Budget Games of the Opening Week

Budget Games newCollege football schedules are driven by revenue and there are schools that need revenue badly. The first few weeks of the season are loaded with power conference programs paying mid-major FBS schools to serve as target practice. Such is life in the “Group of 5” (AAC, CUSA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt). Welcome to the “Budget Games” slackers, where the odds are never in your favor.

Georgia Southern at NC State, Aug 30.

The Eagles are entering year one as a FBS school and that costs money. Money North Carolina State is willing to provide to the tune of $700,000 for a home game. NC State went a dismal 3-9 last year and were uncompetitive against the likes of Boston College, East Carolina and Maryland. The Eagles beat Florida last year so taking down a FBS school like NC State is nothing new.

Georgia Southern has an opportunity here to get paid and score a win. I give the Eagles a 40% chance of pulling off the upset. That will be a happy Thanksgiving, merry Christmas, and a happy New Year all over again.

Temple at Vanderbilt, Aug 28

The American Athletic Conference is now on the same level as the MAC and Conference USA. This means Temple is back to collecting cash and Vanderbilt is its first supplier. The Owls went 2-10 in 2013 but had decent showings in their final six games. While Vanderbilt has a new head coach in Derek Mason, it seems hard to believe they’ll drop a Thursday night game to a team like Temple. The pressure will be on running back Jerron Seymour to carry Vandy’s offense as the passing attack is inexperienced. I place Temple’s chances of an upset at 25 percent.

Appalachian State at Michigan Aug 30

Michigan is paying Appalachian State 1 million dollars to get a chance at revenge. Why else would Michigan schedule them? MAC schools surround the Wolverines so importing a Sun Belt program from North Carolina is a little obvious.

The Mountaineers are now in the FBS and their upset over Michigan in 2007 had plenty to do with that. App State went 4-8 last season but returns their starting QB, RB and offensive line. That could make things interesting. If Akron scared Michigan last year then you know Appalachian State has a shot. I give them a 20 percent chance.

Utah State vs. Tennessee, Aug 31

Utah State of the Mountain West will take its crack at a SEC school on a Sunday game. The Aggies have potential too coming off a 9-5 year. The Volunteers have not scared anyone in years and Utah State is coming to win. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is better than anyone Tennessee has under center.

I view this as a coin-flip as Tennessee may panic at home if this is close late. I give the Aggies a 49 percent chance. Better bring your best game Tennessee.

FAU vs. Nebraska, Aug 30

Florida Atlantic opens the season at Nebraska and at Alabama. Now that’s an athletic department in need of funds. Bo Pelini is taking heat from Nebraska fans and a loss to a Sun Belt team in the opener will cause a revolt. Wyoming almost knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln last season and Florida Atlantic is not too far off in talent from Wyoming. The Owls also won their last four games in 2013 but I can only give them a 20 percent chance. The Cornhuskers would have to turn the ball over a lot to choke this one, but did I mention Nebraska was -11 in turnover margin last year. Whoops.

Rice vs. Notre Dame, Aug 30

Our third Owl team on the list and this is the best of them. Rice won Conference USA last season and will receive a 1.1 million dollar check to play Notre Dame. Rice lost their top QB, RB and its two best tacklers on defense to graduation so that’s a big mountain to climb in the first week. I give Rice a five percent chance of winning.

Idaho vs. Florida, Aug 30

Idaho is trying hard to recruit in Sun Belt territory and raise funds in the process. The solution is to play Florida for $975,000. The Vandals will be better than their 1-11 team from last season but Florida will be better too. If Idaho can’t stay close to Washington State in 2013 (42-0) then Florida should hold its own here. I give the Vandals a five percent chance to pull the upset.

The Best of College Volleyball on Social Media and the Worst

Who knew "kill" would be so peaceful and elegant in cursive?

Who knew “kill” would be so peaceful and elegant in cursive?

While college football and college basketball are the main sports I follow, I try to give some love to the Olympics sports when I can here at the nc2anerd. Volleyball is a particular favorite as its games are right there in the basketball arena.

If a school knows how to promote itself, volleyball can be a revenue producing sport. With the women’s volleyball season starting the same weekend as football, let’s take a look at where volleyball programs are breaking through the football blanket to make a name for themselves in social media and where they’re failing to do so.

McNeese State

The most hilarious volleyball promotion on social media was this You Tube clip of the McNeese State players putting on knee pads and walking down a hallway. Are these Cowgirls going to play a volleyball game because we never see a ball, net, or court for that matter? It’s as if they were denied access to arena the day of shooting. I thought the music change in the middle was a mistake the first time I watched it too.

At lease McNeese State made a promotional video unlike these two schools.

Penn State and Wisconsin

The fact I lumped these two together is a bad sign. Penn State defeated Wisconsin in last year’s title game to win its fifth championship in seven years. Yet both schools have been lackluster in their social media promotions. Wisconsin has had more swagger on Twitter showing off their “finalist rings.”

Besides that and a few “Throwback Thursday” photos, both schools have been quiet and unimpressive on the promotion front. Football as is a big reason why as both schools are football powers in the Big 10.

Texas

The No. 1 seed in last year’s volleyball tournament was Texas and the Longhorns are pretty blunt about how they feel about volleyball compared with their heroes on the gridiron.

Wow, a 3.4 GPA is all it took? That’s what I had in college with only moderate effort. Sorry Mom.

Texas is complimenting their women’s volleyball team here but it also comes across as reinforcing the stereotype that women’s sports are only there to balance out the bad academics of the men. Texas missed a golden opportunity to promote its four players on the preseason All Big 12 team last week. Contrast this with Kansas State (only one player on the list) who quickly jumped to promote their star setter.

Now that is how you showcase your best players Texas. To find a school placing stock in its volleyball program you need to to select one that either doesn’t have a football team or just has a bad one. This brings us to…

Purdue

The Boilermakers went all out to promote their volleyball photo day. Even set up a site for behind the scenes access. Slow motion videos capture the work that went into their team poster.

Sam Diving from Purdue Athletics on Vimeo.

The school is also using social media to sell tickets. Purdue created the BumpTo1000 hashtag as an effort to double the number of season tickets from a year ago. Purdue went to the elite eight last year before falling to Wisconsin in four sets. With their top two leaders in attack percentage returning in Kiki Jones and Faye Adelaja, this could be Purdue’s chance to knock Penn State off the Big 10 Throne.

Minnesota

Purdue isn’t the only Big 10 school trying win over publicity for volleyball. The Golden Gophers have a three-game ticket plan where fans choose from a hierarchy of opponents.

Group one consists of the three schools in the conference with the most volleyball tradition and it moves on down from there. It’s a very interesting ticket plan for an obsessed volleyball fan.

Minnesota reached the Sweet 16 in 2013 but lost their two kill leaders from last season.

Washington

Out in PAC-12 country the Washington Huskies are predicted to not win the conference, just like last season. That’s fine for the Huskies as they won the PAC-12 in 2013 and made it to the Final Four in the tournament. Washington’s volleyball program is nestled in a nice situation as the school’s football team is not overpowering. Check out its short promotional video. Something Penn State and Texas don’t have.

Washington has expanded into sand volleyball in 2014, a very promising sign that the school is committed to being a power in the indoor sport as well. Senior outside hitters Kaleigh Nelson and Krista Vansant return as the two leaders in kills and were named to the All PAC-12 preseason team.

Marquette

Marquette does not have a football team meaning volleyball is large and in charge in autumn. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these ticket prices.

Dang, $70 for courtside seats is almost as expensive as the Milwaukee Bucks. The Golden Eagles lost in the second round last year to Illinois. Unfortunately, Marquette has just one senior on the roster so it will be a challenge for it to improve on that finish.

Morehead State

Smaller schools, such as Morehead, are also promoting volleyball stronger than the finalists from last season. Take a look at Morehead boasting about its Ohio Valley Conference titles.

With #EagleEmpire you know you’re a volleyball school.

New Hampshire

The Wildcats won the American East last season and are the favorites to do so again. The conference let New Hampshire Outside Hitter Abby Brinkman take over the league’s Twitter account in July and there were plenty of highlights.

Abby made this picture the banner photo for the conference for a weekend to put some muscle into the American East.

Buffalo

Things got silly for the Bulls at their media day. It’s an early candidate for selfie of the year.

Southern Mississippi

Want to know what a coach thinks of a player? Well Southern Miss just comes out and says it in its tweets.

The WINNER: Hawaii

The best volleyball program on social media leading up to the season has been the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine. First, the school is making a strong effort to honor its coach, Dave Shoji, who is celebrating 40 years at the program. Picture after picture has been used to show Coach Shoji at the time of each significant achievement in his tenure. To national championships to reaching 500 wins.

The woman on the right must be really glad the school brought back that picture.

Most of all though is the passion of the Hawaii fans. Look at how many were at last year’s first round win against Idaho State.

Over 8,000 fans were on hand for that first round game. That’s more than three times the attendance at Penn State’s second round game against Utah and more than twice of the second round game at Texas. Did I mention Texas was playing arch rival Texas A&M in that game? Whoops.

For volleyball to grow it needs to have schools see it as a companion to football and not as a side item. Hawaii and the Big West Conference have been the leaders on that process so far.

That’s why I’m picking Hawaii to beat Washington in the championship at Oklahoma City this December. Not because of talent but because of fan support and passion.

Will it happen though with eight newcomers? The Rainbow Wahine should be hungry after being caught off guard against BYU in the second round in 2013. They were the No. 11 overall seed last year and return some key players from their team that beat Texas in the regular season. Hawaii is deep in outside hitters with Nikki Taylor, Tai Manu-Olevao and senior leader Kalei Adopho.

Either way, Hawaii will be the most interesting team to follow in women’s volleyball this season. With its fan support you can count on that.

No, the NCAA is Not Falling Apart

Everyone PANIC!

Everyone PANIC!

There was plenty of overreaction Thursday to the 16-2 vote from the NCAA Board of Directors giving the power five conferences more autonomy. Banter ranging from Athletes being paid to the death of the NCAA was controlling the news. Some punks in the media even called it the creation of “Haves and Have Nots in college sports.”

My response is simple.

Where the heck have you been?

The NCAA has always been operating in a “haves and have nots” system. Especially in football. The Sun Belt has never been equal to the SEC. The same for the MAC and the Big Ten. In terms of resource disparity, Thursday’s vote changed nothing.

In a lot of ways, the vote will do some immediate good. The NCAA has never been able to police the institutions in charge. The cheaters who launder money know how to get around them. The power five conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12 and SEC) are more nimble in making preventive measures around cheating. Stipends, not paying players thousands of dollars, are long overdue. You can’t eliminate cheating but you can place players in a less vulnerable position financially.

Seeing Oklahoma self report itself for giving players too much pasta has to end. Heck, South Carolina self reported itself for having too much icing on a cake. The system is broken and the power five are more qualified to fix it than the overwhelmed enforcement staff in the NCAA.

The NCAA is still needed as there has to be a governing body for all schools, and Thursday’s vote didn’t change that either. The bigger conferences have different needs than the rest and the Board of Directors recognized that. That doesn’t mean the NCAA is going to disappear.

As much as the SEC wants to just be by itself, it will always need competition from around the country to validate its prestige. That keeps the NCAA safe from elimination.

The real issues will be how much compensation the power five will agree to disperse to players? Will mid-majors drop down in competition? Staple issues, like Title IX, are not going away either.

But don’t expect the sky to fall because of Thursday’s vote. Intercollegiate athletics is not going to blow itself up. The “Star Trek” clip resembles the situation as Scotty thinks the cloaking device will overload. However, sometimes you just have to throw the switch.

Football Teams in Love with Cupcakes

Don't laugh, that might be what your favorite team actually looks like on the field.

Don’t laugh, that might be what your favorite team actually looks like on the field.

Every year, football programs try to manufacture the perfect schedule and the teams below didn’t make the cut. While there is no “perfect schedule,” there are schedules that treat its fans like they are a Comcast customer.
Discarding the conference slate, as schools don’t have control on those games, here are several non-conference schedules that are ripping off fans and their conference rankings.

Marshall

The Thundering Herd are a front-runner in Conference USA this season but does not play a single power conference school. Instead, Marshall loaded up on three MAC schools and FCS Rhode Island. If Marshall wants to make a splash it will have to go undefeated before pollsters notice them. Maybe the weak schedule will help the Herd obtain the coveted mid-major spot in the four big bowls. Then again it might cause Marshall to fade away into obscurity.

Oregon State

The PAC 12 has nine games in league play allowing just three games out of conference. Oregon State took that opportunity and converted it into FCS Portland State, at Hawaii and San Diego State. Hawaii only won one game last year so way to push the envelope there Beavers. With that said, Oregon State lost to FCS Eastern Washington a year ago so maybe it’s tough enough.

Baylor

Baylor won the Big 12 last season so why in the world are Bears afraid to play anybody? It’s toughest out of conference game is at Buffalo of the MAC. SMU and FCS Northwestern State round out an unimpressive trio. This is not great for the Big 12’s strength of schedule rankings.

Middle Tennessee State

The Blue Raiders open against FCS cupcake Savannah State and then travel to their toughest non-conference foe on the season in… Minnesota? MTSU is also at Memphis of the AAC and at Old Dominion of the Sun Belt. Not a slate that will impress people and the weakest team is the only home game.

Ball State

My alma mater in Ball State has the issue of playing two FCS programs this year. BSU does play at Iowa but that doesn’t really make up for the fans having to see Colgate and Indiana State. There is no value in beating two FCS schools as the second win does not count towards bowl eligibility.

Houston

The Cougars are another school playing two FCS programs (Grambling State and Tennessee Tech) that I’m sure fans are dying to see. UTSA is Houston’s best non-conference opponent at home as BYU is away. Did I mention this is only the fourth year UTSA has had a football program?

Georgia Tech

For the second straight year the Yellow Jackets will be playing two FCS opponents. It’s as if Georgia Tech is conceding multiple losses in ACC play and the rivalry game to Georgia with that attitude. Tech also traverses to AAC Tulane which could be a trap game costing it bowl eligibility if it falters there.

With their schedule I don't think winning a prize pack is a good thing.

With their schedule I don’t think winning a prize pack is a good thing.

North Carolina State

Another ACC school topped Georgia Tech as NC State will play 2 FCS schools too. NC State’s sexiest home game out of conference is Old Dominion of the Sun Belt. There is a trip to South Florida but that does nothing to accommodate the fans at home. For an ACC school to go this soft is a giant white flag in confidence coming off a 3-9 season. Hope the people in Raleigh like cupcakes because they’re about to get a lot of them.

Other flimsy non-conference schedules: Buffalo, Florida International, Air Force, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky

Is the New SEC Network a Guaranteed Success?

The talk shows are coming, the talk shows are coming.

The talk shows are coming, the talk shows are coming.

The launch of the new SEC network is only 2 weeks away and the signs are pointing up. With a partnership through ESPN it seems inconceivable for the network to fail. I know Big 10 country would love to see nothing more than the SEC struggle at their network but that is unrealistic. Whether you’re pro SEC Network or think it’s a money grab for cheating football teams, here are the pros and cons of the television channel.

Pro: If the Big Ten Network can succeed, imagine what the SEC can do as an ESPN affiliate.

The Big Ten Network has been around since 2007, and it feels crazy to think it’s been around for that long. BTN was a partnership with FOX Sports and that’s important to note. FOX Sports 1 wasn’t even around to help promote it yet BTN has powered through some ups and downs.

Now imagine if BTN had the ESPN machine promoting the channel through SportsCenter every hour, or during Monday Night Football. Heck, even on ABC. That’s a huge resource and I haven’t even mention espn.com being loaded with SEC Network promos too. While BTN programming may be hidden on an obscure channel, the SEC Network will be loud and proud with ESPN.

Con: The SEC does not have enough content to fill a 24/7 network 365 days a year.

That is correct, but neither does BTN, ESPN, CNN nor practically every other 24/7 network for that matter. These television stations have mastered the art of filling time and SEC network will do the same. BTN replays games from previous seasons most of the time and somehow that has been enough. A 5-year-old football game beats “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” any day.

Pro: Live sports

Live sporting events, particularly football, are ratings gold and almost impossible to mess up. Well unless you’re FOX Sports 1. Here’s a breakdown of the event programing.

That seems kind of small on the women's side don't you think?

That seems kind of small on the women’s side don’t you think?

Con: These events were already on television anyway

For football that is true. Even the Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores have had their football games on some platform. The SEC network will steal some games away from ESPNU and will of course wipe out ESPN3. Basketball games, however, are tougher to find and the SEC Network will serve fans greatly during the conference tournaments in both men’s and women’s basketball. The question will be the other sports like soccer and volleyball. Will the SEC faithful watch those too?

Pro: SEC fans see their league as a family

Note that they are not chanting L-S-U after winning the title.

Con: Are there enough basketball fans?

Kentucky and Florida will have the bulk of their basketball games on bigger networks like CBS. Once you get past Vanderbilt and Tennessee you start running into a lack of depth on hardwood. Will people watch South Carolina and Auburn tangle in hoops in a primetime setting? That remains to be seen. The SEC really needs schools like LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State to be a tourney team on a regular basis. Maybe Missouri can find its way to being a basketball power too. If it’s just Kentucky and Florida carrying the other 12 schools, it might hurt the network during the first three months of the year.

Pro: The SEC does not have many professional teams to worry about.

Atlanta is the only city in the South that’s loaded with professional sports teams and that hurts Georgia Tech more so than UGA. South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky are states where college ball is in charge. LSU is right up there if not greater than the New Orleans Saints in terms of fan support. The Florida Gators don’t have to worry about the Jacksonville Jaguars or even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eating away its media attention. Contrast that with most other regions like the Midwest and Northeast. The Southeast is unique in that its college teams are more popular than the pro guys.

Con: Talk Shows?

This is really the only thing that could derail the network in my opinion and that’s just it; having too many opinions.

If the network tries to fill time with people calling in and saying “Roll Tide This” and “War Eagle That” than it will get old and get annoying quick. I would rather watch a SEC women’s soccer game than have Paul Finebaum talk about Nick Saban vs. Les Miles.

Cutting the chatter to a minimum and showing as much live sports as possible is really what fans want. There will be plenty of time to chant S-E-C, just save it for the games.

The Misfits of College Football

These four are actually in a better situation than most of the Sun Belt.

These four are actually in better situations than most of the Sun Belt.

With teams changing conferences for better TV contracts at the expense of geography, there has become a high number of teams that are on Exile Island. These are schools that are in a conference that may not be a suitable fit for them.

10. Vanderbilt: SEC

The Commodores have revitalized their football program in the last decade winning three bowl games but are still far from winning a SEC title. Vanderbilt is the only school in the conference with an academic focus while the other 13 programs have boosters making deals with recruits off the books.

But the real issue is not that the SEC is wrong for Vandy as much as the ACC might be better. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Duke and Boston College share Vanderbilt’s academic interests and could form some nice rivalries. Heck, the Demon Deacons and the Commodores have met the past four seasons so might as well play in the same league. Duke even won their division last year; something Vanderbilt has no chance of doing in the SEC East. That’s partly why James Franklin bolted for Penn State. Vandy should do the same with the SEC.

9. West Virginia: Big 12

The Big 12 was in need of reinforcements after being raided by practically everyone three years ago. West Virginia was in desperate need of a home as the Big East was imploding. The result was the strange union of a program in the Appalachian Mountains joining a conference with a Great Plains identity.

The Mountaineers have gone 6-12 in Big 12 play since joining in 2012. Pittsburgh and the “Backyard Brawl” was an exciting rivalry but now the closest thing to a rivalry WVU has left is … Iowa State. You can’t blame West Virginia though as it is making the best out of a tough situation. WVU’s men’s soccer team has joined the Mid-American Conference if that tells you how unusual things are. Note the MAC logos in the bottom right.

8. East Carolina: AAC

East Carolina is joining the American Athletic Conference this year. Too bad no one from the American Athletic Conference is near them. Conference USA was a melting pot of schools too but the Pirates could point to a history of rivalries in that conference. I liked Marshall, Southern Mississippi, and UAB for them. Plus, the American is a lateral move for the Pirates.

That’s a great looking court but will there be any rivalry games there?

7. San Diego: Pioneer

The only FCS school on the list is in a league that does not offer athletic scholarships for football. The Pioneer Football League is great for schools that are doing to the minimum of having a team on the FCS level so the other sports can remain Division I. San Diego though is the only conference member out West. The closest rival is all the way over in Iowa in Drake.

It’s not a disaster for the Toreros as they have won five PFL titles. Last year, however, San Diego disqualified themselves because they awarded improper financial aid to players.

Might be time to switch to a conference where that’s legal USD.

6. Rutgers: Big Ten

Getting use to seeing Rutgers in the Big Ten seems impossible. The Scarlet Knights better understand that folks in Big Ten country don’t want to see their team.

At all.

The Midwest has to hear New Yorkers hurl “Fly-Over Country” insults at them all the time and now you have a program from the New York area entering their conference? Good luck to any Big 10 team selling tickets when Rutgers comes to town.

5. Maryland: Big Ten

That's not going to match Penn State's helmet very well is it.

That’s not going to match Penn State’s helmet very well is it.

If Rutgers is a bad fit, than Maryland is even worse. The Terrapins with their rotation of crazy uniforms clashes with the traditional mindset the Big Ten has. Maryland has thrown away all the rivalries it made in the ACC to play… Rutgers?

What remains to be seen is how will this move impact recruiting. Maryland had access to the high school football strongholds of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina through its ACC rivals. Will those recruits want to play for a Big Ten school now? Will recruits in Michigan and Ohio want to play in Maryland? The Terrapins better pray the answer is yes to both questions or this move will backfire badly.

The Terps are happy today, we’ll see how long that holds up.

4. Connecticut: American

While Maryland left the ACC, Connecticut would probably trade anything to be in it. The American is mostly made up of former Conference USA programs in the South. Only Temple, a program that’s been passed between conferences like a hobo between train stations, is nearby. The Huskies will have to cultivate new rivalries and find a way to tap into the Texas and Florida recruiting markets to make this work. Or UConn can just bite the bullet in football every year and focus on its basketball teams. That will work too.

3. Massachusetts: Mid-American

UMass turned down an invitation from the MAC to become a member in all sports earlier this year. The move makes sense for the Minutemen as the Atlantic-10 is better for basketball but the football program is stranded. UMass will have to find a home in the next two years and the American is not buying for right now.

And nor should they. The Minutemen have been cannon fodder since joining FBS in 2012 going 1-11 both seasons. UMass must audition well or it will be Sun Belt or Independent for the Minutemen. Neither are good options.

2. New Mexico State: Sun-Belt

Speaking of Sun Belt, that leads us to New Mexico State, who will joined the conference this year after spending time as an independent. The Aggies were a loser in the dissolving of the WAC as the Mountain West didn’t want them. Problem is that is the only league that makes since for NMSU.

In the Sun Belt, New Mexico State will be spending most of its time playing against teams in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana. That will be tough recruiting players from that far away but to be fair, New Mexico State has never been able to recruit anyway. The Aggies have not played in a bowl game since, gulp… 1960.

Well look at the bright side NMSU, you have a live cam of them installing the new field at your stadium. If that cheers you up I don’t see how.

1. Idaho: Sun Belt

Come get your summer tan at Moscow, Idaho.

Come get your summer tan at Moscow, Idaho.

That’s right folks, because when you think Sun Belt you should think … Idaho? It was the only choice the Vandals had in terms of staying in the FBS. Idaho will blow their travel budget flying out to the opposite, diagonal corner of the country for away games. The school has returned to the Big Sky Conference in the other sports.

Like New Mexico State, Idaho is doing the best it can do by playing in the Sun Belt. Unlike New Mexico State, Idaho has had some recent success, going 8-5 and winning a bowl game in 2009. Just don’t mention the 4-32 record the past three seasons.

Both the Aggies and the Vandals need to have some success in their new league soon, as justifying the costs of FBS football in a conference you clearly don’t belong in is difficult.

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?