One-on-one with Bruce Wood, founder of the Big Green Alert blog
Veteran journalist Bruce Wood has covered Upper Valley sports since 1979, first as a reporter for the Valley News, later in Dartmouth’s sports information office and since 2005 as the man behind the Big Green Alert blog. On his site, Wood details every Dartmouth football practice and game, publishing at least one full-length story daily from preseason to the final game. The Dartmouth sat down with Wood to discuss his relationship with the Big Green and preview the 2017 season.
What inspired you to form Big Green Alert?
BW: After I did it for the first year, I got an email from a Dartmouth parent. His father, the grandfather for a Dartmouth player, had read about the first Dartmouth game in the China Sea on a cruise ship. That confirmed to me that I was onto something. Newspapers are great, but they take a day to get the news out. Or if you get it in the mail, it could take five days to a week. Here was a guy on the other side of the world reading about Dartmouth football within hours. It’s all about the internet now, and it’s so much faster.
Why football and what about the game of football do you particularly enjoy covering?
BW: I’m a baseball guy, but football is Dartmouth’s historical sport. I had a greater potential for a larger audience. Also, there’s only 10 games and five road trips. In comparison to baseball and hockey, the season runs four to five months long and games are in the middle of the winter — from a practical standpoint it wouldn’t work. The hardest part of being a freelance writer is just finding the work. Covering Dartmouth football gives me full-time work for close to four months. I also know Coach Buddy Teevens ’79 very well, and we have continued to have a good relationship.
What’s been some of your favorite moments to cover?
BW: The successes are the favorites. I covered the 1996 undefeated team, and that was fabulous. Obviously the Ivy League Championship two years ago as well. I covered Dartmouth when it was both winless and undefeated. Even when the team has struggled, I appreciate everything that the players and coaches dedicated to the season. It’s hard to cover the team when it struggled, but there’s something special about the way it sticks through it. Every season is different and special. It’s been a good run.
Dartmouth shared the Ivy League title two seasons ago. What was it like covering that team and what do you think made that team so good?
BW: Dartmouth had been building for a long time. They brought in a couple of defensive and offensive coordinators, terrific guys who have been around the Ivy League for a long time. You had a great quarterback in Dalyn Williams ’16. In terms of a college quarterback, he was every bit as a good as Jay Fiedler ’94 was. You had a lot of guys who had played together from sophomore season on, and they had experience together as a group. We could all feel it building, and we all knew that the team was very good and had a shot at the championship.
Last year, the Big Green had a down year and finished 1-6 in the Ivy League. How do you think the team stacks up against the rest of the Ivy League this year?
BW: Last year, there were a lot of very close games, and that season could’ve turned out dramatically different. They were missing very key components defensively, and there was a lot of young players getting playing time. The defensive line has returned three players who will be significant contributors this year who did not play at all last year. Teevens said that the team is ready to enter with a sharpened edge. They’re being picked to finish fourth, fifth or sixth in the Ivy League. That has really sharpened the edge. This is an impossible league to predict. Princeton University, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania are up there, but I’d be surprised if Dartmouth isn’t competing.
Who are some players to watch for this year?
BW: On offense, you always have to take a look at the quarterback, Jack Heneghan ’18. He’s a terrific leader. In addition, Ivy League Rookie of the Year Hunter Hagdorn ’20 is a player to watch. You have to watch the offensive line. That’s the big question on offense. Stephen Johnston ’18 is a terrific tight end. Defensively, the secondary and linebackers returned a bunch of people. Defensive line is another to watch as well. Jackson Perry ’19 only played a quarter last year. He’s back, healthy and ready for a breakout season. If the defensive line can get pressure on the quarterback, that will make a big impact.
Anything else to add?
BW: Doing Big Green Alert has been a real pleasure because of the kids, the coaches and the Dartmouth administration. They trust that I will do things the right way. There isn’t a football league in the country with the day-to-day coverage that I give Dartmouth. I have complete access in the trust of people that I will report honestly but won’t divulge any secrets. I just wish I had a few more subscribers, that’s all. It’s been a wonderful thing, and I’ve been very appreciative.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.