Just when it seemed the worst part of this weekend would be accepting Miami losing a winnable game at Cincinnati—while rivals continue taking care of business—the Hurricanes’ downward spiral continues by way of social media, of all things.
For those who missed it, a few players reached their breaking point with fans and unraveled on Saturday—on in particular lashing out, making personal threats, dropping f-bombs and making homophobic slurs in the process.
While the whole standing-up-for-teammates aspect of this is commendable; getting into public online debates and offering up bodily harm as retaliation for some nameless, faceless idiots online who are pushing buttons—it’s hardly a noble cause.
Linebacker Tyriq McCord has been backed into a few corners as of late and is again at the center of some pointless external drama—during Florida State week, no less—which could very well come back to bite this already-depleted defense in the ass next weekend.
Weeks back at Florida Atlantic, McCord engaged with a buffoonish fan who was critical of defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio—cussing out the fool while the Canes’ defense was getting coached-up between possessions.
This time around, McCord is going after a frustrated fan who went too far via social media.
While posts have since been deleted, screengrabs show the Miami defender sticking up for teammates and challenging said fan to brawl for, “taking shit” about his brothers.
McCord went on to state that this segment of “weak ass fuckin fans” can smack-talk coaches all they want, but to mess with a teammate will have said fan, “getting ya shit rocked loose”. McCord then welcomed more commentary, so that he could “smack one of you faggots on some G shit.”
At the expense of coming off like Bobby Bowden here, playing the “boys will be boys” card isn’t completely out of line. These are college kids and in 2015, social media is where threats are made, folks are called out in a public forum and things either fizzle from there, or bubble over.
In short, McCord isn’t doing anything here that college kids across the nation, professional athletes, musicians and faux reality TV stars don’t do on a daily basis. Doesn’t make it right—but it’s hardly shocking, or over the top.
Where that Bowden logic fails; the fact that Miami’s current coaching staff has hung their hat on this “ignore the noise” mantra, yet nobody within the program seems capable of doing that—allowing their cages to seemingly get rattled at every bump in the road.
Whether it was D’Onofrio let-me-do-my-job plea and engaging with the fan at FAU Stadium, images of head coach Al Golden looking upwards and grimacing on game days as negative banners fly over or players like McCord and Rayshawn Jenkins are getting lippy online with fans—nobody at “The U” seems to be practicing what they preach, or words they claim to cling to.
For those who missed it, Jenkins took to Instagram where he called 70-percent of Miami fans “bandwagon”, backed his coaches and teammates and alluded to frustrated fans as “enemies” of the program.
Again, the kid isn’t necessarily off-base with aspects of his rant—but putting that out there into the public spectrum as the Hurricanes have dropped five of the past eight games and this current coaching staff is 31-23 over four-plus years? Bad timing all around.
You want to prove your critics wrong? Turn the frustration within, take it out on the weight room or practice field, encourage your teammates and beat the shit out of the Seminoles this Saturday night in Tallahassee, getting the last laugh.
Opening calling for a “bounce back” game via social and then not delivering? That won’t end well.
It’s Florida State week and players are spending their Saturday afternoon arguing with the underbelly segment of this fan base that needs to be blocked out and ignored, while Miami’s staff and athletic department has done nothing to nip this issue in the bud.
Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney has his players disengage from social media during the season. Accounts don’t have to be deleted and players still monitor their feeds, but are prevented from posting anything until after fall ball wraps.
In other news, the Tigers just knocked off Notre Dame in Clemson on Saturday, remain undefeated and are gunning for an Atlantic Division title and ACC crown.
“It’s good that we shut it down,” Tigers’ lineman Eric MacLain told USA Today in August. “I love interacting with people and it’s a great way to build our brand, but during the season you don’t need any of that. When something bad happens, people are going to come at you from all angles, which is unfortunate. You don’t need that negativity.”
Clemson receiver Artavis Scott echoed a similar sentiment to the Charleston Post and Courier weeks back.
“To be honest, I feel like we like it. We don’t have to hear all that foolishness, people talking about how we’re this or we’re that,” Scott explained. “Yeah, that’s all cool, but we’re on a mission and we want to reach it. All that Twitter stuff, it doesn’t mean anything; it’s just talking until we go out there and prove ourselves.”
Spoken like two players heeding their coaches’ advice and keeping their eyes on a bigger prize.
Jimbo Fisher—who has run a less-than-tight ship at Florida State since his arrival—also supports an in-season social media ban for players; to a point where players help self-enforce the rule throughout the fall. The Seminoles have pushed the in-season social media ban since 2011, which
“That’s things we’ve done here,” Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel. “When you’ve had success doing things, why would you not repeat it?
“Sports is about consistency and performance over a long period of time so when you do things well you repeat them. If there’s been a problem you change them. [The team] elected [to ban social media], that’s always been a very consistent thing for us for success, that’s part of our program.”
The focus there; that in both cases the team seemed to elect to ban social media, after initially supporting the coaches’ decision to do away with the distraction.
Does that mean that Sweeney and the Tigers or Fisher and the Noles aren’t still greaseballs in other situations? Of course not. But when looking at this particularly important distraction-related aspect that is social media, leading to unnecessary fan engagement—both seem to get it right.
I’ve seen a lot of debate online since, lashing out of the imbecile nature or fans who do this—while supporting the players for getting their teammates’ backs.
For starters, “fan” is short for “fanatic” and sadly this type of behavior has become the norm. Social media gives everyone a voice; those with something important to say and the morons who spout gibberish both have a platform—which is obviously a dangerous thing, but it’s the new reality.
In short, blaming idiot fans for being idiot fans is a bit redundant. It’s an uncontrollable variable in this equation and the only solution is to have coaches keeping players from not engaging. Trash-talking has always been a part of the fan dynamic when things go awry.
It’s simply no longer one voice that rings louder than others in a stadium on game day—it’s a vulgar sentiment written in 140 characters or less that goes straight for the jugular. It’s also accessible by way of said players’ phone, laptop or tablet, where it can be read over and over, getting a little bit more under their skin each and every re-read.
Expecting kids to see this stuff and not react—it’s not fair or logical, which is why coaches need to properly interfere and eliminate distractions so they truly can, “ignore the noise”.
It’s a vicious cycle for the Canes right now and based on current circumstances doesn’t look like it will have a favorable ending, barring some immediate action.
Embarrassing road loss at Cincinnati. Turmoil between players and fans. Players defending coaches based on personal feelings towards the staff, opposed to on-the-field failures and having an adult understanding that is the bottom-line nature of this business.
There’s also that whole Florida-State on deck, Virginia Tech visiting, Clemson heading south and road trip to Duke thing that could turn 3-1 into something pretty ugly if this ship isn’t righted immediately.
To this current group of Hurricanes busting their asses on a weekly basis; focus on what’s in your control—putting in the work and gunning to win football games. It’s wasted energy to focus on what’s out of your control—namely, unruly fans trying to button-push.
Engaging lets them win and you can’t allow the inmates run the asylum.
To the coaches; get on this social media thing immediately and for all the right reasons. If not, you’re welcoming yet one more monster-sized distraction this program doesn’t need.