Published January 28, 2011 - 10:48am
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Facebook and Twitter. Easily the most impactful technologies to have been created in recent years, maybe ever. When one of the first actions of an Egyptian government that is threatened by mass protests and unrest is to shut down Twitter, you know it is a powerful tool.
In the college football world, the impacts are also large, and we’re just starting to see some of the consequences and changes.
Saturday Down South had the opportunity to participate in an ESPN conference call prior to the BCS games this past month where members of the media were able to ask Lou Holtz and Mark May questions – questions about the upcoming games, questions about college football in general.
When the moderator called out SDS, we posed the question to Lou and Mark on technology. Specifically, how has technology changed the game, how has technologies like Twitter and Facebook changed the way a coach has to manage a team, how has it changed recruiting, etc. Interestingly, it was the elder Lou Holtz who had the longer, more in-depth answer.
Lou started off his response by explaining how it worked back in the old days when he was head coach at Notre Dame. Dealing with the media was completely different then he said. Each year, prior to the start of the season, Lou would invite the local sports media guys over to his house for dinner. There was an element of relationship – they knew each other. They also had an element of trust.
Next, Lou said talk radio became popular, and it changed things because now an average Joe who knows nothing about football all of a sudden had a platform to spout off his views on a team or a player or a coach. For the first time, a person who didn’t have a relationship with the coach now had a voice. Obviously, Lou hated it.
Talk radio was nothing. Enter the internet and enter the world of blogging. Now the average Joe could create a presence and not only have a voice but compete with bigger companies and bigger voices. I think it is safe to say that Lou isn’t a fan of how internet has changed the way sports are covered. Lou probably does not read Saturday Down South. No worries, Lou.
Facebook and Recruiting
One of the more interesting story lines of this recruiting season is how Facebook may have caused CJ Johnson to move away from Mississippi State and commit to rival, Ole Miss. CJ Johnson has said that he was sort of harassed on Facebook by people he didn’t know (but possibly “friended”). All of a sudden the public has an avenue of access to these big name recruits. Side note: these recruits want to be “the man” before they even step foot on a college campus. This facebook story (while unfortunate) is also a by product of the recruiting culture that now exists where these guys are given their Lebron James moment to announce where they are going.
Moreover, there have been a few fan bases that have created Fan Pages trying to lure recruits to their school. No recruit this season is bigger than Jadeveon Clowney. The Jadeveon Clowney for South Carolina fan page has over 3,000 fans.
Yes, I would say that the interaction between Facebook and recruiting is just beginning. Look for fans to get more crazy and look for ego-driven recruits to either soak it up and encourage it or, like in CJ Johnson’s case, get upset about it.
Lastly, there’s Twitter. The chosen medium for most celebrities and athletes. As the growth of Twitter spreads, now even the high school recruits are getting their Twitter accounts lined up while still in high school. Starting the process to learn how to communicate with the world has to start in 10th grade of course.
Yesterday, BYU basketball player Jimmer Fredette was the topic of talk radio and twitter. The reaction from Jimmer himself? He officially created his twitter account of course! It was type to maximize the moment, and also manage his “public image.”
A few weeks ago, ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt had to create his own account after someone created an account in his name, and then decided to “come out of the closet.” Of course, this was all fake, and Van Pelt’s hand was forced. His new twitter account was appropriately named: notthefakeSVP.
If you haven’t had the chance to read the gem over at EDSBS, former Gator, Will Hill shows you how one can make oneself look like a complete jackass by using the Twitterverse. You can be sure that NFL teams will be examining Will Hill’s open-to-the-world Twitter record when evaluating the intangibles such as character, intelligence, sanity, etc. You can be sure that these tweets will indeed cost Mr. Will Hill some money.
Lastly, how about the recent altercation between Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and Antonio Cromartie who told Hasselbeck over a tweet that he was going to “smash his face in.” Ah, yes. Very nice.
You can be sure that the way we interact with the athletes of the college football programs we love will continue to evolve as Twitter and Facebook become an even bigger part of our every day lives. These communication tools are very powerful, and can be used as an effective way to communicate, or in the cases of Will Hill, they can be used to showcase how stupid you are.
Privacy is eroding for most people that are not intentional about keeping it. For the ego-driven athlete or high school recruit, privacy is a much lesser concern than increasing one’s fame. Fame and fortune will continue to drive these folks and the pursuit will increasingly show its face in Tweets, Facebook updates and more.