2014-15 College Sports Social Media Awards

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

I hope you enjoyed the appetizer of the ESPYS because it’s time to recognize the more important stuff. The social media masters in our NCAA bubble. Social Media award

Last year, my post was a big hit and I went all out this time. No I didn’t see everything on Twitter and Facebook and if I did I would be a synthetic on Humans. Trust me, I saw enough, but feel free to let me know if there was something you think I should have recognized. Now let’s take a look at these manufactured awards.

Best way to embarrass your players: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt had a great spring sports season with baseball and tennis, so with all the excitement can you blame the track team for taking a nap to recharge? Apparently, their own teammate could not. Anchor down means staying on the internet forever.

Worst use of a statistic: UConn Football
I get it UConn football, you are constantly trying to get your team out of the shadows of the best basketball programs in the country. The countdowns though are coming across as desperate.

That’s right, we are counting down to play a FCS team! Not Rutgers, not Boston College, not even Temple but FCS Villanova. Get your tickets now!

Even worse was the punting statistic. In a 12-game season 66 punts is 5.5 punts a game. That’s a problem as UConn gave up the third highest points in American Athletic Conference play last season. Roughly 30 points per contest. Don’t brag about forcing punts when you are being scored on every other possession.

Best use of democracy: Georgia Tech
Who knew the Yellow Jackets would go to the public for fashion advice?

Best presentation of starting lineup: Missouri
There were plenty of great designs out there for starting lineups in basketball but I like what Missouri did here with the black and white contrast. Now that’s some good layering in the photo edit.

Best soccer starting lineup: East Tennessee State
While I liked what Missouri did for basketball I have to give ETSU credit for their soccer efforts. I gotta have more tactical lineups like these.

Most insecure: North Dakota State
I seriously don’t know what I did. I was a big fan of the Bison winning numerous FCS titles and getting on College Gameday too. This hurts NDSU.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

Best prognostication: Georgia State
In what ended up being the most entertaining game of the NCAA Tournament, the Panthers knew that an upset was in order thanks to an official box score. Sorry Baylor.

Most shameless advertisement: FIU
FIU has always been in need of cash and well… let’s have a word from our sponsor.

Selfie of the year by mascot: Kentucky
Here is a school not in need of cash. Why every team should have a midnight madness like Kentucky.

Best at making announcements: Northern Illinois
NIU is developing a tradition of making a big deal about future football games. And I have to say #SchedulePalooza is pretty cool. The Huskies drop hints making fans work a digital scavenger hunt to determine the teams NIU will play in a few years.

Worst graphic: Arizona
The defensive player of the week has NO EYES! What an incredible performance by her!

Worst logo placement: Siena
You may accuse me of having my mind in the gutter but a woman’s waistline should never be used for branding. Or a man’s for that matter. Siena is a great follow but this post was not one of the best.

Best costume by a media member: Shae Peppler
Going back to a Miami school with Shae Peppler of Campus Insiders somehow pulling off an Al Golden for Halloween. Didn’t know his tie was so iconic.

Best female media personality to follow: Nicole Auerbach
Auerbach is one of the few who covers college basketball and football equally. She is also one of the few women to be on television as a college football expert for the Big Ten Network. Plus she retweeted me last year. So all the power to her.

Best male media personality to follow: Pat Forde
Until Seth Davis covers other sports besides basketball, Pat Forde is and will always be the man.

Most Harsh: UTEP
This about sums it up.

Best food promotion: Iowa State
Now that is a social media promotion.

Best photo shoot: Tie between Pepperdine and Bowling Green State
Yeah I whiffed with a tie but how are you supposed to choose between these two?

Best social media rivalry: MAC vs. the Sun Belt
A great way to have the other bowl games be more impactful is to have the conferences duke it out Twitter. Well done MAC and Sun Belt. Well done.

Best tweet: Jacksonville State
Now this photo demonstrates what college sports should be all about. Playing for your school, having fun and getting that degree. You can stop advertising NCAA. We have found your marketing tool.

Best team selfies: Niagra Women’s Basketball
Have you ever been stuck on the interstate for 24 hours because of a snowstorm? No? Well here is what it looks like.

Best way to celebrate a milestone: New Hampshire
Reaching 700 wins in any sport is a big deal. You truly have to put your body into it.

Best to chat with: Southern Miss
Want to chat with your favorite Golden Eagle? You don’t even have to leave your laptop.

Best video series: American Athletic Conference
American Rising hosted by Hali Oughton became the most informative regular on my news feed this year. The AAC is still new and an odd mix of schools so this media effort helps get it organized for fans.

Best conference on Facebook: Mountain West
For Facebook, I want to see photo galleries. The Mountain West does a tremendous job of providing exactly that for most of its games. This Facebook banner is pretty good too. MWC 7 teams

Best conference to follow: Big West
The Big West celebrates every holiday, offers plenty of photos for every sport and how can you beat this?

Best video by a school: South Florida
A great way to promote a sport like volleyball. This promotion idea was cute and I hope that more videos like these will increase interest for the volleyball program at USF.

Best game show by a team: Florida State Sand Volleyball
On the other side of the state, FSU tried some video ideas of its own with a game show theme. I’m all for getting sand volleyball more attention even in cheesy ways like this, but I don’t think you need two parts here. Still, the effort is to be applauded.

Best school to follow on social media No. 5: Georgia Southern
Now to the top five schools to follow on Twitter. The Eagles made some nice info graphics for their teams this year. Here is a look at a soccer example.

Best school to follow on social media No. 4: Western Kentucky
WKU promoted their sports equally with photo shoots and other promotional graphics. The Hilltoppers had fun too with this color coordinated seating chart.

Best school to follow on social media No. 3: Oregon State
No school made better use of its color scheme on social media than the orange and black of Oregon State. Their posts were hard to miss.

Best school to follow on social media No. 2: Colorado State
Colorado State did an excellent job using photography. It always seemed to grab my attention with the bold colors the Rams would use.

Best school to follow on social media No. 1: Kansas State
The best combination of game updates, photography, promotions, statistics and design has to be Kansas State. The Wildcats were active promoting every game from every team and every result. I feel like I’m in the know about K-State despite living a few states away.

Plus how do compete with a promotion like this?


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.

13 Overlooked Stories from the College Football Bowl Season

Yep, the MAC just went Willy Wonka on the Sun Belt.

Yep, the MAC just went Willy Wonka on the Sun Belt.

College football is down to its final game tonight as the postseason has been underway for weeks. We all know the main headlines such the top SEC teams going down, TCU dominating and Florida State combusting into humiliating defeat in the Rose Bowl. There are facts that are not so prominent like leaving tickets for a celebrity. Trust me, it will make sense soon. Here are 13 overlooked stories from the college football bowl season.

13. Oklahoma Tries to Stay Positive

Oklahoma was pounded by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl 40-6, but found a way to stay up beat on this Clemson touchdown.

When Oklahoma is clinging to hope of a play being reversed, you know it’s a blowout.

No. 12 Randomly meeting your favorite team on the beach

It was a great New Years for Georgia Tech with its Orange Bowl win, but a Georgia Tech fan had an even better time as she had this chance meeting with her favorite Yellow Jackets.

No. 11 Arkansas and People Watching

Arkansas really enjoyed its 31-7 Texas Bowl win over Texas and that deserves bonus points when you beat a team the bowl is named after. The Razorbacks began giving shout outs to fellow athletic teams and signs from fans that trashed their opponent.

Seriously, you don’t see any other athletic department people watch like this, but when you’re winning you can do whatever you want.

No. 10 Pep Rallies upon pep rallies

Bowl games always try to have some pep rallies for the fans, and there is also the chance of having the pep rallies turn into a band duel. Like here in the Fiesta Bowl between Arizona and Boise State.

I guess the Boise band did better as the Broncos won a close Fiesta Bowl game.

No. 9 Underdogs Dominate

It was not a good bowl season to be the favorite.

No. 8 Oregon Football Reflected in Rose Bowl Commercial

The Ducks were winners in another area too, promotional advertisements. This ad that aired during the Rose Bowl was among the best commercials for a school during bowl season as it matched the football team to the university seamlessly.

No. 7 Bowl Banners

It’s always interesting to see how the mid-majors promote their bowl teams. It’s pretty much their season for some of these teams. The Mountain West celebrated its postseason thanks to their record number of bowl teams.

Just don't mention how bad Colorado State, Fresno and Nevada looked.

Just don’t mention how bad Colorado State, Fresno and Nevada looked.

The American Athletic Conference went to the photo route to promote its 5 bowl teams. The AAC went 2-3 in bowls.
AAC bowl banner

The best mid-major conference was actually Conference USA who had a 4-1 mark in bowl season.

No. 6 West Virginia and the King

West Virginia play Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. You can’t visit Memphis without an Elvis joke and that’s what West Virginia did here.

Good thing the King didn’t show as the Mountaineers lost.

No. 5 Missouri Valley Monopoly

The Missouri Valley Football Conference had its way in the FCS playoffs, as MVFC schools North Dakota State and Illinois State met in the FCS Championship game. Now that is a conference that should be boasting more than SEC fans.
North Dakota State would win a close game 29-27 to earn its 4th straight national championship. Check out the trophy presentation. Where else do the fans gather on the field and the players gather in the stands for the celebration.

When you win four straight, a football game turns into a rock concert.

When you win four straight, a football game turns into a rock concert.

No. 4 Coconut Shrimp and Bloomin’ Onion

The Outback Bowl was all about giving away bloomin’ onions or coconut shrimp based off of the winner of the bowl game. They even went so far to have people dress up as both foods.

No. 3 Marriage at the Rose Bowl

This Oregon couple had more than just a Rose Bowl victory to celebrate.

No. 2 Houston’s Comeback to Retweet

Houston had a triumphant fourth quarter comeback against Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Cougars wanted everyone to know they came back from 25 points.

No. 1 #MACtion vs. #FunBelt

The MAC and the Sun Belt have all the fun in bowl season. These bowls games are what the conferences are all about in the postseason to the point where it has become a bit of a rivalry. The MAC and the Sun Belt met twice with Bowling Green vs. South Alabama and Toledo vs. Arkansas State. Both games yielded fantastic barbs between the two leagues.
Here is an example of what the Sun Belt did when South Alabama scored a touchdown on Bowling Green.

Here is the MAC after a Toledo touchdown.

In the end the MAC won both games and went into boast mode.

Christmas in the World of College Athletics

Christmas Eve was not only a night of anticipation for kids all over the country but was also a rare night of teamwork among athletic departments too. Division 1 athletic departments went back and forth telling “The Night Before Christmas” in as many words 140 characters would allow.

Georgia Tech got it all started with this tweet.

Kansas State, one of the best accounts to follow, also jumped in on the early stages of the reading. Look at how they connected their locker room to the story.

ACC rival North Carolina was one several schools who sprung into the Twitter reading. Note all the accounts the Heels tagged in tweet just to say “I sprang from my bed.”

You can see the whole result of all the tweets on this link.

Other schools tweeted out their Christmas wishes in more traditional ways. A few that caught my eye included the American Athletic Conference as I finally know all the schools in the league thanks to these snowflakes.

Not to be outdone, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference had the same idea. Don’t care who came up with it first.

If Photoshop is your thing than shout out to Wisconsin Volleyball for their obvious elf hats to a team picture.

Arkansas State went to the comedy route as the Red Wolves played off their starting tight end Darion Griswold for having the same last name of family from the best Christmas movie ever.

Siena may be favorite of all them as the Saints took Christmas as a time to reflect and of course… to boast.

2014’s Most Depressing Team: SMU

Last year we had four winless FBS teams going into Thanksgiving. Now we have just one but there are teams who are winless in conference play too. Nothing though is more depressing than the burning hulk known as Southern Methodist University football.

SMU: 0-10 (0-6)

The good news for SMU is that they still have two games left. The bad news is the Mustangs have done little to prove they are capable of winning a game. SMU has scored less than 10 points in six games this year. In the first seven games SMU was outscored 336 – 49, those are video game scores.

SMU did not schedule a FCS school, or a cupcake Sun Belt team. With no failsafe game the Ponies were in danger from the get go but this type of collapse was unexpected. Coming off a 5-7 year and multiple winning seasons in years prior should be enough to avoid a winless year.

SMU is still fighting losing by one to South Florida at home 14-13. Still, it’s hard to stay positive for the program, even on Twitter.

What about the graphics department? I’m sure they can make a nice infographic to make SMU’s season seem cheerful.

SMU info

When you don’t have anything nice to say, just show the uniform combination.

I guess when there is nothing positive to report you spend an entire infographic on the uniforms. Not a good situation.

Will SMU win a game? Yes

SMU will play Houston at home Friday before traveling to 2-8 Connecticut to close out the season on Dec. 6. The Mustangs should have more motivation than both opponents and UConn is the best candidate. The two teams are dead even at passing yards per game and UConn is No. 119 in rushing with SMU at No. 121.

This means it will come down to turnovers. The Mustangs have turned the ball over 26 times this year, tied for the No. 118 in the nation. The Huskies have turned the ball over 21 times though so this is an even game. In that case I have to pick the team that wants it more and that should be SMU. It may be the pillow fight of the year but a win for SMU will salvage something for the 2014 season. That would be something to be thankful for.

Other depressing teams:
2. Georgia State: 1-10 (0-7) Only win came against FCS Abilene Christian.
3. Kent State: 1-9 (0-6) Winless in MAC play.
4. Vanderbilt: 3-8 (0-7) Winless in SEC action and nearly lost to FCS Charleston Southern.
5. Colorado: 2-9 (0-8) Winless in PAC-12 play but did force two overtime games.

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.

Fighting Pirates on Vine

Last week a very colorful vine from AAC member South Florida caught my eye. The Bulls were hosting the No. 19 Pirates of East Carolina for Homecoming and pulled out all the animation guns to promote it. The result was a pirate ship being flushed down a whirlpool while a South Florida boat floats in the air.

Does is matter that clipper ship is totally irregular for a team called the Bulls? Guess not as South Florida appears to think it can borrow ideas from its professional neighbor in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As weird as that was, South Florida surprised East Carolina with a 17-7 lead in the third quarter. That didn’t last though as the Pirates would score the next three touchdowns to win 28-17. Sensor Scans
Next time, hopefully, the Bulls will make an animation about… well… a bull.

This Kid Knows PAC-12 Football

Thought you knew a lot about college football when you were a kid? Well Jack and his PAC-12 football knowledge has you beat. While only being 2-years-old he has mastered something that took me to at least the age of 4 or 5 to accomplish. Memorize all the teams in a power conference.

Now if a kid could do this with Conference USA or the American Athletic that would be even more impressive. I didn’t master all the teams in the American Athletic until last month. Mainly because the league is new, changes every year and make no sense in terms of geography.

Marshall in the Top 25

Marshall is the second mid-major school to crack the top 25 this season joining East Carolina. It’s the first time the Thundering Herd has been ranked since 2002 and fans are proudly showing their enthusiasm.

Marshall’s best win of the season may have been Saturday as it jumped on 4-2 Middle Tennessee State for 49-24 victory. Marshall has not beaten a big name team yet but the way the Herd has been tearing up opponents is noteworthy. The Herd is 6-0 and has scored at least 40 points in every game. Anything short of an undefeated season may actually be a disappointment.

1,000 Volleyball Wins for Northern Iowa

The Northern Iowa volleyball team is off to strong year at 12-6 and more importantly, 7-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Northern Iowa rolled to a sweep of Southern Illinois Sunday and took to social media to showcase its big milestone.

Over 2,500 fans were there to see the Panthers reach 1K. That is a sharp contrast with our next school.

WCU Volleyball Needs Fans

The Western Carolina women’s volleyball team defeated the Citadel in three sets Sunday at home. Problem is I’m sure if any fans were there to see the Catamounts improve their record to 9-11. Not one fan could be seen in this highlight video.

To be fair, the box score says 156 fans were in attendance, just they were never in front of the camera.

Colorado State’s Great Promotion

Want to get fans to see a 4-9 women’s soccer team. Give away free BBQ.

The Rams would lose the game 3-2 to Colorado College but fans can’t complain with a great a deal like that. Hope the Rams can turn their season around as Mountain West play continues.