The Big Orange. The Juice. The Juice Online.
Newspaper. Magazine. Online publication.
Eighteen years of print publications, followed by 10 years in an online format, The Big Orange, The Juice, The Juice Online has been the ultimate source for Syracuse University athletics for the past 28 years.
Twenty-eight years. Five different owners (including yours truly and Fox Sports), hundreds of writers including Pete Thamel and Greg Bishop, both students at SU, who both eventually went on to write for Sports Illustrated, Mike Tirico and friend and columnist, Mark Frank, who was never afraid to say it like it was. Over 500 issues published. Only two missed deadlines (the Labor Day storm of 1998 and 9/11).
In the first 10 years of publishing, The Big Orange went from a weekly/bi-weekly black and white newspaper, to a two-color (orange and blue of course) newspaper, to a full-color newspaper. In 2002, the name was changed to The Juice, a color glossy magazine. And, in 2010, the print version ceased publication, however, thanks to longtime The Big Orange/The Juice writers Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng, kept the publication alive in its current format, The Juice Online, and this month, it celebrates its 10th year of publishing.
It was August of 1992, and I was sitting at my desk in the Publications Office at Syracuse University (my full-time job at the time) and I received a phone call from former Associate Athletics Director Joe Szombathy asking me if I would be interested in working for this new independent publication on SU sports called The Big Orange. The owners (who lived out of town) were looking for someone to run the publication in Syracuse. Specialty independent publications catering to their university’s athletics programs were the thing back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.
I was employed full-time at Syracuse University. Great benefits, a decent salary, tuition reimbursement. I had security, but I wasn’t happy. The job was no longer fulfilling. Life is full of chances. Sometimes, you have to take them, or else you will never know.
Two days after I spoke to the owners, I quit my job at SU and accepted the position. Yes, some thought I was crazy, my parents being first on that list, by taking a chance on a brand-new start-up business, but when an opportunity presents itself, my belief is that you go for it, so I did.
I had nine days to put together that first 24-page issue of The Big Orange. Yes, nine days. I thrive on challenges, and this was certainly a big one. I had no staff, needed to hire an art director and writers. I did it and on Aug. 18, 1992, the first issue of The Big Orange was published with Qadry Ismail on our cover.
From that day forward, it was nothing but wonderful memories, covering some of the best athletes to step foot on the hill, including Donovan McNabb, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Carmelo Anthony, Lawrence Moten, John Wallace and the Powell brothers, just to name a few.
I traveled throughout the country, following the Orange in football, basketball and lacrosse. The job gave me the opportunity to visit Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota (Mall of America), Oklahoma, New Orleans and Morgantown, WV (not a highlight on my trips).
I’ve been to some of the best places to watch college football in the Big House in Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee (snuck my dad in the press box with me-a great memory) and Notre Dame (more boosters in their press box than press) and I attended bowl games during the first 18 years of publishing (sans the Champs Sports bowl), two National Championship games in hoops and every lacrosse Final Four.
From 1992-on, you could see the evolution of printing, technology and the internet. I worked out of my house. I can remember the fax machine going off at all times of the day, as I would receive press releases on games and other SU news from the athletics department. I would then sit and type whatever that news was for the issue. A few years later, those same press releases would be delivered to me via email.
Saturdays and Sundays were always workdays. Games, followed by writing and editing. Sometimes, I would be traveling and wouldn’t arrive back home until late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The deadline to get all of the edit to the designer was 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. So, every Sunday, no matter what, I would get up at the crack of dawn to meet the deadlines, head to Canastota for Sunday dinner, and then come back to wrap up any loose ends.
Mondays we finished and went to press. Tuesdays the paper was printed and mailed, and the process began again. Once we went to a monthly publication, that schedule changed just a bit.
That was my life for 18 years. My passion. So, it was a sad day for me back in June 2010 when Fox Sports decided to cease the print version of The Juice, as many of these types of publications, were now becoming website based. But as my father always would tell me… all good things must come to an end, and when one door closes, another one opens.
That door opened again in December of 2010, when Brad and Wes launched the online version. And although I haven’t been involved with the day-to-day operations, I still consult and contribute from time-to-time, and I’m so grateful for that. Thank you Brad and Wes!
Brad, who runs his own media consulting business in Philadelphia, has covered the Orange since the 70s when he was a student at SU. Wes, who was working as an attorney in New York City, moved to California in the spring. He also started covering the Orange when he was a student in 2001.
Both bleed Orange and both have worked tirelessly the past 10 years consistently providing a daily dose of “orange juice” and partnering with a couple reputable entities to expand their coverage of SU sports.
In February 2012, The Juice Online partnered with SportsNet New York, the official television home of the New York Mets, Jets and the Big East Conference. As part of SNY.tv’s Blog Network, The Juice Online supplements SNY’s coverage of more than 125 college football and basketball games, as well as other college sports programming.
And in February 2014, The Juice Online formed a partnership with the ACC Digital Network to provide television-quality, cross-platform digital video, covering Syracuse and ACC athletics, featuring both live programming and original on-demand content throughout the entire year.
The Big Orange. The Juice. The Juice Online.
Three different names. Three different modes of publishing. Twenty-eight years and one goal… to provide fans with the ultimate source of Syracuse University sports.