It’s back. At long last, college football is back.
When Georgia State and Abilene Christian kick off at the Georgia Dome Wednesday night, college football’s 2014 regular season will officially kick into gear, gaining momentum each day of the long Labor Day weekend through Monday’s Louisville-Miami ACC showdown.
It’s the perfect weekend to test out your home college football setup with a monster flat-screen TV, surround sound, your choice of tailgate-tested food and a selection of cold beverages. (And if you don’t have it in place already, go, go, go!)
The advent of laptops, smartphones and high-speed Internet has turned us into a multi-screen society. We all watch the games, but we’re constantly adding our two cents worth on social media, too. We have to let the world know what we think on Twitter, even if the world isn’t necessarily ready to hear it.
The opening of the 2014 season is the perfect time to update your feed to get maximum enjoyment out of every fall Saturday afternoon (and during the week, too).
Here’s a list of the top 50 college football personalities to follow on Twitter, presented in alphabetical order.
The handle of @MrCFB is a bit presumptuous, but there’s little doubting that Tony Barnhart is well-connected in college football. The former Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer has made stops at CBS Sports and ESPN and will be a presence on the new SEC Network. Few know as much about Southern football as he does, and if you want to learn more, you’d be wise to follow.
Fake Dan Beebe
Dan Beebe was collateral damage when the Big 12 nearly fell apart in the college football realignment crisis, but the deposed commissioner still has a great Twitter presence at @DanBeebe. And you’d better believe he holds a grudge. He’s particularly fun to follow when misfortune befalls any of the Big 12 teams (or Nebraska, Texas A&M or Missouri). He isn’t the Big 12’s commissioner anymore, and he won’t let you forget it.
Bret Bielema isn’t afraid to say what he thinks: Arkansas’ second-year head coach has raised the ire of rivals across the SEC with controversial comments, most notably Natural State native Gus Malzahn. His active Twitter account @BretBielema provides a look into the Razorbacks program and Bielema’s life in general. Much like the head coach, it isn’t dull.
Capital One Bowl/Russell Athletic Bowl
Not all college football bowl accounts are created equal. The @CapitalOneBowl and @RussellAthBowl accounts are proof of that. Much more than a promotional account, the Florida Citrus Sports bowl siblings provide a fun, irreverent look at their games and college football at large. Even if your team isn’t playing in either game, the accounts are well worth following.
A veteran of ESPN and CBS Sports, @TimBrando will call games this fall for Fox Sports and also has a daily nationally syndicated radio show. The Shreveport resident has SEC roots but has a national focus, and he isn’t afraid to offer strong opinions and mix it up with his followers. He’s never dull.
Chris B. Brown
The handle says it all: This is @SmartFootball. Chris B. Brown is a very intelligent follow who takes you deep into football analysis while using statistics and a keen eye, often while watching the same game you are. If you want to learn more about football, follow the Grantland contributor.
The former Texas and North Carolina head coach is working with ESPN this fall as a studio analyst, and he has promised to ditch the “coach speak” in favor of honest analysis. That’s a positive development, as Brown has been active recently on Twitter at @ESPN_CoachMack. Here’s hoping that carries over into interesting analysis this fall.
Timothy Burke is Deadspin’s video maven, and if it happens in college football, chances are that he has caught it on one of his numerous televisions and saved it so everyone on Deadspin can see it. Little gets past him, and he is also a reporter who helped Deadspin break the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax story. A worthy all-around follow at @Bubbaprog.
The Georgia wide receiver breaks the mold of your typical player account with positive messages and photos at @_Flight_31. He is also a talented filmmaker whose Star Wars short film gained huge acclaim this summer. Follow Conley for what he can do on the field as well as what he can do off of it. He’s going places.
Rece Davis is one of ESPN’s top college football voices, calling the Thursday night game while also anchoring the Worldwide Leader’s Saturday studio coverage. He should get hazard pay just for dealing with Lou Holtz and Mark May on a regular basis, but his feed @ESPN_ReceDavis is an insightful look at college football.
Tom Dienhart is a veteran college football scribe who is now with the Big Ten Network as the senior writer for BTN.com. Dienhart has a wealth of experience and now travels the Big Ten, chronicling the league’s football and basketball exploits. If you like the Big Ten and college football in general, he is an excellent follow at @BTNTomDienhart.
Chances are if it’s a college football Saturday, CBS Sports’ national college football columnist is sitting in a press box for one of the nation’s biggest tilts of the week. Dodd is well-versed on the national scene and has an informed opinion on what’s working and what isn’t in college football. Just be prepared for the occasional St. Louis Cardinals tweet at @DennisDoddCBS.
Chris Dufresne, the Los Angeles Times’ national college football writer, is a veteran of the national college gridiron scene, having crisscrossed the nation in search of stories. He has plenty of institutional knowledge about Pac-12 and national college football, and it shows in his tweets at @DufresneLATimes and articles.
Florida State’s return to national prominence has brought with it a Twitter phenomenon known only as #FSUTwitter, the unique way that Seminole fans express their passion online. And TomahawkNation.com, SB Nation’s Florida State site, is the center of that passion. Bud Elliott runs the @TomahawkNation feed and feeds the madness with free articles, commentary and more, all of which flow through this handle.
Bruce Feldman has made his tour of the college football media landscape, going from ESPN to CBS Sports to Fox Sports. What hasn’t changed in his tour are the skills behind the name, with solidly written and reported pieces that resonate with readers across the nation. No matter who’s paying Feldman, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll get great reporting and solid Twitter banter at @BruceFeldmanCFB.
PAWWWWLLLLL. Once a regional brand with a four-hour radio show confined largely to SEC markets, Paul Finebaum has gone national thanks to syndication on SiriusXM and his association with ESPN. He’ll play a huge role in the new SEC Network as a panelist for SEC Nation as well as other ESPN college football programs, and his radio show will be simulcast there as well. His Twitter account @finebaum passes along news as well as Finebaum’s acerbic college football opinions.
Bryan Fischer is a veteran of the college gridiron Internet scene, making stops with CBS Sports, the Pac-12 and now NFL.com. He has a great base of knowledge and is an active tweeter at @BryanDFischer, covering college football nationally on game day and year-round.
If you want excellent insight into college football on a national basis, Pat Forde is the kind of guy you want to follow. Forde, who tweets at @YahooForde, gained national acclaim at ESPN before moving his “Forde Yard Dash” column to Yahoo! Sports recently. He is a veteran of the national scene with connections across the college football landscape and gives fans a look on the inside out.
SB Nation’s editorial director and curator of the raucous blog “Every Day Should Be Saturday” presents a college football-focused feed that often veers all over the map with hilarious results. One of the sharpest minds in the college football blogosphere, Spencer Hall alerts readers to the best of SB Nation’s coverage and college gridiron coverage at large while also providing his own acerbic tastes on matters big and small inside and outside college football. Irreverent and smart, a must-follow at @edsbs.
Veteran college football writers will tell you that offensive linemen offer the most underrated quotes, and the same goes for offensive line coaches. They give excellent insight. Herb Hand fits this profile to a T. Penn State’s offensive line coach runs an engaging account, @CoachHand, that gives us a look at life beyond football (including his stint on the reality TV cooking show Chopped). He’s one of the best follows among the assistant coach ranks, for sure.
As the Sporting News’ senior writer, Matt Hayes has excellent connections and strong opinions on college football, and he uses both on a regular basis at @Matt_HayesSN. He’s based in Florida but finds his way around the nation on a regular basis for balanced coverage. He’s well worth the follow.
One of ESPN’s preeminent college football personalities, a College GameDay mainstay who does double duty as the color commentator on ABC’s Saturday Night Football. Herbie gets in his share of frequent flyer miles during the college football season, and he isn’t afraid to engage and share his opinion on Twitter at @KirkHerbstreit, be it about college football or his beloved Cincinnati Reds. His large follower count attracts its share of trolls, but Herbstreit is quick with the block button and hilarious in doing so.
Matt Hinton is another veteran of the college football blogosphere and Internet landscape who wrote Yahoo’s Dr. Saturday blog before becoming part of Grantland’s college football coverage. At @MattRHinton you’ll get well-thought-out gridiron thoughts and interesting in-depth articles that go deeper than the average beat writer typically dares to tread.
If you’re looking for insight on the Heisman Trophy chase, look no further than Chris Huston. Huston runs HeismanPundit.com, one of the foremost sources on the big stiff-arm trophy. Huston can be, as his @HeismanPundit Twitter bio says, a “thoughtful contrarian,” but he knows how the Heisman process operates as well as anyone in college football.
Georgia Tech’s head coach can be alternately biting and accommodating with reporters, but he runs an interesting Twitter account that can be as unpredictable as the triple option flexbone. He isn’t afraid to say what he means in 140-character bursts at @GTPaulJohnson.
Bleacher Report’s lead college football writer, Adam Kramer also runs a must-read blog called kegsneggsblog.com. At @KegsnEggs, he writes about everything college football, Vegas lines, fat guy touchdowns and the weeknight football phenomenon we know as #MACtion. This is also the place to find all of his Bleacher Report pieces, and it’s a great follow on fall Saturday afternoons.
The Washington State coach is a fascinating personality. While he is known for his on-field exploits at Texas Tech and Washington State and his battles with administrators, he is also a published author. This summer he authored a book on the Native American Geronimo, hardly the kind of subject you’d expect a college football coach to dive into. Football keeps Leach busy, but you never know what he’s going to say @Coach_Leach.
Ivan Maisel is one of the nation’s longest-tenured national college writers, the kind of guy who has seen and written about everything—multiple times. The ESPN senior writer has a measured perspective on things, and you can learn plenty by following him at @Ivan_Maisel, for certain. He also has an excellent podcast, and following this feed is one way to keep up on it.
A veteran of the college football landscape, Stewart Mandel recently made the move from Sports Illustrated to Fox Sports as part of Fox’s ongoing efforts to beef up its college gridiron coverage. He covers the game on a national level and visits stadiums across the nation to get a feel for the game’s pulse. He is an active tweeter @SlMandel and an excellent follow.
ESPN’s senior college football reporter is one of the most connected voices in the game, with numerous scoops to his name regarding coaching, college football realignment and more. Follow him @McMurphyESPN to know the latest news about college football before those who are involved even find out. He’ll help you stay ahead of the curve.
Some college football head coaches have bland, boring feeds. You get the sense that they’re only being used for recruiting purposes, that the coaches (or the sports information directors) behind them are more interested in using them to connect with prospects than their fans. LSU coach Les Miles does not operate one of those accounts.
Much like on the field, you never know what Miles is going to tweet about @LSUCoachMiles, which keeps him on follow lists across the college football world. He’s a fascinating personality in the Twittersphere.
The man behind one of college football’s fastest offenses has a lightning-fast Twitter account as well. Follow Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris @coachchadmorris for behind-the-scenes views and interactions with the Tigers program, if you can keep up. Morris uses the hashtag #tempo with his tweets.
USA Today’s national college football writer produces detailed, interesting work: His 128-team preview countdown to the college football season is the kind of stuff that gets fans through the doldrums of summer and ready for fall. His feed, @PaulMyerberg, is a smart Twitter feed, and you can learn plenty about football and read some good work by following.
Until recently, the account @celebrityhottub was anonymously penned, but the fact that SB Nation contributor Ryan Nanni is behind it doesn’t make it any less funny or ridiculous. Nanni tweets out absurdities about life and college football that are guaranteed to have you laughing out loud at your laptop or smartphone, making your companions wonder what the joke is. Unless, of course, they’re following him too.
Scott Van Pelt
ESPN’s multitalented anchor has become a major presence in the network’s college football coverage, particularly with his “Bald Man On Campus” features on College GameDay. He also talks plenty of college football on his daily ESPN Radio show and isn’t afraid to engage with followers, making him an interesting, intelligent follow @notthefakeSVP.
Fake Bo Pelini/Bo Pelini
@FauxPelini is exactly what it sounds like—the alter ego of fiery Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. It drew attention for its avatar featuring Pelini holding a cat, which went to another level entirely when the real Pelini asked the other Pelini for his cat back. If you’re a Nebraska fan (or a Nebraska hater) and like to laugh, this account is for you. Meanwhile, Pelini has also found his inner sense of humor and improved his overall Twitter presence on @BoPelini.
Pete Roussel/Scott Roussel
The Roussel brothers run competing sites at @coachingsearch and @footballscoop which cover the rumored, the fact, the big news and the mundane about college football coaching movements. If it’s happening, or rumored to be happening, chances are they know about it and have an opinion. They’re excellent follows during college football’s “silly season,” but follow them now and beat the rush.
The co-host of the popular Solid Verbal podcast talks about a little bit of everything at @DanRubenstein—football, New York City life and tacos. Oh, yes, tacos.
Not every college beat writer has over 33,000 followers, but not everyone has a Twitter presence like Wes Rucker, at @wesrucker247, who covers Tennessee for 247Sports. Rucker has a freewheeling Twitter feed which covers UT sports but also his life, which includes English soccer, the Chicago Cubs, the raccoons that pillage his yard and much more. He isn’t afraid to engage his followers, which can be highly entertaining.
Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press’ national college football writer will be quick to note he doesn’t vote in the AP’s Top 25 poll, and he doesn’t hate your team. But he does have excellent insight on the national scene and is typically at the big game of the week. You’ll get news from across the college football spectrum and a little bit of bonus New York Mets angst thrown in for good measure at @RalphDRussoAP.
The Georgia-based writer is one of ESPN’s most prominent college football voices, contributing on the Web, on television and through Twitter on his handle, @Mark_Schlabach. He has excellent knowledge of the SEC and Southern football but makes his way around the national scene too. Chances are you think he hates your team, and chances are he isn’t concerned about it.
Clemson recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott is one of the top young, up-and-coming coaches in the college football world. Scott is very active on his account, @coach_jeffscott, and offers glimpses of his life, like the time he and offensive coordinator Chad Morris sprinted through the Atlanta airport with what they called #tempo to catch their plane to visit a potential Tiger together.
Sports Illustrated’s lead college football writer is always at the biggest game of the week, providing insight from above the field and beyond it. The former Florida walk-on offensive lineman has a unique perspective and has excellent command of the game inside the game. Plus, he loves barbecue and food, and following him at @Andy_Staples can give you some great insight into the best greasy spoons and barbecue joints in the college football world.
If you like the numbers behind the game, Patrick Stevens is an excellent follow at Twitter handle @D1scourse. The veteran of the ACC scene has worked for The Washington Times and The Post-Standard, among others, but the one constant is his ability to crunch numbers and probability and give you a perspective you might not have even known you needed, even as the season changes from football to college basketball. He’s a man for all seasons, but his football knowledge doesn’t disappoint.
One of college football’s more polarizing tweeters but a must-follow at @ClayTravisBGID if you’re a fan of SEC football. You might not like what he tweets, but you’ll keep following to see what he says next. And quite frankly, it can be entertaining to follow just to see those who don’t get the joke and respond with poor grammar (re: Alabama football fans and Kentucky basketball fans, among others). Travis is a national voice with Fox, and it’s interesting to see how he fits into the national conversation.
Pete Thamel came to prominence at The New York Times and jumped from the Old Gray Lady to Sports Illustrated. He’s one of SI’s lead college football writers and is always at one of the big games of the week. He also does investigative pieces that dig below the surface of the gridiron. He’s one of the most well-rounded reporters out there, to be certain. He's a solid follow at @SIPeteThamel.
If you’re interested in Big 12 football, David Ubben is an excellent follow. Ubben recently moved from ESPN to Fox Sports Southwest, where he writes for the Web and also appears on television. He has excellent knowledge of the 10-team Big 12 and regularly engages with followers both negative and positive with a very active account at @DavidUbben.
The Yahoo Sports national columnist covers a little bit of everything, but he also covers plenty of college football. He was a co-author of the book Death to the BCS, so perhaps you have him to thank, in part, for the new College Football Playoff. You’ll get smart, well-thought-out columns and interesting takes here: Wetzel talks without screaming at @DanWetzel.
You can connect with Greg Wallace on Twitter @gc_wallace.