NCAA College Cup TV schedule

Because I’m pretty sure this can’t be said enough times, have it again before the first game kicks off.

Friday, December 3

  • Notre Dame vs Ohio State at 4 p.m. ET
    Live on ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.com
  • Stanford vs Boston College at 6:30 p.m. ET
    (or 45 minutes after ND-OSU if the game requires overtimes)
    Live on ESPNU; tape-delayed on ESPN2 on 12/5 at 9 a.m. ET

Sunday, December 5

  • Stanford vs Boston College (tape delay)
    9 a.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Championship Final at 12 p.m. ET
    Live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com

Watch them. The NCAA soccer season is the most wonderful time of the year, and this weekend, 2010 comes to a close with some wicked good teams in the final games.

Irish press conferences: always better than UNC’s

This year’s Notre Dame press conference with Randy Waldrum, Lauren Fowlkes, and Schuveiller leading up to the College Cup reminds me of the press conferences in 2008. In fact, I am going to swipe the links to throw at you because they make me so happy:

2010 – College Cup Games Notes | Notre Dame College Cup Central
Press Conference: Video | Photo Gallery | Quotes
Twitter: ND Athletics | ND Women’s Soccer | ND Women’s Soccer News | Head coach Randy Waldrum

It’s so great to hear Waldrum talk (about anything, but especially the sport), and for Schuveiller and Fowlkes to get some of the screentime that was heaped on the 2008 seniors. No offense, because I loved that crew, but we have seen much less of the women’s soccer team since then.

And just to enjoy some throwbacks, because I do miss ye olde alumni:

2008Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Kerri Hanks, and Brittany Bock | Press Conference with Randy Waldrum, Brittany Bock, and Carrie Dew Well, just trust me, those were great interviews. Brittany Bock and Carrie Dew were particularly fun to watch together, and Kerri Hanks tried to be diplomatic with questions of what a handful she could be in practice.
Taping ESPN Promos | 2008 Season Highlights

Notre Dame women’s soccer is so undersold. By the way, since Waldrum did mention it and I haven’t yet: Texas Christian University will be joining the Big East in 2012. That is seriously far from the usual in the Big East – distance-wise. If only Kerri Hanks, “A Legend of Big East Soccer,” had commented on this directly.

I could write about Stanford or BC, but no…

Let's see those ass-kicking cowboy boots, Coach.

It’s been almost a month since I wrote anything about Notre Dame, although I have talked about the Irish in the tournament in our podcast. Previously, I was cranky about Notre Dame’s loss to UConn in the Big East tournament, but apparently that was good for the Irish. They got some time “off,” and they came back strong for the NCAA tournament.

This season was sort of reminiscent of 2007. It’s been a shaky couple of months, possibly tempered for me by Penn State’s stutter-stop 2010. Knaack was dropped from the roster, the freshmen settled in (right? At least a few of them did), and the senior class has returned to the Final Four. As a four-seed, they sliced through New Mexico, returned to proper Irish form against USC, thrashed top-seeded UNC in North Carolina, and survived again on the road against Oklahoma State. This has been a really, really good run for the Irish after a challenging season. Given the spanking they gave the Tar Heels, I would say that although this season isn’t over yet, it’s been a success.

On Friday, Notre Dame meets Ohio State in the 4 p.m. (ET) semifinal. ESPN2/ESPNU should be carrying the game, as well as ESPN3.com. That’s right, the webcast is for Notre Dame-Ohio State, not Stanford-Boston College (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU). Four different conferences are represented, two schools are hitting a consecutive Final Four, and two are in their first semifinal. There are very few ways that a tournament in North Carolina without UNC can go wrong, and with the Irish in the mix, there are a lot of ways it can go right.

So much love, it’s like we’re in Portland.

Today is Thanksgiving in the US. This is my first Thanksgiving at home in two years, so I am super grateful for that and won’t be around much this weekend. Still, I want to take this opportunity to thank some people that have been a big help to Cross-Conference.

Tiffany Weimer, for your encouragement, ideas, and sense of humor. You jumped in and gave us a push when we needed it.

Shek Borkowski, again for the encouragement, but also for not pulling punches when it comes to your analysis of women’s soccer. Someone has to tell it like it is, and you do that well.

Kai Edwards, for taking an interest and inviting us to come watch your team play. We both plan to look into making this happen in the new year.

The Portland Pilots and Santa Clara Broncos, for being so generous with your time and, in some cases, helping us connect with other people in order to make the rivalry project happen. Your alumni, current players, SIDs, and coaches were very accommodating and great to work with.

The 2010 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, for thrashing UNC out of the NCAA tournament. Enough said.

Alina Garciamendez, for making sure we have a reason to say your name nearly every podcast. It’s like magic.

And on a personal note, I’d like to thank Joan for saying “Let’s wait” when we first started talking about Cross-Conference and “Let’s do it” when it was time to get rolling.

“Can Twitter save women’s soccer?”

If you are on Twitter and in the women’s soccer community, you have heard the rumblings of a hashtag-slash-trending-topic movement to draw attention to the USWNT game versus Italy on November 27. ESPN3.com will be carrying the webcast, and folks want to prove to ESPN that people give a damn about the game.

I understand why women’s soccer fans expect and demand more of ESPN and other major media outlets when it comes to coverage of the sport. I don’t necessarily agree, as I’ve said in previous entries, but I get it. When the internal media production stagnates and is unwilling to evolve, it’s time to beg for outside help. It’s also time to take matters into your own hands.

I do believe in the power of Twitter, particularly in the hands of players and fans. I do believe this game needs to be watched by casual fans of US soccer. And I think it’s really important that fans are exposed to the background of how the USWNT ended up in the mess they’re in. I think it’s important that fans be dissatisfied with the lack of media coverage both internal and external, because in a way, that played a part in the past six or so years of complacency.

Of the two of us here at Cross-Conference, I am probably the wrong one to be writing this post. But I was asked, as a women’s soccer blogger, and even though I don’t root for the USWNT, I do admire the initiative. If you get enough people talking about and pushing for change, becoming part of the change, you have a better chance of effecting it.

Use #uswnt when you tweet about the game, and tweet often. This isn’t just about the national team–it’s about women’s soccer in the US.

Or it’s about Alex Morgan. Who can say, for sure?

A New Look for Cross-Conference

Cross-Conference original

Back when Joan and I started Cross-Conference, we didn’t sit down and say, “Okay, this will be the easiest url, this will be the best layout, this will be good for SEO, this is in line with our mission and brand.” We were concerned with our content, not our image. We incorporated improvements as time and money permitted. We brought up changing our “logo” once or twice, but it was never a priority.

The original icon should be familiar to our readers and listeners. It never varies. And it has served well enough–to the uninitiated, it isn’t player-specific or team-specific. But for WPS fans, 2009 is fresh enough that the year and team should be obvious. The legs belong to FC Gold Pride’s Allison Whitworth (who then did time with Atlanta and Chicago). The photo, by the way, was one I had taken myself.

In eleven months, Cross-Conference has come a long way. We are a blog and a podcast now, and we have expanded to other social media platforms as well. We have direction, character, and a voice. We know Cross-Conference better now, as do our readers and listeners. A couple of weeks ago, Joan made the aside that it’s time to start working on a logo. And I jumped at the green-light; it is time.

I’ll gloss over the creative process here. I am an out-of-practice artist, so the details are only astonishing (and embarrassingly so) to me. Suffice to say, inspiration took hold, ate up my time for days, and after some variation and much tweaking, resulted in the basic shield that is at the core of our logo.

We laid two ground rules in the creation of our logo:

  1. No ponytails
  2. Avoid blue

When I look through my twitter feed, the icons that stand out for me are the ones with the crests. I know those are for soccer. I can usually tell, even in small dimensions, who those icons represent. Crests and shields are very soccer (or rugby) specific in the American sporting landscape. A couple WPS teams missed the boat on that one (my FC Gold Pride being one of them), but Athletica nailed it–especially if you are local to the St. Louis area. Ownership was shady, but damn if they didn’t brand well.

Cross-Conference shield

The shield is perfect from a design standpoint. Historically, it serves two functions: to protect and to send a message. Heraldry is intended to be read. It tells you something about who you are dealing with. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. In Cross-Conference’s case, we decided that simple was best.

I wanted to avoid a shield shape that would be too closely associated with a WPS team (New Jersey, Boston, and Philly have very distinct shields in my mind) so I spent a good amount of time looking for a basic shape that was fairly triangular, incorporated convex curves, and allowed for creative variation.

Since a big part of the Cross-Conference personality is the NCAA/WCC/SCU-UP bias that we hold, I decided to draw on that for our colors. Santa Clara tends towards maroon and grey, Portland tends towards purple and gold, and both use white as a base. Incidentally, the West Coast Conference also uses the maroon-indigo-white color combination in its logo. I realize that these colors are also similar to the colors of the WPS and US Soccer logos, but that is a perk, not a driving factor.

I wanted to find some way to indicate the podcast, blog, and soccer facets of Cross-Conference, because those are the most important aspects of the brand. Initially, I was thinking of headphones for the podcast, but settled on the microphone. Instead of the quill that was in my head originally, I ended up passing by that and the pencil to a fountain pen. We nixed the inclusion of a soccer ball. While Cross-Conference is soccer-specific, it is not solely soccer, and the shield can carry the weight of conveying sport.

The combination of the colors and icons went through a number of variations. I wanted a balanced, unified combination of the colors without letting one “school” of color overpower the other. I was also determined to keep the microphone on purple (Pilots + Podcast = Joan) and the pen on maroon (Broncos + Blog = Ruth). The gold symbols unify the two “sides” of the shield and the grey “holds” it together.

Joan and I are both really excited to unveil and start using the new Cross-Conference logo as we head into Year Two. In fact, we were so excited that we jumped the gun, and fans of Cross-Conference on Facebook got to see the new look on Saturday. Today we will make the switch on our other platforms as well. Let us know what you think!

NCAA Tournament Webcasts

The tournament is upon us! Technically, it started yesterday at UCLA, but the bulk of first round action happens today. First up will be Penn State vs Penn in West Virginia at 3:30 ET. You know I am invested in that one. Although, my biggest concern today is that Notre Dame learned from the past month and put a hurting on New Mexico instead of the Irish fans.

Here is the bracket, and here are the webcasts, all in one tidy (free!) bundle. The Portland Pilots have their games here. You know you want to watch the Purple.