published Friday, April 17th, 2009

Epps: Kiffin follows Richt in staying teched up with Twitter


by Darren Epps
Audio clip

Les Miles

Ed Orgeron held a six-hour recruiting meeting last Monday. I know this because Lane Kiffin posted the news on his Twitter account.

Social-networking applications: Not just for glittery icons and status updates on dinner anymore. The latest social-networking craze is closing the gap between coach and fan, school and supporter.

Twitter, for those still trying to figure out Facebook, is a device that enables users to send out short updates — no more than 140 characters — called “tweets.” Friends and family can subscribe to the user and get all updates immediately.

Now, increasingly, so can college football fans. Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez uses Twitter. So does Illinois coach Ron Zook, who even responded to a question recently.

USC’s Pete Carroll “tweets” almost every hour, from organizing a campaign to get comedian Will Ferrell on Twitter to giving updates from the Bruce Springsteen concert to describing a meeting with Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini. Also, I’m fairly sure Carroll does some coaching.

Your two SEC Twitter users (Twits?) are Kiffin (twitter.com/LaneKiffinUT) and Georgia coach Mark Richt (twitter.com/MarkRicht). Kiffin said Thursday that he started a Twitter account because he read Richt uses it. Other schools have a general Twitter account, like “VanderbiltFB.”

“It’s one of those things where you don’t want anybody else doing anything that you’re not,” Kiffin said. “I was reading that Coach Richt had started it and had one, so we wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything that could possibly be a benefit that we weren’t doing. It’s another method of getting out there and letting our fan base or recruits know what we’re doing.”

LSU coach Les Miles admits he’s old-school but, with a laugh, says he “might try to twit.” (Might I suggest twitter.com/TheHat?)

Somehow, I don’t think old coaches such as Vince Dooley had to make these types of decisions. But if Dooley did use Twitter, you know he would write, “OMG LaTech best punting unit in the history of football!”

The first thought of most college football coaches, being college football coaches, is using Twitter as a recruiting device. An NCAA spokeswoman said using Twitter is permissible since the updates are not in direct communication with the prospect and is treated like any blog. But coaches can’t send tweets about prospects.

“I don’t know if it helps you that much in recruiting. I really don’t,” Kiffin said. “If it does, we’re trying.”

Richt already made an impact with Twitter. One of Richt’s “tweets” last week implored his followers — he has more than 2,300 — to bring food items for donation to the G-Day game. Georgia raised more than 12,500 pounds of food, a one-day UGA food bank record. Richt thanked the fans Wednesday with a “tweet.”

“It’s a great way to communicate what’s going on at Georgia,” Richt said.

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks is 67 years old. Rich Brooks does not Twitter.

“I e-mail,” he said.

And Brooks isn’t too concerned about the latest social-networking fad.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot of great information is passed through, and I don’t think it’s much better than e-mail,” Brooks said. “Certainly it’s the new latest phase. It’s one of those things probably in six months or a year from now there will be something replacing Twitter.”

I don’t know, Coach. I just found out Carroll thinks Springsteen’s “Rosalita” is a great song.

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