The art of college football lagging behind – Arkansas, Fresno State, others are getting spiky with their social media accounts


When the clock ran out in the Arkansas-Texas A&M College Football Game September 25 Rachael Harris hit the send tweet button and watched the likes arrive.

This instance was an example of the innovative exposure that is social media trolling in college football these days. The practice has become a work of art designed by the sports department’s creative teams and has increased this season.

It’s no longer just a matter of posting a picture of the score or stats, or trying to write a finely crafted recap of the game. These are boring.

The creative teams have found a way to interact with fans in an entertaining and unique way that has attracted more eyes to their accounts and therefore their programs than ever before.

Harris is the Chief Digital Officer for Arkansas and manages football’s social media accounts. His team of six created a graph showing Texas A&MReveille’s mascot, lying on the grass, gazes into the distance with a hint of melancholy in her eyes with the final score of the match stuck below.

Arkansas 20, Texas A&M 10.

This tweet was one of 10 taken from the Arkansas football account lagging behind the Aggies after the Razorbacks win. One included a photoshopped remake of an ESPN commercial with Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher trying to change radio stations in a car playing the Arkansas fight song with Sam Pittman sitting next to him .

Another showed a retouched photo of Fisher on the ground in an old episode of “Lassie,” implicating that Lassie was Reveille and that Fisher needed help against the Razorbacks.

For Harris and his team, it was first about dipping their toes in the water to figure out where the line was and how far it was too far with new coach Sam Pittman. Accounts should reflect the coach and athletic department, but not all coaches agree to provoke a scene or make fun of an opponent.

“A year ago there was a quarantine moment where ‘Tiger King’ was a thing and we released a graphic of [Pittman] like Tiger King, ”Harris said. “I think we said Hog King, and [Pittman] was just like, ‘Well that’s weird, but okay.’ And once we posted that, we were all like, ‘OK, we’re fine, we can post whatever we want.’ “

That test turned into an avalanche of hilarious posts from the Arkansas Twitter account, including a modification of Thomas the Tank Engine after the Arkansas beat Be Miss in 2020. It featured Thomas with a bandana wrapped around his face with Eli Manning’s number on the front so people would know it was supposed to be Lane Kiffin, who had been dubbed the “Lane Train”.

The video showed Thomas coming out of a broken bridge and falling into a ditch. He got his point across quite clearly.

Trolling has only grown in strength and popularity this season, and it wasn’t just Arkansas that had the fun.

Kentucky posted an edited video of a man trapping an alligator in a trash can after beating him Florida this season and added a chef’s kiss by chopping off the Kentucky mascot’s head above the man’s head in the video.

After Maryland to beat West Virginia, the Terps’ Twitter account created a remake of Drake’s cover art for his “Certified Lover Boy” album. Maryland added West Virginia helmets to the graphic and captioned it with “Certified Loser Boys.”

Maryland went directly against Howard, simply stating that the Terps had 21 points and Howard didn’t.

Subtle but informative.

Fresno State do not call what it makes troll; that calls for having nerve. Andrew Worth and Savannah Stoeckle are in charge of the nerve, and like in Arkansas, they want to make sure their message is what their head coach wants.

They have a more traditional athletic director and coach who prefers not to disrespect the opponent. They wanted to respect those wishes, which is why after Fresno State beat UCLA, they did not post a photo with “ucLa”.

It would have been disrespectful and aimed directly at the opponent, so instead they opted for a more creative post featuring the Hollywood sign in the background with only a capital L and a caption that read, “See you next, Los Angeles. . “

An important aspect of this pure art form is knowing the circumstances and understanding when to really tackle the loss of another team. That was the case for Fresno State and this post in particular, as the game came and went and turned out to be a compelling contest that warranted a sarcastic, or sassy, ​​ending in their case.

“Another element was that our fans were really reacting to the nerve,” Worth said. “When you see our Twitter, Instagram or whatever, there’s a little bit of attitude behind the tweet. Whether it’s sarcastic, funny, whatever, we’ve turned the page on that, and our fans there. ‘love it. “

They love it so much that this particular tweet has become Fresno State’s most interacted tweet in the history of its sports accounts. As of September 28, the tweet had 3,879,867 impressions, 230,341 engagements, and an engagement rate of 5.9%, which is considered very high.

“It’s a fan base that tried to take the pitch at the Rose Bowl after the game by storm,” Worth said. “That sums it all up. Probably the best way to put it is that there were half a dozen people who got shot in the end zone.”

The fans also loved it because their team won. This is one of the key aspects of it all – on social media and in life in general, you can’t talk about garbage if you lose.

“It’s easy to manage a social media account when your team wins,” Harris said. “Running the men’s basketball account during March Madness, I always tell people, we could have posted a blurry photo of [Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman’s] elbow and he probably would have received 5,000 retweets for no reason. It’s easy at this point, but what’s essential and what can’t be lost is the amount of preparation we put in each week to make sure that when the team wins we are ready to shoot. all cylinders. “

There was probably no better example of a digital team shooting all the cylinders than the Texas game. Arkansas beat the Longhorns September 40-21, and moved all in on social media after the game.

Arkansas used a popular meme featuring Jonathan Frakes repeatedly telling you “Not This Time” from his 1990s TV show “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction”, dubbed voices telling us Texas is back .

They dug and tweeted again, welcoming Texas to the league while making fun of the fact that Texas to join SEC soon. It was their welcome gift.

Harris acknowledged that those posts were probably pretty close to what they would consider crossing the line and attacking a school instead of the outcome. But it was funny, so they went with it.

Can you blame them?

The welcome to the league tweet has over 28,800 likes, and the Beyond Belief tweet has 13,200 retweets with over 60,600 likes.

“We’re definitely not trying to get to a point where it’s like somebody sees it and says, ‘Wow, that was mean,’” Harris said. “There’s a line, and we’ve always tried to approach it thinking we’re having fun, it’s not serious, it’s social media. We’re talking about a soccer game, so let’s have fun with it. that .”

Sometimes a fan base can take posts too personally and get angry. It doesn’t sound like the rational, ready-to-listen reasoning of college football fans – but it does.

If a post comes close to the line, like when Arkansas posted “All Pigs, No Cattle,” with the Texas logo upside down and the caption “Well done,” it can trigger some reaction.

“Every message has a little something [from opposing fans]”Worth said.” It’s only the Keyboard Warriors who can respond without anything going wrong. If we were in person, I doubt anyone would say anything, but we probably won’t say anything in person either. “

There was one instance this season where a tweet was seen to cross the line when the high school football account tweeted an edited version of TCU Coach Gary Patterson’s original song, “Take a Step Back”.

SMU beats TCU 42-34, and Patterson was not happy with the tweet, which had the caption “THEY HAVE TAKEN BACK”.

“They hate you because they take a song you wrote about COVID and come back to families and they laugh at you,” Patterson said after the game. “If I had the time, I would go and get all the copyright laws and tackle their ass, but I’ve got the Longhorns on my mind right now. Not them. I’m glad that. they continue to justify our existence where we are and how we do things. “

This season, more than ever, the nerve has been predominant in the social accounts of sports programs. Whether it’s because of the pent-up emotions of the past year or just the evolution of social media and the way we all interact, it’s been a lot of fun watching them evolve.

With engagement figures proving snark and memes are what people want, there’s no end in sight for a new wave of gossip in the form of edited videos and artwork. cheeky photoshoped.

As Frank Pucher, senior associate athletic director at Fresno State said, it’s a microcosm of the power of social media and the ability to reach millions of people with a bizarre video of a man cramming a alligator in a trash can or an edited Lassie. clip.

“It’s changed so much over the past 10 years and the way you engage with people and how you communicate,” Pucher said. “It’s a good reminder that this platform, social media, is incredibly powerful if it’s done right. And if you capture those moments and do it the right way, it’s an incredibly powerful vehicle in which we have invested a ton of resources because we understand just how powerful it can be. “





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