College football marketing and public relations: Week 2 hits and misses

September 9, 2014

We’re two weeks deep into college football season, which means teams are finally starting to shape their records and rankings. But while players are showing their grit on the gridiron, there’s plenty of play outside the lines—and we’re keeping score.

Heisman House

Former Oregon football star Dennis Dixon and ESPN’s Neil Everett in the Nissan Heisman House. (Courtesy of IMG College.)

Last week, Kristi broke the seal on our new blog series naming the top hits and misses for college football promotions, public relations and marketing. She and I will be racking these up all season long, so be sure to check back with us every Tuesday for the scoop. Take a look at our picks for Week 2.

The hits

Auburn’s Game Day Recycling

We’re giving a huge high five to the No. 5 team in the nation this week. The Auburn Tigers topped the San Jose Spartans on Saturday, but we’re praising what went down at the tailgates. Auburn’s Waste Reduction & Recycling Department volunteers visited tailgating areas with recycling bags to collect plastic and aluminum goodies (boatloads of beer cans, we presume).

Auburn also keeps an eye out for the winner of the game day’s “Get Caught Recycling” promotion. Each game day, one fan that is caught going green is awarded with an autographed football signed by head coach Gus Malzahn and is featured on the jumbotron during the game. Recycling initiatives aren’t rare in colleges, but creative and fun recycling initiatives are. Auburn has earned its stripes with us (and the environment).


The Heisman House Tour

Nissan and ESPN have teamed up to bring the Nissan Heisman House Tour to college football fans around the nation. And no, this isn’t a tour of Jameis Winston’s house. This is a pregame experience that allows fans to “get to know the Heismans” (an award given to college football’s most outstanding player).

This season, the crew will visit 10 campuses on game day, where fans get the opportunity to participate in activities including:

  • Take pictures with the Heisman Trophy and former football standouts

  • Win prizes through interactive games like a virtual quarterback challenge

  • Participate in college football trivia on Twitter

  • Create their own Heisman pose on top of a trophy base

  • Watch games and highlights on the Heisman House’s TVs

This past weekend, the House came to the Oregon – Michigan State game and rolled out guests Dennis Dixon (2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year) and ESPN anchor Neil Everett who interviewed Dixon and Oregon defensive back Kenny Wheaton.


We’re chalking this up as a huge hit because A.) It was clearly a hit with fans. Just search Heisman House on Twitter; and B.) This gives something sports fans have lost over the years: access. In an era of closed practices and player Twitter bans, this is a breath of fresh air.

University of Georgia’s boosted stadium cell service

Can you hear me now? If you’re at a UGA football game this season, the answer is “absolutely.” Thanks to a multimillion dollar distributive antenna system installed in Georgia’s Sanford Stadium in the offseason, AT&T customers are now experiencing better service on game days. Now, fans can call, text and surf within the stadium without the hangups that usually come when you’re among 90,000 cellphone users.



On the Georgia Bulldogs’ season-opening win over the Clemson Tigers, 97 percent of attempted calls from AT&T customers went through while 98 percent of Internet access attempts were a success. In fact, the game’s AT&T customers clocked in 688 gigabytes of traffic, surpassing the AT&T data usage at this year’s Super Bowl. Though the Dawgs had a bye for Week 2 and are at South Carolina for Week 3, Georgia expects the service to be even better for their Sept. 20th home game against Troy with plans to optimize the system. UGA now has high speeds on the field (shoutout to Todd Gurley) AND in the stands.


The Hit AND Miss

Oregon’s Live Snapchat College Football Story

Snapchat users were treated to a College Football version of its new feature, “Our Story.” Announced on its blog Aug. 29, users can now contribute to a community story of popular live events. Saturday, a special “College Football” story appeared under the “Live” section, featuring snapchats from Oregon’s game day whether it was shots of ESPN’s College Gameday set, Ducks football players in the team lounge, Oregon cheerleader selfies or fans tailgating.

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It was a hit because it gave the whole world of Snapchat users a glimpse into a Ducks game day (read: great recruiting.) The Snapchats were funny, cool, entertaining and achieved what Snapchat set for the feature to be: a community contributing unique points of view.

So why is it a miss? Two things.

First, the “College Football” story was described to users as “a collection of Snaps from people attending select games across the United States.” This weekend ONLY featured Oregon—so the story was misleading. Perhaps Snapchat should name it “College Football – (Team),” in the future.

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Second, I thought this Snapchat story was a collaboration with Oregon Athletics (that would make sense, right?). So I reached out to a Ducks representative for the scoop. He said while Oregon was thrilled to be covered, they weren’t involved in the initiative. In other words, they didn’t know it was going to happen. If this had been a collaboration, the story could’ve gained far more exposure with Oregon’s social media channels, promotions and marketing.

The misses

USC’s Athletic Director Pat “Hot Head” Haden

The Trojans pulled out a 13-10 win over Stanford by the skin of their teeth Saturday, but it was their athletics director’s mouth that made ‘em miss. In the third quarter, USC AD Pat Haden bolted from the press box to the sidelines to argue officials’ unsportsmanlike conduct call on head coach Steve Sarkisian. Haden said he received a text from a USC staff member who was on the field to come down.

The confrontation is a bad look for Haden not only due to a violation of the Pac-12 Conference’s Standards of Conduct Policy but also because of his role on the College Football Playoff Committee. The committee is comprised of 13 members responsible for selecting and ranking the final four teams for CFB’s first ever bracket-style playoffs. The group of journalists, collegiate administrators, sitting ADs, experienced student-athletes and coaches has already received scrutiny with concerns over bias toward their respective conferences during selections. Haden didn’t help its case.

The Pac-12 Conference fined Haden $25,000 for his behavior while he imposed a two-game sideline ban on himself. While the College Football Playoff Committee describes members as “a talented group of high-integrity individuals,” Haden’s behavior on the field definitely didn’t match that. Yeah, not a good look.

Tulane’s hot stadium experience

If you’re in the South in September, chances are you’re sweatin’ like a pig. Saturday, football fans in New Orleans for the Tulane Georgia Tech game were treated to temps in the 90s. When fans got into Yulman Stadium, weathering the heat became a nightmare due to poor traffic control and depleted concessions.

Tulane concessions

Courtesy of Mike Iconis.

Mike Iconis, who was at the game, told us that the refrigerators at the mobile concessions stands were nearly empty before the game started, so cooling the drinks by game time didn’t happen. The stands were out of COLD soda, water and Powerade. While most stadiums have fountain options, Yulman has bottled drinks and Saturday they were sitting in crates, in the heat. Iconis also said the concession lines were located in the main corridors, causing the long lines to block fans trying to get to their seats. Not cool.

Nebraska’s explosive new tradition

This season, Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium is launching fireworks when the Huskers emerge from the tunnel at game time (the Tunnel Walk) and every time they score a touchdown. While the fireworks may be a nice visual, the sounds are causing a stir in Lincoln. Residents have been calling the police, confusing the fireworks for gunshots. Police aren’t sending officers to the scene due to the location of the calls — the force knows it’s the football fireworks. Though the bombs bursting in air are a stadium staple around the world, perhaps the Huskers should scale back to firing away solely during the Tunnel Walk to free up the 911 phone lines.


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