There’s this feeling I get every time I think about the game of football, and the best way I can describe it is pretty much the last scene of the movie Friday Night Lights.

Three players, standing in their high school stadium parking lot after losing the state championship their senior year, missing the heat and the lights. A coach, back in his office, replacing their names on his depth chart. Off to the side, a group of kids playing catch, signaling the next generation to come. That emotionally triggering Explosions in the Sky song underscoring it all.

It’s a little like nostalgia, knowing everything ends, the good and the bad, and being powerless to stop time. But it’s also a little bit like hope, knowing there’s always something next, something more, whatever that might be. 

I, personally, love that feeling. And with my new beat here at the Star Tribune, that’s exactly the energy I’m taking into 2019. And you’re all coming with me, so I hope you enjoy experiencing bittersweet emotions and pop culture references because I couldn’t stop myself from eliciting those even if I tried.

Hey. I’m Megan Ryan, and I’ll be your new Gophers football writer, taking over for Randy Johnson as he starts spearheading a new endeavor at the paper. You might recognize from my past two years at the paper covering soccer, hockey and literally a little bit of anything and everything else.

Now before anyone gets too distressed that I’ve only covered “the other football,” let me tell you a little about myself. First of all, I’m a University of Minnesota grad, so I’m fairly familiar with the program and its recent ups and (many) downs. I’ve also written about football in some form or another for most of my young career so far. I’ve covered high school football in the Twin Cities, Dallas (hello, real FNL) and Pittsburgh. I have the searing memories of keeping my own stats and freezing during November playoff games to prove it. Also, this story.

I even covered a season of Penn State football before I moved back to my home state to work at my hometown paper. I have the mileage on my car from the countless five-hour round trips from Pittsburgh to State College to prove that. Also, this story.

Here’s what you can expect from me as your new beat reporter: really good stories. I pride myself on finding the unique angles others might overlook and really digging into what it all means, who these people are. I’ve already got a ton of ideas I can’t wait to start working on, so I really hope you all stay tuned. I’m also a millennial, lmao, so I’m going to bring some digital aspects to this beat. That means being very accessible on Twitter, posting my own photos and videos, doing Facebook Lives and maybe even bringing back my #YouveGotMailbag (see what I did there?). There’s going to be a lot of content, so hopefully you’re into that kind of thing.

College football is a big deal. And the Gophers are very important to this market. So I’m looking forward to covering this team in all its aspects, on the field and off it. And I’ll do it perfectly.

As long as your definition of perfect is the same as coach Gaines’.

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