Just last January it was decided that there were enough Brads and Chads on campus to warrant a Barstool Hillsdale.
Hillsdale College’s blog game exploded when junior Jake Sievers brought Barstool Sports, a comedic sports blog popular on college campuses, to Hillsdale by creating the Barstool Hillsdale Instagram and Twitter accounts. Sievers manages both Hillsdale accounts and interned for the national Barstool this summer.
In January 2018, after scrolling through the Instagram page “5th Year,” a Barstool affiliate account, Sievers noticed its Instagram story encouraging college students to start Barstool accounts at their schools. Sievers took the email address from Instagram and sent the email to his now-friend Viceroy Supervisor Tyler O’Day. Viceroy Supervisors oversee the college accounts, Sievers explained. O’Day sent back a contract for one school year the next day.
“Twelve hours later it was up and running,” Sievers said. “I had an official logo literally the next day.”
The Instagram account has around 1,400 followers as it approaches its nine-month anniversary. In comparison, the college enrollment is around 1500 students. While larger schools may have a bigger following proportional to their number of students — for example, Barstool Michigan State has almost 40,000 — it’s significant on Hillsdale’s campus.
Barstool, now in its 15th year as a company, is known as the “bad boys of sports media.”
According to Sievers, Barstool is “a comedy outlet disguised as a sports outlet that doesn’t care about being politically correct or offending people.”
The creation of Barstool Hillsdale was met with concern by some students as to how its offensive nature could change campus culture, but account complaints are limited as it nears its nine-month anniversary.
Senior Marcus Koperski has been featured on the Instagram page.
“I don’t think it’s really changed anything at Hillsdale,” Koperski said. “Me and my friends would still climb above a staircase and strike a pose regardless of whether or not someone mentions Barstool.”
Senior Corinne Prost, a fan of the account, said she thinks that the account is “definitely on par with bigger schools in terms of humor, and definitely more tactful with what they choose to post.”
“It’s funny but also a hotbed for, for lack of a better word, debauchery and deplorables,” Koperski said. “The more outrageous you are, the more hits you’ll get. Which is fine for a lot of people, but it’s not quite ‘the good.’”
The Hillsdale account differs from other school’s accounts in what kind of content is posted. Sievers said it’s a careful balance crafting posts that are edgy and funny while staying in line with the values of Hillsdale.
“Other schools post pretty raunchy things, but I can’t because everyone on campus would know that like, ‘hey you’re disgusting,’” Sievers said.
Sievers spends about an hour a day crafting posts for the Hillsdale Barstool Twitter and Instagram, both of which he manages on his own. Sievers noted that the caption is one of the most important parts of the post and, since he comes up with captions himself, he is the only only one managing the accounts. The majority of the photo and video content is user-submitted. When low on material, Sievers finds pictures online and photoshops them to make them pertain to Hillsdale.
“If someone sees something funny on campus and gets a funny video, they’ll send it to me,” he said.
Most Barstool account managers are anonymous. When Sievers began selling stickers to advertise the Hillsdale account, despite his best attempts to remain anonymous, people began realizing his role. It’s been Sievers’ long-time dream to be an on-camera personality for sports media, so he decided to embrace this new reputation.
Sievers’ Barstool supervisor, Kyle Macchi, appreciated the work he had done at Hillsdale. Last March, he reached out to Sievers and invited him to interview in New York for a summer internship. Due to low hopes and a lack of money, Sievers didn’t think he should get a flight, but he called his parents and, for the first time, told them about Barstool Hillsdale and the internship opportunity. They said they were happy to pay for his flight.
“They were like ‘Are you kidding? Go!’” Sievers said.
He said he went in with no expectations since Barstool invited 80 people, most of whom were running bigger, verified accounts. Out of the 80, Barstool hired around five interns. Sievers cites his on-camera interview as the reason he got the job.
“Most interns get hired for other things, but I actually got hired for on-camera work,” he said.
Along with normal intern duties, such as dog-sitting his boss’ German Shepherd when he traveled, Sievers typically wrote a few blog posts every day, set up interviews, and produced a travel show. According to Sievers, it was a lot of logistical work on top of being on radio and on camera a little bit.
Now back at Hillsdale for his third year, Sievers still works for Barstool scheduling posts and shoots in addition to running Barstool Hillsdale. Sievers hopes to return to New York next summer to expand his role at Barstool. He said, as of right now, he’s on pace to be full time there when he graduates, and he plans to choose someone on campus to take over Barstool Hillsdale.
“As for now, I’m going to keep posting somewhat controversial, somewhat edgy things,” Sievers said. “I’m just going to try to make people laugh and give people a break from the normal rigors of Hillsdale.”