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Ohio State student lands gig on ESPN’s Grantland

Most avid sports fans are aware of the popular ESPN-affiliated website Grantland.com from the mind of columnist Bill Simmons. After beating out almost 4,000 hopefuls, one Ohio State journalism student can call Simmons a co-worker.
Matt Borcas, a second-year in journalism,  was chosen to be a part-time fantasy football writer for Grantland.com.
The entry process, which began in August, was pretty simple. In no more than 750 words, entrants had to describe their top five 2012 fantasy football players and one player they expected to have a breakout year.
Borcas figured this would be the perfect way to get his name out there for a future in the world of sports journalism.
“That’s always been a dream job of mine ever since I realized I wouldn’t be able to play professionally,” said Borcas, who ran track and cross country at his high school in Mentor, Ohio.
The Grantland editors – with Simmons having the final call – picked the 10 best applicants to be finalists in the competition, which was called “Fantasy Island.”
“We picked the 10 best because that’s normally how many are in a fantasy football league,” said Grantland editor Robert Mays.
Borcas said he found out he was chosen as a finalist while sitting in an anthropology class. At 5:13 p.m. on Aug. 29, Borcas saw his name was among the finalists.
“I surprised myself,” said Borcas, who has been playing fantasy football since junior high with his friends and his father. “Initially, the group was somewhat intimidating; there were two published authors and one who had written for the New York Times and another who wrote for a newspaper in Washington, D.C.”
The finalists competed in a 10-person fantasy league and had to submit two stories every week. Points were awarded based upon how the player fared in the league and the quality of the stories, judged by the websites’ editors.
Mays said he was impressed from the start with Borcas’ professionalism.
“I’d wait to use Matt’s at the end because I knew I could use all of them. They weren’t always the best but they were always publishable,” Mays said.
Borcas finished third in the fantasy league but subsequently won the contest because of the quality of his articles.
Mays said Borcas’ creativity stuck out. In his columns, Borcas wasn’t afraid to poke fun at NFL teams and players. His columns made slight jabs at the expense of Jacksonville Jaguar fans and even Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“If we wanted a fantasy writer, it was going to be something different. I’d rather pull somebody back than push them to be creative. He brought it every week,” Mays said.
Matt Fuerst, a second-year in mechanical engineering and Borcas’ friend, said he was committed to the competition.
“I know he worked hard at that. I know he really wanted it,” Fuerst said.
Beginning next football season, Borcas will be writing a fantasy column twice a week and will be paid as a part-time contributor for the website.

Borcas has previously written for The Lantern.

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