How long would it take you to win the Internet? Colorado Buffaloes Sports Information Director David Plati did it in 25 minutes Tuesday. Plati went into the office and lived out the most important theme to his work day: "Take your work more seriously than you take yourself."
This week, No. 4 Michigan hosts Colorado. And while CU might have Hail Mary memories, what it didn’t have this week was a depth chart from the opposition. If the Wolverines weren’t going to release theirs, coach Mike MacIntyre declined to release the Buffaloes’. Plati took matters into his own hands.
The depth chart includes references to movies, "Famous Skinny People," a two-deep of deodorants playing at the Right Guard position, and a tribute to Gene Wilder characters, all with a helpful key.
"Sometimes you’ve just gotta have fun," Plati told SB Nation. "It seems like fun’s escaped the world lately, so I thought we would do it. It turned out to explode, never thought it would like it has."
Plati sent the funny depth chart to broadcaster Kevin Kugler, along with the real one. Kugler is on the mic this weekend for the Big Ten Network calling the game. He tweeted it out, and from there it took off. After over 200 emails and tweets from all across the country, his fun became everyone else’s in a simple example of viral potential.
Even ESPN’s Chris Fowler, a CU alum who has known Plati for over 30 years, reached out as a fan of the This Is Spinal Tap category.
Plati insists no hard feelings or animosity toward Michigan.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is famous for his roster secrecy.
"Yeah, we know who our starting quarterback is, yes," Harbaugh said in early August, via the Detroit Free-Press. "I'll say who our starting quarterback is before Saturday ... I didn't say I was going to say it to you before Saturday."
"Some people say we’re mocking Michigan or poking fun at them, but that’s not the case at all," Plati said. "They just don’t have a depth chart in their release or anything, so we thought we’d take the week off. And in its place, we thought we’d have a little fun."
Harbaugh was not especially amused, for what it's worth:
"I saw the depth chart," Harbaugh said. "I was trying to imagine how many people sat around and how many hours they worked on that. We've just found, I mean, when it comes to the depth chart, modern technology seems to have made the depth chart an outdated task by about 20 years. We've found studying last week's film of the opponent is the most accurate way of determining another team's depth chart."
Plati simply channels his mentor, former Colorado SID and associate athletic director Fred Casotti. Casotti put limericks in his game notes back in the 1950s and ‘60s to amuse the writers covering the Buffs.
These days, your sometimes-friendly neighborhood Sports Information Director lives in a state of anonymity. To oversimplify what they do: SIDs have control over whom reporters (and therefore you, the consumer, as well) hear from on a particular college team and when we hear from them. Coaches, especially football coaches, love to over-insert themselves into that ecosystem, but that is another post for another day. SIDs also help with credentialing and media guides and various other duties.
From a reporter’s perspective, the relationship between the media and the local SID can be tricky.
At bigger schools, it can be downright adversarial, with a consistent push-pull of the media prying and the SIDs blocking. We do our jobs, and they do theirs.
There are many good SIDs, men and women who do their job well while making it easier for reporters. But sometimes, PR butts heads with the fourth estate. There are a million different intricacies involved in who gets what access to whom and when. Local beat writers will always curse the national writers who waltz in from national networks and get to have a steak-and-lobster dinner with the head coach, whom they could never get a three-minute one-on-one with.
But there are times when SIDs do things like what Plati did. Not only did he do something fun, making the best out of an adverse situation, but in 25 minutes he got nationwide pub for his school. He also broke up the monotony for beat reporters, who are used to the same-old-same-old. He made something you can enjoy.