Twitter and Facebook are no longer exclusively for friends and fam. Among others, college coaches and recruiters are now swarming onto the social networks to connect with and impress high school recruits.
NCAA regulations limit the nature and extent to which coaches can use these online tools to communicate with prospective recruits. Fans and boosters, however, are under no such restraints. So, as one of the top football prospects in the State of Mississippi learned during his recruiting process, you’re better off not talking to strangers on Facebook.
In recent weeks, C.J. Johnson, the No. 9-ranked inside linebacker in the country, received a series of disparaging and deceitful messages from his “friends” on Facebook. Johnson committed to Mississippi State as a junior, but re-opened his recruitment after the team’s defensive coordinator left for the University of Texas earlier this month.
Shortly thereafter, a new favorite emerged—the Bulldogs’ in-state rival, the Rebels of Ole Miss [the University of Mississippi]. Word got out, and fans of both programs logged into their accounts to cut down Johnson. Mississippi State fans posed as Ole Miss fans, and vice versa.
Accusations ran rampant. One charged that Johnson’s mother took a high-paying job with an Ole Miss booster.
Said Johnson, per the Mobile [Ala.] Press-Register: “I got a lot of trash talking by both schools on Facebook. When you start getting my mom involved and my family involved, that takes it to a whole other level.”
Indeed. However, the root of the problem was Johnson’s failure to monitor his Facebook page. It’s been reported that he had accepted more than 2,000 friend requests, many from people he knew nothing about and with whom he had zero connection.
On Tuesday, Jan. 25, Johnson committed to Ole Miss and declared his intention to quit Facebook, announcing his decisions on . . . you guessed it, Facebook.
Let this be a lesson to all. For more on managing your social network sites, pick up the Winter 2011 issue of STACK magazine, set to land in high schools in late February.