The dog days of summer seem to have finally broken. That familiar autumnal chill is in the air, rustling the leaves to and fro, leaves that while green now, will burst into an explosion of color in one last hurrah to the world they’ve inhibited over the last six months.
The seasons are meant to change. Nature, by its nature, is never static. It’s a cacophony of movement and noise, a grand exhibition of the joys of life, even in its silence.
So too, have we been changing and growing.
As a blog over the last year, we have learned a lot of valuable lessons and have worked hard on becoming better in providing the content that readers want to see and interact with. Now, as the familiar, cool touch of autumn nights approach, we’re happy to bring you that slice of home in any way we can.
This season, we have secured credentials to at least four of the 12 MAC member institutions for the upcoming football season, and are working on making that number go higher. Last year, we had one credentialed member. We hope that having embedded writers will help bring more clarity and focus to our writing. There is nothing like face-to-face interaction to know exactly what it is that you’re seeing.
On that theme of interactions, we are introducing more ways to connect with you, the community, on a more intimate level.
This offseason, we tested out our new Twitch channel (twitch.tv/hustlebelt) to work out the kinks before the season kicked off in earnest. Through our Twitch channel, we hope to present a visually captivating experience that can be taken in live with the community in a modern, technologically progressive fashion.
Our “NCAA FOOTBALL 2014 PREDICTS THE FUTURE” series will move to the Twitch channel, but will continue to be selected each week by you, the audience via Twitter poll. During the season, we will debut “Beltcade”, a live Q&A session post-weeknight #MACtion, which is like most other Q&A shows… except it’ll have a randomly featured game on-screen each week. Those two series, combined with other special events, will give you an opportunity to directly interact with us in a way that we can’t accomplish through Twitter or the website forums.
We will also debut our weekly musical playlist on our new Spotify channel (spotify.com/hustlebelt) prior to the start of the season. Each week, the staff at Hustle Belt (with occasional help from our audience) will assemble a list of songs which follow a theme, and those “Shuffle Belt” playlists will be released for public consumption. We hope you enjoy this aural experience and how it shows off the personality and humor that we have as a website in a more interpretive fashion.
The more things change, the more things remain the same.
In terms of game coverage, you can count on the return of “Five Things Learned”, our series of team-specific game reaction pieces, as well as our yet-to-be-named Q&A series with writers from other sites about upcoming opponents, to supplement our usual previews and recaps.
“Ye Olde Roundtable”, our weekly staff discussion on all things #MACtion, has already made its triumphant return to the website for its second season. “Pin ‘Em Down”, our staff and audience pick ‘em series which is updated weekly on Twitter, will soon do the same. “MACku” will be back for a third season with the best 14-syllable MAC football recaps on the internet, and of course, our weekly “Power Rankings” will set the stage for the end of each respective week.
What’s old is new again, as well: The Hustle Belt makes it triumphant return, this time as a weekly trophy. Each week, we’ll reward one player as the Player of the Week, and at the end of the year, we will reveal our Player of the Year, who will retain the Hustle Belt until the new season. We’re still determining the details of how the vote will come to be, but it’s coming. And it’s glorious.
We’re also working on getting more of our distinct personalities on the site.
James Snyder, our resident chef, will occasionally deliver the latest in #MACEats, a recipe series that links the latest in MAC happenings to your very own flavor palette. He’ll still be writing his “Zero Hour” column as well, that chaotic good opinion column that covers a variety of topics, but is guaranteed to deliver.
Alan Rucker, out Fearless Leader and editor-in-chief, will debut a new weekly column series called “Ruck’s Reactions”, in addition to his responsibilities of answering the “Hustle Bag”, our mail-in Q&A session.
Throughout the year, we’ll also pump out one-off opinion columns about the season as it develops. We have a wonderful mix of writers, both old and new, who have plenty to say about the conference we love.
Of course, we’re still working on improving constantly.
We are always happy to hear input and feedback from the community in regards to our content, and will take into consideration any suggestions that you may have. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Twitter @HustleBelt with any ideas you think might improve the website. Or, better yet, tell us during an episode of Beltcade, or a future Q&A session! (Or better still, you can apply to join us!)
We’ve been the little MAC blog that could for the past seven years, and hope whether you’re just joining us, or you’ve been a Day One reader, that you’ll welcome us into your lives like those windy days which rattle the leaves and remind you of home.
The Hustle Belt staff
Editor-in-chief: Alan Rucker
Asst. Site Managers: James H. Jimenez and James W. Snyder
Recruiting Manager/Writer: Jordan Rinard
Site Editor/Writer: Steve Helwick
Site Photographer/Writer: Kenneth Bailey
Site Graphics/Writer: Dave Drury
Site Contributors: Zachary VanNieuwenhze, Keith Gregorski