Look at the Twitter mentions for any top recruit. Here's what people are saying to Robert Nkemdiche, the top recruit for next year. He's regularly lobbied in the name of just about every SEC school. A few days ago he wondered why Ohio State fans don't tweet him more often.
Clearly, there's a victim here. I don't know who it is. But there's a victim here. The NCAA would like you to believe it can and will do something about this. Tweeting at recruits is considered boosterism, according to NCAA rules, and we're reminded about it every other day or so.
As far as I can tell, the NCAA hasn't recently changed its rules on fans contacting recruits by Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. There actually aren't any other social media sites, but it always feels nice to include that part, just in case. But tweeting at recruits has become a minor hot topic on Wednesday's college football Twitter, and I'm not entirely sure why.
This Oklahoma State paper article from earlier in the week has been passed around some, and this pretty standard tweet was retweeted quite a bit more than the standard tweets of its genre:
That's the McNeese athletic director, who was retweeted by his Mississippi State counterpart, and off we went. So. That's why we're talking about this all of a sudden, even though we're never really not talking about it, as every time a compliance director issues a reminder about the rule*, a chorus of nags follows along**, scolding everyone for breaking NCAA decrees.
As if the NCAA could ever possibly police this. Each major recruit in the country has been publicly solicited by fans of all the schools in his region with any sort of a chance at landing him. The federal government might have an easier time of arresting everyone who's ever illegally downloaded a movie than the NCAA would of penalizing schools and stripping eligibility every time a player gets tweeted at.
If an actual booster were to tweet at a recruit while also giving that player money, then we'd have something. And since we're talking about college sports, at some point very soon a booster will be dumb enough to do just that. They might even film a video of the transaction and post that, too. So that's what we're worried about happening, I guess.
And this isn't meant to be in defense of tweeting at recruits, really. It's thirsty and otherwise needy and is never going to sway the mind of any player who's mind is worth swaying. I'm sure there are players out there keeping track of their follower counts by school. You know that happens. It's just lame enough for a high schooler to spend time doing it. At least one kid spreadsheets his followers, I'm certain.
A player's blooming ego is being fed by both praise and scorn, and a college student's slacktivist energy is being diverted from more worthwhile slacktivist causes. That's the extent of the typical damage.
The upside of all this is that those of us without FBS rooting interests can now declare ourselves boosters simply by tweeting at a top recruit. I might just go tweet at some of Texas' commitments and thus declare myself partially responsible for Mack Brown's contract. That's how it works, yes?
* It's their job to do this (and many of them do a very good job of explaining the rules).
** It's not our job to do this.
While we're here, let's watch some college football videos from SB Nation's new YouTube channel together: