STILLWATER — Click on Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's Twitter account — @CoachGundy — and scan through the past four months of tweets. The following will pop up:
*The catchphrases “Pistols Firing!” and “#BeACowboy,” which have become a sort of secret code used to alert the viewing public that a recruit has just committed to OSU.
*An assessment of OSU's first preseason practice in pads, where the coach stressed the Cowboys “need to keep pushing (themselves) & focus on details.”
*A day-by-day countdown to the season opener, complete with a photo of a notable Cowboy who wore the corresponding number.
*Answers to multiple fan questions, including the revelation that “Law & Order: SVU” actress Mariska Hargitay is the celebrity he would most like to take a cross-country road trip with.
Twitter is no longer a shiny new tool or an innovative form of technology. It's a full-fledged part of our society. And various members of the OSU football program are utilizing and embracing the social media platform, even if Gundy says it's still a “nightmare” to try to monitor players on the popular site.
“It's the ‘in' thing to do,” Gundy said. “And they try to do it and we try to not take it away from them. You try to strong-arm them and it will backlash on you. We try to manage it the best we can.”
This is nothing unique to OSU, as programs across the country have become increasingly savvy on Twitter. LSU coach Les Miles has more than 114,000 followers. Arizona State has launched a “Social Media Command Center” in the athletic department to allow coaches, players and administration to engage with fans. And these same schools are trying to educate their athletes on how to properly conduct themselves in front of, well, anyone with an Internet connection.
At OSU, players went through a social media training session on the day they reported for fall camp.
The gist of the message? Being active is fine. Engaging is fine. But think before hitting “send.”
“I've had to pull them in and read something they wrote,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said, “and (say), ‘All right, would you like your mom to read this?' (They say), ‘Well, no not really.' Well guess what? Her and a thousand other moms maybe have read this.
“How about your niece? Or your daughter someday? Would you want her to read this? And they go, ‘No.' Well, guess what? You just put that out to the world.”
The OSU coaches have become more experienced with the platform, too.
Every assistant has an account. Some, like running backs coach Jemal Singleton and cornerbacks coach Van Malone, are quite active. Defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements is a self-proclaimed “excellent retweeter.” Offensive line coach Joe Wickline isn't a huge fan of any of it. New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich admits his wife helped him set up his account when he came to OSU and that he's still a bit “intimidated” by the whole thing.
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