A head will likely roll down the steps at XOS Digital today. XOS is the Southeastern Conference digital content developer and operates the league’s website. Last night, somebody at XOS mashed the wrong button and accidentally published drafts of web content announcing that the University of Missouri had officially joined the SEC last weekend.
The content was quickly discovered and posted on message boards, then found it’s way to Twitter where it promptly went viral. Within an hour of being discovered, the Missouri-to-SEC gaffe was in a serious trending competition with reaction to the St. Louis Cardinals’ remarkable comeback in Game 6 of the MLB World Series. Within two hours, the content had been removed from the SEC’s website (without comment from the conference office).
Some media outlets have called this a “leak.” I seriously doubt that the content was leaked. That would suggest an agenda behind the action, such as sending Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton a message. I think it’s much more likely that the content was under development in preparation for what everyone thought was a done deal and simply sitting in the unpublished drafts folder at the website. Someone publishing unrelated content mistakenly selected this content and mashed the wrong button. Occam’s Razor, y’all.
The frenzy over the gaffe shows a few things:
- The eventual move of Missouri to the SEC from the Big 12 seems all but done. XOS didn’t develop all of that content speculatively. The did so under the direction of the SEC’s media relations staff, who wouldn’t have authorized the content’s creation without a high degree of confidence in the deal.
- As a news story, conference realignment and Missouri’s decision are absolutely white hot in terms of public interest. The Cardinals’ comeback was one of those historic World Series moments that are talked about for generations. Yet a website hiccup drew a reaction that nearly drowned out the moment.
- The “publish” button on some websites should be under the same type of security as that provided for the launch codes for the US strategic nuclear arsenal. Only a few dudes should be able to mash it and should have to go through a series of highly difficult confirmation sequences, or something.
It will be interesting to see how Missouri and SEC public affairs folks extricate themselves from this mess today and over the weekend. The SEC has said precious little regarding Mizzou’s eventual move to the league, and Mizzou has taken great pains to present itself as a deliberative, careful player. These images were shattered last night and how folks deal with the fallout should make for interesting drama over the next few days.
Getcha some popcorn.