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.
http://www.midmajormadness.com/2015/3/17/8240159/utep-miner-athletics-uses-twitter-to-put-down-their-own-player

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?

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Texas Hate: What Went Wrong For TCU and Baylor

The most depressing set of rankings in college football this year.

The most depressing set of rankings in college football this year.

Under the BCS, people complained that the college football title was being decided by a number crunching computer. Today in 2014, under a selection committee, is the system better?

The committee had to pick four teams, and what we learned on Sunday afternoon is that crunching numbers is still in charge. Just look at the records for the top six teams and you see right away why teams 5 and 6 were left out.

1. Alabama 12-1
2. Oregon 12-1
3. Florida State 13-0
4. Ohio State 12-1

5. Baylor 11-1
6. TCU 11-1

See the problem. The Big 12 schools had one less game. The top four schools all played an extra game against a quality team this week. TCU and Baylor were just finishing up their regular schedule.

SEC fans and coaches thought the Big 12 had an advantage by not having a championship game. It turned out to be a weakness. It’s not easy to put a team that’s 11-1 over a team that’s 12-1. A computer would not have cared about winning a conference championship. Instead it would have just calculated the strength of schedule to figure out how a C-USA regular season game between losing teams impacted the SEC elite. Stuff us humans don’t really care about. That’s how Alabama and LSU played each other again in the title game in 2011.

Humans do care about conference championships. Humans do care about having one more win than another team. The past month we were waiting for Baylor’s victory over TCU to mean something as the committee continued to put TCU ahead of Baylor. Baylor’s weaker strength of schedule, especially in non-conference play was the reason given.

But on Sunday afternoon, strength of schedule didn’t mean squat. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State all won an extra 13th game that Baylor and TCU didn’t even play. The result was Texas Christian and Baylor splitting the Big 12 title as Co-Champions. The problem though is how do you let one Co-Champion into the playoff without the other?

You can’t.

Instead the committee just doled out bids to the teams that truly won its conference in the order that its conference is perceived as. SEC is first (Alabama), PAC-12 second (Oregon), ACC third (Florida State) and Big Ten fourth (Ohio State). If the committee truly valued strength of schedule then Ohio State would have been out as its home loss to Virginia Tech was worse than TCU’s defeat at Baylor and Baylor’s defeat at West Virginia.

If TCU and Baylor played each other again this past Saturday it’s hard to see the winner of that game missing the playoff. But they didn’t play each other again, and the conference that was all about “One True Champion” is stuck with two champions on the outside looking in.

This doesn’t mean that a Big 12 team can’t make the playoff. Just means it is a little bit tougher. TCU or Baylor would have had to go undefeated like Florida State to secure a spot. For a one loss team from this league to get into the playoff a championship game will go a long way to keep pace with the other leagues. Either apply for a waiver from the NCAA to get a title game with just 10 teams, or steal two more from another league. Seriously, what does Boise State have to do and how many Big 12 teams does North Dakota State have to beat?

SMU Gets a WinSensor Scans

While TCU is wondering what else it has to do get a title chance, nearby SMU is happy to say it won a game. The winless Mustangs traveled to a UConn team that gave up football season for basketball weeks ago. The result was SMU overcoming a 20-6 halftime deficit to score three unanswered touchdowns for a 27-20 win. It was just the third time this season SMU scored over 13 points. You have to start somewhere I suppose. The game was really a three-hour billboard for how the American Athletic Conference is a mess of teams who don’t fit. Memphis, Cincinnati, and Central Florida all share the conference title. Begging the question, when you share a league championship with two other teams did anyone really win it?

FCS Shocker

I predicted Jacksonville State would win the FCS championship before the playoffs started and whoops. The Gamecocks let me down big time losing to Sam Houston State 37-26 in the second round at home. It was the first loss Jacksonville State has had to a FCS team all year. Give credit to the Bearkats for forcing two interceptions and keeping Jacksonville State scoreless in the second half. I wrote off Sam Houston State after it was blown out by a division II team at home back in September but have gone 9-1 since then.

Jacksonville State’s defeat reflects badly on the Ohio Valley Conference as the league went 0-2 in the FCS playoffs.

No Upsets in Volleyball

The first two rounds of women’s volleyball tournament were completed this week and 15 of the top 16 seeds have made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Only Kansas, the 16 seed, failed to make it out of the weekend. The last underdog team left is Oregon State and it’s hard to call a PAC-12 team Cinderella.

The good news is that the best teams from the regular season are going to fight it out the next two weeks. The bad news is that my bracket looks pretty stupid for all the upsets I was hoping for.

Florida State is the Queen of Soccer

In an ACC battle for the Women’s Soccer Cup, congratulations to Florida State on its 1-0 win over Virginia. It was the first national championship in women’s soccer for Florida State and probably couldn’t have come at a better time given all the allegations the school has had to deal with the past year.

If you think this is not a big deal at a football school like Florida State then check out this scene.

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.

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