Running the Numbers: Following the Data Flow of Frog Football

TCU faces off against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship on Dec. 3, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. TCU lost 31-28. (Photo by James Anger)

Coming off a historic season, the Horned Frogs are likely to command both the football field and the social media world this year. Our new Schieffer Media Insights Lab is poised to make sense of the thousands of trends and topics football watchers will be seeing on social media.

The Frogs kick off their season at home this Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes, but what a difference since the teams faced off in 2022! Last year, TCU launched a Cinderella Season against the Buffaloes, who soon faded into obscurity. But this year, the Buffaloes boast a flashy new head coach, former Dallas Cowboy and NFL Hall of Famer Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, and all eyes, including, Big Noon Kickoff, will be watching this weekend.

Dr. Dustin Hahn leads a sports post-production class in the editing lab in April 2022. (Photo by James Anger)

Dustin Hahn, Ph.D., associate professor in Film, Television and Digital Media and the director of our Media Insights Lab, will also be watching. He’ll be using the lab’s high-end software tools to analyze social data on such topics as “Deion Sanders,” “TCU,” “#GoFrogs,” and “Big 12.”

“These data can help us make sense of the many storylines heading into Saturday’s matchup,” Dr. Hahn said. “We are a storytelling people, and data help us to do that in important ways. Today, we can leverage AI-powered insight tools to analyze big data and unpack these stories in previously impossible ways. Last season alone, there were over a quarter million mentions of TCU Football online by over 100,000 unique users, spiking at key moments surrounding our many wins, our bid into the College Football Playoffs, our Fiesta Bowl win over Michigan, and, yes, our loss in the National Championship.”

Data help tell the story about who fans are and how they connect with TCU. “Football, sport in general, has a powerful way of impacting our thoughts, emotions, behaviors and even perceptions of self-identity,” Dr. Hahn said.

Telling a Cinderella Story (With the Help of Data)

Perceived sentiment over time by volume of those talking about TCU Football last season from Brandwatch.

Using the tools available in the Schieffer Media Insights Lab, Dr. Hahn will examine how fans talk about Frogs football and TCU again this season.

“Social media has had a lot to say about the Horned Frogs this past year,” said Dr. Hahn. “’TCU Football’ or @TCUFootball received about 300 daily mentions in early August of last year heading into the season. That number quickly rose as the Frogs went on a historic college football run. That number jumped to just over 30,000 on New Year’s Eve after their win over Michigan and was followed by conversation surrounding the national championship game with over 25,000 mentions. It was a season and a run that won’t long be forgotten.”

Perceived sentiment by percentage of those talking about TCU Football last season Brandwatch.

Storytelling relies on sentiment. Artificial intelligence integrations in software such as Brandwatch and Sprinklr can help predict and understand fans’ responses to storytelling angles. Last year, the Frogs reached some of the highest highs and lowest lows in college football, and fans’ reactions at those points were mixed.

Words and emojis used by fans on social media last season during the Horned Frogs Cinderella season.

“Analysis shows that more social media conversation was positive than negative,” Dr. Hahn said. “While things might not have gone the way of the Frogs in the championship, there was still a great deal of positivity after that game (over 5,000 positive mentions). But no day was greater for positive sentiment than the Frog’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Michigan with over 5,500 positive mentions.”

Perceived sentiment by volume of those talking about TCU Football last season from Brandwatch.

Overall, positive sentiment helped create the narrative around the Horned Frogs incredible rise, and that’s an insight our Schieffer College faculty and students can use as they perfect the art and science of storytelling.

Tune in next week to see what story the data tell about Frog football. Learn more about fans and football, 5 Things @TCUSchieffer: Future of Fans and [College] Football.