Recruiting has always been a Wild West of sorts in college football. Every coach has his set of stories. Recently, a new X factor has appeared to make the recruiting scene even more un-governable: Twitter.
The NCAA bans contact between recruits and boosters which, in the sideways world of the NCAA, means it's up to schools to put barriers between a 17-year-old recruit who still lives with his parents and @StateFanNumber1. It's an impossible task.
“Everybody thinks they’re helping, but I don’t think a recruit, that when they announce where they’re going, says I chose School XYZ because of what fans said on social media,” Oregon senior associate athletics director Craig Pintens told the Oregonian. “We would always prefer to have our coaches for any particular student-athlete recruit them. That’s what they’re trained to do.”
Getting the amateur recruiters to let the professionals take control of the recruiting process can turn into a long distance game of Whack-A-Mole for school's public relations and compliance staffs. When warranted, compliance offices will issue a cease and desist letter to Twitter accounts - you know the kind, with the generic egg avatar and less than 10 followers - which then turns into a high-tech game of hide-and-seek. "A lot of times, these accounts will just disappear."
Oregon State has hired a compliance assistant to monitor social media interaction between recruits and fans. Between recruits seeking attention - and followers - from a myriad of fan bases, and fans just a few pecks at keyboard from their favorite recruit, that job will be about like trying to keep bees away from honey.