Last week there was a lot of Kleenex and coughing going on in the Cecil house as Chuck had come down with the flu. In between his fever and hacking, he grumbled things like, “I’m fine. I’m not sick.” He refused to give in to the phlegm monster. Meanwhile, Charli and I were sneaking around the house popping Zicam and spraying Lysol on every doorknob and TV remote. I can’t really say I am surprised he got sick after 18-hour workdays, lack of proper nutrition, travel and stress. That will take down even Mr. “Too Vicious for the NFL.”
Saturday afternoon our neighbor and pal, Dr. Thomas Scully, recommended that Chuck and I go visit his friend Lisa Ritter at Rescue Me Wellness. Rescue Me Wellness is the only Tucson wellness clinic run by medically licensed personnel, and it’s pretty cool. They offer preventative and curative services like IV therapy, hydration and medications along with urgent care services and in-house pharmacy services. I convinced Chuck to go after telling him that one of my clients, Colorado coach Mel Tucker, as well as other coaches, are turning to IV therapy to pump them full of critical vitamins, hydration, and nutrients to help boost their immune systems, increase energy, keep them on the road. ’Tis the (recruiting) season.
When my IV solution became about gaining an edge on the competition, Chuck agreed to go.
On Sunday, Chuck, Charli and I all had our IV treatments from Lisa and her associate Jenny Jeong. Chuck walked out feeling better after two bags and a breathing treatment. I boosted my immune system to get on the road, and Charli felt B12-ready to face finals week. All in all, thanks to Scully’s tip of Rescue Me Wellness, the Cecils are on the mend and feeling like a million bucks.
When fans speak
This is one of my favorite weeks in New York. The town is hopping with college athletic directors, head coaches and media attending both the National Football Foundation Induction Banquet and the Sports Business Journal and the Learfield/IMG Intercollegiate Conference. Both are must-attends for our people.
This year, we helped put together key messaging and talking points for panels, speeches and media interviews. Occasionally I’ll hop on a panel to chat about crisis in college athletics. Monday, on a conference call with two athletic directors and a search firm guru, we discussed the power of the fans. Yes, fans. The reality is that fans today have the ability to derail coaches and athletic directors’ tenures. Using social media, fans can speak with authority and conviction. Be it a fan with one follower or 1 million followers, fans can instigate grassroots campaigns to poke, prod and ultimately influence key-decision making.
A historic example of a fan campaign came in 2017, just as the University of Tennessee was poised to hire of Greg Schiano as its head coach. Digital influencers jumped online and said, “Oh, no-no.” A social media mob upheaval ensued, ultimately causing the deal memo to be revoked. Ultimately, the UT athletic director and chancellor were fired. Earlier this month, that same coach, Schiano, was in the mix to return as the head coach of Rutgers, a program that he helped put on the map. The online fan support swung freakishly in the other direction, supporting Coach Schiano. The positive outcry overpowered everyone from local media to the Board of Governors. Thankfully, Rutgers athletics director Pat Hobbs and Coach Schiano got a deal done to join forces and put Rutgers football back on top. A win-win for both, and for the fans.
The facts are that with enough traction online, fans have the ability to boycott programs, oust coaches and ADs as well as influence future hires. “Digital generals” can rise up online media armies to support or overthrow just about anyone in college athletics.
Our call ended with the consensus that we are on the peripheral fringe of decision-making by committee and those committees are online.
The key to survival is not to be angry but to pivot. The online narrative business is about learning and listening to the fans and caring about what they want because they are the constituents in college athletics. They buy tickets, merchandise and pay salaries. While every decision may not be popular, it has to be understandable, reasonable and transparent. My company, Anachel, engages fans under the model of content moderation. We moderate the content and conversations because it’s important to interact with the fans as they can ultimately control a coach’s or athletic director’s fate.
What happens in Vegas
On Monday night I shared quality time with Arizona Hall of Fame golf coach Rick LaRose and NCAA championship-winning women’s golf coach Laura Ianello. I had the honor of speaking in Las Vegas at the annual conference of the Golf Coaches Association of America and Women’s Golf Coaches Association. The convention featured mentoring roundtables and provided a great opportunity for its members to discuss career and professional topics with some of the best and most experienced coaches in the business.
My speaking session covered the benefits of creating and owning your brand for coaches and players and how the Fair Pay for Play Act may help female collegiate golfers gain valuable revenue. It’s always an honor to help coaches to jump the curve and embrace social media for recruiting, program resources and career opportunities. And fun to rub shoulders with Arizona’s elite coaches and spend time hearing their stories of competition, pitfalls, perseverance and success.
We’re coming down to my last articles as we close out the football season, so thank you for reading, and be sure to keep up with us on twitter @carriegcecil.