Quantcast

College football coaches turn to Twitter for edge in recruiting - abc27 WHTM

College football coaches turn to Twitter for edge in recruiting

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Recruiting is the lifeline of college coaches and with teenagers using social media like Twitter to communicate, some football staffs have pushed the boundaries of NCAA regulations to reach top high school recruits.

National Signing Day is Wednesday and the stakes are high.

The NCAA allows schools to confirm they're recruiting a specific unsigned prospect, but coaches can't comment on that recruit's athletic ability, how he'd contribute to their team or the likelihood that prospect might commit to a particular school.

Some coaches and staffers are bending the rules, tweeting thinly veiled references to prospects without naming them.

J.R. Sandlin was working as a recruiting analyst at Notre Dame on Dec. 17 when he tweeted, "The DT from KY calling me out. Just wait my man! Just wait! We want you here! Need u to be Irish!" One day later, Sandlin tweeted that "what I like about 'THE' 2014 DT from KY is the explosive power he can generate from his lower body. Truly impressive. The guy is a BEAST!" He didn't name a prospect, but the only defensive tackle from Kentucky being recruited by Notre Dame was Matt Elam of John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown.

The Twitter feed of five-star running back prospect Leonard Fournette of St. Augustine High in New Orleans is filled with references to "Buga Nation." Fournette was still uncommitted on Dec. 18 when LSU coach Les Miles tweeted "Geaux Buga Nation!!!" Miles' message received 782 retweets, including one from Fournette himself. Two weeks later, Fournette committed to LSU.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said the NCAA rules on what a coach says to or about a recruit also apply to social media.

"It doesn't matter if you're doing it when you talk to a reporter or are on social media," Osburn said. "It's the same rule."

Jen Vining-Smith, Notre Dame's assistant athletic director for compliance, said she got several calls from compliance officers at other universities regarding Sandlin's Dec. 18 tweet about the Kentucky prospect. Vining-Smith told Sandlin she could defend the tweet, but she didn't want him tweeting so "pointedly" again.

"I do think it pushes right up to the line. ... You can't make it that identifiable," Vining-Smith said.

Miles was reminded by LSU administration officials to use caution when taking to Twitter to discuss recruiting. He was not admonished, however, because officials determined that Miles had tweeted a phrase which was not a direct reference to Fournette, as opposed to using a publicly known nickname, for example.

"Coach Miles understands that social media gives him the forum to promote his program to tens of thousands of people at any given time," LSU athletic department spokesman Michael Bonnette said in an email to The Associated Press. "He's careful and mindful of the rules when it comes to using social media as a recruiting tool, but he's savvy enough to understand the impact that it can have."

Coaches can tweet to their heart's content to let fans know that "someone" has verbally committed to their school without actually mentioning the recruit by name. And they're doing it all over the country, whether it's Tennessee's Butch Jones tweeting "#BrickByBrick" or Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin tweeting "#Yessir!"

Some coaches, like Alabama's Nick Saban, doesn't use Twitter as a part of his recruiting tactics. But not everyone can afford to take the approach by Saban, who consistently lands top recruiting classes.

Tennessee compliance director Todd Dooley has heard of a coach attempting to contact a recruit via direct message — allowed by NCAA rules — and inadvertently put the note on his actual Twitter feed instead.

Dooley said he doesn't mind if Tennessee's coaches tweet about what places they're visiting on recruiting trips, but he asks them to avoid saying a specific school "or anything that would narrow it down to people being able to identify a specific recruit."

Vining-Smith gives Notre Dame's coaches similar advice.

"If they're going to Texas and if they say, 'I'm heading to Dallas to find some talent' or whatever, well that's fine because there are plenty of people in Dallas they could be going to see," Vining-Smith said. "And my opinion on that is even if we're recruiting one kid from Dallas, I'm still OK with it because Dallas is a big city and there are lots of kids there that have the talent to play at Notre Dame.

"If they're going to Santa Claus, Ind., and there's one high school in that town and they say 'Heading to Santa Claus, Ind.,' I have a different perspective on that. They're specifically saying where they're going and more importantly, it's a little bit more direct as to who they're probably going to see."

Compliance officers are policing one another in an informal checks-and-balances effort.

They often call one another about tweets that might have crossed a line. Then it's up to each school's compliance officer to determine whether the tweet can be defended or needs to be reported.

"In the grand scheme of things, if someone called the NCAA to report a violation about Twitter, they would be like, 'Are you serious? Call us about something about extra benefits or cars being given. Call the schools, because that's how this process is supposed to work,' " Vining-Smith said. "You're really supposed to call each other out."

Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said he doesn't think the NCAA should allow any sort of interaction between coaches and recruits on Twitter, even by direct messaging. He said prospects sometimes use Twitter to play out the recruiting process and get more followers.

"I've seen kids after they commit to a school, lose thousands of followers and they're crestfallen because of it," Farrell said.

Then again, sometimes a tweet doesn't have much of an impact at all.

Shortly after Sandlin tweeted about a "DT from KY," Elam dropped Notre Dame from consideration. Elam announced Thursday he had chosen Kentucky over Alabama.

Naturally, not long after Elam made his pick, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops tweeted, "Great Day for the State of Kentucky and the BBN (Big Blue Nation)!!!"

__

AP writer Tom Coyne of South Bend, Ind., and AP sports writer Brett Martel of Baton Rouge, La., contributed to this report.

  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:00 PM EDT2014-04-25 01:00:42 GMT
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.More >>
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.
    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:08:47 GMT
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
  • Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:57:29 GMT
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
  • Birmingham leaders criticize teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Birmingham leaders criticize teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:40:34 GMT
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
  • Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:39 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:39:08 GMT
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
  • Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:37:50 GMT
    All piping inside the Mark Village Housing Development in Gate City has been replaced, according to Naomi Truman, executive director of the Housing Authority--Birmingham District. Truman told ABC 33/40More >>
    Continuing coverageMore >>
  • Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:06:29 GMT
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>
  • Birmingham man becomes third suspect arrested in Inglenook triple shooting investigation

    Birmingham man becomes third suspect arrested in Inglenook triple shooting investigation

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:44 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:44:18 GMT
    Three suspects charged in connection with a triple shooting in the Inglenook community of Birmingham. (abc3340.com)Three suspects charged in connection with a triple shooting in the Inglenook community of Birmingham. (abc3340.com)
    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham police have arrested a third suspect in connection an investigation into a triple shooting in the Inglenook community.Cedric Willis, 28, of Birmingham, is charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and second-degree assault for his alleged role in a shooting on Apr. 16 that injured three people. Prior to Willis' arrest, investigators charged two other men -- 22-year-old Tradarryl Boykins and 24-year-old Leroy DeBruce -- in connection with the incid...More >>
    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham police have arrested a third suspect in connection an investigation into a triple shooting in the Inglenook community.Cedric Willis, 28, of Birmingham, is charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and second-degree assault for his alleged role in a shooting on Apr. 16 that injured three people. Prior to Willis' arrest, investigators charged two other men -- 22-year-old Tradarryl Boykins and 24-year-old Leroy DeBruce -- in connection with the incid...More >>
Powered by WorldNow