Bret Bielema talks social media’s impact on recruiting

July 16, 2015 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
Coaches are always watching. And for student-athletes hoping to land a college athletic scholarship, that’s something they must never forget.

Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema speaks during the SEC Media Day.
Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema speaks during the SEC Media Day.

Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema spoke about social media’s impact on recruiting at this week’s SEC Media Day. Based on the types of pictures and language young athletes use on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you get the impression they believe nobody is paying attention. Bielema said that’s not the case.

His program closely follows what potential recruits are doing on social media, and he won’t hesitate to quit pursuing a star athlete based solely on a photograph.

“It’s a bunch of we, not me, and I can’t stress enough that just because you’re a great player in the United States of America doesn’t mean Arkansas is going to recruit you,” Bielema said. “We have a social media background screening that you’ve got to go through, and if you have a social media nickname or something on your Twitter account that makes me sick, I’m not going to recruit you. I’ve turned down players based on their Twitter handles. I’ve turned down players based on Twitter pictures. It’s just that’s how I choose to run our program. I’m never going to waiver in that.”

Bielema also discussed the type of player he likes to bring into his program, and it starts with character. Bielema played for and coached with Iowa Hawkeyes coach Hayden Fry, and he referenced advice the Hall of Famer gave to him several years ago.

“Coach Fry used to say all the time, you recruit your own problems,” he said. “All he was saying to us as assistant coaches, if you want to recruit a young man who’s going to cause to you have gray hairs or make you stay awake on Friday night or make you have an issue that you don’t want to deal with, then you recruit him. If you want to recruit somebody of high character and value, somebody you can trust to not only watch your house, but your children, someone you can count on to share carries of 1,000 yards each rather than trying to get 1,800 for one, now you’re going to build something that matters.”

Bielema’s words should come as little surprise. Even Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski recently admitted that he uses a secret Twitter account to spy on his players. Coaches believe social media provides a window into a recruit’s character and personality, so more are turning to Facebook and Twitter for insight on players of interest.

Last year, we published an article about creating social media guidelines for your players and teams, helping them to avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes. It can be found here.

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