POINT: IF YOU DON'T LIKE TWITTER RECRUITING THEN YOU HATE AMERICA.
by Chuck GBH
Football has been around a long time, and over that time the nature of technology and communication has evolved and shaped the way that high school recruits determine where they will matriculate. In the old days a coach wouldn't even speak to a recruit until he had met the recruit's father and they had agreed on a proper dowry. Once the requisite number of goats had been delivered, that commitment was binding from age 8 until the recruit was of proper age to leave his family and become a servant of his betrothed.
Well that was then and this is now.
Recruiting is a cutthroat world and now the recruit has all the power in deciding the school at which he will play football and occasionally attend classes. Part of this wonderful new world is Twitter, a direct line to the recruit's brain which can be accessed by anyone with a wise and noble vision or at least the ability to use dial-up internet.
Recruiting used to be a careful dance where coaches tried to lure players without a misstep that could turn them away to a rival. Well this ain't no damned cotillion anymore. The only way to properly guide a recruit is to allow strangers to send hateful messages directly to his pocket any time that they have had to much to drink, gotten fired from work, or failed to perform sexually. This is a scientifically proven fact.
An added bonus for the casual fan is that this new wild west recruiting frontier allows everyone in the world to read a recruit's Twitter mentions and extrapolate wild theories about his intentions. Until recently the only way to gain access to poorly informed conjecture was to subscribe to paywall sites. There is now an open market for crackpot theories, which is good for the consumer and good for the free market economy.
Those who would abolish interacting with recruits on Twitter advocate for taking away their power and once again indenturing them to an archaic system. At the same time they deny Americans access to a host of free-of-charge recruit conjecture and bullshit. Well I come from America where freedom rings and capitalism rules. If you don't like it, you can just leave.
COUNTERPOINT: TWITTER IS GOING TO LAND YOU IN JAIL.
Universities have become giant vans advertising "free candy" in this new frontier of fan recruiting. Promises of early playing time, hot and ready co-eds, and national championships are the candy dangled to lure blue chip players to the van. "Come over. Have some cookie cake. Follow back please. I see you." Then there's the accursed "edit" game where middle-aged fans Photoshop uniforms onto child athletes. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
If you must know, I have a memory, hopefully false, of making an edit for Daylon Mack back when he was favoring McNeese State. The deviltry of it all. "Go on, you're just drumming up some retweets and pageviews." Another voice nagging, "Go outside before you die."
Today around lunchtime, I looked to see what Kyler Murray had favorited. If you're not on Twitter, this is the equivalent of looking through a man's garbage to find out what he likes. His favorites had gone down by two from 1,100 to 1,098. God, why had I not tracked what he was favoriting? Did he unfavorite pro-A&M tweets? Longhorn tweets? Had he favorited things that have since been deleted? WHY DID I KNOW HOW MANY FAVORITES HE HAD PREVIOUSLY?
I, along with countless others, am sick; swept up in an endless pursuit of trivial information to uncover clues about a teenager's college leanings. Worse still, look at the mentions for Kyler or any top recruit in the country. Actually, don't. It's like watching a couple minutes of The Bachelor. One day you look back and can't remember when you became Barrett Sallee.
Yo Crazy Auburn Ashley got sent home? No way. She was weird and awesome. #TheBachelor— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) January 27, 2015
But let's move beyond the surface horror that thousands of men are stalking the football youth of America and recognize that tweets are meaningless because of our irrationality as fans. Every song lyric, mundane thought about a girl, and emoji are perceived to be relevant to your school's recruitment of that player. We seek out only information which supports our belief that this player is going to commit to our school (or spurn us for a rival). We've already arrived at our conclusion so we will ignore a tweet that says, "The Tigers suck" and put great weight on that same person following a Tiger U coach. It's embarrassing.
ACTION PLAN: Get rid of everything to do with recruiting on Twitter even if you have to take down the whole website. Confine people like me to pockets of the internet where others have to pay to visit. This keeps normal people away which is better for everyone. Return to the days of scarce information when recruiting message boards were protected by industry gatekeepers who are worshipped as gods. Shut down the ability for subscribers to gossip incessantly about what a 16-year-old wore to school. Burn it all.
Note: I am compiling recruit tweets for an article tomorrow. If you see any good ones, let me know in the comments section below.
COUNTER-COUNTERPOINT: WHO THE HELL CARES?
by Dr. Norris Camacho
Ahh, recruiting time. For a month after football ends, we recklessly cling to a life raft made of toothpicks tied together with dental floss pretending that the whims of 17 year-old high school students is sport. It's the parsley on a steak; the wilted strips of lettuce on a massive burrito. Or perhaps the salt on the rim of a margarita: sure it might add a complementary tang for a bit, but who the hell needs to eat an entire tablespoon of coarse rock salt for every cup of acidic sweet tequila-enhanced syrup they consume?
Not this fan. If you placed me on a desert island and forced me to decide between recruiting coverage and nothing but the entire library of The Nanny episodes as entertainment, I'd have to think about it. Hard. The current amplification of recruiting's significance is like if we all gave intense scrutiny to a bunch of trees growing in the forest--admiring their sap content, measuring their span of foliage, speculating on potential leaf count--then celebrating and gloating when your favorite tree is selected before abruptly forgetting about it for a year. Then, looking at the final product many months later, thinking "you know...this is an okay rocking chair."
So count me out. I view the recruiting news cycle as a series of minor somewhat-relevant events whose only true value lie in the vastly inappropriate reactions they engender. Recruiting Twitter is a cadre of unwitting trolls whose inadvertently subtle brilliance is largely overlooked due to the over-eagerness of its audience to engage in absurd vicarious one-upmanship. It's my soap-opera: I'll readily admit to watching it on occasion, just don't ask me to name any of the characters. Let's get into the meat of the off-season and stop grasping at parsley and toothpicks.
Now please excuse me while I go zoom a pic of a recruit's kitchen up to 6400% so I can attempt to decipher meanings in the arrangement of refrigerator magnets.