Future SEC football foes take the classroom to the field on Sept. 10

Alabama-Texas Sports Media Mash-Up Gives Students Real-Time Big-Time Gridiron Experience

Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) To Support Sports Media Education Project

Austin, Texas – College football fans in Alabama and Texas are already counting down the days until Sept. 10 when the Crimson Tide plays the Longhorns in Austin in a preview of a future Southeastern Conference showdown.

For eight sports media students – four from each school – this is a class project of a lifetime, boiling down months of Google tracking and Zoom calls into eight hours of fast-paced, locally produced game day coverage.

It will be the first of this kind of collaboration by any two university sports media programs in the country.

And it will be a unique post in higher ed and in each of the communication school’s curriculum: The Alabama-Texas Sports Media Mash-Up.

“As soon as the home and home series was announced in 2018, myself and my Alabama colleague Dr. Andrew Billings knew we had to put together a collaborative program between our students to focus on one of the biggest, most unique college football series in the country,” said Dr. Michael Butterworth, Director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media at the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin.

“College sports exist only because of the educational institutions that promote them and we think this football series helps shine a light on these two special sports media programs,’’ Dr. Butterworth added.

Both schools posted openings for The Alabama-Texas Sports Media Mash-Up in February. Selection committees were looking for students with qualifications in multiple areas of media experience, ranging from print to broadcast and digital.

Virtual interviews were held with semi-finalists before selection of the final four from each university.

Game planning began immediately.

“We want the students to truly serve as college football reporters enterprising and planning their coverage over the summer and doing their stories on the days leading up to the game, during the game, and post-game,” said Dr. Billings of the College of Communications and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. “We’ll offer support and oversight, but the students understand this is their project complete with all the adversity and challenges in covering college football in a huge media atmosphere like this.”

The students already have on their assignment boards social media campaigns, short documentary production, photojournalism, live gameday coverage and reporting and joint features between parents of players and fans of both schools.

The FWAA is also supporting the Mash-Up by offering all eight students complimentary one-year memberships in the organization and participating in a  sports media seminar for the group prior to the season.

“One of our missions is to encourage college students to pursue careers in sports media,” says Steve Richardson, Executive Director of the FWAA. “This very unique project between two great sports journalism schools is a way we can support these students and give them some professional insight into what it takes to cover a college football game of this magnitude.”

And what about ‘homer’ reporting for your own school?

Drs. Billings and Butterworth have made it clear to both sets of students this is a collaborative effort involving two premier sports media schools. There should not be any bias on the part the students.

However, the professors did make their own predictions:

Butterworth: Texas 31, Alabama 23

Billings: Alabama 45, Texas 13

The Alabama-Texas Media Mash-Up will travel east to Tuscaloosa when the Longhorns take on the Crimson Tide on Sept. 9, 2023.

Student Participants

Robert Cortez, Senior/News Media
Skylar Lien, Senior/Creative Media
Jessica Stephans, Senior/Public Relations
Jason Williams, Senior/News Media

Manuel Duran Guerrero, Senior/Radio-TV-Film
Jack Myer, Senior/Communication and Leadership
Emily Schumacher, Senior/Journalism
Haley Slotboom, Senior/Advertising

(For more information on the program and to arrange interviews with the Alabama and Texas professors and students, please contact  FWAA member Ken Capps at ken@kencapps.com or 972-948-7008).