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Social media making college recruiting even crazier

The internet has brought many benefits to society, but there have been detriments as well, especially in the realm of social media. People post and share anything, and it’s nigh impossible to figure out what among it is actually true. I actually began a new web show ridiculing fake news stories because of this.

This is very much the case in sports as well. Any and all rumors will get sprawled all over Facebook and Twitter, fact checking be damned.

That has proven apparent as National Signing Day has drawn closer, and it appears that recruits everywhere are taking to one of the most infamous online practices: Trolling.

There have likely been multiple types of issues, but perhaps the most infamous of late has been that of Allen’s Kyler Murray, the supposed commit to Texas A&M. That is, until a few weeks back when he posted on Twitter an image of a University of Texas jersey. This came just after his friend DaMarkus Lodge had done the same.

Naturally, everyone pounced on this and went into a frenzy. Aggies on fan forums began roasting the five-star Murray for betraying them, claiming how A&M was losing recruits because the athletes were too “weak” to handle the SEC.

And… it all pretty much amounted to nothing, as just a few days ago, Murray sent another Tweet reading “Following my heart… #GigEm.”

It should be noted that the allure of another college may not even be the greatest threat toward Murray’s chances of actually playing in College Station, as USA Today recently reported that many baseball scouts believe he may have an even brighter future in that sport; it may very well depend on how much money the pro baseball leagues are willing to throw at him.

And it looks like Texas didn’t come up empty-handed in this, as reports are now saying that four-star quarterback Kai Locksley has switched his commitment from Florida State to come to Austin.

But ultimately, this is what happened: Kyler Murray punk’d you all. Did what he did get you all talking about him? Mission accomplished, then. He never had to make such a change, but he got his name back in the headlines for a few more days, stroking his own ego.

All of this is why I have been reluctant to talk too much about recruiting in the past few days and make a huge fuss about who has announced where and what school and what player has reportedly flip flopped. This has always been a part of the recruiting season, but it’s only going to get worse thanks to social media. And it’s going to be another one of those lessons that people never learn.

More than ever, this is why it has to be re-affirmed that “commitments” to college are all unofficial until the moment the recruits sign that letter of intent, which will start happening today. Only then will we actually know who is going where.

In the meantime, the recruits, a lot more savvy with the Internet than many of the writers covering them, will find new ways with the technology to troll them. And the writers will fall for it and keep feeding the athletes’ egos.

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My Disappointment in the Media and Where I Want to Take Rowdy Sports

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I find myself frequently re-watching the ESPN-produced movie “Pony Exce$$” about the SMU scandal of the 80s, and what stood out most to me in that movie was the talk about the huge media war going on between the Dallas Morning News and now-defunct Dallas Times Herald at that time. The intense battle for readership was what drove those reporters to dig up one of the biggest scandals in the history of college sports.

Nowadays, I doubt any newspaper in the area would put much effort into unearthing any athletic wrongdoing at the University Park campus or the three other major colleges in North Texas.

Does the Morning News or Fort Worth Star-Telegram even have a beat writer covering SMU and/or the other local college programs individually? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. There are unfortunately too many sports and teams that get complete ignorance from the local papers, relegated to maybe three inches of copy on page six without even a byline, if that at all.

Back nearly three decades ago, Richie Whitt got his start in the news because the Star-Telegram was so needing a beat writer to cover a fledgling indoor soccer team called the Dallas Sidekicks that they took his GREATLY stretched claim (OK, maybe it was a lie) that he knew that game at face value. Nowadays, I don’t think the S-T even has a beat writer for the Stars.

You could blame the reduction in coverage and reporting on these publications cutting their budget and staff with each year and the supposed dying out of newspapers, which I’d love to just have a discussion one day with Richie or someone similar. But the fact is, the problems exist everywhere, not just with the newspapers.

Sports reporting, at least in this area, has grown grossly complacent. It doesn’t matter if it’s print, TV or radio, the expansion of media has sadly come with contraction of actual coverage.

Admittedly, this is not exclusive to sports journalism, as 24-hour news networks inundate us with constant reporting of just one or two supposedly “big stories” to the point that we’re sick of them.

Still, it’s frustrating that with new sports stations starting up, the internet providing instant information and multiple sports radio stations in one of the biggest media markets, nowadays coverage is exclusively on just the “major league” teams and everything else is completely ignored. And of course, the Cowboys get way more coverage than the other major teams.

When I studied journalism at UTA, one of the staples we were taught was that yes, we must cover the most popular issues in the area at the time, but it was also our job to inform the public of things they might not know about.

The media seems to be just ignoring the latter of those two tasks, and it’s especially true in sports. You can get four pages of Cowboys coverage, including a front page article every day, but you’ll be lucky to find where the Grand Prairie AirHogs story is printed.

The Ticket Ticker and Fan Flash reporters on the radio won’t even devote a few seconds to reporting a RoughRiders score, instead opting for spending half the report summarizing the same story about what happened in Cowboys practice that the talk hosts are just going to go into anyway.

And they always go back to the cheap, lazy excuse that they have to cover what the listeners want to get ratings. No one cares about those sports, so there’s no point in trying.

Why not? At one point in time, the Sidekicks could pack Reunion Arena, which had twice the capacity of the team’s current home in the Allen Event Center. The team was popular enough for star player (now owner/coach) Tatu to draw a six-figure salary. If you take the time to TELL someone about something they might not know is happening, maybe might get interested.

I’m not talking about the Hardline having to devote even a daily segment to soccer or minor league baseball. I’m saying, would it really kill Sean Bass to take five seconds to say FC Dallas is playing tonight?

That’s what I hope to do with Rowdy Time Sports; do whatever I can to inform you all of every possible sporting event as best I can.

It’s not easy, given that I’m one person with extremely limited resources trying to do this while working other jobs. At the moment, the best I can give you in addition to these columns are my “Rowdy Time Gameday” articles, giving you what games are taking place on this particular day and eventually updating them with the scores, in addition to providing you with what news stories I can manage on the individual pages or each team/sport.

I can’t promise this will be perfect; only that I will try my best. It’s thanks to my on-the-job learning of WordPress format that I’m now able to create tables and columns for line scores and the like, which has allowed me to post these articles in hopefully a more professional looking manner. This is in addition to only using one sidebar for ads and the other for scores/summaries to try and make the ads as un-intrusive as possible (compared to the DMN and ST sites, whose ads take up a third of the space).

I want his to be as much of an online newspaper as I can make it, putting the games and scores, even the ones you might not have know of but might draw interest in when seen, up front for you to easily find them rather than bury them under small links off to the side.

Is this going to change the way sports are covered in this area? I can’t make a bold guarantee like that. But someone has to start.

Anyone can be lazy and just focus on the big boys. And maybe that’s what needs to change in a world where Wal-Mart shuts down the neighborhood store, CNN cherry picks its coverage and the Cowboys get all the headlines and talk.