Nittany Lion coach makes example of recruit on Twitter

By Cory Giger

For The Sun-Gazette

Few college football staffs in the country are as active on Twitter as the Penn State coaches, and one Nittany Lion coach made national news Wednesday for a strong message he wrote on the social media site.

Offensive line coach Herb Hand sent out a tweet that became a hot topic when he wrote: “Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence… Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”

It’s unclear who the prospect was or what he might have written, but Hand seemed to indicate it was not the first occurrence of poor behavior on social media.

The PSU coaches use social media as a big part of their branding for the fan base and potential recruits, as well. Hand’s tweet was widely viewed as someone within the industry sending an important message to high school players that they need to be careful how they portray themselves on social media because it can help define their character in a good or bad way.

The fact that Hand used the phrase “another prospect” in his tweet makes it appear this has happened in the past, although that’s unclear and he didn’t publicize any previous situations on Twitter.

“We are in the business of educating young men and I’m very comfortable with my efforts in the past,” Hand tweeted.

Hand has 19,700 followers on Twitter, so his message went out to a wide audience. It then picked up steam throughout the country as the day went on, drawing Hand praise from many but also some criticism for taking a tweet from a kid too seriously and making a rash decision.

Hand tweeted: “Glad to be part of a lively debate-Some further clarification of my post. It’s a tough part of the learning process.”

The offensive line coach wasn’t available for comment, but he did give some to

“If a guy makes the decision to post or (retweet) stuff that degrades women, references drug use or cyber-bullying crap, then I can make the decision to drop them,” Hand said. “Especially if I have discussed it with them prior, and especially in today’s climate of athletics.”

Penn State head coach James Franklin was making the rounds Wednesday on various ESPN TV and radio programs in Bristol, Conn., and was asked about Hand’s Twitter remarks after they became a major source of conversation by the national media.

“It’s no different than transcripts, it’s no different than game film,” Franklin told ESPN about social media comments. “It’s another piece of information.”

Franklin himself is very active on Twitter — he has 78,000 followers — not that he necessarily likes it. He said earlier this week at Big Ten media days in Chicago that he’s not a big fan of it but does realize it’s necessary in today’s climate to communicate a message to a wide audience.

Hand’s tweet Wednesday reinforced that.

“Social Media is a powerful tool that can be used for promotion as well as research – #HandleWithCare,” Hand later tweeted.