More and more, coaches across the country are using social media in general and Twitter specifically as a recruiting tool, using those types of sites to connect with potential recruits and continue to build a relationship with the players who could end up on their squad. Conversely, some coaching staffs are using it to weed out a potential problem child.
Case in point? Arkansas’ Bret Bielema.
At Day 3 of SEC Media days Wednesday, Bielema took to the podium and made it perfectly clear to all prospective recruits that you’d better keep your social media nose clean — and the rest of your private life for that matter — if you want to play for the Razorbacks on his watch.
“We have a social media background screening that you have to go through,” the third-year Arkansas coach stated. “And if you have a social media nickname or something on your Twitter account that makes me sick, I’m not going to recruit you. I’ve turned down players based on their Twitter handles, I’ve turned down players based on Twitter pictures.
“That’s how I choose to run our program and it’s the thing that [athletic director] Jeff Long and our fans hold me accountable to and I’m never going to waver in it.”
Bielema’s answer came after he was asked a general question about recruiting, the answer of which eventually morphed into “you recruit your own problems” and, ultimately, the social media nuggets above.
“You have to recruit the player that fits your program,” said Bielema. “I’m not going to go after these guys… I learned a long time ago [former Iowa head] coach [Hayden] Fry used to say all the time, ‘you recruit your own problems.’ And all he was saying to us was as assistant coaches is, if you want to recruit a young man who’s going to cause you to have gray hairs, or make you stay awake on Friday night, or make you have an issue that you don’t want to deal with, then you recruit him.
“But if you want to recruit somebody of high character and value, someone that you can trust not only to watch your house but your children, someone that you can count on to share carries of 1,000 yards each rather than trying to get 1,800 for one, now you’re going to build something that matters. It’s a bunch of we, not me and I can’t stress enough that just because you’re a great player in the United States of America, it doesn’t mean Arkansas’ going to recruit you.”
So there you have it, recruits. Don’t say that you haven’t been warned if you have yours eyes — and heart — set on playing football in Fayetteville under Bielema. And, if you go by our Police Blotter on the right-hand side of the page, Bielema practices what he preaches.
Since Bielema took over the Razorbacks in December of 2012, two of his Razorbacks have been arrested. The first was defensive lineman Austin Flynn, who charged with driving while intoxicated, careless driving and no proof of insurance in mid-February of 2013; he “transferred” a month after that incident. The second, in February of this year, was defensive end Tevin Beanum, who was charged with suspicion of driving while intoxicated and illegal possession of alcohol; while he wasn’t dismissed or didn’t “transfer,” Bielema took his keys away.
At Wisconsin, and noting that our blotter only goes back to November of 2010, Bielema had an arrest involving one Badger — defensive lineman Jake Irwin on disorderly conduct and battery charges. Irwin was outright dismissed in September of 2011, less than a week after his arrest.
UPDATED 4:42 p.m. ET: And, as I was typing up the above post, the following happened.
You win. Bret. You win. Everyone can go home. The rest of Media Days across all conferences can officially be cancelled as nothing will top that.