[Moderated by Matt Jones]
The use of Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets has become a no holds barred form of communication between college sports fans and their favorite athletes—especially uncommitted high school players going through the recruiting process. Fans on Twitter use 160 characters to tell these amateur athletes why such and such school is the one for them. No group of fans has embraced this more than the Big Blue Nation. And to be honest, that kind of scares me.
Since Mark Stoops left Tallahassee for Lexington, there has been an aura of excitement and positivity surrounding the football program that I have never witnessed in my young life, particularly in the area of recruiting. In my view, Twitter has played a huge role in this increased interest in football recruiting. I am not the only one who has taken notice of the #BBN’s commitment to following recruits Twitter accounts. Every time I log onto my account, a new recruit is asking the Wildcat Faithful to follow them— and it works. Rashaad Samples wants five thousand followers? Done. Asiantii Woulard wants Cat fans to follow his best friend’s cousin? Ask and you shall receive.
Other recruits are taking notice of the UK Twitter Goliath as well. Just yesterday, Dwight Williams, a top-ranked linebacker from California reached out to UK fans, asking them to watch his highlight reel. A few hours later, David Kamara, a highly-ranked cornerback out of Georgia asked for Wildcat support to be sent to his account. Until a couple of months ago, I just assumed that these kids were looking to bolster their number of followers to make them look good—however, it appears that the outpouring of love that these kids receive on Twitter from the BBN might actually make a difference. Maybe.
Herein lies the problem. This is still an ongoing experiment. None of these kids who have been the benefactors of UK fans unabashed twit-love (namely Rashaad Samples and Asiantii Woulard) have picked a school yet. Are UK fans simply mercenaries called upon to stroke a recruit’s ego? Or is the Big Blue Twitter Army actually making a difference out there in cyberspace? If they aren’t making a difference, a lot of these UK fans are going to find themselves behind enemy lines after their man-crush chooses to go elsewhere. That no holds barred form of communication I was talking about earlier has proven to be a problem for many Cat fans. Ask Willie Cauley Stein who recently deleted his Twitter account due to hateful tweets directed at him by “fans”.
That is what worries me. If someone like Asiantii Woulard decides to attend school elsewhere, as he is very much entitled to do, how will the hordes of UK fans following him react? Ninety-seven percent of them will quietly unfollow the guy. However, a boisterous three percent will give Asiantii a piece of their mind and what ensues will be shameful to real UK fans everywhere.
So, without going all Digger Phelps on your behinds, I ask the following of the aforementioned three percent: Please keep in mind that although these kids may ask you to follow them on Twitter, they have in no way entered into a binding agreement to attend the school of your choice if you do so. All this being said, go out there and keep showing that twit-love to these guys. They seem to like it. Lastly, please stop making those creepy, fake Twitter accounts of hot girls wearing UK gear to tempt them to Lexington. The recruits might not see through it (although I assume they do—how many girls do you know of with 14 followers and a timeline full of wink face tweets to football recruits?) but I know what you’re up to and it always leads to my imagining: Who really is operating the account? It’s never a pretty thought.
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