As mentioned yesterday, Michigan recruit Logan Tuley-Tillman made the remarkably unwise (which is to say, apropos of a 17-year-old) decision to set a recruiting letter from Ohio State on fire—then post a picture of it on Twitter.
What ensued was a firestorm of backlash from angry Ohio State fans, many of whom are ostensibly older than 17, who took to Twitter and Facebook to harass Tuley-Tillman and his family. Some even sent death threats or talked about the Holocaust, according to Tuley-Tillman.
Obviously, word of Tuley-Tillman's harassment spread to other Michigan recruits, this being the Internet and all, and according to Yahoo! Sports, fellow offensive lineman commit Kyle Bosch tweeted a spectacularly ill-conceived show of support for Tuley-Tillman:
OSU fans giving @LoganTillman threats on your way to his house make a stop by mine and I'll show you what a real death threat is #bringagun
Bosch deleted the tweet and later explained on Twitter that he was merely trying to defend Tuley-Tillman, but when dealing with idiots, using the phrases "real death threat" and "bring a gun" is only an invitation for disaster.
That's what this all comes down to in the long run—idiots. Most college football fans aren't idiots. Most Ohio State fans aren't idiots. Idiots have a way of dominating the conversation, though—particularly online—and as such it's always important to keep one thing in mind before you express yourself online: "How would an idiot respond to this?"
By dealing in death threats, intimidation and casual classlessness, Tuley-Tillman, Bosch and however many Ohio State fans were involved all brought themselves down to the levels of idiots.
Grownups don't yell at high school students over what school they choose. Some people over 18 might, but grownups don't. Idiots do.
The Michigan football culture generally does a pretty good job of policing itself in this department. A story about Michigan fans sending death threats to an Ohio State commit, for example, is so incongruous that even anecdotal support of that idea would and should be met with heavy skepticism.
Ohio State fans, then, need to do a better job of suppressing that uglier aspect of their fanbase. It doesn't help when even the local newspaper subtly eggs on the idiots by characterizing the whole incident as "heat[ing] up one of the best rivalries in sports."
Rather than looking at Michigan's discipline on this issue as a sign of simpering weakness (or however the reflexive need to denigrate a rival at every opportunity is expressed), Buckeyes fans need to realize when they're being outclassed and raise their own standards of themselves in response. Anything less is ignorance, and that's never a good look.
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