Twitter is the head coach of your favorite college football team.
Yes, even at Alabama. Nick Saban is no longer in charge. He answers to Twitter. The 68-year-old winner of six national championships is one disgruntled-player tweet from disavowing all that he believes and running his team in accordance with Twitter bylaws.
That’s the lesson learned from the recent controversies that engulfed the Oklahoma State, Iowa and West Virginia football programs.
A tweet from star running back Chuba Hubbard forced head coach Mike Gundy to take a knee and distance himself from a cable news T-shirt that Twitter deemed offensive.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz fired his longtime strength coach Chris Doyle after a handful of former Hawkeyes tweeted complaints that Doyle made them uncomfortable with his non-PC rhetoric.
West Virginia placed defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on administrative leave this week in the aftermath of allegations that Koenning called safety Kerry Martin Jr., a “retard” and, among other things, read him scriptures out of the Bible.
Twitter has instituted a new standard on all coaches. You cannot make young people uncomfortable. You cannot speak to athletes using non-PC language. The standards coaches adopted from military training have been outlawed by social media.
Remember the role actor Lou Gossett Jr., played in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman?” Marine Sergeant Emil Foley. Gossett won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for verbally abusing Private Zack Mayo and turning him into a responsible man.
Football coaches can’t do that anymore. The power of Twitter has made football and all sports a safe space.
As a high school sophomore, on the first day of padded practice, Warren Central High School assistant coach Tony Burchett called me a pussy in front of the whole team. It changed my life. For the next three years, I tried to annihilate every kid who lined up in front of me. No one would ever call me a pussy again.
Tony Burchett is one of my best friends in life. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me.
As a football player at Ball State University, I had a rollercoaster career. I despised my first offensive line coach Dave Magazu. Dude was a jerk. He thought he could bully me. My second year at Ball State he tried to run me off the team. I tried to quit. My parents wouldn’t let me.
Magazu left for a job at Navy. I absolutely loved my second offensive line coach Lawrence Cooley. I became a starter and key contributor. I spoke at his funeral when he died in a car crash a year after leaving Ball State.
I’m glad I played for Coach Magazu and Coach Cooley. As an adult, I understand why Magazu tried to bully me. I was lazy, irresponsible and entitled. I didn’t have that self-awareness as a kid. I didn’t fully have that level of awareness until I reached my 40s.
The experience with Magazu and Cooley shaped me into a more responsible adult.
I’m glad there was no Twitter when I played football. I would’ve publicly lashed out rather than accepting the challenge of improving and evolving. We’re raising soft kids, kids who constantly have their victimhood affirmed.
Any “uncomfortable” interaction between a white coach and black player is proof of racism. If I’m a coach, regardless of my race, I would not engage with my players on anything unrelated to Xs and Os.
One of the allegations against Koenning is that he expressed displeasure with the rioting and looting going on during the Black Lives Matter protests. Players were allegedly offended Koenning wasn’t sympathetic. Koenning has no right to express how he feels. His feelings must mirror the feelings of his players or he’s guilty of making them “uncomfortable.”
My dad made me uncomfortable on a daily basis. It was his way of showing that he cared. He told me exactly what he thought whether I liked it or not. My mother does the same thing.
Coaches can no longer substitute as parents. Their interaction with athletes must be consistent with the thoughts and values shared in the athlete’s social-media cocoon.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder, is the head coach at Alabama.