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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Sun Belt Conference student media reflects on college football upset week

Sun+Belt+Conference+features+its+14+universities+at+Times+Square+amid+its+10+wins+in+week+two+of+college+football%2C+Friday%2C+Sept.+16%2C+2022%2C+in+New+York+City.

Sun Belt Conference features its 14 universities at Times Square amid its’ 10 wins in week two of college football, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in New York City.

Week two of the college football season treated the Sun Belt Conference well, with a total of 10 wins across the conference. 
The big week for the conference gained national attention. Times Square in New York City plastered Sun Belt Conference football promos and graphics across billboards prior to week three of the college football season, and storylines of upset wins after week two infiltrated major sports media outlets like ESPN and Sports Illustrated.
The attention — something that Sun Belt Conference football isn’t entirely used to receiving compared to bigger football programs like the University of Alabama or the University of Texas — is more than deserved. Along with the 10 Sun Belt Conference wins, the football teams of Appalachian State University, Marshall University and Georgia Southern University managed to pull off some of the biggest upsets in their respective schools’ history.
The wins of those three schools gave its students an excuse to rush the streets with victorious riots, as seen in a viral video posted by an Appalachian State football fan, but perhaps the most affected by the wins are the student media outlets of those universities.
The benefits that student media outlets receive from upset wins can go unnoticed by the casual fan or viewer. However, the national attention that smaller schools get from these victories can prove to be highlights of a young sports reporter’s career.
DJ Cadden, the sports editor of Georgia Southern’s student newspaper, The George-Anne, was at Georgia Southern’s 45-42 win against Nebraska with his dad. Cadden said that part of him was there for the fan experience, but the reporter in him recognized the upset as an opportunity for The George-Anne to publish more content.
“The other part of me knows I have to write the [game] story afterwards,” Cadden said. “There’s really just never a moment to sit back and relax … getting to be there and pump out a lot of content about it is probably the highlight of my career at The George-Anne.”
The upset win against Nebraska meant that there was more national coverage on both the Georgia Southern and Nebraska football teams. A day after the game, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost was dismissed from the program, which garnered shock and social media discussions among football fans.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sports Illustrated published a story about Clay Helton, the head coach of Georgia Southern, about his plan to rebuild the program. 
Cadden said he can see why national media likes to flock to stories about Helton and Frost. The George-Anne sports staff, however, try to create different ideas for coverage content to separate themselves from the pack. 
“Sports Illustrated put out a feature … but obviously we wanted to do some stories nobody else is going to do,” Cadden said. “It just made us want to put out more content, make content the best we can… we’re still kind of tossing around a few more ideas.”
Chayce Matheny, the sports editor of Marshall University’s student newpaper, The Parthenon, was also able to attend his school’s 26-21 victory against Notre Dame.
Much like Georgia Southern’s win against Nebraska, the national coverage on Marshall sparked further discussion on content ideas within The Parthenon sports staff regarding the upset victory. 
“The whole town was talking about it,” Matheny said. “Our staff is going to do … side stories on it.” 
Unlike Cadden, Matheny was able to sit in the press box to witness his school’s win, and he said it was a unique experience in regard to his journalism career thus far.
“It was such an emotional game, it was such an emotional weekend for me,” Matheny said. “It definitely ranks number one … the whole atmosphere, everything about it.”
Dan Davidson, the sports editor of Appalachian State’s student newpaper, The Appalachian, said the 17-14 victory over Texas A&M University provided him and his team of reporters a sense of encouragement.
“We’ve gotten a lot of new reporters this year,” Davidson said. “To have this opportunity where I’m asking them to go out and get this coverage … and all these [reporters] are getting their photos and videos retweeted and liked thousands of times … it’s a huge encouragement for the young reporters especially.”
According to Davidson, following the win, ESPN reached out to The Appalachian for courtesy photos and videos that the network could use in a package for their popular Saturday program “College Gameday.”
The program, which was originally favored to cover the ranked matchup of Miami versus Texas A&M, switched its coverage to Appalachian State’s next matchup against Troy following the upset victory. 
Davidson said that with College Gameday coming to town in Boone, North Carolina, the buzz of excitement for him and his team is growing. 
“Not only did we knock off the number six team in the country, but we also stole Gameday from them,” Davidson said. “It’s so much more than I ever dreamed of.”

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