Column: In the Big Ten, you’ll never guess who’s retweeting the most recruits (Hint: It’s Jim Harbaugh)
Darn right, retweets are not endorsements. They’re great big freaking digital hugs. The millennial high-five.
A generation ago, the most pals within earshot quantified the biggest dog on campus. In 2016, it’s the most “followers.” If you want to figure out what the hell Ferris Bueller is up to now, try Snapchat.
If life really is just one giant high school popularity contest — and Heaven help us, that’s actually true in some professional circles — then the coolest kids are the ones whose output winds up getting shared the most.
Which is sort of how real high-schoolers see the world at present anyway. And why Aug. 1 was either the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, depending on the speed of one’s thumbs.
That’s when new NCAA legislation officially went into effect that allows coaches to retweet and like tweets from potential recruits. They can even share those posts on their own social media feeds such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, as long as they don’t reply to or expand upon them.
Or as the righteous dudes like to say these days, #ClickDontType.
Naturally, the finer points are a barrel of laughs:
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) July 30, 2016
Minutiae aside — and even when the NCAA washes its hands of something, it can’t help but throw out a qualifier or six before leaving the bathroom sink — it means the retweet race is officially on.
Fair question, then: So who was the fastest out of the Twitter gate in the Big Ten, anyway?
You’ll never guess.
Actually, you will.
Just humor us anyway.
Here’s a check of the five most popular head coaching Twitter accounts in the Big Ten based on followers as of midnight Aug. 3, ranked by retweets related to recruits:
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (627,000 followers): 24 retweets
- Mike Riley, Nebraska (153,000 followers): 14 retweets
- Mark Dantonio, Michigan State (83,000 followers): 1 retweet
- Urban Meyer, Ohio State (677,000 followers): 0 retweets
- James Franklin, Penn State (132,000 followers): 0 retweets
Captain Khaki, no shock, nearly lapped the rest of the field, sometimes in between posts about the Wolverines’ line of new Nike Jumpman threads. It should be noted that Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst aren’t on the platform, and now look all the wiser for it.
And yet, once the new rule went into effect, even The Harbaugh Social Media Mechagodzilla couldn’t hold a candle to one of its southern peers. Because here’s how the most popular SEC head coach accounts stacked up:
- Butch Jones, Tennessee (563,000 followers): 108 retweets
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas (182,000 followers): 20 retweets
- Les Miles, LSU (269,000 followers): 12 retweets
- Jim McElwain, Florida (83,200 followers): 1 retweet
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn (159,000 followers): 0 retweets
- Kirby Smart, Georgia (70,600 followers): 0 retweets
Either Jones is very bored, or he’s got a very diligent — and possibly very, very, very underpaid — staffer chasing down all these teens and their accounts, spreading the love.
Because kids — the cool kids, or those who seek to be considered as such — want that validation. And if you don’t necessarily buy that, well, we offer up this sampling of top football recruits, via a recent post at SB Nation:
“I guess now we can see how much love these schools genuinely have for us (laughing emoji),” said Jamyest Williams, an elite Atlanta cornerback recruit.
The overwhelming response was that they will be able to see how much a coach really likes them. Yes, recruits can now use likes and retweets as further evidence of a coach’s interest.
“Sounds good with me, because I really want to see how much interest they have,” said Tyrone Truesdell, a three-star defensive tackle from Georgia.
Sharing is caring, kids.
Let the clicking begin. Also, the facepalming.
You can reach Sean Keeler via email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @seankeeler