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WVUIE97 Expresses His Thanks As He Steps Down As The Smoking Musket Site Manager

It's very hard to let go control of something that has become part of me and even harder to put into words how I feel about it. But here goes...

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After almost five years of doing this, it is time to hand over the reins of The Smoking Musket to a new site manager, Michael Miller. I've known this day was coming for quite some time, but until I sat down to write this, it didn't seem quite real that I was stepping down. Now that it's here, it's a lot more emotional than I was prepared for.

It's simply time to let someone else run the site. Managing this site simply takes a lot of time that I can't afford anymore. Five years (almost) has been a good run. I couldn't have asked for better support from the management teams at SB Nation, nor could I have asked for a better staff to work with here on the site itself.

I first want need to thank the original site staff going back to the old "West By God Virginia" days as a blog on Wordpress. I discovered the site on SI's daily Hot Clicks (HERE'S the fateful article, you'll want to check it out) shortly after Rich Rodriguez stepped down and it's been a part of my life ever since. Dr. Charley West eventually took a chance on me to head up the daily Shotgun/Throwdown before asking me to take over management of the site several years later. I'm eternally grateful to Charley for trusting in me, giving me a chance and for being a good friend.

Charley wasn't alone. An immense thank you is also due to 5th Year Senior & Country Roads for being such good friends and for your help with the site over the years. Your friendship and guidance have been and continues to be immeasurable. I couldn't forget The 25314 and Styles. As a direct result of knowing these five gentlemen, I've been able to meet and get to know countless other amazing folks who are very dear to me.

That brings me to the current staff.

Dre, Will, Robert, Patrick, UpToMyEers, SB, JP...thank you all for your contributions and help when you could. Sincerely, thank you. I want to offer a sincere thank you to all former staff members I've worked with as well.

Dustin, you're the (primarily) hoops voice this site has needed for quite some time. You've been a wonderful asset to the team.

Jake, you've really taken to this lately and I hope you continue to write and grow as a blogger.

Priddy, you have a wonderful, unique "voice" in your writing and we've missed you as a regular contributor.

Kirch, you've handled the Q&A's like a pro and you run our Twitter feed absolutely swimmingly. Giving you the keys to our Twitter feed was one of the best decisions I've made.

John, the ORIGINAL blogger for WVU sports, the music and graphics man, your help over the years can't be quantified. Plus, the Top Gun parody would have been unpossible without you.

Mike, you took like a fish to water when you took over the daily Throwdown and I know the Musket remains in capable hands as well. I'm sure you'll make Charley and me proud.

Then there was one...Smitty. Over the last few years, Smitty was my right hand man running this thing. He IS The Smoking Musket Podcast and my sounding board for just about everything, most importantly reviewing new staff members. It's because of him, his content ideas and guidance that we've been able to grow the site as much as we have (even if he can't do a 40 oz. dash). Plus, he's responsible for getting the Musket flag on ESPN's Gameday.

TSM Flag Kirk Corso

I love you all like brothers. I could not have done this without every single one of you.

A million thank yous to the regular and not-so-regular readers for helping us to grow. It's all for nothing without you reading and commenting. Since I took over, we've grown from around 400 Facebook "Likes" to almost 14,000. Also, our Twitter followers have grown from 2,200(ish) to the precipice of 10,000.

I also need to thank my other friends and family for their help and support of me and the site. I take a piece of each and every one of you with me each day. I am who I am because of you.

Being a part of The Smoking Musket has afforded me many unforgettable experiences. I got flown to New York for a Nike fashion show and hung out with Huggs for the better part of the day for goodness sake. But most of all, what I'll cherish most is the people it's allowed me to meet and get to know (even if only online). This is a tremendous community that we've built and I'm extremely proud to be a part of it.

I had hoped that I'd have the chance to cover a National Championship before I stepped down, but it wasn't...hold on, wait a second...Rifle. We have the best, by God, Rifle team in the country, nay WORLD. One day though, we'll get one of the big ones. I do believe that.

I better wrap this up. Thank you all!!! This isn't goodbye from the community. I promise that I won't be a stranger. I'll still be around to comment on things and to offer as many gifs as possible in the game threads. But now, my Watch is ended. I can just go, drink and know things.


Sincerely yours,
Mark Stickel

Take it away, Frank:

One more time:

Let's Go