University of Alabama

Stephanie Pedersen commentary: Twitter trash talk causing trouble for college athletes

Coaches have enough to worry about these days. With the NCAA trying to revamp its efforts to keep schools in line and create new guidelines based on “loopholes,” the last thing Auburn football coach Gene Chizik probably wants to hear is that one of his prized recruits can’t keep his mouth shut or fingers away from Twitter.

Four-star quarterback and Tiger commitment Zeke Pike of Dixie Heights High (Ky.) has caused a commotion across social media over the past several weeks with his jabs at Alabama and others.

On July 27, Pike (@z_pikeau) took to Twitter and threw the following bomb: “I knew I was suppose to be an Auburn Tiger when I stepped on Alabama’s campus and hated everything #realtalk.”

According to Rivals, Pike is the third-best, pro-style quarterback in the class of 2012.

Pike posted Wednesday on Twitter that he’s done with the social media network after it becoming “outta control” and ended with a “#seeyouontheplains.”

His exit was a little late.

What happened to taking care of it on the field?

This isn’t an attack on Pike. He just gave journalists prime material that we’d never get in the friendly confines of Auburn’s athletic complex. And there is a good chance he won’t have much more to say, and that’s probably because someone from the Plains told him to stop.

Whether you like it or not, high school recruits and college athletes are celebrities. Ask Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell (Carver High) if he has much privacy anymore. Go see if Alabama running back Trent Richardson is alone at the mall. These guys are now role models, whether they like it or not.

They represent their families, high schools, city and college with every move they make. With every move so public, the easiest thing to keep private should be what’s said on the field. So why not leave it on the field?

There is no official social media policy at Alabama, Auburn or Georgia, but all three schools follow the same basic guideline:

Keep it clean.

“Our thoughts on Twitter is that, if that is causing some type of problem, individually we’ll address it,” Chizik told beat writer Andy Bitter.

According to Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, the Bulldogs are similar.

“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 told beat writer Seth Emerson. “I think everybody on the team knows what not to put on Facebook or Twitter.”

The overwhelming thought from these three schools is to be smart. After a tweet gets out there, it never really goes away.

So for our upcoming high school seasons, let’s remember that our words are just as much a representative of ourselves. If you can’t give up Twitter, keep the trash talk off.

Stephanie Pedersen, spedersen@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8502

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