I had planned to post an open letter to the nation's football recruits as a Facebook status update, but then I realized I'm one of those geezers who doesn't allow just anyone to view his profile. If you want to read my wall or see pictures of my kid, we probably need to have met once or twice.
The nation's recruits might want to consider this option. This past weekend, three players visiting Mississippi State posted messages on their Facebook pages referencing the Pony, which, for those not familiar with the Golden Triangle (comprising the Mississippi metropolises of Starkville, West Point and Columbus), is a, ahem, gentlemen's club.
One recruit told the Jackson (Miss.)
It's highly unlikely any coach or staffer in a major conference would be dumb enough to endorse a strip club visit, because in today's termination-for-cause-happy landscape, the cover charge also includes a one-way ticket to the unemployment office. The NCAA frowns on the use of strippers in recruiting -- especially
Joke or not, the Pony will follow these three players into college, just as
What the recruits don't seem to realize is that the explosion of social networking sites has spawned an entirely new creature: the Recruitnik Cyberstalker. Unlike urchins such as myself who get paid to look for that stuff, these guys receive no compensation other than the joy of knowing they've made life miserable for a rival school.
In other words, players committed to Ohio State should understand that some Michigan fan is trolling the Web looking for their dirty laundry -- and vice versa. Players committed to Miami should know that Florida and Florida State fans with too much time on their hands will scour Facebook profiles and MySpace pages looking for incriminating evidence.
The cyberstalkers may not have lives, but that doesn't preclude them from discovering legitimate information. If a tip from a cyberstalker leads to a real story, I and the rest of the mainstream media will pursue it. Just ask USC coach
Heed this advice, recruits. If you don't want me calling to ask if you went to a strip club or why you were photographed wearing a gang flag, don't put it on the Internet. I was young once. I know there are things you'd rather your parents not read.
Like some of you, I even misbehaved on an official visit. I drank my first beer on the only all-expenses-paid football recruiting trip I took. Even in 1996, the NCAA forbade giving recruits alcohol, but my host -- unbeknownst to the coaching staff -- took me to a bartending class and then to a series of parties. My first sip of suds came from a keg of Milwaukee's Best Light. (Shockingly, I didn't swear off beer on the spot.) And what was the name of this renegade school?
Of course, no one of consequence found out, first because no one cared about my recruitment, and second because none of the friends I told had any outlet to distribute the information to the wider world. Facebook was eight years from being invented, and only the early adopters in my peer group had an e-mail address.
Maybe that's why people in my generation and older can't understand why today's youngsters don't grasp that everything on the Internet is public. When I was in high school, I never would have stood in a crowded public place and yelled out personal information I didn't want my parents, teachers and coaches to know. Yet that's exactly what recruits and other teens do -- times a million -- when they leave their Facebook pages open for public viewing.
Recruits, I love the fact that I can find most of your cell phone numbers with a few keystrokes. I love that I can find out which college you like today. It makes my job easier. But if you keep leaving all your information in the open for the world to blog about, it's going to make your lives miserable.