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KU football Twitter ban sends wrong message, deprives people of chance to see real side of Jayhawks

Wednesday night was a big night for Kansas University football players on Twitter. But not for the reasons you might think.

Instead of rejoicing over reporting to camp or sharing their excitement about the first official day of fall practices — today — the Jayhawks took to the Twitterverse to announce that they were signing off.

As in done. Finished. No mas.

Yep, Wednesday at the first official team meeting of 2011, KU coach Turner Gill informed his team that they would no longer be allowed to use Twitter during the season.

On some levels, this makes sense. Gill and the Jayhawks are trying to focus in on rebuilding the program and regaining some respect. A tall task such as that takes complete concentration and total commitment — when you’re at practice. What the players do from their dorm rooms after practice or on their days off should not be regulated so heavily.

My issue here isn’t with the Twitter ban itself. I get it. I don’t agree with it completely, but I get it and so do dozens — if not hundreds — of other coaches out there.

My issue is that the Jayhawks being on Twitter didn’t actually hurt anything or anybody. In fact, I’d argue that it did the opposite. This is a program in dire need of a little love right now and following Daymond Patterson, AJ Steward, Toben Opurum, Tyler Patmon, Lubbock Smith, DJ Beshears or whoever else on the KU football team sounded interesting gave us that. Fans were able to interact with players. The players themselves were allowed to be real. And, for 140 characters at a time a few times a day, people got to see a side of these athletes they don’t often see, something more than polished press conference speak or faces hidden behind helmets.

In the long run, this whole thing will probably blow over pretty quickly. It’s Gill’s team and it’s Gill’s rules. What he says goes.

And to the players' credit, those who officially announced they were officially signing off for a while did so in a classy manner.

For my money, though, I think laying down some rules and allowing his players to continue enjoying Twitter would’ve been the right move here. Tell them not to use profanity, not to release information about the team and not to conduct themselves in a manner that might embarass the program. Everything else is fair game. If Patterson wants to tell us that he just hit up Taco Bell, great. If Patmon wants to let people know that he’s more driven than he’s ever been in his life, great. If Steward wants people to know he’s happy about the St. Louis Cardinals’ latest victory, even better.

Cutting it out altogether just seems too controlling and misguided. Gill talks often about his desire to help shape and teach young men 18-22 years old. He had a chance to do just that here. Twitter is a real part of the everyday world — especially for people in college — and it appears as if it’s here to stay. So embrace it. Use it as a teaching moment. Don’t just pretend it doesn’t exist.

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Comments

Kip Reiserer 2 years, 12 months ago

Good points, Matt. As it takes some of the fun away and hasn't been a problem to KU football lately, I think it may the right decision right now. I'm sure Gill is preventing anything happening like what happened when Tyshawn got heated over the KU football/basketball fight two years ago. Also, it enables KU to do ALL of it's talking on the field. No one can trash talk any other teams or players unless they are on the gridiron. While there is no problem with being confident, I don't think KU football and its players are in the position to be making noise over the internet before proving themselves. That said, it could have also been possible to make all of the players switch their accounts to private. That probably wouldn't have turned so many heads. I'm sure this will be a test this year, as was the unpopular Jayhawk on the back on the jerseys last year. Hopefully we can get our player entertainment from post-game interviews after wins!

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phi4life940 2 years, 12 months ago

I 100% agree. I recently got involved in twitter and really enjoy seeing the "real" side of the players. I honestly got more excited about the football season because of these players' tweets. On ESPN and KUSports.com etc., everyone is talking about how bad we are going to be and I honestly thought, "I guess I'm not going to many games this year." BUT....after reading tweets like "Getting excited for the season, we are going to surprise a lot of people!" I actually WANTED to go to the games.

Twitter shouldn't be banned. Let these guy tweet but make sure to highlight what they shouldn't be tweeting. Should he also ban driving cars, texting and facebook as all of these can lead to poor decisions??? I know it's a bit extreme to compare them, but honestly. Gill just looks like a dictator here, not like a responsible coach teaching lessons/values. Let the players tweet so the fans become more involved/attached to the team. Let us feel connected rather than just going to a game here and there with nothing but quotes passed along to KUSports. We want to hear directly from the players and be able to talk directly to them. If they have a bad game, we want to be there to tell them to stay positive. If they have a good game, we want to praise them.

Keep twitter because it's part of our society and it's awesome. #kufball #keeptweeting #connecttothefans

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Benjamin Piehler 2 years, 12 months ago

I get your points, but I dont know if keeping something simply because it's "part of society" is necessarily a good idea.... a lot of society is dysfunctional. (I'm sort of off topic here)

I'm not a Gill fan, but I don't think its fair to call him a "dictator" based on how he runs a football team.

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NEJHawk84 2 years, 12 months ago

"This is a program in dire need of a little love right now and following "

While I don't believe this is the best way of going about it, I don't think PR is going to give the program the love and following Gill desires. Winning is the only thing that is going to put seats back in the stands, and keep them there past halftime. Keep up the hard work players and staff!! I am looking forward to seeing you on September 3rd!!

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d_prowess 2 years, 12 months ago

What is most interesting is that Coach Gill has been tweeting today. So I guess the ban only applies to his players.

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Jayhawk1116 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't wanna see the real side of the players. I will probably lose a lot of respect for them after reading (or deciphering) their tweets. A common reaction I have for any celebrities who "tweet".

I think giving these kids an open mic to the masses is begging for trouble. Just play football and go to class.

This is a good move on Gill's part, I think.

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KCHawk81 2 years, 12 months ago

I have to disagree. I'm guessing lots of athletes have received "don't post anything stupid" warnings...and have followed them up by posting something stupid. I'm sure all the Jayhawks were using Twitter responsibly, but any good PR generated is still far outweighed by the bad publicity one thoughtless tweet can produce. I think most people following KU football players on Twitter are already fans of the program.

The bigger issue to me is mystique. Twitter has destroyed any aura of celebrity from every celebrity who's used it. I don't want to know what bar the 'Hawks are hitting on Friday or which players have trouble differentiating "they're" and "their." Such details humanize them, sure--but, when you were a kid, how many pictures of ordinary average guys (or girls) did you hang on your wall?

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haydenhawkco 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm on the fence about Twitter ban. However, banning twitter is not new to coaches - it can open up a lot of distractions for programs trying to rebuild. I see this more as an opportunity for KUsports.com to fill the void. You already have great content and a strong following. This could be your tipping point!

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d_prowess 2 years, 12 months ago

Not if they are rarely allowed to talk to the players and only get to watch practice for 10 minutes a week.

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Frightwig 2 years, 12 months ago

Good move by Coach Gill. It's no secret that athletes at every level post notoriously stupid things online. Remember when Tyshawn posted garbage about fellow Jayhawks a couple years ago and Bill Self then banned him from posting on Facebook? Let's just focus on winning games, guys. Nobody needs to know what you had for breakfast or what TV show you watched anyway. We will certainly hear stories of more embarrassing athlete tweets in the months ahead. Fortunately, they won't be coming from any KU football players.

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Benjamin Piehler 2 years, 12 months ago

I gotta be honest, I dont really care about any celebrity twitters. 99% of the time they are pointless... but I guess that could be said about twitter in general.

I guess my opinion is that most pro/college athletes are totally absorbed with themselves and frankly, don't have anything intelligent or insightful to add to the conversation. Just go play, nobody is paying you to think.

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Kent Fisher 2 years, 12 months ago

I agree that tweets should be allowed with strict rules and guidelines. However, it's clear that Coach Self isn't monitoring Tyshawn Taylor's (and others) tweets. His tweets are full of unintelligible comments and vulgarities. Classy...

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kureader 2 years, 12 months ago

Perhaps for the first time ever, I don't agree with you, Matt. And, it's certainly not about what reporters and fans want. I'd defer to Coach Gill on this one. It's no different than curfews or bans on drinking during the season. At a point, rules can be overdone (like the "no girls after 10pm rule"), but I can see Gill's concerns about Twitter. Gill has enough to worry about. He doesn't need to have 80 players posting "who knows what" after every practice or game. Frankly it would bother me to know that LJW reporters are monitoring Twitter accounts of all my players, hoping to get a scoop on a juicy story.

Matt, it would be interesting to see how many of the 10 schools in our league have a similar rule.

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oldalum 2 years, 12 months ago

Not only LJW reporters, but players and coaches of opposing teams looking for bulletin board material. Besides, they only have to give it up for the season, not for life.

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justinryman 2 years, 12 months ago

Not one college player has ever tweeted anything good about their program that made the media.

Texas Tech had problems with a few years back(perhaps it was facebook, but still social media), Michigan has had problems too and I am sure many more.

Better to keep the home front quiet than be in the media for all the wrong reasons, such a player calling out a coach, or a teammate, or a drill or giving up something that happened in practice that should stay in house.

If social media were actually social that would be a good thing, but people have forgotten how to communicate face to face. They can't look each other in the eye when talking any more as well. We have become a society of microwaves, where things come to us at the speed of light and it still isn't fast enough or have enough information for us.

Sorry abut my own little rant and commentary.

Heres to a season of good times.

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Byrd313 2 years, 12 months ago

As a active follower of KU players on Twitter, I would rather Gill and Self turn Twitter off for players, at least during the season. There are some that use it appropriately, but most players do not hold themselves out very positively on their tweets. If it is the offseason, tweet away. Get hammered and openly talk about banging slutty co-eds. But not during the season. Players can be frustrating enough without having to hear about their nightly exploits.

I believe Spurrier also banned Twitter at South Carolina. I'm pretty sure the Ole Ball Coach knows what he is doing.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

Discipline, rules and structure of any kind should be banned from all college sports. Scientific surveys show that human beings function much better when they are allowed to do whatever they think is best for them. Especially 18-22 year old kids. Let them learn from their mistakes, Coach. Tweeting will change their lives (and ours) , make them more responsible citizens and bring about world peace.

Heavy sarcasm font.

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justinryman 2 years, 12 months ago

I need a new keyboard, cause I can NOT find that sarcasm font anywhere. It would be the best thing ever!!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

I was hoping while they were revising the website, with all the upvote/downvote interactive stuff, someone might actually incorporate that - it would be great fun !!

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kureader 2 years, 12 months ago

Thanks for using the sarcasm font. For a minute there, I thought someone had stolen your ID.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

you're welcome kureader ! I'd hate to have another fiasco like we had a while back, with the severe case of * MPD * - Multiple Personality Disorder regarding ahperse....

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Joe Joseph 2 years, 12 months ago

The slippery slope keeps getting slipperier.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

I had twitter problems once, but through a strict regiment of Imodium® and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol® and Kaopectate®), I was able to overcome them.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

sorry - should be regimen - twitter effects your spelling.

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Jayhawk1116 2 years, 12 months ago

Isn't Twitter caused by excessive caffeine consumption? As in, "I drank too much Mountain Dew and and now I have the Twitters".

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

definitely one of the many causes !! If you have a couple of spare hours, ask jaybate for a list of some of the other ones......... that's a compliment, jaybate !!!

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texashawk10 2 years, 12 months ago

I have zero problems with Gill and any other coach banning players from tweeting during the season. It is an unnecessary distraction when one player out out of 100+ on the team tweets something stupid that catches everyone's attention and focus like what happened with Tyshawn a couple of years ago. I haven't agreed with all of Gill's moves, but this is one I have no problem with whatsoever.

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actorman 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm with the majority on this one. Matt, I think you're off base if you think that simply setting out specific rules for twittering would be enough to keep the players from doing something stupid. Most of the players, yes. But all it takes is one idiot to cause problems for the whole team, and they have a tough enough challenge ahead of them as it is.

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KGphoto 2 years, 12 months ago

Tait, I think all the people who don't need football story material just out-voted you. Nobody else seems to need to know that Patterson just hit up Taco Hell.

I too, think you are off base criticizing Gill for setting solid boundaries. The only benefit of the players twittering would be for you and LJW. Certainly not Gill or the team.

It just doesn't seem like you anyway. Are you sure Keegan didn't sign your name to this article?

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Funhawk 2 years, 12 months ago

This comment from KGphoto says it all.

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kureader 2 years, 12 months ago

Astute observation ... probably not Tate's idea for the article ... prompted by Keegan.

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truefan 2 years, 12 months ago

Matt, I like your articles, but on this one I respectfully disagree.

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ForeverLoyal2KU 2 years, 12 months ago

I agree with Coach Gill on this one. While some people may like to get a "behind-the-scenes glimpse" into what the athletes are up to, probably from a coach's perspective, twitter has the ability to do more harm than it does good. It is good for the players not to worry about what the outside world is thinking all the time. They should be focused on the opportunity they have been given as division 1 athletes and invest the majority of their energy into becoming better players and staying on top of their classes. I don't think Gill is trying to take away their "social lives" or anything of that nature... simply trying to keep them focused and out of trouble..

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Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 12 months ago

this is truly a non story. it's only a story because in our info. age IM social network society, when these things are announced, it's big news.

you don't hink college athletes can only use Twitter to get their "news" out? what a crock. there's still cell phones, facebook, myspace, email, google+, the ma bell phone system, student union bulletin boards....good night, who really cares about the specific medium.

The working beat press is still readily available as well....it's a total non issue.

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sdoyel 2 years, 12 months ago

I follow several football players on Twitter. A couple of them (Patterson and Opurum) seemingly Tweet 24/7. And 90% of the time it's not about football.

I think Coach Gill made the right call here. FOCUS.

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CrodieBroyle 2 years, 12 months ago

awesome, i HATE twitter and espn's obsession with it. I'm sick and tired of hearing about it. Good for Coach to put his foot down before someone embarrasses the university. One of my favorites quotes i've heard recently, Bill Belichick " i don't twitter and i dont myface so i'll be the last to know"

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roosey 2 years, 12 months ago

It might have stemmed from one of DP's posts following the World Cup Final. Just saying, I'm surprised it wasn't on Sportscenter that night lol. Of course, there were a lot of racially insensitive remarks following that game on Twitter. Soccer brings out the worst in people, that's why I love football.

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John Myers 2 years, 11 months ago

Love your articles most of the time, Matt, but I'm with the majority here. This ban is a good thing. Kids are stupid, and kids post stupid crap on Twitter. Even if it were to be allowed with restrictions or whatever you want to call it, you can bet somewhere along the line a player will mouth off and say something that you all in the media will blow up into a big mess.

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domino 2 years, 11 months ago

I have no problem with the Twitter ban - but I don't use Twitter - neither do I hardly ever text - think I've sent 16 texts since I got my phone last November. I have an issue with people who can't use proper spelling, capitalization or punctuation - I know mine is perfect, but I know the difference between there - their and they're - and Twitter would drive me crazy trying to read with all those abbreviations! To me, the writer of this article seems to have a problem with the Twitter ban because it might cause him to actually have to go out and research, do some leg-work and actually find something to report instead of just being able to scan his phone for Twitter posts, then copy and comment on them and call it an article.

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justinryman 2 years, 11 months ago

Steve Spurrier has a ban this year at South Carolina, plus Oklahoma has a compliance officer watching over the football team's tweets to make sure they are staying in line.

So Gill isn't doing anything wrong by this ban.

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jaybate 2 years, 11 months ago

As I read the posts above, I am reminded yet again that people have an unfortunate history of being willing to give up other people's rights to express themselves.

How about if Turner Gill announces that no KU fans can use Twitter during the football season, or they will not be allowed into the football stadium to attend games, nor will they be allowed access to broadcasts of KU games?

Would this rub anyone the wrong way?

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