Farewell Column: Nuthin’ But a (big) ‘J’ Thang

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning talks to reporters during an availability ahead of the NFL Football draft, Thursday, April 20, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

As a freshman four years ago, I remember reading former Daily Campus employee and Long Valley “Big J” Matt Stypulkoski’s senior year spring column in the paper. I knew I would not be headed into the world of journalism and questioned if I would even stay at the Daily Campus but, four years later, I'm still here.

Growing up, in middle school and high school, I never really liked writing, did not think I was entirely good at it and thought it was a waste of time. It wasn’t until sophomore year English with Mr. Cinotti when writing became something I took a vested interest in and eventually, well at least I think, became good at.

I started to write more and more junior and senior year in high school and was then persuaded by Matt to join the sports section for the Daily Campus in the fall of 2013. Starting as a campus correspondent, I began primarily with point counterpoints and my women’s rowing beat, grabbing articles that would slip through the cracks.

Sophomore year and junior year, I was only here for the fall semesters due to traveling around Europe and interning in D.C. (sick brags I know), but I had the great opportunity to cover women’s soccer and women’s volleyball across the two semesters. These beats, especially women’s volleyball, were fantastic to cover and I want to give a shout out to Antonio Salazar for making volleyball the best fall beat to have.

Senior year, I started to branch out more in the Daily Campus, learning there were other sections besides sports. Designing and interacting before meetings, I met too many great people to name and had a fantastic time jamming out to Jason Derulo in the workroom.

While not reffing for UConn recreation, going to Ted’s for trivia or doing occasional schoolwork, my senior year consisted of men’s soccer, trying to navigate the treacherous land of Ray Reid with Chris Hanna and spending countless hours in the bowels of Gampel Pavilion covering women’s basketball. From Storrs, to Hartford, to Bridgeport (still bitter we had to go) and Dallas, being part of the coverage team for women’s basketball was the top experience for me at the Daily Campus and something I will not forget.

Before I go into the hot takes, I have to thank sports editor Dan “the Daily” Madigan and the photo editor Jackson “Big J” Haigis for somehow still being friends with me after Dallas. There are not enough words to describe the shenanigans that occurred but I want to thank both for a great time and for becoming two of my better friends at UConn.

Since I have a little bit left in this column, I want to drop some hot takes that I came to form this year. A majority of them I probably only share with myself but no one can persuade me from these facts.

In & Out Burger is extremely overrated and not the best burger place. There I said it. I think it is a mediocre restaurant that is pretentious and has the worst fries known to man.

The Pac-12 is an awful conference, especially when it comes to  basketball, as their teams are constantly overrated and have not won an NCAA title since 1997 for men’s and 1992 for women’s. They also choke when it comes time to win in March, see Arizona in men’s basketball.

As I have written several times, Maryland basketball is not good, particularly the women’s team, people seem to forget that.

Concerning Dallas: I am not convinced about the JFK assassination anymore, the Grassy Knoll is very underwhelming, I think the saying “praise the lord and go dogs” is one of the best ways to end a press conference and it is very easy to be hustled in cornhole when you think you are extremely good at it.

My final hot take is nothing out of the ordinary if you have ever met me or read almost anything I have written. It is a fitting end to my final column and career on a day in sports history, particularly when it is about the 13-year anniversary of the G.O.A.T. being drafted into the NFL.

On April 24, 2004, Eli Manning was drafted first overall by the New York Giants. Eli is the Liam Neeson of football, meaning he is a one of a kind talent, a showman and, perhaps, one of the most electric players we have ever seen. He has beaten Brady twice in the biggest game, something Matt Ryan could not even do with a 25 point lead.

I will concede Eli is not the best quarterback to play the game, well not yet, but he will be forever my favorite quarterback. Thank you for reading, it has been a pleasure, but to end off, remember to bless the rains down in Africa and you cannot spell ‘Elite’ without Eli.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.