TCU head football coach Gary Patterson said he saw a need to reinvent himself.
His solution? Twitter.
Patterson, who started tweeting this spring, said he joined the Twitterverse because coaches have to be willing to adapt to have success.
“That’s why coaches don’t stay more than three or four years. They either leave or somebody makes them leave," Patterson said. "Because you have to reinvent yourself. This is my way of being able to do that a little bit.”
Why did Patterson choose to reinvent himself in this way?
“Well [I’ve got] a three-play plan," he said.
1) Recruiting is like shaving
Many high school athletes use Twitter, Patterson said, which allows him to communicate with recruits in a way that is integral to their lives.
“By [NCAA] rule you can direct message [a recruit],” he said. “And when I’m following I can see everybody else who’s talking to him.”
Patterson said he considers it important to do the recruiting work himself.
“It’s a way for me to try to outwork another head coach," he said. "You know, there’s a lot of assistants and people that direct message and do things for head coaches, and nobody does any of that for me. I do it all myself. If I don’t have time to do it, then you’re not going to see me tweet.”
Patterson said he has been tweeting less frequently lately because of practices and two-a-days, but he said he won’t stop once the season begins.
“You’ve got to recruit," he said. "[Assistant] coach [Eddie] Williamson has a sign in his office. It says, ‘Recruiting is like shaving – if you don’t do it every day, people notice.’”
Patterson believes his work has paid off lately.
“I think in the last couple commitments we’ve had, it’s made a difference.”
There are limits, however, on how coaches can use Twitter in recruiting.
“You can’t talk about a person," Patterson said. "And you can’t retweet anything that has to do with a recruit.”
That’s why Patterson doesn’t name commits on Twitter. So, when the university received commitments from two four-star recruits in offensive lineman Ty Barrett and linebacker Jimmy Swain IV in July, he simply tweeted, “Recruiting is heating up #next.”
Recruiting is heating up! #next— Gary Patterson (@TCUCoachP) August 3, 2013
2) Staying in touch with the world
Patterson also said he uses his account to keep up with what’s going on in the world and interact with people at the university.
He says his Twitter isn’t about him, but about relating to people.
“I felt like, as you get older, you’ve got to be able to stay in touch with what’s going on, especially campus-wise,” Patterson said.
He is known to follow many people who follow him, and the coach will follow users who ask him to do so.
“I’m following a lot of kids, even some of the incoming freshmen on campus," he said. "I try to have a little bit of dialogue. Not a lot. Just for the simple reason of getting to know people.”
Patterson even takes tips from his followers on Twitter etiquette.
“I asked the people out there to correct me,” he said. “Some came on and said, ‘Coach, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’”
3) Letting fans get to know Gary
Patterson said his other goal in joining Twitter was to show people another side of himself that they don’t see on game days.
“Most people, perception-wise, they see me on Saturday,” he said. “That’s Coach P. Then there’s Gary. Twitter helps me [show that] I’m a [regular] guy.”
One of the ways Patterson demonstrates that is by retweeting posts from @Earth_Pics and other accounts that tweet high definition pictures of exotic places and animals from around the world.
“Earth Pics is really easy for people to see something far away [from football],” he said. “It has enabled me to answer people. I’m able to show that I have a personality outside of football.”
Patterson believes his efforts to relate to the fans have worked well. As of Aug. 19, he has more than eight thousand followers.
Patterson’s account still has yet to receive an official verification from Twitter. Despite the efforts of both the coach and the media relations department, his account lacks the coveted blue check mark.
So on July 27, after a number of fans asked if his account was real, he tweeted a picture of his Rose Bowl Championship ring. The caption read, “My blue check for authenticity!”
My blue check for authenticity! pic.twitter.com/9X5N2SCvFY— Gary Patterson (@TCUCoachP) July 27, 2013
That should do it.