This next generation of teens-turning-into-twentysomethings, though not too far removed from my own age, grew up in a world where the internet was a part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Seventeen and eighteen year olds may not really know what it is like to come-of-age offline. Still, they should be smart enough to at least make all of their shit private. But when you are being recruited by a college football program with near limitless money at their disposal, a puny little privacy setting may not make much a difference.
One Penn State recruit learned this the hard way, according to PSU O-Line coach Herb Hand. Hand tweeted (as you can see above) about “dropping” a prospect because of his social media presence. This morning, Hand retweeted a link to a Bleacher Report piece on the draft, specifically calling out this passage:
“‘We have every tweet they have ever made,’ said one front-office executive who requested anonymity for competitive reasons. ‘When we interview them, we’ll ask them about their tweets. Some of them tweet about drugs, about ”bitches.”
It makes sense that a recruiter would stop looking at a player because of the things they say and do on social media. Going back even just ten years, these recruiters had to take the word of the person they were looking at, or take what they were seeing at face value. They never really knew. Now, they have the ability to dig deeper and see what prospects are doing when they aren’t watching. For those targets, it might not be who you are, but it’s the image you’re giving off. It’s an additional point of power for teams and coaches, and they likely believe those tools can be used to spot characters flaws (and therefore, future disciplinary issues) from a mile away.
The problem comes with talking about it.
If you want to endear yourself to a fan base that — even in the wake of Sandusky — mostly just wants to win, you can drop as many prospects you want, just don’t go around boasting about it. It’s one thing to warn other potential prospects to clean their act up, and it’s another to near-brag about it. Hand learned that by learning more about the “social media presence” of quite a few people.