By David Eickholt
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Former CBS Interactive lead college football blogger Adam Jacobi is finding success in the business world after a high-profile gaffe: In January 2012, he falsely reported former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had died.
Paterno died later that month, but the error cost Jacobi his job.
Since his stint with CBS Interactive, Jacobi is making use of the economics degree he earned in 2015 from the University of Iowa. In March, he took a job handling mergers and acquisitions for MidAmerican Energy, a power company in Des Moines, Iowa. He said he took the lessons and skills he learned about content creation and found a way to merge it into his new career.
“I’m still doing research and I’m still presenting the results of this research. It’s taking myself from relative ignorance to expertise,” said Jacobi, 34.
In 2010, Jacobi joined CBS and wrote stories and also served as a go between for editors and writers. The process for constructing blog posts was a simple one. Jacobi typically would get a link, write a post and put it up on the CBS sports website.
When he read a story in a Penn State student publication that Paterno had died, Jacobi knew he couldn’t approach it the same way.
“This was different," he said, "get ready for one of the most important (obituaries) in college football history,” he said of his feelings at the time.
A few minutes after he posted the article saying Paterno had died, his co-workers and producers began to question it and the absence of a source for the information. Other media outlets had also falsely reported Paterno's death.
Soon after Jacobi posted it, Paterno's family said the coach had not died. Jacobi said in the aftermath of the error, he saw the dark side of social media. He was being bashed and threatened. CBS launched a review as well.
“I still worked while they were doing the review on me," Jacobi said. CBS gave him a two-week notice, he said.
"They left it to me to tell everyone," he said. "All I wanted to do the whole time was to apologize to the Paterno family."
After that, Jacobi went on to write for the Big Ten Blog at Bleacher Report, where he worked for about a year.
On the lighter side, Jacobi is also known for his Twitter prowess. On Father's Day in 2015, he posted a series of rambling tweets about his father on Storify and he posted another series of pun tweets during the World Cup soccer championship.
His advice in this realm?
“Identify things that aren’t available anywhere else and you push them hard and put them in front of people," he said. "But at the same time, don’t make people feel bad about reading it.”
Jacobi no longer works full time in sports media, but he still feels the pull to contribute something.
Jacobi is editor of Black Heart Gold Pants, an Iowa Hawkeye fan sports website he launched in 2007 as part of the SB Nation network. The site is owned by Vox Media.
“We noticed Iowa fans in the mid 2000s weren’t really actively involved on message boards and we wanted to change that," Jacobi said. The rules included no writing about politics and the mantra that everyone is welcome. He has enjoyed seeing the site, now owned by Vox Media, grow.
“I remember on one of my posts, I received 100 or so views and I told myself 'Wow, 100 whole people has viewed what I wrote,'" he said. "To see what we have become now, it’s just cool to see.”
Jacobi's first gig at sports writing was for the Daily Iowan, whee he covered women’s rowing because it was the only thing available at the time. He said he loved the experience and it was a lot of fun.
Jacobi enjoys his new job, but he hasn’t truly moved on from content creation - he is still involved in Black Heart Gold Pants.
"I just can’t leave this site right now," he said. "I love the people that have helped me create it.”
A note about the content: This site showcases the final projects of University of Nebraska-Lincoln editing students. Each semester, students pick a journalist or communications professional to profile. This is their work.
This is me. I run this site.