College Football Weekend Recap: “Won My Pool” Edition

Thanks to Tony Romo, I won my pick’em pool this week. Romo threw an interception late in last night’s Jets v. Cowboys game that not only gave the Jets a win, but me a win, too. I’m playing in a pool with 20ish people, organized by a friend of my dad’s, and after a second-place finish last weekend, I emerged victorious this time. Yes, I’m gloating. But I made lucky guesses on a bunch of NFL games (and somehow nailed all my college picks), so I’ll take it.

One of my correct picks: USC over Utah in the inaugural Pac-12 contest. Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times recapped several firsts for the conference, but acknowledges that a number bigger than “12” might follow “Pac” after this season. “Pac-12 football: Catch it while it lasts?” he asks, breaking down possible scenarios that could play out once Texas A&M becomes an official member of the SEC.

Rivals/Yahoo’s Tom Dienhart gave out his Week 2 “awards,” and they make for a pretty entertaining read. From the “Desperately seeking…anything” award (Mike Riley) to the “Thought you’d get your butt kicked, you didn’t” award (Iowa State) and several others in between (like Oregon’s “Dang, they’re good” honor), he offers a funny, quick look at the past week and near future in college football.

Don’t look now, but both of the Pac-12’s Washington teams have better records than its Oregon teams. The Huskies and lowly Cougars are both 2-0. Washington State leads the nation in scoring offense, for crying out loud. On ESPN’s Pac-12 blog, Ted Miller looks at the teams’ recent success but notes that they both play big road games next weekend.

As if a 2-0 Wazzu team isn’t frightening enough, we come to the most ridiculous item of the day. Addicted to Quack, a popular Duck blog, reported Sunday evening that Mike Pereira, the Pac-12’s new coordinator for officiating, says that players flashing the “O” after a score is bordering on unsportsmanlike conduct. Um, excuse me? Are the players thumping their chests? No. Are they jumping in to the stands? No. They’re making an “O” with their hands. Pereira’s video explanation is really what got me going. Apparently salutes are okay (he says it’s a tribute to the military; I’m not saying players and fans aren’t grateful for the sacrifice of servicemen and women, but I’m doubtful that every post-touchdown salute is made with the sole intention of honoring the military and not celebrating the score), as are points to the sky, thanking God. But flash a symbol with your hands that’s ripe with meaning for your team and its fans? Apparently, that’s a no-no. Ridiculous. (Video linked in this story by KVAL in Eugene, which was linked in the ATQ post.)

Editor’s Note: I’m not the first to make those arguments, and I’d say the same thing for any other team that came under fire for this; I’m not just trying to defend the Ducks. There is obvious unsportsmanlike conduct, and then there are harmless celebrations. Regardless of the team, this is harmless.

Hate to end on a sour note, but that’s just absurd. On a lighter note, there was the super-exciting end to Michigan v. Notre Dame. Really couldn’t care less about the teams, but you’ve got to love an electric finish to a game played in front of the largest crowd in college football history.

What were your favorite moments, stories or blog posts from the weekend?

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What College Football Taught Me About PR

This season, I grew to truly love college football.  Now that it’s over, I present some of the lessons college football taught me about public relations.

1) You’ll have to make unpopular choices…but you can still come out on top.

Several students, myself included, were upset when the University of Oregon Athletic Department pulled the “I Love My Ducks” video from YouTube (it’s since been re-posted) and refused to support it because of its unauthorized inclusion of our Duck mascot, which is licensed by Disney and used by the department with Disney’s special permission.

But during an Allen Hall Public Relations meeting, we discussed the video and began seeing things from the department’s point of view.  As future PR professionals, we’ll face similar decisions: make the unpopular choice or break the rules.  The athletic department made the unpopular choice, but still made it up to their fans.

An edited version of the video (which showed past game highlights instead of the Duck) was shown during the Oregon v. Oregon State game.  It may not have been the original, but it served its purpose: The entire student section was ecstatic when it was played.

The original video:

The Civil War version:

2) It’s important to know whom you’re working with.

In order for efficient, quality work to be produced, it’s important to understand a client’s wants and needs.  Not doing so reflects poorly on you and any agency or company you represent.  ESPN College GameDay analyst Lee Corso probably wishes he had remembered that lesson when he attempted to shake hands with a blind boy.  The boy, Jake Olson, had been an inspirational figure for the USC football team: he was a huge USC fan and they embraced him as he battled cancer that forced him to lose his eyesight.  Corso probably shakes dozens of hands a day, but he forgot that this one was different.  Without knowing your clients and fully understanding the work you’re expected to do, you risk embarrassing gaffes.

3) Social media makes anything possible.

The aforementioned ESPN College GameDay is known for the creative posters fans wave behind the set during its broadcasts.  In November, I replied to a tweet sent via the show’s Twitter account, which asked what signs they’d see during their broadcast from the Florida v. Florida State game.  My idea was a sign reading, “Tim Tebow, will you marry me?”  Several minutes later, I saw this reply:

“Now THAT would be original” -Des (Desmond Howard, a GameDay analyst and former Heisman trophy winner)

That interaction is not really a big deal, but it reminded me that Twitter remains a valuable resource for public relations practitioners who can use it to communicate with prospective clients or their clients’ customers.  With Twitter, the possibilities are endless, as long as you can come up with a creative approach to using it effectively.

Those are my three big lessons.  What did you learned from college football this season?