Texas coach Charlie Strong has turned the phrase #Letsride into his social media clarion call. When the Longhorns land a new recruit, Strong tweets out the catchy phrase as something of a de facto press release.
Texas officials were surprised Monday after learning that a reporter who covers Longhorns recruiting had trademarked Strong’s phrase in March 2015 and recently started selling #Letsride T-shirts.
Jason Higdon, the lead recruiting analyst for Horns Digest, filed two federal trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year to use the phrase on various sports apparel and wristbands.
Higdon, who actively talks to UT recruits and reports on whether they are leaning toward the Horns, recently began promoting a website selling Lets Ride Sports merchandise.
School officials had no comment. Craig Westemeier, who handles licensing and trademarks for UT athletics, did not respond to a message. Higdon did not respond to an interview request from the American-Statesman.
A spokesman for the recruiting network Scout.com, the Horns Digest host site, also did not respond for comment.
Strong was not aware of Higdon obtaining the trademark and selling merchandise, a UT spokesman said.
In a message board thread initiated Monday on Horns Digest, Higdon wrote, “I understand everyone has an opinion. I want to promote commitment back in team sports.
“Regardless the team, I am in talks with high school football programs in the southeast, little league baseball teams etc,” Higdon continued. “Doesn’t matter if its 13 year olds, 18 year olds or 25 year olds, and regardless of the team they all must have a certain level of commitment. The ‘LetsRide Initiative,’ which means commitment to yourself, to your teammates and your coaching staff is something I came up with. It just kind of evolved into what it is today.”
On Monday morning, the site offered “Texas Orange” shirts featuring white and black lettering with the phrase #Letsride. After the Statesman began making inquiries, the website changed its language during the afternoon and was selling “Dark Orange” shirts.
A similar shirt is available in black with orange and white lettering. Prices range from $22 to $24, depending on size.
Before Strong arrived in Austin prior to the 2014 season, #Letsride was not a part of the UT lexicon. According to the coach’s Twitter timeline, Strong first used the phrase on Feb. 22, 2014, after getting a commitment from Huntsville offensive lineman Buck Major.
A new Twitter account titled @LetsRideSports also was recently created. It’s unclear who controls the account, but @LetsRideSports has tweeted out various inspirational messages. Higdon has retweeted the original message and tagged every player he could fit in the allowed space.
The UT sports information office discourages media from directly tagging players’ Twitter handles in tweets.