Everyone still feeling good about that UCLA game?
Cal Football: Locker room celebration (via calathletics)
Before the UCLA game, Avinash and I had the opportunity to attend the first Cal Tweetup, hosted by Sundeep Dhillon (Cal's Social Media Manager) and featuring Sandy Barbour and Roxy Bernstein. In addition to the company, we were also fed (pizza, drinks, and giant chocolate bars!). Cal fans tweeted various burning questions leading up to the event, and some of the best questions were answered, live, in the Haas Club Room.
This Tweetup is slated to be the first of many, and Sundeep plans to continue to invite engaging, interesting, relevant Cal speakers to entertain the audience. We've included some excerpts of the questions and answers we heard here; to get the full experience, sign up for the next Tweetup when it is announced!
Author's note: Please keep in mind that all of Sandy and Roxy's responses as described here are paraphrased, and do not represent their responses verbatim.
Q: Do you ever break mold and wear red/green in the holidays?
Sandy: I'm dedicated to the blue and gold. One thing people may not know is that as the AD, if I wear any color that is not blue or gold, I get grief. Even if it's something like brown, I'll get comments all day.
However, there is one occasion on which I will wear red (cue gasps), and that is at our Holiday Party only in the years when we beat Stanford. In those years, we own red, and I'll wear it.
Roxy: Well, I was a Niners fan growing up. Now, the closest thing I might have is some tie somewhere that has a bit of red in it. Otherwise, a maroon dress shirt is the closest color I'm ever going to get. Working at Cal means you get called out every five minutes if you have any bit of red on.
Q: How can we get the media to cover women's sports better?
Sandy: Basically, the media, whether it be the newspaper or other publication, has to believe that the audience demands it. So we have to mount a campaign to the San Francisco Chronicle or the Contra Costa Times saying that their subscribers want it. We do our best, but this may or may not always be possible. However, there is an alternative in this age. We now have many opportunities to promote the program using different forms of media (e.g. Twitter). This is something we have direct control over. We have to saturate airwaves about not only women's sports, but all 29 of Cal's programs.
Q: This is a scheduling question. This year, the Big Game is in October. Is this temporary? Also, will there be anything to prevent seasons with no byes in the future?
Sandy: Yes, to both of them. The Pac-12 has released its preliminary schedule to us (for non-conference scheduling purposes), and the Big Game will be back to its traditional weekend next year according to that schedule. In the future, if the conference cannot put all the pieces together in terms of scheduling without moving a traditional rivalry, that designation will rotate by year. This year it's the Big Game; on other years it will be other rivalries. I want to put stakes in the ground around traditional rivalries.
This year, we do in fact have a bye; it's just on Thanksgiving weekend (cue chuckles). The bye situation has been created by USC and Stanford's contracts with Notre Dame on the Thanksgiving weekend, along with all the complications created by the Thursday and Friday night scheduling arrangements for ESPN. What we would have had to have done to avoid our current situation is put a non-conference game on the Thanksgiving weekend. In the years that we have Thanksgiving open, we would need a non-conference game on that weekend to get a bye in the middle. Somebody in the Pac-12 has had this bye issue every year; last year it may have been UCLA.
Cal Football: UCLA Recap (via calathletics)
Q: Who is your favorite Cal football player in the last ten years?
Roxy: Aaron Rodgers.
Sandy: It really depends on the criteria. Aaron was spectacular obviously; in fact, we share a birthday (day, not year!). Also, Aaron's last year was my first year, so we have that connection as well. But I really like Zack Follett - the motor runs fast. He just loves this place, and continues to stay connected to us.
Q: Roxy, what's the favorite play you've called?
Roxy: Easy; the final seconds of the 2010 [Men's Basketball] Game against Arizona State where Cal wrapped up first conference championship in 50 years. When you walked into Haas that morning you felt something special was happening. The amazing senior class, all the work they put in... It was so thrilling because you saw joy from everyone - the players, the fans. People were crying in the stands because they got to see the conference championship finally come back to Cal.
Q: Any marquee nonconference teams coming?
Sandy: One thing I would like is for the community to tell us who you want to see. I think we've done some great scheduling lately, with Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan State, etc. Notre Dame has offered to do a neutral site one-shot deal. Wisconsin has asked to do a one-shot-deal at Lambeau. We're considering games like that. I could also ask you whether you want to play Notre Dame once, or play a home-and-home with, say, Michigan. Which would you choose? (Crowd almost unanimously says Michigan). So we're looking for home-and-homes. Those are the ones that will excite us - the A games. The B games are also nice: games that interest us (e.g. Nevada). Nevada's coming back for a third game; let's get riled up about that. Fresno State was a game last year; they'd talked about playing us for a while, so we played them.
Roxy: [In basketball], we got a home-and-home with Kansas; a few years ago I think we had North Carolina. This year, we've got UNLV and Creighton, which are very good basketball programs. Creighton may not have a big name, but anyone in basketball knows they're a great program. They play tough defense, they're exciting on offense, and they play the right way. UNLV is another strong school; they've got great coaching and players over there as well. We're excited about those games. Mike [Montgomery]'s going to try to schedule those tough games every year; we're even going to Wisconsin this year. These games create buzz and excitement. The atmosphere here was just amazing when Kansas came.
Q: Roxy, how do we improve our football team results?
Roxy: Win! I think they're doing okay though. Tonight's match-up should be a springboard. They'r going to come out tonight with a good performance. Every time Jeff is in a tough spot, he always rallies the guys (Author's note: The jury is still out on the springboard, but the game did in fact go well). They have to clean up a few things, such as penalties, but I see a lot of positives. We went toe to toe with Ohio State. We were right there with USC until that last turnover. We've got a lot of potential and there's still a long way to go in the season.
Sandy: I have one thing to say to the community. We're dissatisfied. Nobody is satisfied. But support the guys; they're 17-22 year olds. They're out there trying their hearts out, and they deserve the community to support them. Also, if we want to set ourselves up for successful in the future, booing and negativity on the blogs online does not set us up for success because who reads that? The next set of recruits and parents - the future.
Q: What is the future of social media in college sports?
Roxy: The student-athletes and coaches have embraced it. It used to be that in order to hear the coach speak, you would have to turn on the TV or read the paper. You don't have to do that anymore; the fans appreciate it because it allows the coaches and student-athletes to show their personality. We get to know more about Allen Crabbe as a person, instead of just #23 on the basketball court. USC has started putting player twitter handles on their rosters; we did that with our Olympic athletes this summer as well.
Sandy: It's absolutely here to stay, and it will morph as we've already seen it. It's a great opportunity for us to use as a vehicle to promote our message (e.g. Twitter). It resonates, and really attaches to people. Different things may cycle in and out, but overall it's here to stay.
Other questions not covered here include planned upgrades to athletics facilities, future goals for Cal Athletics, Roxy's fan allegiances, Sandy/Roxy's mentors, and much more. I felt it was a great opportunity for Sandy and Roxy to connect with Cal fans. Sundeep and Co. did a superb job planning the first TweetUp; we hope to see you guys at future events!