From creating trending memes to commenting on Urban Meyer’s 0-4 NFL debut, Barstool Sports is a social media phenomenon.
Founded in 2003 by Internet sensation David Portnoy, Barstool Sports started out as a print publication and has since moved entirely online. In 2016, they made the jump into varsity sport – a jump that has since won ten, said Caleb Griffin, graduate student and director of Barstool OSU.
“Five years ago they started a college program and Ohio State was one of the first [schools], with Penn State being the first, ”Griffin said. “They didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but it exploded all over the country, so I think over a thousand viceroys and about 40 schools were represented.”
Griffin and Jackson Haskins, a fourth year in biomedical engineering, are part of the five-person team that runs the brand in Ohio State. With more than 117,000 followers on Instagram, 94,200 on Twitter and 41,900 on TikTok, Barstool’s presence in Ohio State has exploded, increasing 83% on Instagram since the current team took over in 2018, and elected. best social network related to the state of Ohio by La Lanterne readers.
“When we took over, we started doing pretty consistent content, and that was enough to really help brands move forward,” Griffin said. “We were the first major social media campaign to feature a very brutally honest student perspective of campus. “
The students’ perspective is essential to make Barstool what it is. Griffin and Haskins both said the Barstool OSU accounts were successful because almost any student in the state of Ohio can find something to laugh about in their feed.
“Because we have a national brand and a lot of the great faces of Barstool HQ are adults, a lot of people don’t understand that Barstool OSU accounts are controlled by students,” Haskins said. “So we relate to our fans, our fans relate to us, all content is relevant.”
With content ranging from football highlights and punches against opponents to drunk student shenanigans, Barstool OSU has become a fan favorite of many students. Unique to this year are the food robots roaming around the campus, which Barstool OSU took full advantage of, creating posts about them who often receive between 5,000 and 9,000 likes on Instagram.
However, Griffin and Haskins said they realize their large platform is influential beyond the release of game day results. After last year’s “Chitt Fest” ended with a total of cars, Barstool OSU helped run a GoFundMe page to help those affected.
This year, they used their accounts to raise awareness of safety concerns on and around campus, by sharing articles commenting on campus safety advisories and, on Tuesday, a open letter from the mother of Chase Meola – a fifth year in marketing who was shot to death outside the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in October 2020 – urging students and parents to demonstrate peacefully for a safer environment for students on and off campus.
“We are all Buckeyes, so it is very important that our campus is back to how it was before and that people can feel safe coming home and that people can feel safe in their friends’ apartments at night,” Griffin said.
Barstool OSU also hopes to increase its work with the university’s athletes. Thanks to the new rules regarding the athlete’s name, image and likeness, fans got to see Ohio State track stars working alongside Barstool OSU, Haskins said.
“What we’re really excited for is hopefully once we let the NIL things simmer a bit more, creating content with different athletes on campus,” Haskins said. “Basically helping out by using our platform to help bring the lighter side to our fans and allow athletes to show off not just as numbers on the field, but as people. “
As Barstool OSU continues to evolve, Griffin and Haskins have said they hope one thing stays true: their relationship with students. With every class that comes to Ohio State, they hope to continue the tradition of being a student favorite and making their viewers laugh.
“I think we’re really just a relief and a distraction and in a lot of ways a joust over humor and a friendlier look at the sport,” Griffin said. “We try to use our accounts to do important things like outreach, and that’s something we would definitely like to do more of in the future, but I think it’s just an honest, funny laugh at the campus culture. “