When the pencil you use has its own Twitter account, you're left with little choice but to embrace social media.
But even before fan Twitter account @Sunny_2Pencil began "making roster moves and lineup shakes," Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway had a rather enlightened view of the medium.
"Our message doesn't change, whether we're talking about drunk driving or using the latest technology," explained the coach. "[The players] are young and they're going to make mistakes. But I tell them at the end of every practice, 'Take care of the program tonight.' Accept and embrace being a part of the program.
"When we recruit, we try to educate the players. When you're in high school, you represent your family. Now the family you represent is much larger. You don't want to lash out -- whether it's in a restaurant or online. And when it's printed, it's hard for it to go away."
Of course, one of the dangers of social media is posting an off-the-cuff remark in the heat of the moment -- and unlike what's said in the privacy of a dorm room, it's instantly seen around the world. And while the Sooners baseball team encourages its players to tweet as a way of creating awareness for the program and connecting with fans, according to sports information director Craig Moran there are clear guidelines.
"Technology is changing so fast, it's hard to implement policies. There's always the potential to make a mistake when you wear your feelings on your sleeve, as we all do," Golloway said. "All of the coaches are educated [on social media] from the administration and support staff, and it's highly monitored. But there isn't a set policy across the board; coaches are left to decide how to handle it."
Juniors Caleb Bushyhead and Tyler Ogle agreed that they're well aware of what's expected of them on and off the field. For both, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
"I've already had quite a few fans tell me they appreciate it and feel like they're able to get closer to the players," Bushyhead wrote, via Twitter, during a recent interview. (See below for the full transcript.)
While a number of Golloway's players are on Twitter, he has shied away from social media.
"I'm a private person. I tried Facebook for a week, but I didn't have a lot of time," Golloway explained. "I'll let the pencil handle it for both of us."
And what does the coach think about his pencil's Tweets?
"I worry about what the pencil might say, because I don't know how to discipline it. Maybe if I take it out of my hat, it might lose its popularity," Golloway joked. "The pencil knows a lot of information. Every time I slide one up into my cap, I think about it. The bright side is it's fun. It allows people to be interested and get involved, and that's awesome."
How better to conduct a story on social media than on Twitter? ESPNU.com chatted with Oklahoma juniors Caleb Bushyhead (@calebbushyhead) and Tyler Ogle (@TylerOgle35), about the role of social media. As Twitter is a public forum, we were quickly joined by Sooners preseason All-American Garrett Buechele (@GarrettBuechele), senior pitcher Ryan Duke (@ryanduke17), junior JC transfer Evan Mistich (@EvanMistich9) and the aforementioned @Sunny_2Pencil. Below is the transcript of our "Twitter-view":
ESPN_College: Hi @calebbushyhead and @TylerOgle35! Thanks for taking the time to do this twitter-view. So, where are you guys right now?
calebbushyhead: glad to be doing this with you, we just landed in Mizzou and are headed to Columbia now
TylerOgle35: happy to do it for you. Right now we are on a bus headed to Columbia,Missouri to play Mizzou for a 3 game series
ESPN_College: So when did you guys first decide to get on Twitter?
calebbushyhead: Our SID asked if we would do it for some @OU_Baseball publicity and I gladly did it. I've really enjoyed it so far
TylerOgle35: I was asked by our SID to have one so we can interact better with our fans and get more people interested in @OU_Baseball
ESPN_College to TylerOgle35: Do you keep your tweets to mostly baseball?
TylerOgle35: I started off that way but has evolved more now that i have been using it
TylerOgle35: I like to see how other teams are doing around the country and give shoutouts to other Sooner Sports teams
ESPN_College to calebbushyhead: Do you primarily use it to connect with fans?
calebbushyhead: ya that's the main reason I use twitter. it's a good way to interact with fans that I usually wouldn't be able to.
calebbushyhead: and I've already had quite a few fans tell me they appreciate it and feel like they're able to get closer to the players
calebbushyhead: I like to just have fun with it all, tweeting and keeping people informed and being able to follow others and interact
Sunny_2Pencil: If I were conducting the interview with @calebbushyhead I would ask him if he was happy I penciled him back in the lineup
calebbushyhead to Sunny_2Pencil: I appreciate it. I'm glad to be back and know that the lead still knows how to write Bushyhead
GarrettBuechele to EvanMistich9: I guess we aren't as cool as @calebbushyhead
EvanMistich9 to GarrettBuechele: its really a shame because they aren't even good at twitter #weshouldbeonespn
ESPN_College to GarrettBuechele, EvanMistich9 and ryanduke17: All are more than welcome to weigh in don't want to start a fight.
GarrettBuechele: #Sooner Twitter war!! Courtesy of @ESPN_College.
EvanMistich9 to calebbushyhead: stop wasting all your bombs on twitter and use them on the field #bushyhatesBBCOR
ESPN_College: This won't help the #sooner twitter war -- but who's your favorite teammate to follow?
TylerOgle35: I used to like following @EvanMistich9 and @GarrettBuechele but now i stopped due to sudden jealousy on our team
calebbushyhead: ya I agree with @TylerOgle35, Buechele and Mistich are a waste of time on twitter. I like @Sunny_2Pencil myself
ESPN_College: What does the team think about Twitter sensation @Sunny_2Pencil?
calebbushyhead: everyone loves @Sunny_2Pencil it's really good to follow and get a good laugh out of
TylerOgle35: they like @Sunny_2Pencil cuz it keeps it real
Sunny_2Pencil: would ask @tylerogle35 what type of hair gel he uses
TylerOgle35 to Sunny_2Pencil: I'm not embarrassed to say Paul Mitchel. Gives a good shine without the gunk
ESPN_College: Are there any other objects around the dugout that should get their own twitter accounts?
TylerOgle35: I'd have to go with Cody Reine's Evo shields. all 12 of em #kungfupanda
calebbushyhead: I think the pencil has the object tweeting locked down. but coach Tim Tadlock definitely needs to be on twitter asap
ESPN_College: Who's your favorite non-Sooner to follow?
TylerOgle35: That's a no brainer, the youtube sensation @DomingoBeisbol He no semi-pro
calebbushyhead: I honestly don't have a favorite to follow, but agree with @TylerOgle35 on his favorite to follow
ESPN_College: are you guys usually competitive tweeters?
TylerOgle35: its not really a competition. im the only 1 who isn't a multi-disciplinary studies major so my tweets R more intelligent
Rryanduke17: Communication over here Paco @TylerOgle35, get your facts straight #Einstein
GarrettBuechele: we only really get after it Tuesday through Sunday Monday is an off day.
ESPN_College: Who's the one person who you'd like to see on twitter?
calebbushyhead: that's an easy one, I want to see coach Tim Tadlock on twitter. that would be my favorite to follow #handsdown
TylerOgle35: We always imitate wrestlers in the locker room, so i would like to see Stone Cold Steve Austin for some comical tweets
ESPN_College: What did the coaching staff tell you about twitter/social media? Any rules/guidelines to follow?
TylerOgle35: Social media is always a huge deal. We R given very strict rules and guidelines 2 follow so we represent OU the right way
calebbushyhead: ya we have a couple meetings with compliance every year on social media. we've been well informed of all the rules
ESPN_College: Are they hard to follow after a loss or if a fan says something you disagree with?
calebbushyhead: no it's very easy to stay within the rules, I personally haven't had any problems with fans after a game or anything
ESPN_College: last question: easier to do an interview in person or over twitter? :)
calebbushyhead: easier in person but over twitter is way more fun. let's do it again sometime? the bus ride is way more fun now. Thanks
TylerOgle35: Oh definitely on twitter. you cant get the same interruptions from other players in person. this has been great
Lauren Reynolds is a college sports editor for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.