In the right moments, with the right people, Twitter for sports can be legitimately great.
For instance, without Twitter, I would never know that Lane Kiffin uses terrible bitmoji or that De’Anthony Thomas once saw a deer. I would have missed the joyous amplification of the Kick Six. I would not know that for every conversation, there is an Ohio State fan wanting to know why we’re talking about Instant Pot recipes and not the Buckeyes.
Most importantly, I would have never had the opportunity to watch a Hawaii game whose only broadcast off the island is a fan Periscoping it from the stands.
Twitter has problems. Still: Nothing carries a live moment like it. This is especially true for college football, a sport in which 30 games can happen at once. No one can watch all of them, but Twitter creates the illusion of a national heat map. I wasn’t watching Iowa State-Oklahoma, but switched over in time. I can’t track down every astonishing Tennessee crowd shot, but on Twitter, I can count on someone screencapping for me, so that I might appreciate strangers suffering sports pain.
The little moments become big, the big moments become phenomenal, and a sport reliant on celebrating randomness feeds off Twitter like a fat bear off an open dumpster.
Proposed: Twitter should have been around forever for college football. These moments are why.
Woody Hayes punching Charlie Bauman. Ohio State coach Hayes ended his career at the 1978 Gator Bowl by punching a Clemson linebacker in the face, chest, or maybe the neck. It’s hard to tell, really, which is one reason I want Twitter around, because the replays would be endless, someone would photoshop Thanos’ head onto Hayes in a matter of seconds, and the jokes would stretch well into the next week.
One other reason Twitter would have helped: The announcer, Keith Jackson, was working without easily accessible replay and missed the punch altogether.
Auburn’s old basketball arena burning down during the 1996 LSU game. Giant fireball during a live broadcast of a brutal SEC rivalry: a no-brainer pick.
Any Barry Sanders game. Appointment second-screen viewing. Consider how fast Saquon Barkley’s best moments got the goat emoji. Then remember Sanders averaging well over 200 yards a game against college tacklers in 1988, many of whom ended up going pro in anything but Tackling Barry Sanders.
Bonus Twitter juice: His quarterback was a heavily mulleted and much younger Mike Gundy.
The year 2007. All of it, just every square inch of it. Twitter was technically around in 2007, but was a little fawn on wobbly legs, audience-wise. If anyone doubts how necessary it would have been at full strength, remember: App State beat Michigan, and almost no one was on Twitter to roast the Wolverines. (Which is good. They would have died from the scorching burns.)
The hiring, firing, and revenge of Mike Price. Woo boy, this is a lot to sum up fast, but we’ll try. Imagine the live, online reaction to:
- Alabama hiring a pass-first Washington State coach
- Sports Illustrated writing an expose about that coach having sex with exotic dancers after a night of carousing in Pensacola
- That expose containing details like the dancers yelling, “Roll Tide!” and the coach replying with, “It’s rolling, baby!”
- The coach getting fired before ever coaching a game
- That coach filing a hefty defamation suit against SI, winning, and rolling a barrel of cash into the desert like Walter White to finish at UTEP
That all happened without Twitter. Tragedy is real.
The Deion Sanders ‘88 experience. Sanders’ legendary NFL Combine and draft day outfit would have been enough to merit Twitter, but there’s also the time he told Clemson coach Danny Ford, “The punt’s coming back,” before returning that punt for a touchdown and that time he laughed while getting out of the way before ankle-tackling a receiver.
Sanders also would have had ALL the time to talk shit on Twitter and post shirtless pics of himself on Instagram. In his final semester, Sanders brilliantly dropped all of his classes, going pro with a whole college season to go. He would’ve never needed to log off.
The 2004 South Carolina-Clemson brawl. Come for the mayhem — stay for the reaction to the color guy, Doc Walker, suggesting they turn police dogs loose!
Prime ‘90s Nebraska. I got to watch the 62-24 vivisection of Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl live. It was like being on Twitter, but I could hear joints dislocated, so Twitter definitely would have been an improvement.
Please imagine Twitter randos trying to hate on the 1995 Huskers, talking shit about the option being a high school offense, and then seeing Tommie Frazier break 38 tackles on the way to the end zone.
Cal-Stanford ‘82, AKA The Play. Not only would we have had the debates about whether a Cal player’s knees were down at any point, we would’ve had people using their phones to produce and circulate Zapruder-style, MS Paint maps of the band running onto the field.
The winning TD was scored by a ballcarrier who elbowdropped a trombone player! This alone would enrage SPORTSMANSHIP TWITTER for three days straight, even if the trombone player posted a discombobulated selfie in the end zone with a “LOL ALL GOOD” caption.
Texas A&M-SMU 1981. Not for the game, but for this.
Worth it for open sword carry advocates leaping to the cadet’s cause.
The Fifth Down. Officials make mistakes, like the 1990 incident when Colorado QB Charles Johnson lost count of the downs and spiked the ball on fourth-and-goal. He was evidently contagious. The officiating crew granted the Buffs another down, giving them five shots to score a game-winning TD in a 33-31 win over Missouri. They did this, won the game, and no controversy followed whatsoever.*
*Colorado split the national title with Georgia Tech! Controversy followed! None of this can ever be fixed, ever! Twitter woulD havE been completely rAasonable in THis situaTion, H we’RE AbsoluTely Sure.
Wally Butts and Bear Bryant vs. The Saturday Evening Post. A live, rolling reaction to two SEC football coaches — Georgia’s Wally Butts and Alabama’s Bear Bryant — getting accused of fixing games? A lawsuit that helped doom one of America’s highest-profile magazines? It goes on the menu, and I am giving it the the hashtag #BearButtsSmear because I am a very tasteful person.
Arkansas-Kentucky 2003. Seven overtimes and legend Jared Lorenzen playing QB, the football equivalent of:
JOE BUCK: Welcome to the top of the 47th— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) October 28, 2015
[Sun keeps getting bigger]
[World engulfed by flames]
BUCK: oh god yes
The 2000 Independence Bowl. The weather was fine in Shreveport. By the third quarter, a freak snowstorm had set in. The game went to OT, and Mississippi State somehow beat Texas A&M despite wearing all-white uniforms in a mini-blizzard.
Watching Notre Dame lose to NC State in a hurricane in 2016 was outrageously entertaining on Twitter. Watching the 2000 Snow Bowl would have been as close to The Entertainment from Infinite Jest as science will ever get.
1999 Mike Vick. Mind-boggling GIFs and hyperbole, but also the NFL Draft debate and constant complaints about putting the premier weapon of his time in the two-stroke engine of a punt-first Frank Beamer offense. Nothing happened to Vick after college. Nothing!
1991 Cotton Bowl. Miami finished this 46-3 blowout of the Longhorns with over 200 yards of penalties on 16 infractions, and the margin didn’t really matter. A vicious ass-kicking and the peak of the Canes’ dancing dynasty needed Twitter so badly already — for the over-the-top penalties, the #beatemdown enthusiasm, and for wide receiver Randal Hill running halfway down the endzone tunnel after a TD and firing finger-guns at Texas with the announcer pleading, “Come back, Randall!”
Then I remember that, for some unholy reason, Mike Francesa did the color commentary on the game. Did he hate Miami’s dancing, like a talk radio guy would? OH, YOU BET HE DID.
Randy Moss. Randy got to play against MAC defensive backs. Translated to Twitter: