Primed for 2018 NCAA Tournament

It’s March Madness, baby! The bracket was revealed about 90 minutes ago and the week that many consider the best in sports is now upon us. The NCAA tournament used to be what I looked forward to most in March – but then my daughter was born on St. Patrick’s Day – so my priorities have changed a bit. Regardless, I still get excited for the 68-team college basketball extravaganza.

This post is going to be super short because the time change has me exhausted…just kidding, I reject the imaginary impact of daylight savings. But it is still going to be short because Sid and I have a Netflix series we want to start.

First, I want to give credit to CBS/Turner Sports. For the second year in a row, the Selection Show was a big improvement from the 2016 atrocity. This year’s edition was even better than the make-good show in 2017. Cutting right to the chase by announcing the teams that made the tournament, both automatic qualifiers and at-large teams, was a great call. This set up great organization prior to bracket reveal and spared us from the awkward cut-ins of teams who sweated it out for an entire 2-hour Selection Show only to be disappointed at the end.

The “live audience” in the Turner studio was pretty hoaky and I wasn’t sold on bringing in a separate analyst for each region (I still have a tough time accepting Charles Barkley as a college basketball expert) but it was the best show to date so I will keep my complaining to a minimum.

Sadly, my Chanticleers did not make it to the NCAA tournament this season. Thus, because my #1 team is not in the field, I will have to pull for a couple others.

In 2015, I traveled with the Chanticleer men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament.

One of these universities is (surprise) Gonzaga. A No. 4 seed in the West region, the Zags will face UNC Greensboro in Boise. After last year’s narrow loss in the national championship, the Bulldogs will have to actually win the title this season to top their 2017 run. Not an easy feat but hopefully Gonzaga will at least win a couple games and bring my hometown the excitement that Spokane has become well-accustomed to.

Even more than Gonzaga, I will be enthusiastically cheering for the Montana Grizzlies. How can I not cheer for my alma mater and former employer? It will be great to watch the maroon and silver on national TV as one UM goes up against another UM. Although the University of Michigan might be recognized as the premiere “UM” across the country, I am crossing my fingers for a major upset in this No. 3 vs. No. 14 matchup in Wichita, Kan. Yes, I have been removed from Montana long enough that I don’t know any of the student-athletes or coaches on the team but a lot of the athletic department support staff remains, so I will be pulling for them and hoping that they have an enjoyable experience.

This is me at the 2012 NCAA Tournament when Montana played Wisconsin in Albuquerque.

Okay college basketball nuts, your time has arrived! Enjoy the games and Go Bulldogs and Go Griz! Don’t Blink.

Post Election Day Thursday Rundown

Tonight I deliver my first ever Thursday Rundown with a President-elect Trump in existence (trust me, I never thought I would say that). So let’s make my Thursday Rundowns great again (awful, cliché joke) and get started with the five topics…

Eating at Wahlburgers – For those fans of the Wahlberg brothers and of their television show, you might be interested to know that Sidney and I ate at Wahlburgers on Monday night. The restaurant itself was pretty cool. You could eat in the “full service” section or you could go through a cafeteria type line if you were in a hurry. The place also had a nice bar. As for the food, I wasn’t too impressed. I ordered the basic cheeseburger and sweet potato tater tots. Both items were average. If given the choice, I would opt for Five Guys.

Sidney and I ate at Wahlburgers in Myrtle Beach on Monday night.

Sidney and I ate at Wahlburgers in Myrtle Beach on Monday night.

Speeches from the Candidates – Last night after work I came home and watched Donald Trump’s victory speech and Hillary Clinton’s concession speech on YouTube. I actually enjoyed both addresses. I liked how Trump playfully made fun of himself and I also liked the army of Republican power players he brought up to the stage and introduced. When it came to Hillary’s situation, I always feel bad during the presidential election concession speech. She tried so hard to keep it together and did a pretty good job at it. I felt she was gracious in defeat, something that couldn’t have been easy considering never in her wildest dreams did she think Trump would beat her.

I also want to touch on an incredibly inspiring scene that took place today. President Obama hosted President-elect Trump at the White House. For a president geek like myself, the image of the two of them sitting in side-by-side chairs in front of the press was totally cool. After a terribly bitter campaign in which both men took unmerciful shots at each other, they were able to put it all behind them and get down to business. I was actually surprised when I learned that Obama and Trump had never met before but I guess it made the encounter even that much more remarkable.

I thought the meeting between Trump and Obama today was pretty inspiring.

I thought the meeting between Trump and Obama today was pretty inspiring.

Amazing Sunrise – I have taken photos of sunrises at Coastal Carolina before, but nothing like what I captured yesterday. The heavenly display on Wednesday morning was spectacular. I was working out in Coastal’s gym when the sun started to come out and the colors started to dance. I stopped what I was doing and ran outside to take a couple photos. Our #CCUSocialMedia audience seemed to appreciate the beautiful sight.

This was the photo I took of the Coastal Carolina sunrise. What a beautiful scene.

This was the photo I took of the Coastal Carolina sunrise. What a beautiful scene.

One Final Reminder Not To Say This – Although I have linked to this a couple times in my previous blog posts, I think it is worth highlighting in tonight’s Thursday Rundown. I know a lot of people are angry with Donald Trump’s shocking win and that is fine. However, I think it is important to express presidential election frustration in a way that doesn’t entail threatening to leave the country. We need to be thankful for where we live. We need to be thankful for democracy. We need to be thankful for a government that is set up with checks and balances. Go ahead and fume, but please be respectful.

Dr. Strange – After Wahlburgers on Monday night, Sidney and I went to watch “Dr. Strange.” I had heard great things about the film from friends, social media followers, and critics. However, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. In all reality, I should have anticipated this considering I am not the biggest fan of Marvel movies. However, I thought “Dr. Strange” would be a little different. For me, the film just contained way too much fantasy and science-fiction elements for my liking. I guess you could say it was just too sophisticated for me. I kind of wished I chose “Hacksaw Ridge” for our date night.

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Please make sure to thank a veteran tomorrow. Have a great weekend and know that I appreciate you reading my blog. Don’t Blink.

Staying Relevant on Social Media over the Summer

When summer rolls around and students leave campus, many professionals in higher education have the opportunity to become lackadaisical. The good ones don’t of course, including the social media marketers. While things definitely do slow down it doesn’t mean you stop trying to improve. Especially in the realm of social media where you spend all academic year trying to engage your audience, the last thing you would want to do in the summer is slack off and lose everyone.

The months of June and July give me an opportunity to be especially creative while experimenting a little bit. In tonight’s blog post I will give three quick examples of what I have done this week to make sure we stay in front of our social media audience.

Snapchat Alphabet Soup – Yesterday afternoon I placed a time sensitive challenge over our large and engaged Snapchat audience. I gave them a half hour to spell out “#CCU” anyway they pleased. They then of course had to Snap us a photo. In 30 minutes, I received about 30 images! Some people got really creative as one person used waffles, another used M&Ms, and another used s’mores ingredients! Others wrote the hashtag in cool calligraphy or wrote it on the beach. In the end I chose a winner (the s’mores entry won) and posted a really cool photo gallery on Facebook from the Snaps I had captured via screenshot.

Here is a collage of some of the Snaps we received from our Snapchat audience spelling out #CCU.

Here is a collage of some of the Snaps we received from our Snapchat audience spelling out #CCU.

Value Your Alumni – During the summer, students have the tendency to stray away from social media because they are on vacation. However, that is not the case with alumni as most work year round so they stay consistent with their daily habits (which includes looking at social media). Today on Facebook I asked our alumni audience to comment underneath my post so that we could thank them for attending Coastal. With that motivator of a personal thank you from CCU, we had hundreds of alums leave comments. I spent today writing over 230 replies to Coastal grads. Don’t think I was just saying “thank you” either. I tried to work in a personal note for each person. It was time consuming, but fun, and best of all, our audience really appreciated it.

On the left you can see the original post. On the right you can see three examples of the dialogue that I had with alums.

On the left you can see the original post. On the right you can see three examples of the dialogue that I had with alums.

Face-To-Face with the Future – During the summer, our university hosts nine different freshmen orientations. Last year I used guerilla marketing tactics to reach this very valuable group. On the second day of each orientation, there is an info fair that takes place. When this year rolled around, I wanted to take a more organized approach than what I did previously. I requested my own table for #CCUSocialMedia. This past Friday I was given a half table but by the second orientation on Tuesday I had my own space. During this one hour info fair I run social media promotions exclusively for the freshmen and bait them with sweet swag. I have had the opportunity to talk to many parents and students while literally watching our following on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat shoot right up.

Myself with Chauncey on the left at my table. On the right you see students engaged.

Myself with Chauncey on the left at my table. On the right you see students engaged.

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I don’t love summer just because it is hot outside and I get to eat a lot of ice cream. I also like it from a work aspect. Although it is more of a low key time, there is the potential to make some big gains. While some higher education social media marketers might use it as a time to rest, we at Coastal Carolina University are using it to get better. Don’t Blink.

Emma Lommasson, Griz Weekend, and Bitter Cold

As I seem to do about once a week, tonight’s blog post will cover a few different topics that are relevant in the life of yours truly. I want to get you guys out of here quickly tonight so how about we get started?

Meeting a UM Legend: Today I had the opportunity to meet Emma Lommasson, an icon at the University of Montana. She started as a student at the university and worked her way up to become the assistant registrar. She will turn 102 in just a few days and is an absolutely fascinating lady.

I had the chance to be in her presence because our head football coach Mick Delaney paid her a surprise visit today. Organized by our radio man, Mick Holien, I tagged along to document the meeting between Coach Delaney and Emma. You would not have believed how happy and excited Ms. Lommasson was to meet Coach. As charming as ever, Mick chatted with a delighted Emma for about ten minutes. When he left to head off to practice, I snuck a picture with her. My great uncle lived to the ripe age of 101 but besides him I had never met another person in the century club until meeting Emma today.

Myself with the wonderful Emma Lommasson.

Myself with the wonderful Emma Lommasson.

Crazy Next Two Days: That nice long break I had last week is way back in the rear view mirror. Times are packed once again and Friday and Saturday will have me working non-stop. Tomorrow I will scramble to get ready for a football playoff game on Saturday while at the same time doing all I can to help get Griz Nation ready for a football playoff game on Saturday by getting them pumped and prepared for the big game via our new media outlets. But come 4 p.m. I will turn my attention from the gridiron to the hardwood as Grizzly Athletics hosts the Lady Griz Classic. Tomorrow night Appalachian State and UC Irvine will tip off at 5:30 p.m. followed by Montana and Idaho at 7:30 p.m. As usual I will have my seat in the northwest corner at the music table working away. By the time I get back to my office probably at around 10 p.m., I will return my focus back to football.

Saturday will be an extremely early morning as I hustle off to work to get ready for our FCS playoff game against Coastal Carolina. Once my morning prep work is completed it will be noon and that means kick off time. Once the football contest ends at around 3:30 p.m. I will be back in my office wrapping up the action in Washington-Grizzly Stadium and then getting ready for Night Two of the Lady Griz Classic. The first game tips off at around 6 p.m. and then the Lady Griz will play either App State or UC Irvine at 8:15 p.m. By the time the final buzzer sounds on that second game I will be very anxious to get home and hopefully look back on a successful day for the Griz.

Cold: Here in the Missoula area we are in the midst of a brutal cold front. The last couple days we have experienced single digit temperatures. Unfortunately, it is just going to get worse. The next two days call for even more extreme lows and the emergence of another factor…wind. It is going to get very nasty here in the Zoo.

Of course the storyline of Coastal Carolina coming from a warm climate to take on the Griz inside the ice bowl of Washington-Grizzly Stadium has managed to play itself out like no other this past week. Truth of the matter is, I really don’t see the cold impacting the players that much. For those of us who played outdoor sports, especially football, we know that once you hit the field and warm up you feel fine. Then you add in the adrenaline factor and you are good to go. I worry about our fans and game personnel who will brave the elements on Saturday. I have had a tough time staying outside for four minutes the past couple of days, let alone the four hours that everyone else will come kick off. While sitting up in the press box I will definitely have sympathy and a whole bunch of respect for the 20,000 Griz fanatics cheering loudly below me.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Stay warm and cheer loudly for the Griz! Don’t Blink.