Tensions between students at Stephen F. Austin University and ACU rose this week with two Twitter hashtags emerging as a “trash-talking” method leading up to the football game between the two schools Saturday evening.
In addition to the Wildcat Reign Twitter page (@ACUWildcatReign), a variety of ACU students tweeted the hashtag “#thingsSFAcantdo.” The tweets ranged from showing school pride for Chapel and campus cats, to targeting aspects of SFA.
Students at SFA responded to “#thingsSFAcantdo” with their own hashtag, “ACUbuiltlike.” Although this hashtag was directed more toward the students than the school, some ACU students said they enjoy the new online rivalry.
“I like the idea of the rivalry because it increases interest in our sports,” said Colton Powell, sophomore finance major from Nashville. “We honestly need a rival.”
SFA students also said they were interested in this sudden rivalry, and thought it was normal to engage in the online banter.
“This is what makes college sports fun, and SFA trash talks with the best of them,” said Isaac Niedrauer, a radio-television major at SFA. “Banter and trash talk always makes it a little more interesting.”
However, not all students appreciated the hype of the hashtags. After an SFA student recognized by the Twitter handle @ColeAlbritton tweeted “#ACUbuiltlike Brock Turner,” referencing the Stanford student sentenced earlier in the year of sexual assault, ACU students began to push back.
“I admit that I laughed at a couple of the ‘#ACUbuiltlike’ tweets,” said Eboni Childs, a sophomore Biology major from Houston. “But there was one tweet that made me extremely angry. Using rape as a means for making a joke will never be funny.”
Looking collectively at all of the tweets from both schools, Barrett Lewis, a junior management major from Abilene said he didn’t appreciate the Twitter rivalry.
“I think that the hashtag reflects badly on our reputation online, especially since this rivalry between SFA and ACU is somewhat manufactured and not organic,” Lewis said. “Any hostility on Twitter can be misinterpreted and is ultimately not very effective.”
ACU punter Austin Kilcullen (@austinkilcullen) tweeted, “Hopped on Twitter and saw ACU and SFA students going at it. Since when do we hate each other? I’ve played them twice and I was unaware.”
Kilcullen, senior advertising and public relations major from Clarksville, Tennessee, said, “What happens on Twitter in no way affects how games play out on Saturdays. However, it does present an extra unnecessary distraction that both teams must overcome.”
Since ACU has made the transition to Division 1 from Division 2 athletics, SFA has failed to defeat the Wildcats in football.
In 2014, ACU overcame SFA 37-35, and in 2015, they won again 35-32.
“Based on the last two years, both teams will come out and be competitive for four quarters, regardless of what is happening on Twitter,” Kilcullen said.
ACU will travel to SFA Saturday. A watch party hosted by Wildcat Reign will be open to the public at 5:30 p.m. in Room 114 of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building.