The Rutgers twitter movement #CHOPNation has arrived. What started as an idea on how to mobilize the Rutgers fan base has morphed and grown. I had a conversation with two recent graduates of Rutgers, Jay (@JayRutgers09) and Kevin (@Mister856) the two men who are most directly responsible for the growing twitter movement. What followed was a lively and fruitful discussion on #CHOPNation, the role of twitter, and the future of Rutgers athletics.
Sal: “Nice to chat with both of you, Jay and Kevin. Jay, #CHOPNation has become a force on Twitter. You are the man attributed with the moniker. Where did it come from?”
Jay: “#CHOPNation came from a few different sources. The biggest was when we were competing with Appalachian State for a recruit, and their fans had their own hashtag of #AppNation, while the few fans of ours on Twitter who followed recruiting didn’t have such a group to call themselves. I mean how sad is it when a school that is just moving up into the FBS ranks has more mobilized fans on Twitter than the school with the oldest football program in the country? So that was what got me thinking about it. A fellow Rutgers fan, Kevin, created a topic on a message board I frequent talking about how Twitter can be a positive and that we as Rutgers fans are just way behind with it. That topic got some people talking and after ignoring the service for so long, it seemed like it was finally the perfect time for Rutgers fans to hop on board. So I played around with a few names in my head, and #CHOPNation was the one that sounded the best to me.”
Sal: “What does #CHOPNation mean to you?”
Jay: “What #CHOPNation means to me is that we want to spread what is positive about our University, our program, our state, and that we also want to point out when the negativity surrounding our program is based upon inaccuracies or falsehoods. And it takes a community to accomplish that, but like all things with Rutgers, there’s a ton of potential but just as much disorganization. So #CHOPNation is the way to bring everyone together that supports the Scarlet Knights on Twitter, and it turns out that there are a lot of us.”
Kevin: “#CHOPNation to me is a symbol of our fan base. Rutgers is one big family and #CHOPNation just represents us as a whole. The hashtag just shows how close we all are. I don’t know anyone personally on the message boards but sharing the hashtag makes me feel like they’re my close friends. “
Sal: “Does age play a role here? You are both under thirty. Does that matter?
Kevin: “I’m 23 and I love twitter. I don’t think there is an appropriate age. I guess high school and up. Twitter is used for so many things. It’s huge in recruiting now but I use it for news, weather, literally everything. “
Sal: “What do you hope to accomplish with #CHOPNation? Is #CHOPNation only about recruiting? “
Jay: “My hope for #CHOPNation is that it can effectively spread the positive attributes that make up Rutgers. If that could happen, many other positives would flow from that. If we can change the culture in this state that always seems to be so negative against itself, then we could work wonders with not only prospective football players, but perhaps much more importantly the average Joe NJ taxpayer who is seemingly being programmed into blaming a lot of problems within the state on Rutgers.”
Kevin: “It was started for mainly recruiting. It’s about more now. It’s about the school, fans, alumni, players, coaches etc. The hashtag is a symbolism of a bunch of fans who want to win just as much as the players do.”
Jay: “#CHOPNation is about spreading the message of Rutgers being a great place to get an education, to live, to work, and to visit. While recruiting is part of #CHOPNation, it’s just as much if not more about bringing Rutgers fans together in a way that we’ve never attempted before.”
Sal: “Is this something other schools do?”
Jay: “Plenty of schools do this, if not all of them. Follow any coach/recruit/player on Twitter and you will find some sort of hashtag that was made to bring the fans of that school together.”
Sal: “So what makes #CHOPNation unique to Rutgers?
Jay: “What I hope sets us apart is that our mission extends beyond just the football program and even the university itself and into trying to create a positive image for the entire state of New Jersey. Kids, be them athletes or students, should feel proud of going to Rutgers as it is a fantastic school in a state that is worth representing.”
Sal: “I have to say I knew #CHOPNation arrived when I saw Rutgers Head Football Coach Kyle Flood use the moniker within the first twenty-four hours of the creation of the hashtag. Since then I’ve noticed Senior Associate Athletic Director Jason Baum use #CHOPNation as well. How significant is that?”
Kevin: “I saw it when I was laying down watching TV and screen shot it then sent to my friends. It’s a very big deal. It got to the head coach of the team. It made me feel as a whole we helped the efforts in recruiting and school pride. It also made me feel Kyle was with us fans. I think it’s something we can brand for the football team for years in the future. “
Jay: “It is amazing to see Coach Flood and Jason Baum use #CHOPNation. My hope is that this can grow as a movement with their support. I have already tried contacting them in regards to using the moniker for charitable reasons at the Rutgers Spring Game, such as selling t-shirts themed with #CHOPNation to support Eric LeGrand’s Team LeGrand charity. I hope something like that could come to fruition.”
Sal: “What excites you most about the future of Rutgers athletics?”
Jay: “The most exciting thing about this time period for Rutgers athletics is that many of the problems that we have faced in the past: conference instability, money issues, and weak scheduling, they’re all going to be fixed in short order. The structural issues will be behind us. The only thing that can stop us now is us, and that’s why #CHOPNation is becoming so active now. We know there’s exciting times in our future, and that we are all going to be a part of it.”
Kevin: “The BIG 10 is so exciting. That’s huge for not only the football team but the school. The BIG 10 move I believe will make Rutgers football into even more of a name. I think in years of the future we can see a completely sold out stadium as well as additions to it and upgrades to athletic facilities.”
Jay: “And don’t forget the slogan of #CHOPNation, and this goes out to fans, students, athletes, and New Jersey residents: Why be a follower when you can lead a nation?”
You can follow Sal Soothsayer on Twitter, @SalSoothsayer