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Thursday, May 13, 2010

No More Tweets for Fox's Hounds

Trey Thompkins doesn't exactly overwhelm anyone's cell phone with his Tweets, but this one from Tuesday afternoon turned a few heads:

"Twitter World, don't expect anymore interesting tweets from me and @TLeslie... Don't ask why but there will be NONE ANYMORE!!!!"

The @TLeslie is teammate Travis Leslie, and the new rule banning the pair -- and, supposedly, the rest of the Bulldogs basketball team -- came from Mark Fox.

But why weren't we supposed to ask why?

Thompkins' Tweet certainly sounded mysterious enough, but Fox, as it turns out, swears there's nothing to it beyond his desire to have his players focused on nothing but hoops.

"I want our players to focus on our team, and I told them I don't want to hear a bunch of Tweets," Fox said. "It's about going into the offseason and getting better."

Seriously? No one Tweeted anything that ticked him off? It's all about focus?

"That's just another distraction," Fox said of players' Twitter accounts. "We've got to focus on going to school, going to work, getting better and earning the respect back for Georgia basketball. I want more focus on that."

OK, I suppose that's understandable. But Fox isn't exactly the old man who doesn't understand these newfangled contraptions like Twitter. In fact, he won an award as the SEC's top Twitterer last year and continues to update fans on all kinds of goings-on, from golf outings to lunch at Weaver D's. The difference, Fox said, is motivation and resonance.

"I did it to get interest back in our program, and I'll still do it some," he said. "But I'm not going to Tweet that I got up and shaved in the morning or what time I went to bed. It's just too much information."

Given the number of Tweets I've read from players that made absolutely zero sense to me, I'm all for sticking to Tweets that either contain legitimate information, interesting tidbits or stinging sarcasm.

But how do Fox's players feel about the new edict? Ah, he doesn't really care.

"I don't know if they accepted it or not, but that's how it is," Fox said. "I haven't completely outlawed it, but I want them to understand the importance of -- it's one thing if you don't expect to be any good and I'm trying to rebuild some confidence in you. A year ago I was just trying to rebuild confidence and pick them up off the ground. OK, well, you're off the ground now, and I expect more. This is just part of it."

Fox's new rule was passed down just as his team started the summer and ended the spring semester, and Fox said he wanted a fresh start. Of course, it also coincided with a bit of love the Dawgs got from ESPN's Andy Katz, being listed in his preseason top 25.

So while Fox is probably being completely honest when he says his motives were to encourage focus on basketball, he may have also been thinking about the importance of reminding his players they haven't earned anything yet.

"Some people think you're going to be good, but you've still got to be good," Fox said. "The goal is to be ranked in the top-25 at the end of the year. I don't think they hang a banner up for the preseason poll."

Now, I subscribe to the Twitter feeds of a number of current and former UGA athletes from various sports, and indeed there are a few sent out that have made me cringe. Last year, Jeff Owens took some heat for his perceived poor eating habits, which were well known due to his routine Tweets about trips to Waffle House. I've gotten more than a few Tweets about players out downtown at rather late hours. I've read plenty of Tweets about players and the girls they've befriended -- though none particularly tawdry or revealing.

On the other hand, players like Mike Moore and Rennie Curran routinely post some exceptional comments that are not only an enjoyable read but provide some firsthand insight into just how hard these players work and how seriously they take their jobs.

All that is to say, I can see why coaches could see Twitter as a potential problem. I can also understand why fans would think it's a great way to feel a bit closer to the players they root for.

So what do you guys think? Do you like being able to read the thoughts of many of UGA's players via Twitter? Or do you think it's a scandal waiting to happen?


ULIKA BBQ said...

I like AJ Green's tweets of Wooten sleeping in class.

ULIKA BBQ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Didn't Leslie have a tweet last week about meeting with Marcus Thornton? Do you think that had something to do with that...I imagine that's an NCAA no-no?

Anonymous said...

Upon seeing Leslie's tweet earlier this week, I thought to myself..."you idiot!! You can't do that!!" I think the prospect of a secondary violation that may cost them contact time with Thornton is behind this 100%...

Anonymous said...

I don't care what's behind it. I like Mark Fox and his discipline. This team has a chance to be good next year, but it starts in the off season. It's time to look forward to the future and bury Jim Harrick and they years of misery he has put over this program. This team can bury that past for us!

Anonymous said...

I follow several football players, and while most of them are
entertaining, a couple of our players seem to have forgotten the public can read their nonsense. I have wondered many times how long it will be before they are told to knock it off. Even Michael Moore tweeted several weeks ago that he can't believe some of what he reads on Twitter. Some of the language is really bad, and they have used it to make fun of other students. One or two players are going to ruin the fun for everybody.

Anonymous said...

These boys were brought here to be athletes. Get off Twitter/Facebook/Myspace and get in the weight room, get on the practice field, and get back to making UGA a power this year. Basketball is on the rise and football needs to redeem itself from last year. They need to concentrate on that more than the narcissism-ridden websites I just mentioned.

19th Hole Dawg said...

Consider this:

What's the best thing that can come out of twitters by athletes?

Entertainment for fans, D Hale, interesting tidbits.

Compare that with the worst things that can come out of tweeting...

Scandal, misinformation, leaks, maybe loss of focus, too much information-type tweets.

The benefits for the team just don't justify the potential worst case scenarios.