I love Off Tackle Empire.
There. I said it. I know that most of you probably love our site too, but when tasked with describing what OTE means to me, I couldn't sum it up much better than I love this Community. So instead of me trying to come up with some gushy thoughts in some incoherent 'open letter' format to everyone, I have decided to do this bullet point style. If only I had a slideshow option...
But seriously people, What does OTE mean to me? I'll try to keep it short...
- Off Tackle Empire was one of the first opportunities I have had in my life to connect with fans of so many teams in a way that wasn't ridiculous. I was never really an, 'interact on the internet,' person before I was introduced to OTE, and I am thankful for the generally stellar group of people we have assembled. You all make this fun to write, and even though there is an extremely good chance I have made an argument you have vociferously argued against, I still love coming back for more.
- On that note, this is also probably my most visited site in my browser. I still remember the first article I ever read on this site - Ted's Introduction to the B1G for Nebraskans - and I knew I would be hooked for years to come. I know that many of you probably think the same, but I am lucky to have found a place with such diverse writers who are willing to take the time to put their thoughts out there. I really do love College Football, and while it may be a bit pretentious of me to say it, I don't believe there is a better site on the interweb for #ALLB1GEVERYTHING as there is here at OTE.
- Which probably brings me to my next point - I now love the Big Ten. I was never a huge Big XII fan, except when it came time to try and troll friends who were fans of other conferences I felt inferior to the Big XII. I knew about Iowa State and Kansas, Colorado and Baylor, and all those other schools we played year in and year out, but I can honestly say I had no depth to their nuances like I have gleaned through being a part of the group here. You all love your teams, traditions, culture, education, degrees, homes, and all that goes into making this a diverse community and you bring it to the table. That has been the best part, bar none, for me as I have watched the Huskers transition into foreign territory.
- OTE is also a place where I feel like I am constantly able to learn. I have never been a part of an online community where I have felt like the conversation is actually going to bring something positive to the table. I mean, I still remember when MSULaxer tried to launch the BUY/SELL/HOLD game last year, and even though it wasn't perfect, it proved that this was a group who really wanted to bring an intelligent edge (or ridiculous... depends on perspective) to what we enjoy following.
- Ultimately, OTE is all about building Community. You know, there is a distinct chance that I don't meet a great portion of the readers, commenters, or writers on this site in real life, but that doesn't mean that I don't think this is one of the strongest communities that I am a part of. We celebrate victories together, encourage in defeat, and make fun of you when your team gets manhandled on national television. By all definitions, this group has turned into one of the most enriching things I have ever been a part of. You can't just fake that, and I talk about the 'conversations' I have had here a lot. It's a very cool thing to say I am a part of.
- Finally, let's all be honest. This site means a lot because it has been curated by Jon and Graham from the beginning. From a site focusing on the Rivalry to a site where we can trade barbs, make fun of Illinois, and try and talk about football (despite obviously not watching any), this place has turned into something pretty great. For me personally, I am indebted to those guys for bringing me in because while it may sound cliche to say it (so much that I don't want to even go there), I have definitely gotten more out of this than I will ever be able to put back in.