An Open Letter to Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin: Please Ban Aggies from Twitter
Dear Coach Sumlin,
First of all, on behalf of Aggie fans everywhere, thanks for the 2012 season.
Thanks for taking a program that was supposed to bomb in the SEC to a tie for second place in the West, an 11-2 finish and a final AP ranking of No. 5.
Thanks for the first Heisman since 1957, the epic 29-24 victory over No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 10 and the first double-digit win season since 1998 when R.C. Slocum was still the guy.
Yes, Coach Sumlin, suddenly you have our beloved football program back on the national radar and College Station, Texas back on the map of gridiron relevancy.
But Coach, with all this said and the due respect that your work in Aggieland so richly deserves, we offer up a simple request to go along with our deepest gratitude.
Our plea is simple and actually has nothing to do with how Texas A&M plays football; nay, our appeal doesn’t regard how you run the offense, the defensive packages you employ or even the retooling of the O-line for the upcoming season.
We’re just simply requesting that you ban your players, all of them, from Twitter.
The latest example of the negative impact of this stalwart of social media is obviously our beloved Johnny Manziel’s retracted tweet that temporarily told the world that—according to a recent article by My San Antonio—he couldn’t wait to leave College Station due to a parking ticket.
Though the controversy and upheaval caused by this momentary lapse in judgment will no doubt blow over as the 2013 season draws near, why subject the program and young guys like Manziel to the bloodthirsty media which lurks online, ready to jump on even the slightest misstep?
Indeed, the whole world seemed to forget that Manziel and company are just 18- to 23-year-old guys who are prone to making mistakes, a scenario that explodes when you introduce a slick, unforgiving vehicle like social media.
Coach, you said it yourself about Manziel and Twitter in an article this month posted on Yahoo! Sports' Dr. Saturday section.
He is who he is…There are things he has done that he wished he could take back, there are other things that are just a part of him being who he is. Everyone has their opinion of what should happen, but his world is a lot more public than even three or four years ago for someone winning the Heisman because of Twitter and Instagram and all the attention.
And to put a finer point on it, you offered up the following sage advice from the sidelines in the same piece by Yahoo: "It’s like anything else. The people who know him understand a lot more of who he is than the people who seem him through Twitter and Instagram."
Really, Coach, you have to ask yourself who really benefits from Aggie football players being on Twitter other than the media—which, again, are just lying in wait for a dubious tweet?
On the one hand, it’s a good thing that suddenly the national college football audience, a group that wouldn’t have given a flip about Aggie football during the 2012 offseason, is hungry for A&M drama.
But on the flip side, this is the kind of thing that has to be kept in check at a major college football program that is rising rapidly out of obscurity.
Yes Coach, prosperity brings on a whole new set of challenges.
Indeed, this is dark side of the first-ever freshman Heisman and an 11-win opening salvo in the vaunted ranks of the stacked SEC.
And though you could rightly argue that the Aggie football players deserve the personal rights and freedoms to conduct themselves on social media—especially since by and large your young men seem to operate honorably—what about protecting them from the evil that prowls the net?
Good sir, who will protect these young men and our beloved football program if you do not?
While it may seem extreme, banning players from social media is no new tactic. It has been implemented by a wide variety of coaches—Mike Leach at Washington State, Chris Petersen at Boise State and Jimbo Fisher at Florida State.
All three are notable coaches who outlawed Twitter specifically to stop the bleeding brought on by young stars struggling with releasing their personal thoughts too freely for an audience far wider than their immediate circle of friends.
So, just in case you still don’t think you should consider banning your team from Twitter…here are a couple of “worst-case scenario” tweets to whet your whistle.
According to Business Insider, this tweet from the University of North Alabama was a reaction to Bradley Patterson’s (a football player at UNA) highly offensive and overtly racist tweet during President Obama’s speech regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy.
This is the now-infamous tweet NFL-bound Alabama OT D.J. Fluker offered up this past April regarding his admission that he took money from agents while a Crimson Tide player.
Fluker went on to say, per CBS Sports, that his Twitter account had been hacked. But, either way, the damage has been done and Alabama is in the position of cleaning up an unnecessary mess due to a single tweet.
This tweet came via Ohio State QB Cardale Jones in October of 2012 and though, per ESPN, his entire account was deleted after the incident, the image and impact both live on in infamy.
Jones was a third-stringer as a freshman in 2012. Even though he’s never taken a snap for the Buckeyes, he hastened in the “damage control” squad in Columbus for a story that hit the national headlines.
Therefore, Coach Sumlin, and again with all the respect due to you, the leader of Texas A&M’s glorious march out of football bondage, we implore you to please ban your players from Twitter.
Don’t ban them because they are young men without discernment, foresight or wisdom.
No sir, ban them because they are just that, “young” men being chased by national media starving for a story that will go viral and put them in the limelight that the players themselves have earned, if only for a fleeting moment.
Thanks, Coach Sumlin.
Very sincerely yours,
Aggie Football Fans Everywhere
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