“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
In April, I retired from the Seminole Boosters after two decades as Senior Vice President. Seven days later, I bought the Osceola, a newspaper I co-founded in 1982 and sold in 1999. It was a brief retirement.
Some friends were excited to hear “Jerry is back at The Osceola.” Others were alarmed, reciting the old expression: “You can never go back.”
But I found a much older expression, attributed to an ancient philosopher, which is way more fitting: “No man ever steps in the same river twice,” Heraclitus said, “for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
I love the river analogy because Florida State has changed a great deal since 1982 and I have too.
Six FSU presidents and seven athletic directors (counting interims) have each brought new ideas and management styles, faced unique trials and tribulations, and left the river a little different than they found it. Collegiate athletic departments serve at the pleasure of the university President so each time there is a change of guard in the head shed, change is soon to follow downstream.
Each of us learns from experiences and from people. We learn as much from the good as we do the blunders and there have been plenty of both. Heck, I have been at the table and had a voice in some of each.
Why the Osceola
When I read Hericlitus’ quote about the river and the man, I recalled a five-day white water rafting trip The Osceola organized years ago on the Salmon River. The guides had long forgotten how many times they had been down the “river of no return”. They knew every rock, hole and eddy like the back of their leathered hands and their experience turned a dangerous whitewater challenge into a series of thrilling and fun days.
But what I remember most about the guides was their respect for the river and their eagerness to share the ride with us. That pretty much nails “why” I bought The Osceola back. I respect this FSU sports river and I am still eager to share the ride with you.
So what does The Osceola have planned?
We plan to base The Osceola on one simple principal: stories should be informative and fun reads.
Sports are supposed to be fun, an escape from reality, so our goal will be to celebrate the good times with you and help you navigate those troubling issues with sourced reporting. You can count on us for high quality, interactive, in-depth conversations with current Seminoles and legends from our rich history.
In addition to the fun and games, we will take routine deep dives into the business of college athletics tapping into experience and sources developed over the years. We will report on FSU of course but add context to how FSU compares with other universities.
The Osceola Experiences
In addition to covering sports, recruiting and business, we will place a major emphasis on finding and writing about your favorite experiences. We intend to create ways for our readers to find value, convenience and affordability and to customize FSU experiences when purchasing tickets, lodging and planning things to do. We have big plans to enhance your access and enjoyment of FSU sports.
Coming next: you can look forward to soon-to-be-released Osceola stories about creative ticket and lodging packages, which will be released very soon.
Legacy reporting of good and bad news
Not all news is fun to read or to write. But when the inevitable bad news breaks, we’ll follow this old saying: “It’s not what you say but how you say it.”
We’ll report the bad news but we’ll take the time to report it in a context that will ask the questions: why did it happen and what is being done to minimize the chance it will happen again?
That was the legacy established when The Osceola began in 1982, when we hired an enthusiastic editor named Steve Ellis. Those of you who remember Steve know he was a whirling dervish who could not be beat as a reporter.
The Osceola has enjoyed a series of talented and committed editors including the current editors of the Democrat (Jim Henry), Warchant (Ira Schoffel) and Osceola and Unconquered Magazine (Bob Ferrante). Other notable editors include: former Democrat editor Jim Lamar, Seminoles.com columnist Tim Linafelt, Golf writer Daniel Mitchell and Dan Densmore who took his talents into the classroom.
When we talk about the river changing, nothing has changed more dramatically than the way the news is served to readers. The internet and 24-7-365 news coverage has certainly expedited the speed and quantity of news. The re-imagined Osceola will utilize digital, mobile and social channels to deliver the news but at a speed our legacy standards of reporting allow.
I learned the value of reporting “the why” and expect to see that legacy reflected in the writing of our current staff, which is led by Osceola’s managing editor Bob Ferrante. Bob and I have worked together on the Seminole Boosters Unconquered Magazine, which The Osceola will continue to contribute. We share a common vision and passion for the river.
Writers with a frame of reference
While this column reintroduces me to The Osceola, it is important to note the staff Bob and I have assembled is comprised of experienced writers with subject matter expertise. Half of Patrick Burnham’s professional career has been in College or Pro Football Operations. As the son of a former coach, Patrick has spent most of his life around college athletics. He has also covered the state of Florida as a Recruiting Analyst for two years for Fox and Scout.com. Similarly, contributing analyst Charles Fishbein is a full-time evaluator of high school football players in Florida and markets his services to colleges across the country. Contributing writer Mike McNamara makes his living as owner of the St. Marks Outfitters and the Coastal Angler magazine for the Big Bend. Vera Kutz is immersed in the local music and entertainment scene and passionate about the fan experience.
We have assembled this staff to provide information our readers can trust.
After 37 years of writing about Florida State, and helping to guide it, I have an enduring sense of wonder and respect for it. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than share the peaceful flatwater and the exciting whitewater with each of you, offering my perspective – and a bunch of stories — along the way.
Thank you for your support of the Osceola over the years. If you are not yet a subscriber, I hope you will join us on our journey by subscribing to the Osceola and sharing your experiences and feedback with us.
I’m thrilled to be back and sharing this awesome ride with you again.