Say what you will about social media but it’s an increasingly important component of college athletics as fan engagement on various platforms continues to carry more and more weight when it comes to the health of a program. Therefore, Wednesday’s Twitter poll victory by Texas Tech football fans shouldn’t be ignored.
In a preseason attempt to engage fans across the nation and boost their own interactions at the same time, Fox College Football’s Twitter page conducted a 64-team NCAA basketball tournament-style challenge in which fans were asked to vote for their favorite team. Get more votes than your opponent and you move on until one team was left standing.
Since we are talking about this poll, you can guess who won the entire bracket. The unbelievably rabid Texas Tech fans.
Along the way to the title, Tech fans out-voted fans from name-brand programs such as Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida State as well as taking down Big 12 brethren Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. It was the win over the Sooners in the championship round that was the closest as Tech won by just over three percent of the vote.
The win isn’t anything that will warrant a parade down Broadway but it isn’t without a tangible reward. FOX has decided to put up a billboard in Lubbock proclaiming Texas Tech fans as the nation’s best.
However, the significance of this seemingly meaningless exercise goes beyond Twitter votes. Rather, it is a reminder of just how passionate Texas Tech fans are. And it’s a sign that the sleeping giant that is Texas Tech football could be on the verge of awakening.
This is a fan base that has renewed hope and enthusiasm thanks to the infusion of energy that new head coach Joey McGuire has brought to the program. After all, there’s no way Tech would have won this type of poll a year ago with Matt Wells leading the program.
However, in just a year’s time, this fan base has come back to believing in Tech football, even before McGuire has coached a single game. It’s truly a remarkable turnaround for a fandom that was completely checked out and jaded at this time last year.
Of course, the rabidity of Red Raider fans has been on full display with the basketball program over the past several years. Tech basketball fans have become so known for taking over opposing teams’ arenas that programs like TCU and Texas have taken special measures to try to prevent Red Raider fans from getting tickets to games in Fort Worth and Austin.
Now, Texas Tech football feels like it is picking up that type of momentum. And social media is a great barometer of how engaged a fan base is.
Earlier this summer, Tech fans took over Twitter by posting thousands of cactus emojis in response to a TCU football assistant coach derogatorily referring to Lubbock as being in the desert on Twitter. Tech fans even had a batch of cacti delivered to the TCU football offices in response to the remarks.
Now, Tech fans have again flexed their muscle on social media by winning a national poll to judge which fan base is most passionate. While no one is going to put this accomplishment on the facade of Jones Stadium, it is a great sign that the Texas Tech football fandom is back from the dead and ready to fully support this program once again.