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July 31, 2012

So Long for Now

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By Willys DeVoll
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his site has been on the Internet for two years as of today. It feels like a lot longer than that, really, and I don’t have a good idea of whether that’s good or bad.

Part of that phenomenon is, no doubt, a byproduct of the kind of two-year period in Stanford sports that The Daily Axe has documented. Women’s basketball continued its unbelievable streak of Final Four appearances, the men’s basketball team continues its bizarre dwelling in hardwood purgatory and Stanford continues to win Directors’ Cups. But the real story—because the numbers continue to confirm that one sport drives the interest, web traffic, and revenue bus—has been Stanford football, which was a slightly above-average bowl team with an unlikely, throwback Heisman candidate when The Daily Axe opened its digital doors. We all know the story since then (if you don’t, click around the site and read about it). Andrew Luck emerged as one of college football’s greatest players of all time, Jim Harbaugh built a program like very few coaches ever have, and there’s reason to think that Stanford has built the foundation for sustainable power-conference success.

That’s lucky for me. When I started this site, one of my primary motivations was filling the gap in web sports coverage of Card athletics. There were the local newspapers covering our teams, of course, but so much was lacking—there wasn’t a particularly good place to go right after games to read same-night coverage of Stanford, and there wasn’t a particularly good place to get commentary with a bit of an edge. (Don’t get me started on pay-to-read sites.)

Coverage has expanded exponentially since then. Stanford football has its own blog on ESPN, which isn’t even true of Michigan or USC or Texas or Bama or any other team except Notre Dame (which, as an independent, isn’t covered by any of ESPN’s conference blogs, so Stanford remains unique as a conference member with its own ESPN blog). Kevin Gemmell was kind enough to reach out to me right as he started working for The Worldwide Leader a year ago, and he does an excellent job on the beat.

But my real affinity lies with the other non-megacorp blogs authored by fellow Stanford Men, and sites that I would be reading on a daily basis even if I had never started up The Daily Axe. Hank Waddles and Scott Allen of Go Mighty Card and Rule of Tree (respectively) started their work during the same summer, and I’d like to think that our three sites greatly expanded web offerings for Stanford sports fans. Knowing what I know now about the web, traffic and social media, I am absolutely sure that a lot of people are reading those sites every day, and I’m proud of the collaboration we’ve done over the last 24 months.

Which brings me back to the luck part. The Daily Axe hit an enormous traffic milestone recently. It’s one I would never have anticipated. It means that a lot—and I mean a lot—of people have made The Daily Axe a part of their lives. The site has done what I think are great things and what I know are shoddy things, but I consider it a success overall. It’s been unwieldy, and I’ve learned nearly everything as I’ve gone along, but it’s also taught me a heck of a lot about writing, media, business, (dare I say) life… it’s been a blessing, and it’s been a blessing because people read and interact.

There are a lot of reasons why now is the time for me to stop, and why I have not made any serious efforts to seek out successors. Maybe it’s selfish, but this is my baby. Unless I know that someone can take it over and improve the quality of the site, I’m happy to keep it up with this farewell message as its last post. And it will stay up—hosting is cheap and the ads will continue to harness search engine traffic for a little bit of revenue—so everything that’s gone up on the domain will be on the internet until some unforeseeable point in the future.

Plus, the timing feels right. The Luck Era is over, college sports has entered a stage in which fans and reporters are now more than privy to its nasty underbelly, and I have a senior thesis to focus on. I’m not done writing on the Internet, and I have some projects both in and out of sports brewing. But The Daily Axe has done more than I had ever hoped it would, and it’s time for the old horse to get a nice country retirement.

A lot of sites trail off, never leaving a clear indication of what happened. I can’t stand that. This post puts a period at the end of a sentence I’ve really enjoyed. I receive a lot of neat opportunities for Stanford fans via my site email address, and one or more of those might eventually manifest themselves as content on the site. But I will not be covering Cardinal sports consistently here anymore, and will be shifting my writing over to new projects.

For anyone who’s interested in making something like this site, and especially for any young kid/high schooler/undergrad who might be able to learn something from my experience, I’ve posted some lessons I’ve learned from doing this over on my personal site. I’m not an expert, but hopefully my work here can be beneficial to anyone like the guy I was two years ago.

To everyone who has helped me and the site over the last two years, thank you. It’s been fun.

Go Card.

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About the Author

Willys DeVoll
Willys DeVoll is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Axe. He writes about Stanford sports for and writes fiction, reviews and commentary elsewhere.


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