central Michigan and spent Saturday mornings waking up before the sun had risen to make the two-hour drive to Ann Arbor. Given that I was still a college student, there were a lot of things I had to sacrifice to make that happen. It is not easy to close your bedroom door and get to bed early on a Friday night on a college campus. It also was rough to make the drive back after the game after exhausting and overwhelming days. I was alone up in the press box at the time, along with this lingering sense of imposter syndrome being among people I had followed and read for years.

I was able to bust through that slowly, but surely. It was something I did because I wanted to. I needed to. Working for this site and having a sandbox to play in that allowed me to grow, make mistakes, try new things, and evolve was a godsend.

By the time I transferred to CMU, a lot of the student-run broadcasting and writing gigs were filled by people who had paid their dues. There was not much to sink my teeth into. I got to skip the line with this site and experience a baptism by fire.

I graduated in May 2016 from CMU but went months without finding a job. The landscape supply store I worked at for seven years did not even have a spot. MnB was it that summer. I had interviewed for an opportunity in the market that fell through. I also interviewed for some sort of outdoorsman magazine that I was in no way qualified for despite being a former Boy Scout. I even was in the running to work at what felt like a real-life Dunder Mifflin selling printer paper to schools.

Things were bleak.

A lifeline was thrown to me in the form of a full-time job with 247Sports, where I joined as a member of the NFL writing staff. I was lucky to spend three wonderful years there before that wing of the site was dissolved.

Another miracle appeared in the opportunity to run this site full-time. Thanks to some incredible legwork from my former boss, Matt Brown, I took this site over as my one-and-only project in August 2019.

From there, the rest is history.

A leader is only as successful as the team that surrounds them. I have been fortunate to work with some incredibly talented people here. Over 100 writers — 103, to be exact — have had bylines here since I joined the team. This has been an incredible pipeline for talent with people moving on to places like The Michigan Insider, The Wolverine, 247Sports, MLive, Detroit Free Press, and Barstool Sports, to name a few.

I’ve always taken great pride in what this place has been as a farm system for people looking to get reps in the industry. That’s what the platform gave me and I always strived to give it right back to people who wanted to do big things and were willing to put in the work.

This staff has been incredible throughout the years, but I feel like we started to hit our stride once I was made full-time. I was able to pour my heart, soul, and every resource available into making this the best free Michigan site in the market. Whether we pulled that off or not is for you to decide, but damn if I’m not proud of the work that was done. This staff made life much easier on me, which has helped me in ways I can’t fully explain. To know something is taken care of without even asking twice is something that every manager is starved for, no matter the industry.

Not only did we survive a GLOBAL FREAKING PANDEMIC, but we also stayed calm and poised throughout a rough COVID-impacted football season. It would have been easy to cut and run, but the work we did here was a nice escape from what was going on in the outside world.

I want to pass along the sincerest of thank yous to each one of you who has been a part of this journey along the way. Those who are appreciated know who you are. However, there is a handful I would like to single out.

  • My amazing family and friends have always supported me unconditionally. Sacrifices I’ve made in this line of work almost always come at the expense of the people closest to me. I’ve gotten much better about that, but nobody has ever batted an eye. I am so lucky to be as loved as I am.
  • Matt Brown, formerly of SB Nation and the publisher of the Extra Points newsletter: One of the best bosses a guy could ever ask for. He signed off on me having the opportunity to lead this site when I took it over in 2015 and again in 2019 when it became full-time. He’s always made time for me even after we stopped working together. I will forever be grateful for that.
  • Caroline Darney, formerly of SB Nation and now with BetFTW. Easily one of the kindest and most supportive people I’ve ever been around. Forever my Marvel buddy and a true friend in every sense of the word.
  • Von Lozon, my deputy managing editor, and also a friendship that predates us working together. Few people have had a front-row seat on how this journey has gone for me seeing as we are both CMU guys. I know I can count on him as both a confidant and a coworker.
  • Trevor Woods, a lead voice here and one of the hardest-working and most loyal people I know. A good man with a big heart and as dependable as it gets. He makes the trip from Indiana to each Michigan home game to be a part of this site’s game coverage. A true grinder.
  • Chris Castellani and Luke Ghiardi: Not only my longest-running podcast co-hosts but two guys I consider brothers to me. Our first shows together were during that 2018 Final Four run. Some of our last shows together were the pandemic-season run to the Elite Eight. There were a lot of football highs and lows mixed in there. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that stuff with anyone else. I’m proud of the men that both of you are.
  • This community: We butt heads in the comments and you call me names, but I love you all for it. Thank you for your support of this site and no matter the topic, we have always had pretty healthy conversations here. This extends to our YouTube and Discord communities, which have exploded over the last year or so. Our chats there and on social media are things I genuinely enjoy being a part of. Thank you for supporting the website and I hope you continue to do so in the next chapter.
  • Michigan Athletics: Once upon a time, a site called “Maize n Brew” would not be allowed to have a seat at the table for in-person game coverage. The SIDs for the sports we’ve covered are some of the most cordial and accommodating people there are. Thank you for welcoming us and letting us be part of the experience.

If I forgot anyone, accept my heartfelt apologies. You’re not any less important. I’ve just killed a lot of brain cells since taking this site over.

My parting words are to show continued love to the people that step up in whatever form the next chapter of this site takes. I feel strongly about this platform and its place in the Michigan sphere of the internet. Support these folks.

I’ve been asked before what it takes to make it in the world of digital media. The truth of the matter is, there is no set path. The only advice I have to give here is to be coachable, be open-minded, and be seen. If you have the drive to create something, tug on that thread. I promise you’ll be happy you did. Don’t wait for the waves to push you where you want to go. You have to be the wave.

For now, I’m going to enjoy this weekend, reflect on the work that was done here, and get after it on a new and exciting adventure that starts Monday. I’ll be staying in the market, so you are not completely rid of me yet. Keep your eye on the socials for an announcement on that.

I love this place with the entirety of my being. And I will always be grateful to everyone who has been a part of it.

Your pal,

Anthony Broome / @anthonytbroome on Twitter