By Andy Staples
January 26, 2011

Mark ZuckerbergCEOFacebook1601 S. California AvenuePalo Alto, CA 94304

Dear Mark,

I realize I should have sent a message to your Facebook inbox or just written on your wall, but the past few days have inspired me to do this the old-fashioned way. I have one simple request.

Please shut down your site for the next eight days to save some of the nation's college football fans from themselves.

I realize all the good Facebook has done for the world. Thanks to you, I know exactly which of the girls who ignored me in high school grew up to marry dumpy losers. Thanks to you, I know when my sister-in-law's crew pulls a caper in Mafia Wars. You've probably facilitated more college hookups in the past five years than every domestic brewery combined. By changing your messaging system, you singlehandedly rendered most of the NCAA's already antiquated recruiting contact rules completely obsolete.

Without your site, we still might not know who Vanderbilt hired to coach its football team.

But Mark, I'm begging you. Please shut down your site until after National Signing Day.

Last year, I asked college football recruits to be more careful about what they posted on Facebook. What happens in the rural Mississippi strip club on an official visit probably should stay in the rural Mississippi strip club. (As Darryl said in last week's episode of The Office, there are some things you can't un-see.) I've now realized that asking kids to stop posting every piece of info about themselves was a fool's errand. In a few short years, your site -- along with YouTube, Twitter and a host of others -- has created a generation of teens who have no concept of public versus private information. So I'm asking you to shut down the site for the sake of the grown-ups who can't seem to resist using that information for their own pathetic purposes.

On Tuesday, these people cost you a customer, Mark. C.J. Johnson, a five-star linebacker from Philadelphia, Miss., and the top-ranked prospect in his state, committed to Mississippi State as a high school junior. When Bulldogs defensive coordinator Manny Diaz left for Texas, Johnson decided to reconsider his options. Into Johnson's Facebook inbox flowed pleas for certain schools and outright hatred for his decision to exercise all his options before National Signing Day.

"People on Facebook trying to tell him this school is this and that school is that," Johnson's mother, Linda, told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. "Mississippi State fans posing as Ole Miss fans and Ole Miss fans posing as Mississippi State fans. It was just crazy. To me, that's a little too far. I was just surprised at some of the things adults were saying."

So on Tuesday, C.J. Johnson ended his recruitment by committing to Ole Miss and pledged to quit Facebook in one sweeping status update. "I will not be a Mississippi state bulldog and I'm not considering Mississippi state anymore bc you have constantly comment on my page and send me crazy inboxes and has made my recruiting experience a living nightmare," Johnson wrote. "Goodbye facebook."

Later, Johnson wrote on Facebook that the interactions on the site didn't completely push him to the Rebels. But when he spoke to the Clarion-Ledger later, he still seemed shaken by the online vitriol from grown-ups who should have better things to do. "I saw rumors on the Internet with people saying I decommitted from Mississippi State because my momma has been working for this Ole Miss guy and she cleaned his house up for a year and she made $100,000," Johnson told the paper. "If my momma made $100,000 a year, I wouldn't be driving the truck that I'm driving."

Mark, do you see what happened there? Some idiot(s) told lies about the mother of a 6-foot-3, 235-pound tackling machine. Can you imagine the consequences of similar lies being told during an in-person interaction? Can you imagine the consequences of an in-person interaction following that online interaction?

Mark, you have to step in. These people clearly can't help themselves. Want proof? Take a look at the profile of Ray Drew, the star defensive end from Thomasville, Ga. Drew, as faithful readers know, is a budding minister who hopes to someday be known as The Pastor of Pass Rush. Drew is set to announce his college choice Friday, and he has narrowed his options to Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Miami.

Obviously, the coaches from all those schools have offered compelling sales pitches, but that hasn't stopped folks with way too much time on their hands from chipping in their own advice to an 18-year-old they've probably never met. Some guy named Chad, whose profile lists him as a department manager at Wal-Mart, wrote this on Drew's wall: "Ray only 3 more days to go before you commit. The DAWGS is the right place to go and to win. GO DAWGS."

Some 33-year-old guy named Buddy who lives in Wyoming -- Mark, these people really don't know how to use your privacy settings -- had this to say: "You know what happens when you cross an eagle with a tiger? A BCS National Championship. WDE! You gone look good in orange and blue."

Meanwhile, a guy named Malte whose profile picture features him wearing angel wings and a fuzzy halo wrote this to Drew: "Wherever u r gonna play, I wish you the best! But seriously, its all about the U! Go there and be part of their legacy! Great education as well! Look at them, how many players playing in the Nfl, going to the pro bowl played there?! More than from any other college! It will be your pipeline to the pros if u chose them! Id love to workout with guys like Ed Reed, Amdre Johnson or Ray Lewis in the offseason and u have the chance to do it! Its a canes thing!"

A guy named Josh whose profile says he works at ConAgra Foods in Louisiana wrote this: "Take time and think about it Ray LSU puts out the best d-lineman in the SEC hands down. But anyway make the best choice for u. GO LSU TIGERS!!!!(Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey, Kyle Williams, Marcus Spears, The Green brothers Howard & Jarvis, Drake Nevis, Marquise Hill r.i.p, Rickey Jean Francois, da lists go's on & this is just since 2000"

I know what you're thinking, Mark. All that is fairly harmless -- to Drew. I'm worried about the losers trying to recruit him. After all, thanks to their liberal sprinkling of info on their profiles, I could have included their last names and other identifying information. The entire world would have known they had nothing more interesting to do than beg an 18-year-old they don't know to go to their favorite school.

At least Drew has the good sense to torture them instead of sitting back and taking all the unsolicited advice and insults hurled at various schools. Monday night, Drew posted the following status update: "There will be a huge surprise on auburn, no Georgia, no lsu......time to shock the world baby"

This statement solicited 131 comments.

Wednesday morning, someone named Torrone tagged Drew on a photo of Georgia coach Mark Richt making the U hand signal that represents his alma mater, Miami. Drew had absolutely nothing to do with the photo, but thanks to the tagging, the pic now shows up at the top of Drew's profile. That act probably made some poor, pitiful recruitnik's head explode. Mark, that gray matter is on your hands.

So please, Mark, for the sake of those too pathetic to stop themselves, shut down your site.

Just bring it back by next Thursday. I have Farmville crops to tend.

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