The Coloradoan’s coverage of Jim McElwain leaving for Florida

I enjoy kicking ass and taking names.

Forgive me if that’s too crude of phrasing, but it’s how I feel when it comes to sports journalism. I want my publication to have the best and the most coverage of any story, especially when it comes to breaking news. Happy to say The Fort Collins Coloradoan did exactly that this week while covering the departure of Colorado State football coach Jim McElwain as he accepted the job at Florida.

From Day 1, we were the first ones at the airport waiting for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley to arrive. That was followed by photographer Erin Hull and me tailing his vehicle all the way to McElwain’s home east of Fort Collins as the two held a job interview, and a handful of 15-hour work days for many of us, digging to find a new angle to chase that others weren’t.

Thank goodness for reliable sources, huh (though I will admit to the one and only incorrect update I had in this process when I tweeted CSU players held a team meeting)?

This is absolutely tooting our own horn, but Kelly Lyell and I owned this story. National and Florida media outlets were constantly referencing us, not the other way around. I think I speak for my coworkers when I say we were not going to get beat on this story, and we weren’t. We led the coverage in our digital products, moved the conversation forward with stand-up videos, had beautiful design and my Twitter account became the No. 1 source for constant updates on McElwain.

The spike my Twitter account (@MattStephens) received in followers this week.

The spike my Twitter account (@MattStephens) received in followers this week.

The only thing we weren’t the first to break on this was the final announcement. Yes, that’s a big deal, but McElwain and Foley’s camp decided to leak that to ESPN versus us. So be it, but keep in mind my source the day before told me Florida was working the buyout down to $3 million. Sure enough, that’s exactly what the Gators are paying in cash to bring McElwain to Gainesville.

Here’s a look at our coverage this week, including videos and print designs. 15 written stories in three days, if I’m not forgetting anything.

That’s how it’s done.