ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin is a regular Twitter user. One day last week, he tweeted a dozen times.
But the sophomore knows that, as a football player at Georgia, there have to be limits.
“Anything you say can be portrayed totally different by anybody,” Boykin said. “I know with Twitter and Facebook and the social networks you’re going to have a lot of people following you all the time, and anything can show up in the media. So I really try not to say anything at all.”
Other players, including one Boykin will have to defend Saturday, don’t always have the same restraint.
Kentucky star receiver Randall Cobb used Twitter to rip into fair-weather Wildcat fans on Sunday, the day after his team’s upset of South Carolina. Cobb chided them for showing up late and booing and not selling out a game against the No. 10 team in the country. Cobb thanked the positive fans then added: “The rest of Yall can get ready for bball season!”
After a furor broke out, Cobb deleted the tweets.
It was a relatively benign controversy compared to what happened at North Carolina. Star Marvin Austin’s tweet this spring about a Miami trip helped launched an NCAA investigation that ended his career and that of two other teammates.
Boise State, Miami and North Carolina are among the football programs that have banned Twitter.
Mark Fox, Georgia’s men’s basketball head coach, has ordered his players not to use Twitter. When Marcus Thornton, a recruit who had been tweeting, enrolled in June he sent out a tweet saying: “I won’t be tweetin till futher notice &so long twit fam.” He hasn’t been heard from since.
Last month, Georgia head football coach Mark Richt was informed the day after a loss that some of his players had been ripping into fans via Twitter. Richt, who hadn’t seen the tweets, replied that maybe they would have to talk to their players about the tweeting.
But Richt never cracked down. Boykin said it was “just kind of expected” that players would be smart about what they post.
“They just tell us if you do have a social network to keep it clean and don’t really do anything that can affect you right now on the team, or even yourself in the long run after you’re done with football,” Boykin said. “I think everybody on the team knows what not to put on Facebook or Twitter.”
Bulldog senior receiver Kris Durham tweets Bible verses and about sports he’s watching on television. Like many, he said goodbye to retiring Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox via a tweet.
Linebacker Darryl Gamble informed followers on Monday that he was at the driving range. (“Not looking too great but it’s my first time, lol,” Gamble wrote.)
Others are more serious. When Georgia lost at South Carolina, suspended receiver A.J. Green tweeted seconds after the end of the game that “I’m sick.”
Some players, like Josh Davis and Aaron Murray, keep their tweets protected.
Punter Drew Butler, who said he uses Twitter mainly as a news source, said the coaches don’t have to remind them to be smart about it.
“We all know that they monitor it. So we’re just smart with what we do,” Butler said. “I don’t really keep up with what other people are doing, but I don’t really think any of us has abused the freedom that they’ve given us, as far as social media goes.”
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips, while chiding Cobb’s Sunday tweets, sounded ambivalent about cracking down.
“We have to try and get our arms around it,” Phillips said.
“But I also want to give these guys a chance to express themselves, but not in a way that might harm someone else. We have to get a little bit smarter about it.”