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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)
October 3, 2013 Thursday
The Virginian-Pilot Edition
SPORTS; Pg. C1
|ODU wants to woo recruits and promote its brand with app, videos
By Tom Robinson
His team gathered around him in the pregame locker room, Old Dominion football coach Bobby Wilder was ready for his close-up - and another, and another.
Take one. Cut.
Take two. Cut.
Reposition the cameras to catch the "Monarchs" - many of them student-extras dressed as players - in rapt attention as Wilder for four minutes encourages them to "aim high."
All set? Good.
"I tried to put myself in the moment of a pregame speech," Wilder said, "yet there are cameras around, lights around, actors that are there."
If it wasn't Pacino-esque, well, winning gold statuettes isn't the reason a multi-media marketing company from Atlanta was hired to produce and direct this movie short of Wilder inspiring his "team."
What the coach wants are the signatures of good recruits on scholarship offers.
That's why a crew from Bluechip Athletic Solutions recently spent a week at ODU, at the Oceanfront and parts in between, shooting video and gathering information about the school and the area.
Bluechip, founded in 2005, has created videos and mobile apps for dozens of college teams. ODU added itself to a roster that includes Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame by paying the company $82,000, plus a $15,000 yearly retainer.
The mobile app, downloadable to smartphones and tablets, is still in production. But by the heart of recruiting season in November, Wilder will have within free and easy reach of any recruit, parent or fan the story of the five-year-old program. His bio and coaching philosophy. Academic, campus and area information. And facts, figures and photos of ODU's tale of rapid success and rollicking game-day atmosphere at Foreman Field.
And from approximately 40 hours of video, ODU purchased 15 minutes that Bluechip will package into various short "stories" that can be delivered from the app, ODU's website and social-media avenues such as YouTube or Twitter.
Combined, Wilder hopes the resources crystallize the message that ODU football has swept the FCS dust from its cleats and is in big-time business.
"We can't have a recruit thinking of Old Dominion as an FCS school anymore," said Ron Whitcomb, the Monarchs' recruiting coordinator. "We can't have a recruit think that East Carolina or that Virginia Tech are bigger than Old Dominion. That can't happen anymore."
Thus, the slick, high-def app and videos aimed to grab the curiosity of teen males, a demographic Whitcomb said is proven to have a meager attention span.
"The best way to communicate, especially with student-athletes, is a short, very pointed message, something you can get on that iPhone, right around three minutes, that's very well-choreographed," Wilder said of the video's potential. "I wanted to do this to get our message out nationally. ... Remember, there are a lot of people out there in football who still don't know us because we're so new."
Whitcomb came across Bluechip at a coaching convention last year, investigated and decided if it works for Michigan, it could work for the Monarchs, too. He pitched Wilder, who with athletic director Wood Selig decided to spend part of the $375,000 guarantee ODU will get to play at Pittsburgh on Oct. 19 on the recruiting tools.
"It wasn't just them coming out here with a handy-cam, filming stuff and slapping it together," Whitcomb said. "They put together sets; they staged story lines. It's pretty high level."
The NCAA prohibits leaving printed recruiting information with prospects, and Whitcomb painted a perfect scenario for how he might employ the mobile app: He meets a Conference USA-caliber prospect in Texas, where he recruits, and the kid has never heard of ODU. At Whitcomb's prompting, the kid downloads the ODU app that's available to anybody, sees the school's proximity to Virginia Beach, learns ODU also is in C-USA, gets fired up over photos of packed Foreman Field and a video link to Wilder's pep talk.
Sold, the kid says.
"It's got pop, and it caters to our client: 17- and 18-year-old males ... who do all of their research on their mobile devices," Whitcomb said. "The days of handing them a media guide literally are illegal and irrelevant. Research says that me sitting there and talking his ear off for five minutes is pretty much irrelevant, too."
What matters most in college sports, of course, is any edge that can be purchased, produced or even play-acted.
"It's just another piece of it," Whitcomb said. "Recruiting at this level is just every day, all day."
Tom Robinson, 757-446-2518
ODU football writer Harry Minium will be taking questions and comments during live chat with readers at noon today. Go to PilotOnline to participate.
ODU football writer Harry Minium will be taking questions and comments during a live chat with readers at noon today.Go to PilotOnline.com to participate.
Linebacker Caleb Taylor dismissed from team. Page 4
about the app A crew from Bluechip Athletic Solutions recently shot video and gathered information for a mobile app that will be used to sell potential recruits on ODU and Hampton Roads. It should be ready in November.
Courtesy of Bluechip Athletic Solutions Courtesy of Bluechip Athletic Solutions ThÉ N. Pham | The Virginian-Pilot
October 3, 2013