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Jon’s Post-life Crisis: Jason Kirk - Banner Society and Embracing The Chaos of College Football

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This episode I talk with Jason Kirk of the newly formed web site and experience called Banner Society.

Banner Society is a combination of SBNation.com’s college football writing staff merged with Every Day Should Be Saturday merged with every social media platform out there with the exception of Facebook because Facebook is a terrible place.

We talk about his perception of Nebraska.

You should:

Listen to this podcast and subscribe.

Check out the Banner Society web site.

Follow them on twitter, twitch, and instagram.

Check out the podcasts - PAPN and Shutdown Fullcast and subscribe (if you like them).

EMBRACE THE BEAUTIFUL CHAOS THAT IS COLLEGE FOOTBALL!

Stay the hell off Facebook.

About the Transcript

Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.

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Transcript

Jon Johnston 0:22 Welcome to Jon’s Post-Life crisis. I am your host Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation.com your Nebraska Cornhuskers site. Way more fun now that it’s football season by the time you actually hear this. There’s football. And we’re looking forward to a great season in Nebraska. Today we have Jason Kirk, who is managing editor of a new website called Banner Society. Jason, how you doing?

Jason Kirk 1:00

Jon? doing pretty well. How are you doing today?

Jon Johnston 1:02 It’s football season. When you step there’s an extra jump. And there’s an extra happiness. At least it is for me. I I feel like I made it through another offseason. This is my 13th year at CornNation. That’s a long time.

Jason Kirk 1:29

That is quite a while on the that is quite a while in internet years.

I’m right around there myself at this point. Yeah, this time of year. It’s a you know that the sky is full of balloons. There’s there’s Runza in the air.

Jon Johnston 1:44 Very good. Very good.

Jason Kirk 1:46

I got the food references down.

Jon Johnston 1:48 Yes, you do. So Banner Society, there’s a new website called Banner Society. Why does it have this name?

Jason Kirk 2:00

Well, there’s a lot of routes to that explanation, one being that very, very many names are taken. So you kind of got to get a little bit off the wall, right, like trying to name anything, particularly a website in the year, particularly any kind of internet presence in the year 2019. Somebody probably thought of it, you know, 25 years ago. So you got to get a little creative. And we sort of, you know, threw around a bunch of words we liked and then tried to find ways to sort of mash them together, see what clicked put it to a vote, stuff like that.

And we all decided we like the word banner, you know, very college football word from you can claim a title banner to you know, you can pay student athletes, and now, the NCAA has a banner of you. That’s a little bit of a stretch. But, we wanted the thing to be largely about community, whether it’s on our site, Twitter, Reddit, podcast communities, you know, sort of similar to a site like CornNation in that respect. So that’s sort of how those two words got together and eventually, you can debate a name forever. Or try to find a better name for months and months and months. Or you can say, Yep, you’re good enough, let’s go. I,

Jon Johnston 3:21 I keep thinking that I’m going to go out and buy myself a website. And I spent hours researching website names, and I get what you’re saying, and because I, I want to write other things, then just CornNation. But it’s terrible to try to find these things, you know? Yeah. Like you said,

Jason Kirk 3:46

You gotta get creative, you got to do something. That I mean, you almost literally have to do something that nobody has ever even thought of before. It’s like coming up with a password or a CAPTCHA or something. Basically, any series of words you put on the internet, have to be completely original thoughts, in the history of humanity, which kind of a high bar, but yeah, it’s just another I guess another fascinating thing about trying to do anything online at this point in history is, you know, just about everything’s been done. So whether it’s a name or anything else, gotta finda little way to be different.

Jon Johnston 4:23 It’s hard. Okay, so you have you took everybody, you guys took everybody that was writing on the SB Nation site, and moved them over to banner society? Why is that?

Jason Kirk 4:39

We took we took a large group of college football writers from SB Nation com and kind of elsewhere, but Elliot had been, you know, a lot of his work had been at Tomahawk nation, SB nation’s FSU site, and he’d done a lot with the team sites as well. And Spencer, and in the past, Ryan Nanni and Holly Anderson had done a lot of work at EDSBS, which, you know, separate a separate site there that had sort of run its course so that time in that production comes over as well. And a few of us in the group have had various, you know, various connections to team sites before. So I guess sort of the way I look at it is it’s not exactly just part of SB Nation com that slid over you know, it’s lots of ties all throughout the network, that sort of consolidated into one place, if that makes any sense.

But yeah, I feel great about this group.

Jon Johnston 5:47 Alex Kirschner, Brian Floyd, Bud Elliot, Holly Anderson, Jason Kirk, that’s you. Richard Johnson, Ryan, Nanni, Spencer Hall, Stephen Godfrey, are you guys trying to take on The Athletic?

Jason Kirk 6:04

Well, we are free, we are free website. You don’t have to you don’t have to pay us money to read our, to read our content to interact with it to listen to our stuff, anything like that. So, you know, that would be a distinguishing factor there. I it’s funny, like, I honestly don’t look at what we’re doing and think, oh, we are taking on X, Y, or Z, you know, it’s let’s try to make the best thing we can make. There’s a lot of good coverage of the sport out there,

We want to do it sort of our way our way that stands apart. In a way that’s sort of sort of lasting, you know, I think that’s sort of a contrast with the way a lot of the sports Internet has worked for a long time, where it’s, it’s tons of intense day to day coverage that you will forget about 24 hours from now, and that certainly no shots, any particular outlet, that’s just the way the internet works. And we want to try to find ways to do stuff whether it’s related to the news of the day, that has a little bit more of a long tail to it.

Jon Johnston 7:12 ’ll be blunt. Over the 13 years that I’ve been with that SB Nation when we started this thing, We were all crazy people. We were like, Oh my god, the newspapers are horrible. And the these people that write for a living are terrible, moronic people. And over those 13 years. I mean, I’m an old person, right? Do you feel like the craziness has kind of gone out of it? And we’re trying to be more? I don’t know, normal? More professional? Is that what you guys are doing? Because I want to know.

Jason Kirk 8:01

I kind of get what you’re saying. And in a way, my answer would be that No, we are not trying to be more normal. I think something like this where it can be a brand specifically about America’s weirdest sport, you know, inherently, you can’t do that right? and have it be, you know, buttoned up and buttoned up or buttoned down whichever direction. You can’t properly cover college football and do it in a totally sober serving manner. This sport has been insane for nearly two centuries, if you want to do it justice, you can’t veer toward normal.

Jon Johnston 8:45 Do you think that people actually understand that, when they look at their team?

Jason Kirk 8:51

At their own team? Yes. I think when you look at your own team, I think people are more likely to say, well, oh, this coach will him proof by 10% from the year prior, because that’s what coaches do. All our upperclassmen will be 25%. Better, you know, and then they look at the other the other thousand teams in the country and say, Ah those teams, that’s where all the chaos will happen. I’ve already got all our our wins picked out.

I think a lot of fans do that.

Jon Johnston 9:21 Even Nebraska fans? I think we’re the best we are the greatest college football fans.

Jason Kirk 9:27

Nebraska fans noted for a high level of reason and tolerance and patience. For you know, for seeing a season that falls maybe half a game, a game short of expectations and saying that’s okay. That is fine. There’s nothing to panic about. We’ll will give this coach a chance again next year. And if we get the same result next year, that’s fine, too.

Jon Johnston 9:49 Oh, my God. Okay, let’s go back to Banner Society for a moment. Because we’re not ready to go into Nebraska yet. You’re hurting me already? Okay, so what I’ve seen from Banner Society is you’re doing Reddit, and you have two podcasts - PAPN and Shut Down FullCast. And then you’re doing Twitter, Instagram, tick tock, and Twitch. Right. That’s right. And what the hell is all this stuff?

Jason Kirk 10:35

Well, we’ve sort of found that wherever college football fans are, are on the internet. If we have interest in aptitude, we want to be there as well. There are college football fans on Facebook, but we do not want to be on Facebook, right? Like no one actually wants to be on Facebook. Right?

Jon Johnston 10:53 It’s terrible.

Jason Kirk 10:54

But let’s be everywhere else. You know, like, we have. Holly has been leading, you know, our Instagram page. Holly likes Instagram and our Instagram page is great. Spencer Hall and Bud Elliot have been mostly leading our twitch effort, you know, and like, they’re good talkers. And they can communicate with an audience and we plan to do a lot more stuff on Twitch, probably even a lot, you know, a lot more stuff that which is actually the designed for, like, a lot of people have been asking about, like a Red Dead Redemption play along or NCAA 14 play along and we’re definitely thinking about those things. But yeah, we want the thing to be a community that extends beyond just a comment section. A site like CornNation I think y’all get this too, right. Like, you want to podcast community, you want a Twitter community, right?

Jon Johnston 11:45 I don’t want a Facebook community, my God, I went out there yesterday, and I thought, okay, we could build a community on Facebook. That’s kind of similar to CornNation. And I went out there, like two days ago, and I posted this comment about, I don’t even know it remember what it is, like alternative uniforms or the black shirts. That’s what it was. we hand out the black shirts and my God, this is a religious moment for Nebraska fans. Last I checked, it was at 100 comments. And there were a lot of comments like what idiot said this and what moron are you? You’re the stupidest. Facebook is terrible. But Tick Tock. I know what Tick Tock is because I have adult children living in my house. Explain why you would be on Tick Tock for god sakes. I went, they’re on Tick Tock, why?

Jason Kirk 12:54

So that one, I do not have the tick tock app on my phone.

I’m slightly over the age threshold for that one. But, uh, you know, it’s a place where people like to see funny, weird stuff, I’ve gathered that much. And our spirit, our sport produces funny, weird stuff, you know. So I think that’s sort of an example of one way in which like, we want there to be in a spirit of experimentation, you know? So something like that. It’s it’s kind of a good place to just just try stuff, just put something weird up, see what people think of it. Maybe that can sort of inform things you’re doing for other platforms as well. I say all that to say yes, we will definitely we will have a song produced by Tick Tock that will win a you know, a Grammy next year.

Jon Johnston 13:50 Twitch.

My kids will always... My kids. My I have literally everybody moved home. All three of my adult children, one of them brought his girlfriend and her eight year old daughter so my house is completely full of people. My daughter always says that I should start a twitch account to stream games because I scream at the TV so much. Why would somebody be on twitch?

Jason Kirk 14:21

It’s I mean, it’s a really cool platform. Like it’s really simple use it’s a good way to broadcast to a bunch of people without a lot of difficulty and strings attached. There’s several ways to do this. Twitter has one you could do Facebook Live but as noted, Facebook is terrible. Twitch is sort of a just a good central place to put all that stuff. I think we’ve found and it’s kind of it isn’t leans toward weird, right? Like, like people use it to, to air video games. Like you’re already going to twitch for like, niche type stuff, right?

Jon Johnston 15:02 Yeah, yeah. Well, I don’t go to twitch.

Jason Kirk 15:07

It’s okay. I know you’re on there watching fortnite.

Jon Johnston 15:10 Oh my God.I like video games. I’m trying to play Star Wars Battlefront lately? And I’m so slow. I’m literally they you know, my hands don’t work as well as they used to.

Jason Kirk 15:30

So you’re so you’re Yoda. Right? So you’re just Yoda.

Jon Johnston 15:33 Pretty much. I’m, you know, I’m crusty and old. And yes, a small green Toad, apparently. But, you know, they’ve (the kids) always said you should be the old guy on Twitch. Because you yell at the games. And I swear a lot. Here’s the thing about kids. You should always teach your kids swear words. Like the wife will come to you and go, Well, where do you hear that from me? What do you think you heard it from? Rap music or some guy down the street? You know? From me, that’s where we get this. Come on. What else we got? Let’s talk a little bit about the different writers. I listed them earlier. Alex, Brian, Bud, Holly, what do they bring to the table? This sounds like an Avengers. You know what I mean? You’re the Avengers? Are you? Or are you Guardians of the Galaxy?

Jason Kirk 16:41

Yeah, we’re probably more of a guardians. That’s definitely more of what we have. Yeah, more of like a dirty dozen Motley Crue type vibe.

Yes, yeah. Some random oddballs assembled from throughout the galaxy is at least what we’re going for. I like this group, because everybody does something a little bit different. Everybody has a little bit different expertise, whether it’s content or background, aptitude or what have you. With Bud, you’re getting someone who knows recruiting a lot, who knows gambling a lot. You know, Richard is somebody who can explain a how play breaks down how a coaching hire works, stuff like that. Godfrey, of course, has tons of coaching connections. Alex is really good at he’ll go do a piece of like really nice journalism and do it to an extent where it’s like, okay, I now know, every single thing I could possibly know about how this, you know, fake punt works. You know, and Spencer, of course, has long been regarded as probably the best college football writer. Holly and Ryan and Floyd are people who, while they might not write all that much, you know, they still have a lot of skills that people should know are there even if you don’t see direct written evidence all the time? And then of course, we also have you know, everybody contributing to podcasts on top of this. I don’t think I forgot anyone. I’m going to feel very bad.

Jon Johnston 18:15 You forgot you. Are you the raccoon?

Jason Kirk 18:18

I would love to be considered the rocket. I think I might be more the Drax. But if if I can be upgraded to rocket, that would be fun.

Jon Johnston 18:28 I love the raccoon. But you’re right. Drax is pretty good. Okay, Nebraska, let’s talk about Nebraska. From your perspective. When we look at Nebraska, we we come off two 4-8 seasons. This is the weirdest offseason I’ve ever seen in my life. And, you know, I mentioned that I’ve written for CornNation for 13 years now. But I’ve been a Nebraska a fan since I was born. This is the first offseason that we’ve had in which the national people think more of us than we do ourselves. And it’s bizarre. So what do you take from that? What do you think about Nebraska? In terms of football, I don’t mean the state that is boring to drive down

Jason Kirk 19:23

The state’s fine. I think that the general area of the country gets a bad rap, but I think it’s fine.

Nebraska is fascinating to me, probably the most interesting team in the country in some ways. Just because like you said, and like your listeners are very familiar with. There’s this narrative, there’s Scott frost coming home, blah, blah, blah. Then there’s also what he did at UCF first year wasn’t that good. Second year was very good. So like, it’s funny. It’s almost like as soon as he was hired, we say, Okay, here’s how the next two years are going to go. First year is going to be bad, second year is going to be great. And well, you certainly delivered on the bad part. So what does that mean going forward? And I think even during last year, there were lots of points where you could look and say like, hey, this this team is, this team is a lot better than its record, played well enough to beat Colorado played well enough to beat Northwestern Ohio State, and probably Iowa as well. That’s even if you go with half of those, that’s a bowl team. And that’s totally like, ever, if that happens, everyone says Oh, impressive.

To me the starting point is thinking of this not as a 4-8 team for the purposes of of expectations going forward. But thinking of this as a team of the quality that it actually demonstrated thinking of this more like a 6-6 team. Once you have a 6-6 team then getting to eight or nine wins doesn’t sound that extreme. And I think look what comes back very young on offense, highly talented at quarterback with Adrian Martinez. So I think if you did this past offseason, if you did, every college team can draft players who were on, you know, on rosters the year prior whatever is probably a top 10 pick, right, you know, a freshman quarterback who was solid as a passer and can run, that’s going to be one of the most valuable players in the country. So like I look at him coming back. The offense, I was really impressed with how young it is even going forward. Just looking at the starting lineup, this could have five returning starters for 2021. Right? Like, not just next year with the number of sophomores and redshirt freshman and all that.

An inexperienced defense at least this year, so that’s all the stuff that that that builds to, hey, this team could be really good. Plus the schedule, the schedule is not that tough, right?

Jon Johnston 22:04 It’s not as nasty as it’s been the last few years.

Jason Kirk 22:08

Yeah, when you can pull Maryland and Indiana from the east, right? Not so bad. And Ohio State, you get ‘em at home, maybe you have a shot, you know, maybe have a shot at a nice upset. You know, trip to Minnesota could be tricky trip to Purdue could be tricky, but nothing really all that terrifying on the schedule. So all that stuff, you’re like, Okay, we might be talking about attention to team.

And then you look at the numbers.

Part of the most interesting thing to me is like the narratives alone, give you a lot to think about when it comes to Nebraska, but then the computers, which I think you have to sort of take into account to cut through all that stuff. They don’t have any idea what to make of Nebraska either. Like, I think Sagarin has Nebraska 21st in the country right around where the polls are. Whereas other metrics that have performed at least as well against Vegas have Nebraska as there was one, It might be pirate that has Nebraska as low as sixth in the big 10. West, like ahead of Illinois And that’s it. So that’s the sector. That’s a wide spectrum. I think the average in the Massey composite was sort of piles together, every computer and every poll had Nebraska 45th in the country, which is quite a bit lower than I think I would rank Nebraska.

Jon Johnston 23:33 Here’s the thing, I think that nobody knows, we study this at our website, obviously, and we don’t know what to expect. I mean, it’s the one season where you’re looking at this and going, what’s going to happen, it’s kind of like a really bad adventure movie. I don’t know why I came with that.

Jason Kirk 24:00

For all those reasons, this is a team that’s like, I think if you set the win total over under at exactly nine, I might say like, if I had to take nine or more or less than nine, I probably take nine or more.

I wouldn’t feel awesome about it. But if I had to take one of the two, just the the number of not that difficult looking games on the schedule, the likelihood that the team will improve, , be improved in week one and improve over the course of the season considering the youth, considering Scott Frost’s track record, considering it’s still very young quarterback. And considering the offense is basically perfectly suited to him. I would feel fine, saying this team should be, you know, something like second or third in the West with that shot to win it. But the numbers don’t agree. And that’s, that’s the fascinating thing is like that, it sounds like a thing that’s based entirely on hype to say, Nebraska should be really good again, or at least you know, competitive again, or whatever, you know, that sounds like complete hype. Like you’re just buying into the Scott Frost stuff and, and all that. What was the story? There is a casino open in Iowa. And on day two Husker fan dropped 100,000 on them winning the title or something like that.

Jon Johnston 25:28 I did not see that.

Jason Kirk 25:30

Yeah, yeah. Just strolled across state line and threw down 100 grand. And like, that’s been going on all offseason, which makes you second guess yourself. Right? When you say like, oh, Nebraska, that they can go 9-3, then then you look and you’re like, all offs, like back when the very first wind totals came out, back in March or April or May or whatever, for this season. It was like, you know, 15, actual national title contenders, and Nebraska, just thrown in there because Husker fans wanted them in there and were willing to put money on it.

The Heisman odds, are the top 10 guys and then Adrian Martinez. Who? I think he’s awesome. Could he win a Heisman is his senior year. This year? I really don’t think so. You know, but he was in there strictly because of the hype and the buzz and the interest. So you look at that, and you think like, okay, this team is being way overrated. But then you look again, and I’m not so sure. But the numbers think they are. And then that’s where you are. You just sort of bounce back and forth between all that all day long.

Jon Johnston 26:30 You were supposed to give me wisdom. You know what I mean, you were supposed to say, here’s what I here’s what’s going to happen. And you basically said, It’s chaos.

Jason Kirk 26:45

Yeah. Yeah, that’s the good part.

That’s the great stuff. I mean, not you know, not for like your heart rate. But that’s that’s the fun stuff. Like, I think I have on my board, Nebraska, either 8-4, 9-3, in the I believe the Citrus Bowl. I’d have to check again against Florida,

Jon Johnston 27:01 Do you have us winning the West. Who would you pick?

Jason Kirk 27:07

I have, I’d have to check and count the numbers there. Maybe actually, maybe it would be either Iowa. I mean, you know, the West, the big mess. I’m not sure who I have with the most division wins there. But I do have you in the in the bowl against Florida and you love those right, bowls against Florida?

Jon Johnston 27:24 Oh, God. Yes. It’s I as long as we win them, if we don’t win them, then you know, that whole state can get flooded by climate change. That’s terrible. Give it 20 years. I picked Minnesota personally. I picked Minnesota to win the West. Because I don’t I don’t think we’re there yet. I look at Minnesota. I have a rotten son that goes to Minnesota and but I look at us and I think we’re still a year away. We gave up five yards a carry last year in our defense. And I don’t think you can just make a defense in one year. So I don’t know.

Jason Kirk 28:16

Yeah, defense is sort of could make or break the whole thing but should be improved. Right? Like it won’t be awesome. It won’t be won’t be black shirt great again, but should be improved. And and by the way. I think those are among the best uniforms in college football immediately. The new Adidas black and whites. I don’t know how Facebook will feel about this. I might be banned from from whatever community..

Jon Johnston 28:44 Facebook is always angry. It’s just terrible. Years ago, we thought once if you got rid of the anonymous part of commenting, then everything would be fine and it’s not, nobody cares if they’re a jerk. They don’t. Have you ever been to Lincoln?

Jason Kirk 29:09

No, have not. That would certainly be if I had a top five places to get to that would probably be in that list.

Jon Johnston 29:19 Yeah. Okay, so if we go back through the list of people at Banner Society have any of them been to Lincoln.

Jason Kirk 29:28

Holly has been everywhere. Okay, and Spencer tried to go I think last year I don’t think Spencer has been. I can’t recall if Godfrey has been, but he too has been everywhere.

Alex and Richard are very young. So I doubt they have. Ryan never never goes to football games. So I doubt he’s been. We make him a lot because the games he goes to are like bowl games and Rutgers games.

Jon Johnston 30:01 What the hell is up with that? He was the onion guy.

Jason Kirk 30:04

He was so every time basically every time he goes to a football game, you will see it on TV because he will be dressed as a ball mascot. He will be dressed as a large unhealthy food item.

Jon Johnston 30:15 Wow.

Jason Kirk 30:16

So if he shows up in Nebraska, you know, he’ll be dressed as the cinnamon roll thing. It’s their cinnamon roll thing.

Jon Johnston 30:23 Yeah, that’s a Nebraska it’s like this cinnamon roll and chili. Here’s the thing. I anymore in the last two, three years? Well, since I’ve been dead. I shoot. I go down on the field. I do photography. So I’m not up in the press box. And when I go up there, it’s half time. And there’s this long line of people trying to get food. And all I want is water. And so I don’t get the cinnamon rolls and chili thing anyway, but it’s just me.

Jason Kirk 31:06

That might be for the best. Like I think I’d try it once. Once.

Jon Johnston 31:14 Yeah.

Jason Kirk 31:15

And sort of leave it at that.

Jon Johnston 31:19 Okay, are we done? Do we covered everything? Banner society? You guys who are listening to the podcast, should subscribe to PANP - Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody. And shut down full cast podcast. You should go look at it. Banner society, because I think this group of writers that they’ve assembled is a pretty damn good. It’s a good group. They didn’t invite me. But you know, whatever.

Jason Kirk 31:55

Do you want to come around our twitch channel?

Jon Johnston 32:00 That’s terrifying. Hit me up when we get into the big 10 schedule. And we’ll see what happens. There will be a lot of swearing.

Jason Kirk 32:12

Perfect.

Jon Johnston 32:13

Or maybe maybe not. Maybe it’ll be everything will be perfect for Nebraska. And I won’t have to swear that much. I can tell you that. In the 2007 Bill Callahan season where we were down to Oklahoma State 38-0 at halftime. My kids heard everything and they were small. And that’s how it should be I think. Okay, we’re going to end. Jason, thank you for coming on my show and talking about Banner Society and Nebraska. I want you guys to go check out Banner Society. That’s it. Thank you for listening. And I hope you have a good weekend. By god it’s football season.

Jason Kirk 33:07

Go Big Red. Thanks for having me.

Jon Johnston 33:09 Take Care