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August 17, 2011

How Tweet it is?

In the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas, Nev., it's rest in peace for the UNLV football team when it comes to Twitter. It's becoming a growing trend in college football around the country. Coaches banning their players from social media, which includes Twitter and Facebook. And why not? After all, it caused North Carolina's football program to be placed on probation and ultimately got head coach Butch Davis fired.

But for Derek Dooley's it's full speed ahead for his players and social media. Although Dooley admits banning the outlets to his players would be the easiest thing to do and the best thing for his program.

"It's easy for me to ban it. That's the easy thing," Dooley said. "But, I don't think that's our job as coaches. Our job as coaches is that this is part of their growth process in their life. Social media is going to be there when they graduate. One way to look at it is to ban it and it's going to be someone else's problem when they get older. My belief is that we have a responsibility to educate them and teach them how to use it responsibility so when they get out of college they don't make a mistake that can get them fired. It's part of VFL. We are teaching them to be men when they are young. The best thing for our football team is for me to ban it. The best thing for what I believe is part of my job is to try to teach them how to use it responsibly. Now the risk with that is we are going to have some knuckleheads that use it irresponsibly and we are going to have to take away their privilege."

To aid Dooley's teaching, there are parameters on what can be posted as well as the manner in how the message is being delivered.

"We have some basic guidelines," Dooley explained. "Number one, we have a rule that prohibits any use of social media on gameday whether it's Facebook or Twitter. I don't think anybody should be worrying about that stuff on gameday. That's number one. Number two is no foul language expressed or implied. The language is a real concern out there. Implied meaning s - asterisk -asterisk - … or re-tweeting foul language in general. So foul language is off limits.
"We don't want anything mentioned that puts us at a competitive disadvantage. We don't want them talking about player injuries. We don't want them talking about game plans or about what we are doing at practice. Anything as it relates to work as a team. That's the third big-picture thing."

But it's not just rules that Dooley wants to his players to follow. Dooley, who has 20,299 followers and zero tweets on his page, has tried to help his players understand how to use social media effectively.

"We have had several seminars educating these guys on the proper use of social media to help themselves their brand and to interact," Dooley said. "What we don't want is meaningless fodder, if that makes sense. We want them to have a purpose."

So while fans, friends and family keep up with the Vols on everything from quarterback haircuts to dinner plans, Dooley and his staff have another item to manage in their sport that's in the spotlight more than ever.

"Everything is a pain in the rear-end," Dooley answered when asked how maddening social media is to monitor. "When you are dealing with 120 18-year-olds, it's like raising children. Parenting is a pain in the rear-end, but we have kids because of all the joy you get from all the good things kids do. You what's not a pain in the rear-end? When you watch them use it responsibly. It makes you feel good. That's part of mentoring and helping young people. Is it a pain in the rear-end? Your dang right it is, but the rewards are a lot greater than the pains."



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