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Mississippi State train wreck chugs along

2/3/2011

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is going to ban his players from using Twitter. Gee, I wonder why.

Actually, no. Check that. It's pretty easy to figure out. It's because Mississippi State remains an utter train wreck, and some late-night tweets are merely the latest example therein.

Of what do I speak? I speak of Mississippi State guard Ravern Johnson's rather unwise decision to criticize his team and coach on Twitter Wednesday night, chronicled in detail by the Clarion-Ledger's Brandon Marcello. Mere minutes after Johnson finished speaking to the media following the Bulldogs' 75-61 loss to Alabama, Johnson wrote the following on his Twitter account:

“Starting to see why people Transfer you can play the minutes but not getting your talents shown because u watching someone else wit the ball the whole game shooters need to move not watch why other coaches get that do not make sense to me”

That would seem to be a criticism of Stansbury, the kind you might send your friends and family in a particularly frustrated moment, but certainly not the kind you want to publish to the entire world. Nor do you want your teammate to retweet it, though that's exactly what sophomore forward Renardo Sidney did. Fans soon unleashed the collective outrage on the two players, causing them to leave a pair of final messages before eventually deleting their accounts:

From Johnson: Funny to see what all our so called #Fan Really think good to know

From Sidney: It’s a Shame how our fans turn they back on us when we need them the most…. #sad

Then, like dust in the wind, both players' Twitter accounts vanished. Cue Kansas' "Dust In the Wind." (Sniffle. "You're my boy Blue! You're my boy ...")

Of course, you're reading about these tweets now, so the deletion efforts didn't do the trick. But a school spokesman told Marcello that the deletion wasn't the result of a mandate from the program; both players apparently decided it was a good idea to delete their accounts themselves. Probably about right. So what does Stansbury think of all this? Per a statement released by the school this afternoon, he thinks those darned Twittertubes are up to no good again:

“It’s a new world we live in with Twitter and all the things you can do on the Internet," Stansbury said in a statement. "After the game last night, we had a frustrated player that gets on Twitter and says things that aren’t appropriate. In the heat of the moment, some young men just don’t understand once they put something out there for everyone to see, there is no taking it back. That’s why I’m banning the use of Twitter at this point.”

Well, yeah, that's probably a good idea. A little late, but a good idea. And Stansbury actually does seem to have a point. Johnson no doubt knew his tweet was going out into the world, but he probably a) didn't think all that much about the public nature of his account and b) didn't think what he said would be that big of a deal anyway. You have to feel a little bad for him. The dude was just frustrated, is all.

But this is why it's a good idea to ban Twitter. No matter how many times you try to hammer it home -- and you'd think Mississippi State has made this point to its student-athletes before -- you shouldn't say anything on Twitter you wouldn't be willing to say to a reporter's (or your friend's, or your boss's) face. It's all the same thing. It's all a public statement.

In any case, this isn't a big deal because of Twitter. It's a big deal because Mississippi State, a team that seemed to have a shot at an NCAA tournament berth early this season, continues to be a don't-want-to-watch-but-can't-look-away train wreck. This is a season that saw Sidney return from his suspension out of shape (though he's played better lately), saw forward Elgin Bailey suspended for a televised fistfight with Sidney on the sidelines, saw Stansbury mortgage his schedule in the hopes of getting ineligible guard Dee Bost back in time for conference play, and saw the Bulldogs go 11-10 in their first 21 games, with losses to Florida Atlantic, East Tennessee State and Hawaii mixed in for good measure.

In other words, Ravern Johnson's ill-advised tweet and Renardo Sidney's ill-advised retweet are just another chapter in the unfortunate saga that is the 2010-11 Bulldogs' season. At this point, that season can't end soon enough.