As part of a series, Bourbon Meyer will get to know a few of the writers and bloggers who cover Gator athletics. Today, Dan Thompson sat down with Andy Hutchins, editor-in-chief of Alligator Army, to discuss Andy’s meteoric blogging rise, how he attracts great talent to his blog and his thoughts on the upcoming Gators football season.
DT: How did you get involved with blogging and how did that lead to your current role with SB Nation and Alligator Army?
AH: I’ve been writing for one outlet or another since 2005, when I started writing for The Verge, the FLORIDA TODAY’s teen section. I didn’t write much about sports there, but I sort of learned how to write and realized journalism was my thing through it. I started my first blog, The Arena, in 2007 as a result of Mindy McAdams telling the early a.m. Intro to Journalism class I was in to go start a blog. Through writing for that blog for the better part of two years, I ended up: writing a couple posts for Deadspin; having an ill-fated three-week term of running the Deadspin Twitter account; “interning” for The Big Lead; reaching out to Sporting News’s Chris Littmann and ending up taking a freelance gig at The Sporting Blog (may it rest in peace); starting and running The Rookies until servers decided to kill us dead; getting banned from Deadspin; coming over from TSB to SB Nation when SB Nation purchased TSB; and sliding into the role of Alligator Army editor-in-chief in April 2011.
It’s been fun.
DT: You have had quite the staff of writers helping you at Alligator Army (FlaGators, Lance Davis and The Bull Gator). How have you been able to find such great help?
AH: FlaGators was a longtime AA commenter who had a rapport with the community and a lot of passion. Lance writes a really good Tumblr and has some nice journalism chops and recruiting knowledge. The Bull Gator was an AA commenter, too, and writes his own blog that has a really strong voice. And then there are a bunch of other folks who have helped out a lot, like BK_Gator and Chekhov’s Spread Gun Option, and who continue to make the job fun to do by being interesting people in the comments.
DT: What has been your favorite event to cover as a Gator blogger?
AH: Probably men’s basketball’s run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, even if it broke my heart. This last year’s Florida basketball team was immensely frustrating, until it became incredibly fun, and then reverted to being immensely frustrating at the worst damn time possible.
DT: Tell me more about what you do for SB Nation?
AH: The easy way to put it is that I do a little bit of everything on the editorial side. I work on shifts as both editor and writer, help scheme to take over the world on occasion, and do a lot of gaping at how great the writers I write with really are. And sometimes, I write a thing about Kobe that make people mad.
DT: Switching gears for a minute, what are your predictions for the Gators football team in the fall?
AH: The team itself is better than most expect it to be, especially on offense, but does not win as many games as people want, going 8-4 or something. Beyond that, I’m still not sure.
DT: Who would you choose from these position battles?
DT: Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel?
AH: I’ll take Brissett, because I think he’s a more composed field general right now, but I think the difference between the two is nearly nonexistent.
DT: Chaz Green or Matt Patchan?
AH: Patchan, bless his heart, is reliably about as healthy as the Eurozone (and I feel bad writing that with him literally two seats away from me in this class), but he’s much further along the development curve than Green. Entering this fall, I take Patchan; by November, I might take Green.
DT: Jabari Gorman or Pop Saunders?
AH: I haven’t seen nearly enough of Gorman to have a really enlightened opinion on him, but Pop reminds me strongly of Ahmad Black, and just needs to learn to tackle. So I’ll lean Saunders.
DT: Louchiez Purifoy or Jaylen Watkins?
AH: Purifoy has the size to be the guy on the other side from Marcus Roberson. What I saw of Watkins this spring made me think he’s improved, but I think his destiny is as a really good nickel back.
DT: Who will be the standout player for the Gators football team this upcoming season?
AH: It’s Andre Debose, and not just because he’s a guy I’ve been beating the drum for for three years. He’s got speed for weeks, and Brent Pease has never had a guy quite as talented as Debose is to deploy in a passing game. If Jeffcoby Brisskel can get him the ball, he’ll do good things.
DT: Ha, great answer, Andy. What is the plan for Alligator Army in the future? What is next for Andy Hutchins?
AH: To keep writing and keep growing. SB Nation’s a great place to be in general, and it might be a place for me, too, but I’ve gotta do this whole graduate-from-UF (this fall!) thing first.– Daniel Thompson is a graduate of the University of Florida, with degrees in Political Science and Economics. During his time as an Undergraduate, Thompson worked at the University of Florida Football Recruiting Office for three years. He can be found on Twitter @DK_Thompson and @SND_Gators and manages TheGatorsDaily.com.