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The Vanity Fair: NCAA's social media rule change is a disaster of ego-feeding and enforcement expediency

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The NCAA made substantive social media changes because the old rule was hard to enforce. But, the new rule is going to be a nightmare.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

First, you should probably read this story by Alex Kirschner:

Players like it, but the NCAA's new social media rule could be chaos for coaches - SBNation.com

Traditionally, coaches have been able to follow and private message recruits on social media. But because it was always against NCAA rules to publicize a recruit before signing (as in, a coach cannot publicize the school's recruitment of the player), coaches could not share or "like" a recruit's posts. T

hey had to pretend, online, that players didn't exist. That's all changed. Here's NCAA Proposal 2015-48, passed by the NCAA's legislative council in the spring and taking effect Aug. 1.

An athletics department staff member may take actions (e.g., "like," "favorite," republish, "tag," etc.) on social media platforms that indicate approval of content on social media platforms that was generated by users of the platforms other than institutional staff members or representatives of an institution's athletics interests.

To put it simply, as Anna Hickey does, the substance of the new rule is as follows:

T-Minus one hour last night, and coaches were in a new arms race, to see who could "like," "RT" or "share" social media content from their recruits, sans any commentary whatsoever.

We are barely 12 hours into the new rule, and it has struck with disastrous quickness already. As Bud Elliot explained this morning, "TCU coach Gary Patterson retweeted well over 100 tweets from prospects, which represents almost 3 percent of tweets or retweets he has ever sent."

Tennessee's staff have sent over 100 retweets from its recruits already as well: That's about 8 an hour, every hour, since the rule was changed: once 5 minutes, from the wee hours until now. In fact, from the time this was written until it goes live, Gary Patterson has probably disseminated another 15-16 tweets from prospected he is interested in.

Some recruits love it, and the ones that do really love it: it is another spoonful of self-promotion into the endless maw of the ego monster; teenagers who are exceptionally pampered and praised by media, colleges, and fans, and have their apples polished by millionaire coaches across the country, get a little more "love" and gain another platform for more public praise to show how much a school values them.

Those aren't my words, those are the words of the recruits:

"I guess now we can see how much love these schools genuinely have for us (laughing emoji)," said Jamyest Williams, an elite Atlanta cornerback recruit.

The overwhelming response was that they will be able to see how much a coach really likes them. Yes, recruits can now use likes and retweets as further evidence of a coach's interest.

"Sounds good with me, because I really want to see how much interest they have," said Tyrone Truesdell, a three-star defensive tackle from Georgia.

"Good (flexing arm emoji). At least they will notice me (crying laughing emoji) (100 emoji)," said Jacob Copeland, a star 2018 receiver.

While the NCAA has made an already-easy media policy even easier to enforce, it has done so with unintended consequences as well: It has made coaching staffs become 24/7 monitors of endless social media accounts; it has added another tier of recruiting competition; it, has, in a word, lengthened the recruiting calendar (as well as the days and nights of many interns.) Worse, it has co-opted professionals and turned them into de facto PR departments for many attention-hungry recruits.

That's insane. And, as Alabama commitment Mac Jones said, "that's weird."