Throwback Thursday to NCAA Tournament Photos

Sample size of the photos I shot in the first and second rounds from Indianapolis.


CSUN and Madonna

Tying your school to a celebrity is neat, making fun of a celebrity through your school mascot is awesome. Shoutout to the Big West Conference and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) with what might be the meme of the year so far in college sports. Congratulations Matty the Matador, you defeated Madonna.

A CSUN wins the internet.

And CSUN wins the internet.

College Basketball Preview Via Twitter Promotions

College basketball has the unlucky time on the calendar of starting right when college football is king. The result is action on the court doesn’t really become relevant until January. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your basketball team on social media in November. Although posing by golf cart may not be the best example.
Vandy golf cart
Vanderbilt women’s basketball may not have hit a home run with that picture but you have to give them credit for trying. Here is a better example using their star logo for a play on words.

Here are other methods of promoting basketball on Twitter and Facebook.

Counting Down

Basketball season creeps up at most schools and athletic departments try to sound the alarm with countdowns. Some are basic but effective, matching the number of days to the season with a players jersey number. Green Bay is a great example.

Creighton does the same with their countdowns but makes their royal shade of blue pop out with everything else in grayscale.

Long Beach State went artistic, utilizing just their black and gold colors. It looks cool as a possible poster as the Beach tries to promote ticket sales for its homecoming game.

While those three had carefully planned design elements my alma mater, Ball State, used a photo of a player in an awkward facial expression to convey their countdown. I’ll say this; it’s hard not to notice it.

Media Day

Another obvious way to showcase the basketball teams is to snap pics at media day. The Big South set the standard with a mascot photo. A dozen students in furry suits just screams college basketball, or something very, very weird.

Several schools always turn to the basic, “media day is here” strategy. Take a look at Siena and Oregon State. The Saints turned to a selfie with assistant coaches while Oregon State flaunted the height of one of its players compared with reporters.

Nevada took a fashion route as it modeled the team’s uniforms. Something the Wolfpack has plenty of.

The best came from Kansas State as the Wildcats took a candid approach to showing the height differences of the women’s and men’s teams.Having this interaction as an interview was a nice touch.

Meet the Team

Other schools took a personal approach as they tried to get their players interacting with the public. Tennessee Tech has an annual fan jam called “Purple Palooza” prior to Halloween. Guess what the school’s main color is?

Halloween with the team? Who says no to that in Cookeville, Tennessee?

Southern Mississippi took a more digital route as you could chat with Guard Brooke Rhodes. Rhodes transferred in from D-II Delta State and is a graduate student. Though she has not played a game yet for the Lady Eagles, Rhodes will see plenty of playing time this season making the Facebook chat a creative move to introduce her to fans.

Sitcom Approach

Western Kentucky always has talent in both women’s and men’s basketball and bringing attention to key players was the goal. This photo of all-conference players could be a poster to a sitcom on NBC. It would be a better show than “A to Z” and “Bad Judge.”

Conference Domination

Wichita State is the Alpha Dog of the Missouri Valley Conference. To illustrate the point, the Shockers knew how to tell the world how many players they have on the preseason MVC team. Three of the five is pretty telling.

Wildcat Selfie

But the real winner here is Kentucky’s mascot selfie during Big Blue Madness. Gotta admit it’s a good view high above Rupp Arena.

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?

Basketball Promotions Galore

Sensor scans returns as we do a tour of the hidden gems from the past week.

This is the trickiest time of the year for sports marketing specialists as athletic departmentsSensor Scans are trying to fill seats in their basketball games. If your team has no shot of making it to the tournament, has no basketball tradition, and it’s a polar vortex outside; then good luck attracting fans. Sadly, I just described half of the 349 division I programs.

Cincinnati has been extremely aggressive in its promotions. Even promising a chance to get your money back in a way.

The No. 19 Bearcats have not allowed 70 points in a game all year in its 19 games. Might be a great deal to take advantage of. With a 4-2 record against the RPI top 50, expect Cincinnati to make plenty of noise in the NCAA tournament. The fact they would resort to a deal like this to entice fans is shocking.

The Liberty Flames, a Christian school in Virginia, has turned to Frisbee dogs to help at the gate. I’m assuming the dogs are a better hit than the 7-10 Flames.

Want to go to a Kansas State women’s basketball game? I’m sure it won’t hurt your budget.

Free parking! If I have to pay for parking for a $1 event in Manhattan, Kansas I wouldn’t go to it anyway.

Marshall has this monster of a promo that includes the overused word “selfie.”

Doubt this would increase attendance as it reeks with desperation. When selfie comes into play it typically is a cry for help.

Southern Miss is all about its head coach Donnie Tyndall. So naming a town after him is supposed to pull me into a game?

If the Twitter doesn’t work, let’s try this cheesy video with a movie narration to boot.

The Golden Eagles even made this production so we can stalk Coach Tyndall around campus. If you are able to make it past 35 seconds of this sleeping pill I will be impressed.

Dumbest scheduling move ever

Nice job Memphis Tigers. You scheduled a division II program in mid-January, when you should playing high quality conference games. Instead you shelled out the cash to make LeMoyne-Owen (located in Memphis) a punching bag. Why? The game does little to help your RPI, impress pollsters and attract recruits. The Tigers have a 13-4 record but have few quality wins. Beating an overrated Louisville is pretty much it. Memphis did defeat Oklahoma State on a neutral site, just don’t mention the fact the two played previously in a 21-point destruction by OSU in the prior.

LeMoyne-Owen was the real winner as it got Sportscenter and showed off its unique nickname, the Magicians. LeMoyne-Owen even has a student oath and a Twitter account that’s hardly active.

That was tweeted on Thursday and nothing else was tweeted for another 48 hours. For an athletic department, that’s an eternity.

Auburn does win a title, in Mascots.

In one of the most fun contests on the college sports season, was the national mascot contest. Aubie the Tiger from Auburn won it for the 8th time. Think this doesn’t matter, think again.

Like winning the national title in football. If you consider mascots to be as important.

Like winning the national title in football. If you consider mascots to be as important.

Auburn is going to milk this for all it’s worth as they should. Forget that it is a contest involving a student in a tiger costume dancing to music with cheap props. This is Auburn beating out every other school including Alabama on a dance floor. This national title probably takes out 25 percent of the sting of losing the championship in football. Maybe 50?

California’s strange budget

The good news, California will be adding a sand volleyball team.

Sand volleyball is rapidly growing in NCAA, especially on the west coast, but that’s not the point here. Just a few years ago the Cal athletic department was struggling financially. So much so it cut its baseball team.
Seems improbable that Golden Bears would be in position today to add a sport without restoring baseball first. I’m sure Cal baseball alumni are scratching their heads at the moves of its athletic department.

The dumbest ESPN story of the year… as of January.

Mark Schlabach on is a good writer but apparently was forced into a filler story the past week. With not a lot going on after the title game he wrote a top 25 poll for 2014 just to get people talking. Nothing good can ever come out of college football poll eight and a half months before the start of the season. Say that one more time. Nothing good can ever come out of college football poll eight and a half months before the start of the season.

The poll itself is unimaginative as not a single mid-major program made the top 25. Heck, not a single squad out of the American Athletic Conference made it either. There’s your motivation Central Florida.

As great as college football is I’ve never liked when people try to make it a 365-day sport. This is why we inflate National Signing Day until everyone needs Tums or Pepto-Bismol. Find another sport for four months folks.