What the WSU football coaches think of the relaxation of NCAA rules governing the coaches' use of Twitter

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Washington State’s 2017 football recruits have received their official offer letters. On Monday afternoon, this became apparent to anyone on Twitter who’s remotely interested in WSU football as the recruits excitedly tweeted photos of their offer letters.

Then came a barrage of retweets, as the WSU assistant coaches re-dispersed these recruits’ messages via their own Twitter accounts. Monday marked the first day of the NCAA’s new social media rules that now allow coaches to retweet and favorite a recruit’s social media posts even before these recruits sign national letters of intent.

Previously, the rules only gave coaches permission to follow and message a recruit directly on Twitter, but they could not promote a recruit’s posts until after he had signed his NLI.

The new rules allow coaches to do that, but still prevent coaches from commenting directly on a recruit’s Twitter post.

Still, coaches have now been granted a little more latitude in terms of interacting with recruits on social media. Some columnists, such as CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, opined that this would put more time demands on already busy coaches, who would now see a need to court recruits by liking or retweeting them throughout the day.

The Cougars’ assistant coaches are all already active on Twitter. They follow all their recruits and use the platform to monitor what prospects are saying and get a better idea of the character of the kids they’re recruiting. They’ve got mixed feelings about the liberalization of the social media rules.

WSU football Chief of Staff Dave Emerick, who oversees recruiting for the Cougs, said he didn’t think the liberalization of the social media rule would affect the Cougars’ coaches very much because “we are generally pretty aware of what recruits are tweeting out.”

“We won’t have to put much extra time into reading their Twitter accounts, but will have to make the extra effort of hitting ‘retweet’ or ‘like,'” Emerick said in an email on Monday.

Special teams coordinator Eric Mele said the biggest effect of the new rule will probably be that it will clog up everyone’s Twitter feeds with a bunch of retweets, but that he doesn’t think it’ll force him to be present on Twitter any more than he currently is.

“You’ve just got to make sure that if they’re posting some lighthearted stuff and you see it, you have a chance to like it. Or if a guy commits or has an offer, we’ll ‘like’ or retweet it,” Mele said.

Mele estimates that if he adds up all the time he spends on Twitter daily, it would probably average out to about two hours a day.

“Every time there’s dead time wherever I’m at, I’ll scroll through,” Mele said. “This just clouds up Twitter a bit versus the message I’m trying to get out. I tweet some WSU football stuff, some quotes, stuff about my family or past players. Now, there’ll be stuff all over the board.”

Running backs coach Jim Mastro, however, says the new rule will definitely force him to spend more time on Twitter.

“It drives my wife crazy that I’m always on Twitter scrolling through. Any time you have a free second you’re looking down at your phone. I’d say a total of three to four hours a day, you’re looking at your phone,” Mastro said. “I’m already on Twitter. Now you’ll have to really monitor it.

“Not that you want to think the kid is gonna make a determination on where he signs based on how much attention you give him, but you have to be conscious of what’s going on.”

On the flip side, the new social media rule could also give the coaches a window into a recruit’s personality.

“The kids who want to get the retweets, I don’t know if those are the kids you want to get the most, because those are the guys who, its all about them,” Mele said.

Mastro agrees with Mele on the question of whether he might shy away from the sort of recruit who makes a college decision based on the number of times a coach retweets him.

The running backs coach says he operates on this simple recruiting philosophy: “I gotta like the video, but I’ve gotta love the kid,” Mastro says. “To love the kid is to make sure the kid is not that way.”