College Football and Social Media, What to Do? Part 1

October 2nd, 2009 |


Interactive Marketing Consultant for The Ocean Agency, recent college graduate, and fan of all things social, whether online or off. To find out more about what I do online, go here

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has taken a stand against Twitter, and social media in general. According to Fanhouse, he made it clear that “Anybody that wants to play for us doesn’t have a Twitter page.”

This firm stance against the micro-blogging service stemmed from an incident where a player tweeted a sarcastic comment about the coach being late to a team meeting. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, linebacker Marlon Williams wondered why he was still in a meeting room when “the head coach can’t even be on time.” Since then, the tweet has been deleted and his page  is now where to be found.

This little Twincident (yeah, I just made that up, see if it takes off), begs a larger question. Who is in the wrong? Moreover, should the NCAA come up with social media policies similar to the NFL or the NBA ?

I understand why Coach Leach would be frustrated with that Tweet. As a college football coach, you are constantly being judged by people who think there is always someone better for the job. Twitter just gives them fodder, especially when it comes from a player after a loss.  As a college football coach it is also kind of cool to be “old school” and reject technologies that give attention to specific individuals and take away from a team game.

Should college football coaches embrace new technologies and social media?

On the one hand, it is very helpful for recruiting. The more channels of contact you have to a recruit, the better your chances of getting them. The downside is that social media can really over-inflate the already over-inflated egos of top college football recruits. Having a fan base on social networking sites can definitely steal their attention from executing on the football field.

Do risks associated with social media, such as breaking up team chemistry and creating fan favorites outweigh the positive aspects of social media in college football? How do you think college coaches should deal with Twitter and Social Media? If you were to create a Social Media best practices guide for the Texas Tech football team, what would it say?

In Part II next week, I’ll take your comments and ideas into account and make a best practices guide.

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Daniel Prager
  • Jackie

    I don’t know if there’s one overarching answer for this question, but should really be considered for each football coach/program. The simple truth is that not EVERYONE is cut out for Twitter, especially some of the “old” school coaches (ahem…JoePa). When I think about it in my mind, I can picture a coach’s account being handed over to an assistant and not even tweeting himself. Essentially, I don’t think there’s a set criteria, but it has to be a good “fit” for the coach and he has to be committed to it for it to be successful.

    • Daniel Prager

      Hey Jackie,

      Thanks so much for responding. You are absolutely correct that there is no cookie-cutter policy for each specific football program. I do believe that each major program could have similar social media goals however– building fan engagement and spreading of accurate information.

      You are absolutely right that a social media plan takes dedication and time, especially at the outset, something that most division 1 football coaches don’t have. It truly is a dilemma. Stay tuned for the guide lines in part II !

  • Jake Rosen

    Daniel, great post. It is always hard educating the old guard on the size, impact and growing importance of social media. I remember a time when I was discussing social media with the Athletic Director of a certain D-I school in the midwest. He was upset that he even had to entertain the idea of listening to these “no-nothing” fans.

    My advice to any athletic department, coach or athlete is that people are talking. Whether you care to listen or not they are conversing and making their opinions public. Not only should they be listening to this conversation, but they should be taking part. Creating a profile, account, blog or whatever else gives some of the power back to the school. They can try to guide conversation in a particular direction, correct rumors, release news that they wish to share and ultimately build better relationships with the fans.

    Refusing to enter into the space is a mistake, especially when some competing schools are taking the social media leap.

    I think this is an important topic and one your should continue to push through for more insights.

    • Daniel Prager

      Hey Jake,

      Thanks so much for commenting. I definitely agree that coaches need to begin to understand and harness the power of social media. Especially when it comes to big time division 1 athletics, there is so much speculation and rumor constantly floating around. Any time you have passionate fans, you also have rumor mongers and muckrackers.

      No longer can a coach control the flow of information, but they can make sure the right information is out there. This is where coaches can utilize social media to their advantage. Fans want to be behind the scenes, and hungry for information. Use a social media platform to become more transparent and give the fans accurate information directly to get them on your side.