Before about 6 Sunday night, I had no idea who A.J. Barker was.
Never heard of him until he quit the University of Minnesota football team via Twitter, then spent nearly 4,000 words outlining his problems with Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill.
If you don't think social media has power, consider what this junior walk-on wide receiver accomplished in less than 24 hours.
He put his head coach on the defensive, prompting a called news conference Monday morning, not to discuss the upcoming season finale with Michigan State, but to talk about the Barker situation.
And, Barker framed the discussion. No reporters, nothing but Twitter and a link to a detailed email rant of how he claimed he was manipulated and mistreated by his coach.
It all came after Barker was dressed down by Kill last Thursday as the player was about to miss his third game with an ankle injury.
"Thank you for showing me your true colors; that you will stop at nothing to prove you have control over me," Barker wrote in his diatribe that was e-mailed to Kill. " In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end. It kills me that I have to do this before the season's over, but this is the only way I can protect myself against the manipulation and abuse I'd have to endure from you the rest of this season."
Can you imagine doing that to Nick Saban?
But Barker wasn't your normal walk-on. He was the Golden Gophers leading receiver. Knowing how Southeastern Conference football works, it is hard for me to believe a Division I team's top receiver with seven touchdowns is a non-scholarship athlete.
That player, if he were at Auburn, Georgia or Alabama, would have the scholarship or at least the promise of one by now. One of Barker's claims is Kill held the scholarship over his head for leverage.
Kill appeared to play defense, not offense, in his public response to Barker.
"I feel bad for A.J. I feel bad that's the way he feels about the situation and I'll do anything I can to help in the future, whatever he decides to do. I'm all for the kids," Kill said, adding that "the wins and losses on my tombstone are how many kids you've saved and how many you've lost that's a loss for me."
In many ways this is about winning and losing. It also about a shift in the tide of what can happen if a subordinate feels he or she has been mistreated.
This kid had a play that wasn't available a decade ago. He was able to make his case in the social media universe before his coach got through breaking down Saturday's loss at Nebraska.
Is it right? Don't know. Is it wrong? Don't know that, either.
Those answers depend on your vantage point. But one thing is for certain, it's a whole new game for old-school coaches.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ ledger-enquirer.com.