Once again Jed Drenning has crafted a very special football preview magazine devoted exclusively to Mountaineer football. Many of you probably know Jed from his work in pregame, postgame and as sideline reporter for the MSN Radio's broadcast of WVU games, but he also runs his own website that focuses primarily on WVU football - TheSignalCaller.com - and frequently contributes posts to WVUSports.com. In addition to all that, for the last 4 years now he's produced Jed Drenning's TheSignalCaller.com WVU/Big 12 preview magazine.
It's a football preview magazine in the mold of what we're used to seeing from Athlon or The Sporting News - but built especially for WVU fans. Each Big 12 conference foe has their own section written by someone close to their respective programs while WVU is examined from every angle. Additionally there are a variety of special features dedicated to Mountaineer fans and the players, coaches and games of the past and future.
It's a one-of-a-kind publication unique not just to the Mountaineers, but really among anyone. It's rare to find something with such a depth and quality of information built for any specific group of fans. Jed brought me on board to do some writing for his site in 2011 and I contributed to the mag last year. This past season I took an expanded role on the site and also contributed more features for the magazine and got a front row seat to the staggering amount of time and energy that Jed actually puts into this thing - it's even more impressive up close.
But you don't need to hear it from me - let's learn more about TheSignalCaller.com from the man himself to see what he's got in store for WVU fans this season.
This is a pretty unique product for WVU fans - a football preview magazine created exclusively for them. What inspired you to put together your first issue back in 2010?
Jed Drenning: The thought process started in 2006 with the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt. I coudn't get one for two days - everyone was sold out. Then I finally got my hands on one and despite the cover, there were only a couple pages of WVU content. So I thought "if just a cover could generate this level of excitement, what would a whole magazine do?" Then the next thought was why hadn't this been done and why was I not doing it? The process evolved and we put out the first issue in 2010.
If you could, give us a quick synopsis of what we can expect to find in the magazine this year. I mean, how much info are we really talking about here?
JD: A lot of it is what you'd anticipate from a team previews (we do one for each Big 12 team) with a look at the offense, defense and special teams, but we try to put the info together so it's quickly accessible and graphically interesting. Each team gets 3 pages of content and you know I'm a stat guy, so we identify some relevant numbers. And this isn't me writing everything - I make it a point to tap folks who have their fingers on the pulse of their respective program. For instance we tapped a couple of the SB Nation bloggers this year - the Iowa State section was done by the guys over at Wide Right & Natty Lite and the Kansas State section by Bring On The Cats. I want people in West Virginia to read it and get a view from the inside looking out.
With WVU we really get under the hood with expanded coverage. I lean on John Antonik for a nice overview feature (you can actually get his Pardon Our Dust feature over at Jed's site here) - and WVU Director of Football Communications Mike Montoro handles the WVU team page. Then I did extended features on both the defense and offense - that one darn near wrote itself.
We then extend it with a look at recruiting for each squad. Greg Hunter from BlueGoldNews.com gives us a quick overview of the incoming talent at each school and gave us an entire page on the newcomers to Morgantown. After that we expand our view again to the conference as a whole where Berry Tramel, the well known columnist from the Oklahoman, gives us a great article on Big 12 expansion and then another level to the national picture where Samuel Chi of BCSGuru.com gives us a good rundown of info on a national level. Finally we provide a historical context for Mountaineer fans with articles like what you, Ben Kercheval and Tony Caridi did, talking about recent Mountaineer developments and players and where they fit within the WVU history.
I know your list of contributors grows every year - who are some of the folks who wrote articles for the magazine this year?
This year we branched out and added a ton of talented folks, some of whom we just talked about. Berry Tramel, Tony Caridi, who put together a WVU 'All Foxhole Team', Ben Kercheval, who ranked greatest quarterbacks in WVU history, Samuel Chi and John Antonik as well as yourself returned from last year. In addition we have a collection of guys from around the conference who did a great job with the individual teams. As I said, Mike Montoro handled that part for WVU. One new thing was the piece you edited where we brought in a collection of bloggers to weigh in on the upcoming season. That was Chris Anderson of EerSport.com (WVU's 247 site affiliate), Keenan Cummings of WVSports.com (of the Yahoo!/Rivals Network), your own @WVUIE97 from here at the Musket and Patrick Southern of BlueGoldNews.com (interestingly this piece had the distinction of being Patrick's last assignment before he headed off to law school). Finally as another added feature this year, the time was right to do a thoughtful piece on the draft - Caleb Wygal from WVUPros.com helped us out with that.
On a related note, one of my favorite parts of this is when I'm getting all these pieces in from folks - guys like Berry or Ben or John or you - and I'm the first person to see them. I read through them and realize how much WVU fans will enjoy all of it, and I'm the first guy who gets eyes on it - that's pretty cool.
Now for the most important question - where can people pick up a copy of Jed Drenning's TheSignalCaller.com
We're in around 240 locations in West Virginia and into surrounding states. You can find the magazine at Little General, Go Mart, Circle K and Mountaineer Mart as well as 7 Elevens in the eastern panhandle. You can also pick one up at Mountaineer World and a few other assorted mom and pop shops around the state. If you're a Mountaineer fan who's not in the area, you can order it directly online from the site at www.TheSignalCaller.com.
Thanks to Jed for sitting down with us for a few minutes. Head on over to TheSignalCaller.com where Jed gives you a taste of what to find in the magazine:
Here's his introductory "Letter From The Editor."
Here's John Antonik's "Pardon Our Dust."
And here's Berry Tramel's piece on Big 12 Expansion - "Why Bigger Isn't Always Better."
If you'd like to learn more, you can email Jed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also be sure to check him out on Twitter: @TheSignalCaller. There are only a limited number of copies available, so pick one up now and get fired up for football season!