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See You Around

Thank you for making nine years at PFB possible.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

In the spring of 2014, former four-star basketball recruit Austin Grandstaff decommitted from Travis Ford and Oklahoma State and weeks later committed to the other OSU (Ohio State). I was a senior in college at the time, and it piqued my interest — or, to be more specific, it ticked me off — so much so that I created an anonymous twitter account (all the rave back in the day!) called The Okie Pokie.

I started writing for Pistols Firing Blog later that summer.

My last post, almost a decade later, is today.

I’m leaving Pistols Firing Blog in the capable hands of Marshall Scott, who bought the biz from Kyle Porter several years ago and has been gracious enough to let me ride shotgun with him since.

As you might expect this announcement comes with a wave of emotions for me. I remember attending my first game as a credentialed media member covering OSU — a hoops game against Baylor inside Gallagher-Iba that was downright rowdy. I remember the Bedlam shootout of 2017 and the long night of grinding out content afterward with Porter. I remember when Tyron Johnson committed to transferring to OSU and the excitement that washed over me. More recently, and more vividly, I remember crying behind the uprights on the east side of Boone Pickens Stadium when OSU beat OU in November 2021. It was just days after I did lab work at the doctor and had a suspicion my cancer had returned — and days before I learned from my oncologist that I was right.

I’ve lived through numerous seasons of life while covering the school I grew up loving, but this new season is carrying me elsewhere. My wife and I are expecting our second child later this year, a Hail Mary connection made possible through IVF that puts to shame any Rudolph-to-Washington connection I ever witnessed, and I no longer have the bandwidth and emotional energy to commit to a second job in addition to a second child. I want to be more present for my family and to more fully immerse myself in my responsibilities at CBS Sports. If I’m being honest, I selfishly want to become a fan again as well. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve cared about OSU sports from the sidelines. 

I want to say thank you to everyone who made my time at PFB possible. And I will, I promise. But I first want to share some scattered thoughts in the space below as I reflect on my time with the website. So humor me, if you will, as I say some goodbyes and thank yous, and dish out some parting thoughts.

The Okie Pokie

Had I known that creating The Okie Pokie — which later turned into a volunteer role at PFB, which turned into a part-time role at PFB, which turned into a full-time role at CBS Sports — would have the impact it would have way back in 2014 … I mean, talk about sliding doors moments.

It scares me to think how vastly different my life would be now.

I’m always hesitant to share with others what I do for a living even a decade later because it feels so hilarious that this has been a “job.” I am incredibly fortunate and don’t take it for granted. Sometimes good opportunities fall into the laps of talented people, sometimes they go to the fortunate and undeserving, and I fully believe I was 100% the latter and not the former. 

It’s so funny to look back now on The Okie Pokie — where I could let my alter ego and unfiltered OSU thoughts go wild — and think how that turned into my career. I tweeted countdowns to the football season, tracked closely offers to recruits and monitored which recruits were followed by which coaches. Somehow, Kyle Porter saw what I was doing and thought hey, this dude could help me build my business. You probably have opinions on Porter already, but mine is simple: man, that guy was an idiot for seeing something in me. (But seriously: man, I am so grateful for him, his obviously flawed talent evaluation and his friendship.)

OSU fans are the best

If you’ve lived life long enough you probably have a story about how a church group or a friend group or a pickleball group or some group of people impacted your life and was there for you in tough times.

I’m fortunate enough to say that for me I think there were at times I had an entire fanbase behind me.

When I first got cancer in 2021, OSU fans bought shirts and sent Venmos to help support our family. When my cancer recurred in late 2021 and I had to go through four more rounds of chemo, OSU fans were again there for my family and I; a friend started a GoFundMe and a ton of people I’ve never met or only stumbled across online chipped in to again support us financially, on top of — of course — buying more shirts. I’m still paying bills off, but they are an infinitely less crushing burden than they would have been if not for your help.

During that time, I got emails and direct messages of encouragement from random strangers, meals were delivered to the hospital to help my wife, and prayers were sent our way in ways that helped us feel loved and supported — especially my wife, who was juggling a full-time job, a toddler, and a full-grown adult infant who was constantly sick and sleeping and couldn’t help much.

I remember near the end of my three months of chemo, when I was really feeling the cumulative effect of months of rigorous treatment, losing weight and my spirits were dwindling rapidly, Dave Hunziker caught wind that I was in distress. So he called me out of the blue one day. We talked about OSU sports, about family, kids, life, healthcare. I don’t remember much of the conversation if I’m being honest — I was in a chemo fog — I just remember that Dave Hunziker called me to encourage me. That meant so much to me. OSU fans’ support both before cancer, during cancer and after cancer has meant so much, too. I’m a combative soul by nature and tend to go against the grain, which shows at times in my writing, but through it all I think most OSU fans were kind and respectful to me when a lot of times I deserved neither kindness nor respect. 

Too many ‘Thank Yous’

I promise not to get sappy in this space — but I’d be remiss to not mention a few people who have impacted my life while at PFB. I’ll keep it brief, I promise….

Thank you, Kyle Porter. You believed in me, invested time in me, and groomed me to be a better writer, editor and person. 

Thank you, Marshall Scott. You gave me space when I needed time off in recent years, when I suspect others would not have been so gracious. Your kind soul and biz acumen is a killer 1-2 combo as a boss. 

Thank you, Kyle Cox. You’re a machine of a writer with a soft heart whose friendship I cherish. I’m so impressed by how much you’ve grown as a writer, and trying to grow PFB alongside you has been one of the joys of my life. 

Finally: Thank you, Lacey. You put up with wild working hours over the years and somehow never flinched, even when I was banging out a softball news story on Fridays at 9 p.m. or grinding out 1,200 words on a three-star recruit over a holiday weekend with family. Your encouragement sustained me through good times and bad, and I’m grateful for your support.

Parting thoughts

On New Years Eve in 2021, I was in the hospital wrapping up my second of four rounds of T.I.P chemo. I was in a dark place emotionally. Covid was spiking across the country, and with my immune system susceptible to infection as is, I was scared of what a covid infection would mean for me. So at a time when I needed family and friends most, I rejected visitors — even my wife, Lacey, at times — and grit my teeth through treatment. If I could just get through this alone and come out on the other side unscathed, I thought, it’d be worth the isolation. (In hindsight: what an idiotic thought process!)

So just before the New Year, with fear of death front of my mind and the feeling of death from the pandemic all around me, I made about 30 minutes worth of videos for my wife, my daughter and my family offering them my wishes — in the event I didn’t make it home — for their life.

I never deleted those videos from my phone. Never watched them, either, because that pain is still too real and too fresh on the mind. But the heartache and earnest longing for more life, and the feeling of wishing I had been more as a husband, a dad, a friend, remains with me. 

Reflecting on it now, in some sense I’m grateful to have sunk to that low.

Because you know what I didn’t make a video about? How the Travis Ford era came to an end. How Justin Gilbert’s INT in 2013 Bedlam should have been an INT. How Mike Gundy should have handled the OAN controversy. How Mike Boynton should’ve taken Cade and Co. to the Final Four.

Because none of those things ultimately matter.

I made videos about my family and friends and my girls because they are what matter most to me.

Sports are an amazing distraction from life because it can provide an escape and offer a communal experience — both good and bad — to partake with others. But it is just that: an escape. For those with dumb luck, it’s a job, but it is not life or death or in the end all that meaningful. I didn’t sit in my hospital bed in 2021 contemplating what death meant and suddenly think about how OSU should have had a more sound running scheme under Mike Yurcich or should recruit more four and five-stars under Mike Gundy. I thought about my family and my wife and my daughter and my friends. That was it. I thought about what I might leave behind and the lives I touched, both good and bad, and how I might be remembered.

I don’t want my last words on this website to end with me standing on a soapbox preaching as if I found the meaning of life and have perspective no one else has. I haven’t, and I don’t. But if I can leave you with something to think about, I hope you will make time to contemplate what matters and what doesn’t in your own life. At one point I cared so much about a player who went on to average 2.4 points per game in his college career that I inadvertently made a career out of caring about such things. Over time and through hardships, I have learned where those things stand in my life and what is, and should be, a priority for me in however many days or months or years I have left here. I hope you can do the same.

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