It's not as though a head football coach the caliber of Bob Stoops is unfamiliar with making headlines. It's not even as though this is the first time Stoops has made headlines this summer. But his most recent comments, coming at Tuesday's Big 12 Media Days, with respect to social media are sure to draw a lot of attention given the significantly increased presence sites like Twitter have taken on in the world of college football.
In a very well written and fascinating article from Carey Murdock of SoonerScoop.com, Murdock specifically addressed with Stoops the current state of recruiting and the role Twitter is playing. Stoops' response was a very surprising one considering his previous stance on social media and frankly, his history on being resistant to change.
"That's something that's becoming a part of it," said Stoops when asked if he had concerns about fans contacting recruits on Twitter. "We may hire you to govern our social media with the fans."... "I'm not kidding," he said. "I don't see it stopping. Once things get rolling, it's not stopping."
You read that right.
Bob Stoops just suggested that OU fans need to contact recruits on Twitter more than they may already be doing now. Our friends at the mothership seem to think Stoops might have been kidding with his comment.
With the context Murdock provided and knowing Stoops as well as I'd like to think I do, I can assure you he was not kidding.
Now he may come out a week or however long from now and back off and/or clarify his comment, but Stoops rarely says things publicly that he does not believe. To call him guarded when speaking in public would be a massive understatement, so it's not as though he has a history (aside from possibly the last several months) of making bizarre public statements only to later completely contradict himself.
The hoopla this most recent comment has created lies mainly in the fact that in saying what he said, Stoops essentially encouraged OU football fans to commit an NCAA violation.
Say you are a fan of Oklahoma football or really any program for the purposes of this example. You support your team. Maybe you're a season ticket holder. Maybe you just go to the occasional game. Maybe you've never been to a game in your life. Maybe you are someone with the financial means to donate to the program and/or university or maybe you've never given OU a penny.
By NCAA standards, none of that matters. If you are someone who "supports" OU football, be that through financial means or simply by being a fan, the NCAA considers you to be a 'booster.' Which means, at least in their eyes and the current definition, you are considered to be a representative of the program. Which therefore prevents you from contacting a prospective recruit without it considered to be an NCAA violation.
Even if you, for whatever reason, feel compelled to tweet "Boomer Sooner" to a recruit, which on it's surface probably seems pretty harmless, that's an NCAA violation.
It is a minor violation at best, one they have never enforced, and have shown no plans and/or interest to do so. Nonetheless, by the letter of the rule it is still a violation. And a prominent coach the likes of a Bob Stoops publicly suggesting that OU fans should do more of this will probably catch the attention of the NCAA.
Oklahoma even has a pretty extensive section of their official team website dedicated to educating OU fans on this very matter. Including, a full page write-up on whether or not you are considered to be a booster. And yet here is their head football coach publicly suggesting to do pretty much the exact opposite of what the compliance department would like for you to do.
On the one hand, you can understand where Stoops is coming from. If other school's fans are actively seeking out recruits on Twitter and the NCAA isn't going to do anything about it, why shouldn't Oklahoma fans do the same?
However, on the other hand why do grown men and/or women need to be contacting high school kids to tell them "Boomer Sooner" as if (1) they have nothing better to do and (2) that would play any kind of role in said high school kid choosing to play at Oklahoma?
There is no denying the social media world that we live in and there are no signs of it going away or slowing down anytime soon. There is also no denying that Twitter has changed the face of college football recruiting as we know it. However, the progress that needs to be made is on the part of the Oklahoma coaching staff not the fans.
Any OU fans who were already contacting recruits didn't need Stoops to tell them to do it. And they aren't going to stop doing it if they read this or any other of the countless other similar articles urging fans not to do this kind of thing.
So to suggest that It's simply not necessary and that, in the eyes of many, it's just pathetic will more than likely fall on deaf ears.
But if it comes from Bob Stoops himself, OU fans are sure to listen. I'm just not sure for someone who is as new and self-admittedly not very educated when it comes to the world of Twitter, I'm not entirely sure Stoops is aware of the door he opened with this comment.