Hate the BCS? Take out your frustrations on Twitter

Social media tools are changing the way that we communicate and interact.  Unfortunately for a much-despised BCS (College Football Bowl Championship Series), it makes it all the more easy of playoff fans to take swipes at their enemy.

If you don’t follow college football, here summary: The BCS is a computer-based system that creates the official college football rankings based on a complex set of stats (# of wins, conference position, strength of schedule, etc).  The results are used to determine who will play in the national championship game.  The problem with this is that many times teams with 1 losses have been placed in the championship game, while undefeated teams get shut out.  This year is especially contentious, as there are 6 undefeated teams, but the BCS has pretty much come out and told TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati that they have no shot for the championship game.

With the success of March Madness in College Basketball, combined with the fact that Division 2 & 3 football have a playoff, it’s puzzling why College Football hasn’t adopted a playoff system. One of the popular playoff alternatives is "the Wetzel plan", which puts together a criteria for a 16-team playoff.

Earlier this week, I saw the story in Deadspin how the BCS has employed a new PR firm, whose first actions was to establish a Twitter and Facebook presence in this Social Web World.  This makes enough sense, but they’ve committed two serious errors in judgment: 1) Forgetting that they’re a controversial and much-despised, and would likely have more critics than fans; 2) Actually engaging their critics by baiting them into debate, without fully participating in the conversation.

Hilarity ensues: For the past few days, it’s been a fun game to do a search by the BCS’s username: @InsideTheBCS and see them make a straw man claim, then watch their critics go to town on them without any response.  Check it out below:

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What’s been great is that the critics have actually been presenting good arguments.  There are a few personal attacks here and there, but for the most part the responses have been well-reasoned (for as much as you can be in 140 characters or less).  The problem is that @InsideTheBCS doesn’t really respond to any of the valid points, it pretty much continues to make their contentious, canned responses that they’re given phrased differently.  They do respond to some users, but mainly when they have the canned answer in their wheelhouse.

Let this be a social media lesson to brands/organizations, especially unpopular ones: Unless you’re willing to engage in an authentic conversation with your critics, then controversial groups should probably stay away from social media.  Having your PR Firm running this interference is only hurting you in the court of public opinion.  Worse yet, it’s banding your enemies together.  While I’ve always hated the BCS, I really didn’t care much about this issue until three days ago – when it became entertaining to have this conversation.  Something tells me that the people doing PR for the BCS are having a very lousy week.

EA’s Brass Stones

I was playing Madden on my X-box the other day (but let’s face it, that’s all I ever do with my X-box from August to Christmas), when after choosing my play I saw the following on my pre-snap screen.

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Wow EA, talk about ballsy.  Is it not enough that Madden is the most popular sports franchise of all time, and that suckers like me continue to shell out $60 each season for the equivalence of roster updates?  Now you’ve resorted to showing me ads on the game that I paid for that obstruct the game experience?  Thanks jerks!

Look, I’m fine with you inserting ads into the game where it’s realistically done so.  I’ve come to accept the “Sprint Recap”, and the “Snickers Chompion Coin Toss” for two reasons: 1) It doesn’t interfere with my actual game play; 2) Because this is done during regular NFL games and is a sad reflection of the level of sponsorship in the NFL.  The league is pretty bad when it comes to in-game ads, but I don’t see ads streaming across the jumbotron before the QB is going to snap the ball.

Seriously EA?  I understand you’re not a charity, but there has to be better ways to get revenue than this.  Quit killing your golden goose, or before you know it it’ll stop laying eggs.

More Demonstrations of the Movie Industry’s Incompetence

(From the “Better Late Than Never”) file: On the heels of the MPAA’s Indoctrination Piece on movie piracy, the movie industry again demonstrated their complete lack of competence in adapting to changing business models by screwing their customers.  Last week, a story came out in The Consumerist where the movie industry wants to stimulate purchases of new release by having rental companies like Netflix delay renting of new releases for a month.

I love their thinking here: “People don’t want to pay an arm & a leg to see the movie in a theater, so let’s see if they’ll pay an arm & a leg to buy that movie they’ve never seen before.”  I can only speak from experience, but I have never bought a new release movie if I haven’t seen it before in the theaters.

What makes things worse is that Netflix looks like it’s going tog with this.  Mashable quoted their CEO, “if we can agree on low enough pricing for delayed rental, it could potentially increase profits for everyone”.

Look, I know they think they’re hemorrhaging  money, but punishing your customers for wanting to see a new release is not the answer.  You need to think outside of the box on this one.  Make no mistake, pleasing customers is that last thing the movie industry is interested in. Nice business model. Then they wonder why people resort to piracy to view their content.

We’ve Droid’ed Up!

A few days overdue, but relevant anyway:

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Last weekend Bethany and I went out upgraded our smart phones over to Motorola Droids.  We didn’t stand in line or anything crazy, but as it turns out we were able to get pretty good discounts and buy them on Saturday.  A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was drooling about the Droid, and the opportunity to have a good smart phone experience on the Verizon Network.  After 5 days of using the device, I can saw that device definitely lives up to the hype and offers everything I was looking for.

My first entry in to the SmartPhone world was using the Treo 600.  The Palm had a really nice OS that I enjoyed using, but the 600 was a 2G device.  I upgraded to the Treo 700w, which was probably the single-worst phone that I had ever owned. It was a Windows Mobile phone that was packed into hardware that was too underpowered to run it.  That phone drove me nuts and as soon as I had a chance to upgrade, I did – to the HTC Mogel (or Verizon xv6800).  Windows Mobile didn’t really bother me at the time, but it served my needs.

Now, nearly two years after getting that phone, after the iPhone 3G and the application ecosystem, I grew increasingly frustrated with Microsoft’s lack of drive in the mobile space.  Windows Mobile was quickly becoming stale, and while there was a historically large application offering, there was nothing new and dynamic coming about.  You could tell that all of the great developers have moved onto bigger and better things.

Enter: the Droid.  This phone may not *yet* have the application offering, but it delivers a sleek, colorful mobile experience on a fantastic network.  This phone does everything that I want it to do, and does it very well.  It gives me the ability to use a keyboard, to multi-task, and to be able to tether if I’d like to.

Back to “5 Days in” and I am exceedingly happy with the device. I’ve discovered that most of the big apps (like Shazam and Pandora) have ported to Android and have a good offering there.  I love the phone’s performance and some of the little thing things that Android does to make an awesome experience.  For example, I really like my “Contacts” interface, which combines my Google contacts with my Exchange contacts that I use on Outlook, without any duplication or redundancy.  To make things better, Facebook has imposed pictures onto all of my contacts, without screwing anything up on the Google or Exchange side.

The touch is definitely sensitive on the Droid, and coming from an older touch platform like Windows Mobile (that really never adapted from the stylus to the finger), it’s taken a little bit of getting used to.  One of the things that I’ve missed from my Windows Mobile phones (and a feature that Blackberry has) is the scroll wheel on the side of the phone. The “flicking” motion is nice, but something that I will need to adjust to when it comes to scrolling content.

There are a few things that I don’t like about the phone, but they are relatively minor things like not being able to accept/reject Exchange calendar invites in my email.  The keyboard is a little flatter than even my XV6800 and does take a little getting used to.  I remember switching from the Tero (which had one of the best keyboards ever) over to the XV6800, and I expect a similar adjustment time over to the Droid’s keyboard.  The on-screen keyboard works really well when I’m looking to do a search or enter in my password.

The camera is really nice as well.  I took a picture of our house using the Droid, then took the same picture with on Sony DSC-W290 12Mp Camera:

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The first picture was taken with the Droid, the second being the camera.  You can definitely see the clarity in the camera, but the Droid seems to hold it’s own for a quick picture.

Bottom line: I believe the Droid is a big win for Verizon and their users.  I love having my phone on Verizon, and while the iPhone may still be the sexier device, the Droid – combined with the Verizon network – delivers a better experience that ultimately satisfies me as a Verizon customer.