2013-2014 College Sports Social Media Awards

And the award for best profile banner goes to...

And the award for best profile banner goes to…

Making fun of how schools, conferences, and media personalities operate on social media is what sports bloggers that are not credentialed do best. Now that we have hit the doldrums of the college sports calendar it’s time unveil best and the worst from the past year. Note there is no way anyone can see every tweet and Facebook video that made it online. Well, unless you’re Lt. Commander Data. This is about the stuff I actually saw and that you may have missed.

Best School to Follow on Twitter: Morehead State

When it comes to Twitter I want a school that gives me the stats and updates from a game yet still have passion and humor. Morehead State does that during every basketball game. Take a look at their “Blackout.”

They are not afraid to be subjective in the right moments. Might be the only time a school used “clobbered” in a tweet all year.

Helping the Eagles out though is men’s basketball coach Sean Woods. He is an emotional guy and props to Morehead for posting his postgame comments on You Tube. Just looking at his eyes you can tell he wants to tell the world how he truly feels but is holding himself back.

Worst School to Follow on Twitter: Grambling State

This was too easy. Just one Tweet in five years.

Most Romantic School in Social Media: Kansas State

The Wildcats have tried many ways to get their purple hue out on the internet. Including #WildcatWeddings

That not enough for you? They do Valentine’s Day too.

Manhattan, Kansas: where romance and college sports social media collide.

Most Impatient School in Social Media: Western Kentucky

It only snows in Bowling Green, Kentucky a few times a year so I you have to make the most of it when you can. The Hilltoppers though took it a little far and went full football countdown in January. Instead of witty joke it came across as a depressing reminder that the season is far, far away.

Worst Promotion in Social Media: Texas Christian University

The Horn Frogs have been cannon fodder out on the basketball court since joining the Big-12. So how does TCU fill seats in its gym? FRIED PICKLES! Yuck.

Most Confusing School in Social Media: Texas Tech

TCU’s conference brother Texas Tech didn’t do much better as it dropped some tweets that befuddled the brain more than a Michael Bay movie.

A wallet? Just any type of wallet will do. Well shoot let me empty out mine… Here you go. Now where’s my free books?

Best Way to Promote a Publication: Vanderbilt

Students at Vanderbilt are so smart, they can study underwater!

School with the Most Swagger on Social Media: North Dakota State

The Bison won the FCS title and won a game in the NCAA Tournament this past year. Throw in this jab at the SEC schools during a blizzard in the South and you have one school ready to flaunt itself all over the web.

Dumbest Tweet of the Year: Georgia State

The only time I think I’ve seen an athletic department engage in a Twitter war with a fan. Thought it was impossible but I was proven wrong. Please tell the Georgia State athletic department to never use the phrase “Boo You” again.

Best Conference to Follow in Social Media: Big West Conference

The Big West is great at having large photo galleries of their events and athletes of the week. They are also the most patriotic placing their All-Americans in front of a computer generated American flag.

The Big West Conference is more American than the American (AAC).

The Big West Conference is more American than the American (AAC).

The Big West is also one of the few leagues that celebrate holidays and special events.
Big West Easter

Big West ground hog

That’s right, the Big West celebrated Easter and Groundhog Day by changing their profile pictures. You would think some league in the nation’s heartland would do that but nope. A league based in Hawaii and California did instead.

Best Campaign in Social Media: Atlantic-10

The A-10 is tired of being treated as a Cinderella and did a pretty good job of shedding that perception in their Who Wants Next Campaign. You can read my previous post about it here.

Would still be a great episode on "Once Upon a Time" though.

Would still be a great episode on “Once Upon a Time” though.

Best Video Made by a Conference: Missouri Valley

The MVC made a video hosted by Teryn Schaefer to meet all of the fan bases as they came to St. Louis for the Conference Tournament. While I’m tired of “Happy” the song worked well here and it captured the awesomeness of “Arch Madness.”


Most Creative Conference in Social Media: Conference USA

Conference USA is a league that is constantly changing. Members of the league joined the Big East to play BCS ball only to see that league split off into the American. Whoops. Now, Conference USA is filled with teams that were once in the Sun Belt, so educating people on who is a member is a challenge. Conference USA tackled that with this awesome graphic on their Facebook banner that showed who was playing where in the bowl season. Conference USA, the more you know.

To non football fans it looks like Captain Jack Sparrow and a green "T" are going deep.

To non football fans it looks like Captain Jack Sparrow and a green “T” are going deep.

Best Interview on Social Media: Marist Red Fox Mascot “Shooter”

Elizabeth Sim had the honor of showcasing the excitement around the women’s basketball team at Marist and did that and then some with her interview of the school’s mascot. If you can watch her interview starting at 1:35 mark just once then you’re since of humor needs checking.


Best Selfie in College Sports Social Media: Nicole Auerbach @NicoleAuerbach

As a writer for USA Today, Auerbach enjoys the pleasure of sitting courtside to some of the biggest games in college basketball. That is great in every venue except at Cameron Indoor as she snapped this selfie at a Duke game.

Shows the passion of college basketball for Duke fans and some of the pitfalls of being a college basketball writer for a national publication.

Best Female Sports Personality to Follow on Twitter: Samantha Ponder @sam_ponder

Auerbach was close but I had to give it to Ponder. Ponder replaced Erin Andrews on College Gameday a few years back and has been an internet darling ever since but that’s not why I find her to be the best follow on Twitter.

While listening to a Christian radio station in my car I almost had to pull over once the disc jockey started quoting Samantha Ponder’s blog post on being happy with yourself.

Name another female sports media personality that was quoted on Christian radio? She’s like the Tim Tebow of female sideline reporters at this point.

Ponder is also great at poking fun of herself or her husband, NFL quarterback Christian Ponder, on Twitter. She was able to tie M.A.S.H with marital counseling for this funny.

Best Male Sports Personality to Follow on Twitter: Pat Forde @YahooForde

Pat Forde is the only guy that’s covering college football and college basketball equally. Most others focus on one. This makes him a must follow for anyone that loves both sports. Plus, he is amazing at making fun of life in the press box. Take a look at this tweet during the BCS National Championship Game.

Best Celebration Photo: Duke Women’s Golf

The Duke women’s golf team took to the air to celebrate their national championship.
While most celebration photos are basic team huddles behind a banner and the trophy, this photo of the Duke women is hard to forget. Who cares if they took 10 shots to get it right?

Wait, are the Blue Devils are reaching out to heaven?

Wait, are the Blue Devils are reaching out to heaven?

Tweet of the Year: Stanford Press Conference

Anytime a college sports team tries to act like a nerd after a big win it is awesome in my book. Congratulations to the Stanford football team for making nerds everywhere proud and for David Lombardi for his tweet.

Worst Tweet of the Year: South Florida

South Florida should be praised for retweeting a lot of its fans during games but I’m afraid USF should have checked the user name before retweeting this one. I blocked out the third letter myself for the kids out there.

Never retweet without thinking, unless it's my account.

Never retweet without thinking, unless it’s my account.

The retweet was deleted but not before I got the screen shot. Go Bulls! I guess?

July is for Redesign

Atlantic 10 logoJuly is the quietest time of the year for the NCAA making it the best time for conferences and schools to rebrand themselves. Websites are given new looks, slogans and posters are printed, and logos are updated. One example is the Atlantic-10, which has gone with a sleeker and more masculine design.

From the branding agency 160 over 90, the firm that redesigned the logo.

“The new logo system honors the league’s historically strong performance record and national rankings, while lending a contemporary feel. Custom-made letterforms convey the conference’s level of athleticism and fast-paced play. Angled serifs act as speed lines, while the exaggerated slope of the ‘A’ connotes advancement, almost pushing off of the page.…”

While that is a lot of connotative meanings from a logo it is an upgrade over the 90’s looking block design the A-10 had before.

This looked great when the SEGA Genesis came out.

This looked great when the SEGA Genesis came out.

Not every team in the league has “fast-paced play” but it is a good perception to present. For example, Dayton’s win over Syracuse in the NCAA tournament, the league’s most prominent win of the season, was a 55-53 defensive battle. Virginia Commonwealth, on the other hand, might be the most athletic team in the nation with their full-court press.
Overall it is a nice redesign that could help out the A-10’s efforts to gain respect after Dayton’s run into the Elite Eight.

Bowling Green Turns to the Chocolate Factory

One league that also had a redesign was the MAC with their new website. The real story here though was Bowling Green State University going Willy Wonka on their season tickets.

Because when people think golden tickets, they think MAC football.

Volleyball in the Mountains

Wyoming, our favorite Division 1 school out in the middle of nowhere, reinforces that fact with its new volleyball poster. How many other schools would try something like this?

“The Queens of the Ghost Town” would be a great slogan here, or “The Defenders of the Cattle Pen.”Either way I’m actually intrigued about the Wyoming volleyball season now. If they actually played their games in a cattle pen of course.

The NCAA Continues to Stick to its Guns

Or on and off the lake.

Or on and off the lake.

On Sunday the NCAA had the national championship in women’s rowing just minutes away from me in Indianapolis. When I asked a friend if we should get tickets to a women’s rowing event I was met with some strange looks. I might as well have proposed watching the “Twilight” trilogy in one sitting. So I sat this one out.

Ohio State repeated as the Division I champ and congratulations to the Buckeyes. The Ohio State women’s rowing team is also the banner photo for the NCAA’s Facebook page. Here the phrase “Champions on and off the court” is displayed symbolizing academic success.

The NCAA is once again fighting to the bitter end that all of its athletes are students first. Highlighting a women’s rowing team is not going to go very far to persuade the masses that only see the football and basketball players skipping class. At this point, the campaign is comical.

Perhaps a better campaign would be “Providing Opportunities for the Youth of America.” That’s cheesier than a superhero movie but it allows the NCAA to claim credit for those who graduate while still being illiterate. Looking at you SEC football.

Here are some other things I noticed this past week…

CBS Makes Some Changes

Speaking of the SEC, CBS is trying to solidify their alpha dog position on the conference. CBS sports announced that Adam Zucker will be replacing Tim Brando on their College Football Today. A show that serves as a pregame for their SEC game of the week. Allie LaForce is taking the place of Tracy Wolfson as the lead sideline reporter in that game. Could this be a preemptive move to go younger to combat ESPN’s launch of the new SEC Network? The timing can’t be a coincidence.

Flooding on the Field

McNeese State had a wonderful 2013 college football season. It made the FCS playoffs and crushed FBS South Florida 53-21. Lets hope a little water doesn’t stop their momentum.

Only a marketing guy could turn a flooded football field into a chance to sell season tickets. Not sure if it will work but at least they’re trying hard. Just good luck kicking a field goal in that lake.

L.A. is the Tennis Mecca

Now they just need to fight the USC men's team to the death.

Now they just need to fight the USC men’s team to the death.

Congratulations Los Angeles. You are the epicenter of collegiate tennis.

On Tuesday the No. 5 ranked UCLA women claimed the title defeating No. 7 North Carolina 4-3 in an all sky blue battle. The women’s bracket was all chalk for most of the tournament until the quarterfinals. At the end of it was UCLA claiming their 2nd title in women’s tennis and 111th championship in school history.

USC men won their fifth title in six years defeating Oklahoma 4-2. The bracket held to form as the top seeded Trojans tangled with the No. 2 Sooners. USC won their 21st title in men’s tennis and yes that’s more than anyone else. More importantly it was the school’s 100th national championship overall. USC won despite losing the double’s point. Something that rarely happens.

So congratulations UCLA and USC, you are better at a typically outdoor sport than the Big Ten. What a shock.

College tennis tries to steal the show

Spring championship season for the NCAA is here and the sport on deck this weekend is tennis. The men’s and women’s titles will be on Tuesday in Athens, Georgia. Why does the NCAA have all their championships on Mondays (football, men’s basketball) or a Tuesday (women’s basketball)? For an organization that values academics, they sure do put a lot of big events during class time.Obscurity Report new It’s also interesting that out of the top 16 seeds in the field of 64 for the men only two failed to make it to the round of 16. So if you’re looking for upsets in “May Madness” you might need to find a different spring sport. The fact that upsets are rare makes the failures of No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 11 Duke that much more embarrassing though.

The phrase “hard-fought” is PR speak for “we screwed up.” The good news though is that the elite eight of the field will truly be elite. Get your Cinderellas out of here because the big guys need room for the next three days in Athens. USC is the No. 1 seed but it did lose to Ohio State and twice to UCLA. Both are still in the field. On the women’s side parity is even harder to see as 15 of the top 16 seeds made it to the round of 16. Only No. 15 Northwestern faltered as it was edged out 4-3 by Notre Dame.

The attitude on the Northwestern side was just a little bit down in comparison.

There has been some drama though as No. 1 seed Georgia barely survived No. 16 USC 4-3 on Thursday. That would have been a disaster for the Bulldogs to blow their title hopes so quickly on their home court.

Georgia will play 2012 champion Florida on Saturday. The SEC will be going for Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama championship match. I’m sure Big 10 fans will accuse Alabama of giving cars to their women’s tennis players too.

So check out a sport other than basketball and football for a change this weekend. You might even become a die-hard college tennis fan. Just don’t count on it.

Epic D-2 Softball Photos

I just finished a story for the Southsider Voice newspaper on the University of Indianapolis softball team. My feature on the Greyhounds will come out Wednesday but I also wanted to showcase some of the photos I took from their games with Bellarmine.  UIndy and Bellarmine are both in the NCAA tournament starting Friday as the two programs have strong softball traditions. Good luck to both teams.

Bellarmine UIndy UIndy 2At batPitcherKnights 2

The Tiny Easter Egg Hunt of College Athletics

Unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, few athletic departments did much for Easter in social media. The lack of team photos with “Happy Easter” written underneath them was surprising.

The only exception I saw was the Big West Conference.

That’s right folks, the only league to really wish its followers a happy Easter was far from the Bible belt. Instead it was league based in liberal California. Go figure. Wichita State did get creative by having an Easter egg hunt during a baseball game. Each egg contained team memorabilia and goodies. Now that’s sports marketing at its finest.

Mercer did not do anything with Easter but it did succeed in tying its baseball team to Duck Dynasty. That’s pretty close I suppose.

When Duck Dynasty is used in sports marketing, the end is near.