I'm headed to Nashville on Saturday for the UK-Vanderbilt men's basketball game. I'll provide all the normal coverage that I do from home, including a live blog (Internet pending), video and postgame story.
I'll post the live blog on here tomorrow. I'll likely be away from the blog most of Saturday while I hit the road to Vandy, but tune in tomorrow evening for Cat Scratches' first road action of the year.
I can still remember sitting in this very same spot in the Joe Craft Center more than one year ago, twiddling my thumbs and surfing the Internet when DeWayne Peevy, UK's associate athletics director of media relations (and my boss), wandered into the room and said, "Hey Eric, when are we going to launch the blog?"
See, weeks earlier, UK Athletics brought me over from the traditional media to kind of pioneer a new social media aspect in what was your typical run of the mill media relations department. To that point, few schools had tried to reach out to their fans and provide content other than the tradition news release.
Peevy, hired just months earlier as the new leader in the media relations department and the new men's basketball contact, had different ideas.
He wanted to bring the fans closer to UK Athletics and provide them with in-house information that no one else could provide. Peevy wanted a UK Athletics insider, a person that would write news stories, features, run live blogs, shoot video, etc. from inside the athletic department to give the most passionate fan base in the world another avenue for sports information.
Although we didn't know where we going at the time, Peevy entrusted me with starting and developing "Cat Scratches," the official blog of UK Athletics.
When we first conceptualized it, as I described above, I was a recent - and lost - graduate twiddling my fingers in the office of a multi-million dollar athletics department. In short, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Weeks later after that initial conversation with Peevy, we launched Cat Scratches on Jan. 14, 2009. Although we've dived into multiple other social media endeavors since then with Twitter, Facebook, multimedia, etc., Cat Scratches was the engine behind the movement.
Well, today marks our first birthday. Although my tired and mangled fingers would tell you different (they've typed enough to make me feel like I'm 60) today we turn 1 year old.
Contrary to the amount of words this post is going to eat up, we don't want to make a tremendously big deal out of it. After all, we feel like we just started this yesterday. But today we did want to look back at what got us here and reflect on 10 key moments of the blog.
We have no clue where we're headed or what the next year holds, but we will continue to build on the mission we set more than a year ago when Peevy strolled into the office and asked me when we were launching the blog.
That is to provide you, the fans, with a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week blog with the most up-to-date news surrounding the UK program and offer you the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on inside the UK athletics program. In short, we want to continue to provide you premium information on a daily basis without the premium cost, because you are, after all, what makes the blog possible. (We want to continue to encourage everyone to send us their feedback and comments either on the actual posts or to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Without further delay, here's our look back at some of the key moments that have helped shape this blog (in chronological order):
2.) The live blog introduction: One of the biggets components of Cat Scratches was the introduction of the CoveritLive live blog. The application allowed us to bring fans a live blog in real-time format where fans could send in questions and comments and join in on the discussion. We started the live blog with the UK-South Carolina game and it's blossomed ever since. We've used it for everything from live game blogs to live player play chats and live scouting previews.
3.) Football Signing Day: We didn't know what we had going on until Football Signing Day when we hosted a live Signing Day blog with some of UK's assistant coaches. As we reported on the letters being faxed in, we sat down with some of the UK coaches to talk about the recruiting class. We anticipated a few hundred people would be on, but we never could have imagined the 4,000-plus people that logged in. To borrow a much-used cliche: It was a whirlwind. Expect something similar this year.
5.) Along for the journey: Cat Scratches finally hit the road with some of the teams in early March with a trip Gainesville, Fla., for the UK-Florida game. Just a week later we were back on the road for the SEC basketball Tournament in Tampa to profile the Cats' tourney run. Although the journey ended a bit early for UK, it opened the door for future road trips and expansive coverage. Expect more this spring.
7.) UK Athletics is more than basketball: That notion was reaffirmed on our trip to Columbus, Ohio, for the softball team's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history. We traveled to and from Columbus for three consecutive days - that's a story for another time - to cover each game of the Cats' historic postseason appearance. UK ultimately came up short of a Super Regional appearance, but the feedback and numbers on the live blog shed proof of Big Blue Nation's love for all 22 of its varsity sports.
8.) The multimedia factor: It took me a while to warm up to the use of video - after all, my forte and background is writing - but I finally embraced the use of video a few months ago and quickly realized I couldn't have been more wrong about the use of multimedia. Since our first rifle video feature with student assistant Evan Crane, we have shot video at news conferences and at interviews with players and coaches, each of which has picked up hundreds - sometimes thousands - of views on the blog and our YouTube channel.
9.) A growing production team: One thing I've always wanted to make sure happened with this blog is that it was not all about me. It truly isn't. It's about UK Athletics, and there are so many different people that can tell the never-ending stories of the student-athletes, the tradition and the history of the athletics program. That's why I've been so pleased over the past few months to introduce the likes of Tom Leach, our newest baseball contributor Adam Revelette, our student assistants, and of course, Pete Camagna (better known to some of you as Cam) to help tell the stories. Without Camagna, UK's web coordinator and the blog's right-hand man, the blog is not possible.
10.) A new look: If there was one thing that lacked about our blog for months, it was the fact that, well, it didn't look like a traditional blog. Quite frankly, we didn't have the blogging software to do the things we wanted to do. Finally, on Oct. 21, we were able to unveil Cat Scratches Version 3.0, giving the blog a much-needed facelift. The new look separated each post into its own individual entry, opened the door for comments and questions, created an RSS feed for each post and helped organize our archiving system.
There are so many other posts and stories that I could go on and on about. Whether it was the LeBron James visit, the retirment news of Rich Brooks or the historic run by the volleyball team, they have all played a key role in developing Cat Scratches.
Although it seems like just yesterday when Peevy encouraged me to start the blog, we've come a long way and hope to take it much farther.
Here's hoping we're back to do it again next year.
We don't like to brag on ourselves, but we couldn't help but point out that www.stumbleupon.com has tabbed Kentucky No. 1 in its Southeastern Conference College Basketball Marketing rankings.
The basketball-driven Web site took an analytical look at all 12 SEC schools and how porgrams are communicating to young athletes (or fans) from a digital point of view. Kentucky beat out No. 2 Tennessee and No. 3 Florida for the top spot.
The point is we're proud to be succussfully connecting with you, the fans. However, we'd like to continue to raise the bar and stay at No. 1. If there are more things you would like to see not only on this blog but at UKathletics.com, please feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com.
Just wanted to take this time to wish everyone happy holidays.
No matter what holiday you celebrate or how you choose to celebrate it, please take some time away from the Internet and away from UK Athletics and spend it with your family and friends. We'll be here when you get back.
I will actually be taking some time off for Christmas Eve and Christmas as well to spend it with my family in Louisville, Ky. I will return Saturday from Nashville, Tenn., for coverage of the Kentucky football team as it gets set to play Clemson in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. The news conference on Saturday is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT, so I should have some posts after that.
Until then, happy holidays, from everyone at UK Athletics.
We heard this cliche that the third time is a charm. We figured we'd give it a shot with this blog.
Not that we've been unsatisfied with the now 9-month-old Cat Scratches, but we've decided it was time for a new look, one more suited for a blog. So today, I'm proud to unveil Cat Scratches version 3.0.
I won't take too much time to run over the details of the new blog because you can browse through and experiment for yourself, but the biggest additions to the new Cat Scratches format is that it has all the components of what a blog is all about.
No longer will you have to write in e-mails to post your thoughts (although we'll still gladly accept your opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org ). With the new blog, you'll now be able to post comments, pending our approval.
Each post will now have its own separate entry. Instead of going to posts for each day of the week, everything we'll be provided in one scroll-down feature. You can click on each post to view it by itself, which will also allow for the new RSS feed to work how it was designed to. Instead of getting just one update a day through the feed, you'll now receive an update every time we make a post. We encourage you to re-subscribe in the box on the right sidebar.
While you're over there, take the time to peruse through the other blog features. Instead of cycling through a lost list of archives, we have a much more organized and easy-to-use calendar that will archive each and every post. Below that are some links to Kentucky's best coverage of newspapers, Web sites and blogs, as well our UKAthleticsNews Twitter feed and tags to find related posts.
More than anything, the redesign was created for you, the fans. It's a much easier to read, more interactive blog than we used before, and we're hoping to connect you even closer with UK Athletics.
As we switch over to the new format, there will more than likely be a few kinks to work out, so be patient. However, we would appreciate any feedback you all have. If there is something you don't like or a component you hope we can add, please let us know by commenting on a post or sending an e-mail to email@example.com .
Yes, the domain name has changed and yes, you'll have to re-bookmark subscribe to the RSS feed, but it's worth doing again. We're still UK's official blog of UK Athletics and we're out to provide you the most comprehensive, balanced, inside coverage of UK's athletics programs.
And this time we promise to stick around a little longer. At least we hope so.