Final Top 25 Finishers in ESPN
College GameDay Vote
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One of my favorite TV shows was 24, a drama that packed
a year of action into 24 one-hour segments. It moved so fast, it was an
absolute blur, but an intriguing one because it kept me on the edge of my seat
and at times took my breath away ... kind of like the last 24 hours watching
the absolutely amazing power of social media in a state that’s located smack dab
in the middle of the country.
For those who didn’t catch College Football Live this afternoon or check the final totals in ESPN’s Bring College GameDay to Your Campus
contest, here’s the cold, brutal final score: Texas A&M 225,803 votes and Nebraska 222,972 – a difference of 2,831 ... not exactly a photo
finish, but we should point out that our total was 166,112 votes more than the third-place
finisher and 205,302 votes more than Iowa, our Heroes Game rival and the next
highest ranked Big Ten finisher.
I know how disappointed everyone is, but not me. I see
Nebraska, more than ever, as a social media winner, and I was truly amazed
watching 72,000 Husker fans answer the bell in Round 10 of a digital slugfest
with the Aggies. This was a social media fire and how could anyone not get
fired up keeping track of it for 10 straight days? No wonder people call
Facebook and Twitter the greatest communication shift of our generation.
Tom/Herbie: A Stark Contrast to Yesteryear
Let me reveal what was popping through my head when Tom Osborne’s picture with Herbie Husker was showing up all over
creation, spurring Nebraska fans on to win one for the Hall-of-Famer. I was
thinking back to 1976 when I was filing my Lincoln Journal-Star newspaper column poolside in Honolulu the day
before Nebraska crushed Hawaii in front of more than 20,000 Nebraska fans inside Rainbow Stadium and another 10,000 fans tailgating outside because they didn't want to pay mega-scalper prices.
Each page of what we called “The Wertlitzer” fax machine
required six minutes to transmit to the newsroom, and that’s an eternity for
250 words. There’s no question that the slow world in which we once lived has
become an all-out sprint, for better or for worse, and probably a little bit of
Fast forward three decades to now, and you understand why
social media is about sociology and psychology every bit as much as technology.
It was fun watching Athletic Department marketers and web operations staffers
laughing Thursday as they reached out and used every relationship they could imagine
to take A&M to the wire.
Roller-Coaster on a Fast Track
Talk about an electronic roller-coaster in the final
eight hours of a fiercely contested battle between two former conference rivals.
Nebraska finally overtook A&M with eight hours left in the voting,
relinquished that lead 90 minutes later, regained the lead 2½ hours later and
then lost it again 2½ hours before the voting ended.
We were in it to win it, and we didn’t,
but in the process, we proved ourselves social media nimble, if not savvy. “I want to thank Nebraska football fans everywhere, plus our alumni association
and every other partner who helped us keep the heat on,” said Michael Stephens, Nebraska’s assistant
athletic director for Marketing and Licensing. “It didn’t come out like we
wanted, but it still reinforced our brand in a major way.”
Throughout the contest, the N-Sider was besieged with
Husker fans complaining about not being able to vote in the poll because ESPN
changed the format after experiencing massive fraud using an email option. For
the record, Nebraska has 206,777 Facebook
fans who “like” our official athletic website.Texas A&M has 122,642 fans in the same category. However,
A&M has 325,162 Facebook fans on
the school’s academic website, while Nebraska counts 58,262 on its academic website. A big part of that difference is
A&M’s total of 49,861 full-time
students, compared to Nebraska’s total of 24,593.
Fans Remember Similar Anticipation
In analyzing the result, A&M benefited
from momentum created by its impending move to the Southeastern Conference,
much like Nebraska’s fan enthusiasm peaked a year ago when the Huskers prepared
to become official members of the Big Ten Conference.
Losing this vote might change the minds of some fans who expressed disappointment that the Facebook/Twitter-only
options prevented them from participating. Kelly
Mosier, director of Web Operations for Huskers.com, said 51 percent of Nebraska’s Facebook followers are between the ages of 18 to 34. Another 29 percent are ages 35 to 54, 13 percent ages 13 to 17 and just 7 percent ages 54 and higher.
Yes, Huskers.com and the Nebraska Alumni Association have
received enough emails to know and understand why our older fans are reluctant
to join Facebook or Twitter.
Texas A&M Aggie Fan Offers Instant Congrats
Somehow, I think Nebraska learned from this closely
contested loss decided by less than 1 percent of the vote, and we will be stronger for
it. “Wow!” Alan McKelva of Sherman, Texas, emailed me within minutes of the
winning announcement. “From a proud Aggie dad, that was fun. Glad our twelfth
man pulled it out, but a very impressive showing by Nebraska. Apparently, other
fans are not very proud of their teams like A&M and Nebraska are!! I work
with a lot of Cornhuskers. Good people. Good school.”
And great fans, the best anywhere. That’s why
Nebraska is on the verge of selling out every game over the last 50 years and
looking ahead to going toe-to-toe with anyone in social media, one of the game-changers
of modern times. It may not be up there yet with TV or mobile phones, but it’s most
certainly gaining in popularity every single day.
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