aNewDomain.net — Johnny Manziel is the football poster boy for Twitter. It matters. It will matter a ton this weekend. Here’s why.
That is the Twitter handle for Johnny Manziel, QB1 for the Texas A&M Aggies in the Southeastern Conference. Oh, yeah. The big, bad SEC. It’s the conference that’s won seven national championships in a row.
Now practically everyone into college football is crying out for someone — anyone — to overthrow the reigning conference.
That means most fans aren’t rooting for A&M to win the national championship, even if it deserves it, because that would mean the SEC would win lucky No. 8.
And as of this writing Manziel had 522,498 followers on Twitter.
Photo credit: Texags.com
If his team wins Saturday, he’ll have a lot more followers than that. September 14 marks the date of perhaps the biggest game in the history of the school. Texas A&M will be playing head-to-head in a gritty match with Alabama, the defending national champion.
Maybe you remember Texas A&M was the only team to beat Alabama last year. And what a shocking upset it was. But it did not stop Alabama from rolling to a 13-1 season and defeating unbeaten Notre Dame 42-14.
So now they’ll be looking for payback in College Station, TX. ESPN College Gameday will be there. Fox Sports will be there. Sports Illustrated and The New York Times will be there, too.
But Twitter will be the biggest media outlet at the show. Just try searching for hashtag #tamu or #bama on Saturday and use them to follow blow-by-blow updates. They’ll be faster than any app developed to give updates to your smartphone.
So last Saturday I was checking the score of the Texas A&M game — the one vs. Sam Houston State. And I saw a Brent Zwerneman tweet that predicted the immediate future …
Now my ESPN app was showing the Aggie drive forward to the posts. Threatening to score. Fully four minutes after I read the tweet, though, the app told me Manziel had thrown an interception.
I knew he would. Because Twitter told me so first.
Manziel has inspired the Aggie student body to sign up and tweet their heads off.
Sure, there are various and sundry Facebook groups, but Twitter is lighting up around the game. Twitter. Not Reddit. Not Instagram. Not Google+ — but Twitter.
So the Twitterverse and all of sports media was captivated by the non-scandal story that Johnny Manziel had 4500 signed items on ebay. This was a scandal because College players are forbidden from being compensated for playing and if they are paid, they are ineligible and cannot play. So Manziel is the first freshman in history to win the Heisman trophy as the best college player in the nation. And his tweets don’t only get read — they turn into news stories.
Manziel has tweeted pics of himself gambling in casinos — legal casinos, by the way.
He’s tweeted a missive about how he hated college and could not wait to be in the NFL — right after he received a 2 a.m. parking ticket in College Station.
Well, chalk that one up to passionate anger. We all have our weak moments, don’t we?
Here is one from July 28. “Just Win Baby,” he writes.
After all of August with talking heads and pundits persecuting Manzeil, there were tweets like this one suggesting that if the U.S. attacks Syria ESPN will blame Manziel.
During halftime, Twitter lights up with live updates of the band’s performance–and sarcastic rants against pundits attacking beloved players.
In 2010, the team won against a highly-ranked Nebraska team.
This is a picture of the Nebraska postgame victory celebration in 2010. Image credit: texags.com
If this scene recurs Saturday, hundreds if not thousands of these fans will be tweeting like crazy.
I know because I was there the last time these two teams played.
This is Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Image credit: texags.com
The Aggies have trademarked the phrase “12th Man.”
That term was born in 1922 when a student in the stands was called in to suit up in case another player was injured and the team had only 1o men left.
The student never went into the game but embodied the spirit of the 12th man. It testifies to how hard the crowd supports this team.
There is a video at http://texags.com all about it. Today it seems fans tweet their support.
I really was hoping to see posts on G+ about what was happening in College Station and no joy. But all the posts I could want are on Twitter.
These are the sorts of hashtags you will see on Saturday. If you are looking. If you care.
So the kickoff is at 12:30 PT, 2:30 CT.
That would be 0030 in Afghanistan for any of you Aggies out there in Kabul.
If they are fortunate enough to have a satellite Internet feed, Aggies in Afghanistan will be able to watch the tweets from afar. It’ll be just like they were also in College Station watching the fray.
As for me, I will join the San Francisco Aggie club at Monaghan’s on Pierce Street about 5 blocks from the Palace of Fine Arts and the Presidio. I will be watching Twitter. But don’t be afraid to stop by and say hi. And gig ’em, Aggies.
Richard Hay is the senior science editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s a staff engineer in network testing at Google. Email him and let him know the sort of stuff you’d like him to cover here on aNewDomain.net. He’s Richard@aNewDomain.net and +Richard Hay on Google+.