Decoding Jim Harbaugh, master of the cryptic recruiting tweets
I almost gave up. I thought he'd finally stumped me.
For the past few weeks, I've followed Stanford coach
Harbaugh wrote this at 2:28 p.m. eastern time on Friday, June 25. To the untrained eye, it appears the coach simply expressed gratitude to
For the bulk of his 13-month Twittering life, Harbaugh has walked right up to the line that separates benign recruiting updates designed to excite fans and violations of NCAA rule 13.11.2, which forbids coaches and other university personnel from commenting on recruits other than a simple confirmation that the player is being recruited. For example, nine days after he joined Twitter, Harbaugh offered his first recruiting update. "More good news for Stanford football coming soon," Harbaugh wrote on May 29, 2009. "We just got a call."
Anyone who checked Rivals.com shortly after the tweet could figure out that the call came from Denton, Texas, offensive lineman
Either Harbaugh's compliance officer asked Harbaugh to get a little more cryptic, or Harbaugh simply got bored. Because in April of this year, Harbaugh began having more fun with his commitment tweets. Take this one from April 27:
A quick check of Rivals.com revealed that Salisaw, Okla., offensive lineman
Harbaugh probably realized quickly that he made that one too easy. On May 7, he left a little more to the imagination with this tweet:
The first two unusually capitalized letters tell us the commitment came from a Big, Strong player -- and possibly that Harbaugh read a lot of
Of course, some tweets are more mysterious than others. On May 25, Harbaugh fired off these two:
These are lyrics from
For now, I can only conclude from those tweets that Harbaugh is a big
It was much easier to make the connection for the tweet Harbaugh sent at 9:18 p.m. eastern time on June 16:
At first glance, I thought this one might not be about recruiting. Maybe Harbaugh pulled from the
Let's hope Vaughters can handle pressure. Because a few minutes after he committed, Harbaugh essentially told his 332,261 Twitter followers that he'd received a pledge from the second coming.
Hall's post didn't stop Harbaugh. In fact, it may have emboldened the coach, who sent me scrambling for my dog-eared copy of
Rivals.com told me the commitment came a night earlier from 6-4, 220-pound Flushing, N.Y., receiver
With that tweet, Harbaugh truly hit his stride. Kairos is the kind of arcana I expect in my cryptic tweets from a man who isn't the Stanford football coach, but the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.
That brings us to Harbaugh's tweet Friday about the AC. I went through all the usual procedures to identify the target of the tweet. I clicked on Rivals.com and sorted the Stanford class of 2011 list by commitment date. I saw that a quarterback from the District of Columbia named
It wasn't until I was researching another name that I noticed a player committed on June 24. In 2009. His name is
And even if Carlisle doesn't respond to coded tweets and bolts for Berkeley, Harbaugh still has one white whale, at least according to his Twitter feed. Despite the fact that his target is listed at a generous 5-9, Harbaugh brazenly pitched to this recruit in one of his earliest tweets on May 21, 2009.
"Jack Bauer," Harbaugh wrote, "we are checking to see if he has eligibility."
Maybe. But a skilled agent such as Bauer would respond only if Harbaugh communicates in code. Fortunately, Harbaugh is eminently qualified.