Not a Bear in Sight. The Bear Patrol Must Be Working.
Illinois has had an odd year. They started 12-0, went 3-8 in their next 11, then reeled off five straight wins. Some people might attribute this to a team that is inconsistent and prone to swings, but Illinois head coach John Groce thinks he knows why they won those last five: his players stopped communicating in 140 character bursts. According to Groce:
"I believe in freedom of speech. But you get off to a 12-0 start and social-media wise, it's like these guys are rock stars. Then you don't play as well, they're scum. I said, 'Fellas, that's the way of the world. The reality is you're not rock stars. You're not scum. You're somewhere in-between.' I wasn't sure we were staying level with social-media stuff.''
Media outlets everywhere jumped at the “Illinois bans Twitter and becomes the ‘85 Bears” angle. Huzzah narrative and all, but let’s unpack this a bit. Groce didn’t implement this ban until the day before the first (and most impressive) win against Indiana. Three of those wins came over (1) Purdue at home, (2) the mangled husk that once was Northwestern, and (3) winless-in-conference Penn State by five points, which YES I KNOW I KNOW I SAW THE THING TOO SHUT UP I KNOW. But the biggest thing is that Groce didn’t prohibit his players from READING stuff, only from WRITING stuff. So they were still all reading all of the stuff they were reading before about being rock stars or scum or whatever. Also, they then lost to Michigan, a team that LOST TO PENN STATE, with the Twitter ban still in place. Besides, the ban is far from a panacea, as it seems to have broken Brandon Paul.
I’m not saying what Groce did had no impact, or that coaches limiting their players’ social media exposure is a bad idea. It prevents a whole bunch of problems that result from giving an 18- to 22-year-old kid a megaphone in a public and emotional realm. But if you’re looking at reasons the Illini got hot, I’d probably give more credit to the resurgence of Tyler Griffey or something like that. Otherwise, there are plenty of other explanations for Illinois’ stellar stretch:
- Illinois was 5-0 after the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III in England, which makes sense, because they finally had some closure and could move on from that whole Plantagent thing.
- Illinois was 5-0 after the Postal Service announced they were eliminating Saturday delivery. According to Brandon Paul, “I guess we figured that if the post office wasn’t going to deliver that the rest of us were going to have to step up. It really put things in perspective, ya know?”
- Illinois was 5-0 after IHOP’s National Pancake Day, because… I mean, does this one need explaining? PANCAKES.
Probably Not True but Saban so Let’s Speculate
An interesting bit of hearsay popped up on Thursday, but vanished almost as soon as it appeared. A guy from New Jersey named Coach Bird, who runs a little football blog, attended a coaching seminar let by your favorite soulless victory machine and mine: Nick Saban. According to Coach Bird's original post, Saban indicated that he once pulled a kid's scholarship offer for when could be generously described as hilariously excessive tweeting:
Coach Bird promptly pulled the post, and indicated that Saban had cited the kid as an example of someone who was not in football for the right reasons, but that he (Bird) does not know if the scholarship was pulled or not.* The odds are pretty good that the source here misunderstood what Saban was saying, and that he may have pulled a kid's scholarship, but not BECAUSE of the 32,000 tweets. After all, even Saban, the king of roster manipulation** has to know that if he DID yoink a scholarship from a kid right before fall camp (something he would never ever ever ever do), and if it WAS for a reason as stupid as volume of tweets, that he shouldn't tell a room full of random people this fact.
But I disagree with Saban's assertion that this verbal diarrhea indicates that the kid "wasn't in it for the right reasons." I think it indicates that this kid has NO IDEA WHAT IS ACTUALLY INTERESTING TO OTHER PEOPLE. Thirty-two thousand tweets is way, way too many tweets for the six months between signing day and the start of camp. Hell, it’s probably too much for six years. It's a tweet every five waking minutes. Imagine keeping a running diary with entries at five minute intervals, and then sharing that with people:
- Great workout today #blessed
- Getting in the car to drive home
- Stuck at a red light
- Light turned green
- Home #safeandsound
- #BreakingBad time
- Still watching #BreakingBad
- More #BreakingBad
- Poop break from #BreakingBad
- Back to #BreakingBad
- #BreakingBad is good
- Great episode of #BreakingBad
For those of you not familiar with Twitter (or the basics of human interaction), this is not acceptable behavior. Take notes, unknown possibly extant Alabama cast-off.
* For the record, I AM NOT SAYING THIS HAPPENED, primarily because Saban's lawyers are undoubtedly better at lawyering than I am at lawyering, and I enjoy not living in a van down by the river. But regardless, we can discuss this in the hypothetical without getting sued, right? Please?
** NOTE TO SABAN'S LAWYER: I mean that in the positive way, not the libel-y way.
This feature is like three weeks old, so I figure it’s about time for a “Best Of” album.
Hugh Freeze - You may remember a couple of weeks ago that Hugh Freeze trolled the non-Ole Miss world by telling everyone to either email their proof of recruiting violations or STFU. Well, because of the awesomeness of FOIA laws, a sports reporter (and Ole Miss grad) named Kyle Veazey requested these emails, and received a good chunk of them [ED: Forgot the link. Click here for enlightenment]. As it turns out, there were only 85. I’ll be honest, this is a poorer than expected showing from the SEC. I had higher hopes for you gentlemen. Beyond that, there weren’t even any really great rants or anything. Among the best:
Look I don’t know who needs to know this but the rumor going around is that (redacted) and his mama are on the way there and she is wired. I know its probably a rumor and I know our school and our coach is doing no wrong but I just thought someone may want to know about this ahead of time. Just a concerned fan. Keep up the good work.
Hope you guys get a ton (of) emails and a few viruses.
I graciously allowed (redacted) to walk on my ground, and he accepted my offer. (Redacted) stole my cookies at lunch. Also they both signed a letter of intent that I drew up on scratch paper, and signed with the University of Georgia.
Go home Hugh, you’re drunk.
One dude even sent a CONGRATULATORY EMAIL
Coach, I saw your Twitter challenge — good for you. As a Gator fan, I can’t be too pleased that your class is this good. That being said, I am glad you took a stand against those that hide behind an IP address to attempt to vilify anyone and anything just to make themselves feel good. Hope the class pans out for you over the next four years- except of course when you play the Gators.
Like I said. Disappointing. What is the point of the internet if people aren’t going to be goaded into pointless flame wars by a coach they’ve never met?
Won’t Somebody PLEASE Think of the Couches - In response to last week’s East Lansing couch-kabob, this appeared online on Thursday:
If this was assembled by a random Michigan fan, it would be amusing. But this came from the Facebook page of the MSU Community Relation Coalition (though it has since been pulled), which makes it outstanding. I applaud this organization for its stance against couch violence, its sense of humor, and its decision to publish in a medium that can’t be easily set on fire.
DING DONG – I think I have changed my mind on last week’s Case of the Curious Wang Punch after watching Tom Crean do this in a timeout huddle:
And then seeing Will Sheehey do this:
Deadspin went so far as to bring in a freeking lip-reader to see what Crean said in that huddle. So you win, Derrick Nix. Either Zeller faked the groin punch, or he retroactively deserved it because of this.
Auf Wiedersehen, Schadenfreude
I asked for some feedback on this little column, and the consensus seems to be “don’t commit hari kiri just yet, but less schadenfreude plz.” And I concur. I will, however, probably continue to be a nagging whiny pain-in-the-ass about people doing stupid stuff with social media.
Today’s case in point comes from the Big 12, where an Iowa State fan showed just how dumb people can be by tweeting some dumb, racist stuff at Elijah Johnson. If you really want to read it, some of it is linked here, but don’t read them. To give you an idea, the part where he tweets directly to Johnson, “I hope you break every bone in your body and never play basketball again in your life” is probably the least offensive part. Long story short, this guy was upset about a player taking advantage of a bad call, and is now under investigation by Iowa State and the ISU PD. Moral of the story: don’t be a dick. You might get in trouble, and if you don’t get in trouble, you’re still a dick.
[Also, please note that this applies to real life, too. Confronting people on the interwebs is bad, but so is physically charging the opposing coach.]