Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Bielemas, Badger fans battle on Twitter
By Adam Rittenberg
If you follow former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema on Twitter, as I do, you'll learn about Arkansas' recruiting efforts, new additions to the Razorbacks' coaching staff and even Bielema's wife's favorite TV show, "The Bachelor."
But Bielema's Twitter timeline also shows he hasn't completely turned the page on his old job or the Wisconsin fans expressing their, well, displeasure with him. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dave Heller details here, Bielema has responded to his critics on Twitter for the past month or so.
Bielema fired off several tweets Sunday, telling one person who asked to see his Rose Bowl trophy to "enjoy life alone." Even Bielema's wife, Jen, got into it on her Twitter page, responding to a Wisconsin reporter who likened the New England Patriots clock management skills to Bret Bielema's at Wisconsin. When a Twitter user questioned why Bielema and his wife don't just move on, Bret Bielema responded that they have and then responded to the same user's unrelated tweet about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
I love it that coaches like Bielema tweet and, on occasion, interact with the fans. Perhaps more than any Big Ten coach, Bielema grasped the changing media environment, the role the media plays and how social media fit into things. More than once he referred me to his Twitter page for status updates on injured players. Was he thin-skinned at Wisconsin? Maybe a little, but not more so than other coaches I've covered. Much of the ire Badgers fans had for Bielema -- and perhaps vice-versa -- spilled out only after Bielema's surprising departure for Arkansas on Dec. 4.
Bottom line: these Twitter spats come across as extremely petty and unnecessary.
As someone who deals with a ton of criticism in his job and has made the mistake of entering some battles on Twitter, my advice for Bielema is it just isn't worth the time. You can't win.
Imagine if other coaches -- say, Illinois' Tim Beckman, who is relentlessly positive on Twitter -- responded to their critics in a public forum? I guarantee it wouldn't help their cause.
If this is how Bielema handles haters from Wisconsin, I can only imagine how he'll respond to the even-keeled, never-extreme group of folks known as Arkansas fans. Good luck with that.