Tech guidelines for college hoops coaches

June, 19, 2012
6/19/12
12:03
PM ET
Kelvin SampsonAP Photo/Darron CummingsKelvin Sampson fell on the sword to open the world of texting and social media to the coaching world.
Starting last Friday, NCAA Division I basketball coaches were allowed to make unlimited calls and send unlimited texts to recruits. They could also contact recruits to their hearts’ content via Twitter and Facebook.

The NCAA’s decision is essentially an admission that monitoring recruit contact via modern technology is impossible.

"You know, honestly, I think it's just too hard to keep track of," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "If you can't legislate it, if you can't enforce it, then you probably ought to just go ahead and make it legal. I think that's kind of what happened with Prohibition."

Huggins makes a good point -- and also relates it to West Virginia and the history of moonshine. A master communicator. He will do well under the new rules.

But not all coaches will. The NCAA is unleashing technology to men who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Smartphones – let alone texting, Twitter and Facebook – are still quite foreign to many in that age group. They need guidance on how to navigate the newfangled college basketball landscape, lest it swallow them up.

Don’t try to sound young and hip.

You are supposed to be a leader of young men. While you want to try to relate to the kids you are recruiting, the technology you are using does that for you.

Don’t go overboard on texting shorthand or try too hard to drop current pop culture references. You won’t come across as “cool coach.” You’ll come across as “uncool dad.”

[+] EnlargeBob Huggins
AP Photo/Rusty KennedyHeads up! Bob Huggins and his flip phone are coming after the blue chippers your university covets.
Think about it: John Wooden is the most respected and most successful college basketball coach of all time. If Twitter and text messaging had existed during his time, do you think he would have sent Bill Walton anything like this: “Gettin my Beatles flow on. They hype. How u?”

No. Tweet and text like a modern-day John Wooden.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want other people to see.

It’s easy for a recruit to retweet a Twitter message he received from a famous coach. Or a recruit can take a picture of a message you sent him and send that out to the world. (See: the Michigan football recruit tweeting out a picture of him burning an Ohio State letter.)

Do you want something with your name all over it going viral? A message you send innocently -- “Ur so big n strong. I want u” -- can sound very different in a non-basketball recruiting context.

Make sure you have an unlimited data plan.

Before you start harassing all of the top 500 players in the nation, make sure your cellphone plan has a generous data plan. You probably won’t get fired for going over, but the fans might get angry when they find out that ticket prices are going up 20 percent because you had a $12,000 cellphone bill last month.

Make sure those you are recruiting have an unlimited data plan.

One way to lose a recruit is to stick his parents with a $500 cellphone bill. And, no, doing so doesn’t justify you giving him a bag of cash and an Escalade. Really. No, come on. Really.

Let the parents of recruits know you are messaging their sons.

Sticking a recruit's parents with a $500 cellphone bill isn’t the only way to lose him.

“Hey, Kevin, who are you texting all the time?”

“Some man. He says he’s from Indiana.”

End of recruiting. You might even get a knock on your door from the cops.

Don’t speak ill of your coaching rivals.

[+] EnlargeCalhoun-Stevens
AP Photo/Eric GayA hypothetical situation: UConn's Jim Calhoun and Butler's Brad Stevens feud on Twitter. Who ya got?
Dump on them all you want in old-fashioned, face-to-face meetings at a recruit’s home. That’s what those things are for.

But if you do it via text or online, there’s visual evidence, and you’re at the mercy of the recruit’s discretion. No one wants to make that awkward call to Mike Krzyzewski to apologize for saying there are “rumors that he is a war criminal.”

Why should you have to apologize for that? You told the truth. There are rumors. Check any UNC message board.

Send a text to Kelvin Sampson.

Tell him sorry. And thanks. He was the first great explorer into the land of text messaging. He did not last to see this day and has been forever banned to NBA assistant coachdom, but he will not be forgotten. 2 Klvn!

Make sure you really want to do this.

According to some studies, kids age 13 to 17 – so the people you’re recruiting – send more than 3,000 text message per month. How many high school players are you recruiting at one time: 10, 15, 50, 100? If you start texting these people, your life is OVER. Every waking moment will be spent receiving some of the stupidest, most pointless drivel ever typed. And you will have to read them all and respond as though they are great pearls of wisdom because you need a 3-star or better at forward or you’re screwed!

Is getting the next LeBron James or Kevin Durant worth having to read texts, tweets and Facebook messages from teenagers? No. No, it’s not. Resign now before your life becomes a hellscape of inanity.

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