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Nebraska Football: Big Red Being Redefined By Social Media

The Nebraska football program hasn’t won any major hardware in 15 years. One-five. Fortunately, there’s the legacy to fall back on, “the brand” as it’s often referred to. Unfortunately, that legacy has gotten dusty over time.

The spotlight that the Cornhuskers once demanded has slowly dimmed over the past decade-plus, but it’s warming back up thanks to a world that’s getting smaller and smaller.

Several schools have their own identities beyond championships. Oregon has its wardrobe. Texas Tech has one of the slickest coaches in the land. Baylor has points. Lots of points. Arizona State has its…atmosphere. What does Nebraska have in 2014?

When the movie “The Matrix” originally came out in 1999 (I just made you feel really old or young, didn’t I?), the basic premise of the system to give “people” interaction. People that were close enough to exchange ideas, praise and expletives with. To live life with, really.

A lucky few were offered the opportunity to be “unplugged” from the system and brought into the real world.

Nebraska has unplugged college football from it’s own “Matrix” and brought social media, essentially the Internet, into real life.

This happened at an amazingly rapid pace and oddly enough, it began with basketball, not football.

Everyone in Lincoln knows who Tim Miles is now.

The selfie-taking, half-time tweeting, 24-hour recruiting coach who’s opened his life up to the public. There are naive tweens who don’t give out as much info as Miles, but the love he gets in return is amazing. Why? Because it’s adoration for a man showing genuine passion for his profession. You can’t fake that.

Now, everyone expects Miles to keep them abreast of his schedule, and he does. He says he’ll attend events and invite people to come see him ahead of time, and they do. Is he the social media master of Nebraska sports? Maybe, but he definitely showed what opening his program to the fans will do.

Fast forward to last Saturday’s spring game.

Do you know when the whole “Bo Pelini loves cats” meme started? A now-defunct site called KittyPelini.com featured doctored pictures of Pelini with various felines was founded in 2011. That’s how deep this rabbit hole goes (wow, full of Matrix references today). That’s also where FauxPelini‘s legendary bio picture originated.

Wrap your mind around this and pretend you have no context. The head coach of a major FBS program interacts with his Twitter parody account over a cat. Social media accounts from the school and Pelini himself go back and forth ranging on topics from the parody’s alleged exploits to “custody” of the cat.

Finally, said head coach walks out into a live spectacle holding the treasure of the duo’s eyes, precious Anya, and raises her up in a near-defiant way, ripping an Internet meme from pixels into real life.

I’ll go back to the aforementioned movie once more when quoting one of The Matrix’s resistance captains, Morpheus. “What is “real”? How do you define “real”?

The Huskers’ networks now swarm with hashtags, Instagram photos and coaches pouring onto various social platforms to interact. While other Big Red programs continue to excel and show what this form of interaction can do to whip fans into a froth, can you imagine what would happen if the money sport finally made the leap back to national prominence?

A watch party in Memorial Stadium? Massive school-led downtown events the likes of which Lincoln has never seen?

Perhaps best of all, social media is showing irrefutable proof that Nebraska isn’t full of a bunch of backwater hicks, much as I’m sure several would have recruits believe. Far from it, actually.

Nebraska football, well, the entire athletic department is redefining what “real” is thanks to social media. To be honest, it’s getting kinda freaky in the best way possible.

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Tags: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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