The Toledo Blade’s David Briggs has a good story up on how vitriolic things can get for a high-profile recruit when said 16- or 17-year-old makes a life-changing decision on his future.
The short answer: Fans on the fringe, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, now have a direct line to high school juniors and seniors to berate them for committing or decommitting to a school. This quote in Briggs’ article from Tom Lemming sums everything up pretty well:
“Social media can really screw up a program,” said Tom Lemming, a national recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “I call them cyber muscles instead of beer muscles. When something doesn’t go their way, they spew their hatred because they’re anonymous. … They can’t say it, but all the coaches privately wish the fans would just shut up.
“Since they’re not on the field coaching or playing, they want to have some small part in this, whether it’s praising a kid and building him up as a legion of sycophants or … turning on the players viciously.”
First of all, it’s against NCAA policy for a fan to tweet at a recruit. It’s also entirely unenforcable — the NCAA isn’t going to slap a sanction on a private citizen for tweeting “f*** you” at a 17-year-old.
Yes, every time a five-star commits to Michigan over Ohio State, it’s going to sting. But we were all teenagers once, and making massive life decisions was a pretty terrifying task.
Thankfully, most of this stuff happens on the fringes of a fanbase. But the easiest rule to follow tomorrow: Don’t tweet at recruits.