After a 29-23 loss to Clemson in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinals, the most recent chapter in Ohio State football history came to a heartbreaking conclusion.
The metaphorical page is immediately turned, however. Players either prepare for their next journey outside of college or start training for next season. Coaches look ahead to the future.
Zach Swartz stays busy too.
Swartz, the director of creative media for Ohio State football, is the creator of most of the team’s social media presence since his arrival in 2016. His role entails creating content for recruiting, promoting Ohio State’s brand and motivating current players.
Running one of the largest social media brands in college football wasn’t always the goal for the Pickerington, Ohio, native. He graduated from Ohio University in 2010 with a journalism degree but decided writing wasn’t the career for him.
Through a connection back home with Jeff Long, former University of Arkansas athletic director, Swartz took a job opening out of college with the Razorbacks in what was called “new media” at the time.
“I did a little bit of running the Facebook account, a little bit on the website and a little bit of live blogging, which isn’t even a thing anymore,” Swartz said.
An opportunity arose when ESPN launched a new branch station, the SEC Network, in 2014. Swartz said that Arkansas, along with other Southeastern Conference members, was given resources to produce high-end video production along with tools for social media growth.
Swartz took advantage of the resources, producing a variety of SEC Network broadcasts. He said that the evolution of media was exciting, but came with some complications.
“This was a challenge because a lot of times, you’re able to look up and see how someone does a specific job,” Swartz said. “I really didn’t have that.”
After spending six years at Arkansas continuing to grow his skills and expand his role, a job opening was posted at Ohio State. He said he knew it was time to go home.
The interview process was standard on all fronts except one: Former Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was present.
“He looked at me and said: ‘Are you the best in the country? Can you be the best in the country?’” Swartz said. “I had no idea if I actually was the best in the country, but at that point, you kind of have to say, ‘Yeah,’ and say it confidently.”
After getting the job, Swartz didn’t waste any time making good on his promise to Meyer.
He created an account solely for Ohio State football on Twitter and continued to focus on growth for the team’s Instagram and Facebook pages.
Swartz’s role includes more than expanding Ohio State’s brand, though. One of the main focuses for him and his staff is aiding the recruiting process.
Swartz meets with recruits, attempting to build personal relationships with each prospective player. The goal is to figure out their interests, whether it’s the music they listen to or their favorite NBA player.
“We’re just a vehicle to show the culture,” Swartz said. “The coaches, players here make the culture. As the recruits come in and meet with coaches and build their relationships with the coaches, they know what this program really is. It’s our job to get it out there and show it.”
Chris Charizopoulos, director of creative design and branding for Ohio State football and member of Swartz’s creative team, said it’s refreshing to work directly with someone like Swartz on a day-to-day basis.
“I admire how Zach is able to take his experience with the program and utilize resources, connect our ideas in our office to coaches and staff, and help bring them to life,” Charizopoulos said.
Charizopoulos also admired Swartz’s extensive experience, along with his ability to develop fresh ideas.
“I like to lean on Zach’s experience with the program because he’s been around for a long time. He’s been able to see a lot, try a lot out and at the same time, I like the idea of us working on bringing new things to the table, new fresh ideas, being a little ambitious and challenging each other to find those opportunities,” Charizopoulos said.
Looking ahead to the future, Swartz said he wants to focus on being a service provider for the players.
“My goal right now, professionally, is to get to know the student-athletes as best as I can to be able to prepare them for the life after and to also give them the tools they need right now to prepare them for everything that’s going on,” Swartz said.