College football players get scrutinized on social media. That's one of the anti-perks of taking the world's highest-profile unpaid internship. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, perhaps the 2015 Heisman Trophy front-runner, is probably most famous for his brutally honest 2012 tweet about not being at Ohio State to "play school." SMU, struggling to drag itself out of its half-decade long June Jones-led malaise under new coach Chad Morris, showed just how seriously it takes the social media habits of guys who aren't even on scholarship yet Thursday.
We have a team of people who monitor what recruits are putting on social media. Watch what you tweet and retweet. pic.twitter.com/MNjrwSbuEd— SMU Coach Van Malone (@SMUCoachMalone) September 16, 2015
The photo and tweet are from SMU's defensive coordinator, Van Malone. The redacted dossier — we're trying to cross-check and figure out who it is — reports on a couple of weeks of Twitter monitoring for one of SMU's 21 players who've already committed to the school for the 2016 season. As anyone who's read even a handful of Twitter bios knows, retweets are not endorsements, but SMU sure as hell acts like they are. The commit in question has no "misconduct" — a really bizarre word choice for candor on social media — on his Twitter account, according to the the team of people Malone says the SMU athletic department has tracking a bunch of teenagers on social media, beyond the inappropriate language and videos in the tweets of others he's reposted.
As SB Nation's Rodger Sherman and Bud Elliott point out, an analysis like this of anyone but the whitest of white bread individuals on social media is probably going to reveal something that might make grandma uncomfortable. It's the nature of the beast. Still, potential major college athletes should take note: This is the absurdity you're in for as soon as you so much as get in contact with a school.
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Reaction to Malone's disclosure has been mixed.
@SMUCoachMalone of course you do. You have all the money & power & run a plantation system— Snarky Ginger (@snarkyRedhd) September 16, 2015