I've never met
That little nugget popped up on my computer screen late last week. See, Carroll is my friend. Or at least he is in the wonderful, slightly terrifying world of Facebook, where you can poke a perfect stranger with absolutely zero legal consequences. So when Carroll blasts Dire Straits in his office, me and his other 1,025 friends (as of Thursday morning) know about it. I also know his favorite book is
Here's something else I know.
If you don't understand Facebook or if you've never heard of it, fear not. You're probably just old. I'm 29, which makes me downright ancient in Facebook world. I didn't join until last week when I began working on this story.
Carroll has to know this. "Coach is as up on things as a 56-year-old can be," said Malcomson, the USC student-reporter-turned-walk-on-receiver who now provides much of the content for Carroll's Web site,
Carroll's coaching colleagues can't say the same. A Facebook search for the names of the other 64 BCS-league coaches returned no legitimate matches. Alabama's
The only aspect of Carroll's page that could turn off a potential recruit is his inclusion of
"They're not in any order [of preference], I was just going through my iTunes and picked out a few of my favorites," Carroll wrote. "I'm really liking the Foo Fighters right now, though -- they've been blasting from my stereo for the last few weeks almost nonstop. Everyone in the office is probably getting sick of them, but that music has been good to me lately."
At most schools, the head coach has a snazzy Web site designed to lure recruits with exclusive video and interviews. And while
Unlike most Facebook pages, Carroll's communication will be mostly one-way. Malcomson said that when he created the page, Carroll wanted to try to "stay away from potential landmines" such as writing on friends' walls or sending personal messages. Carroll made an exception for this story, but he knew I was out of NCAA eligibility.
Had I been a recruitable athlete, Carroll would have violated a seven-month-old NCAA rule forbidding coaches from corresponding with athletes using Facebook or MySpace. "Any communication using social networking [or similar] Web sites is not permissible unless it's e-mail," NCAA spokeswoman
That could be tough to police, though. To test how easy it would be to contact a recruit, I sent a friend request to Houston-area quarterback
Besides, Carroll would prefer his Facebook page serve its intended purpose -- to help A Better LA, a charity determined to help curb violence in inner-city Los Angeles. In his response to the questions on his wall, Carroll wrote passionately about his hope for the project. The cause seems even more vital in the wake of last weekend's senseless fatal shooting of 17-year-old Los Angeles High football star
"A Better LA is something we started up several years ago after a horrible string of shootings in one week in Los Angeles. It shook me pretty hard and really moved me to action," Carroll wrote. "So here we are about six years later and the group is really humming. ... This Facebook thing is just another tool for us to get the word out about A Better LA and make contact with people who might be interested in helping us change the city for the better."
And if the Facebook thing happens to help a recruit see Carroll as a regular dude instead of a millionaire football coach, Carroll probably won't complain -- even if he does take some grief. "coach y are you on facebook????" USC freshman tailback