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Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich says he’d invite Bryan Harsin to his wedding.
Well, not really — he’d invite the Twitter user known as “Fake Coach Harsin.”
On the other hand, the real Harsin — the Boise State football coach — has blocked the fake one twice on Twitter.
And that’s hardly the only Boise State fan account Harsin has blocked, preventing him from seeing what they say and preventing them from seeing any of the coach’s tweets. There are at least a handful that know exactly why they were blocked, but some have zero clue.
Some blockees have included Harsin’s handle (@coachharsin) in their tweet, and some have not. Fake Coach Harsin (@FakeCoachHarsin) tweets all in fun, never uses profanity and at the moment is unblocked. Shane Barker is blocked and confused.
“I have no idea why,” he said. “I am a season-ticket holder living in Utah and have done nothing but support the program.”
Mark Moss tweeted at Harsin when it was rumored then-defensive coordinator Marcel Yates would leave (which he did after the 2015 season) and got blocked.
So why does Harsin do it?
“I use Twitter for recruiting, period,” Harsin said. “I’ll throw out a motivational quote, but it’s a recruiting tool, end of story. Social media is to put out a message that can have an impact on our program, to bring to light the good things.
“Are they still fans if they’re blocked?”
Many definitely are fans, even if they are critical of the head coach. Like Brian Gailey, who has the @BSUBronco handle.
“Yes. I have been critical of him,” Gailey tweeted. “Probably the reason, which is troubling because doesn’t he have bigger issues?”
If the social media account is only used for recruiting, it begs the question why Harsin might pay attention to comments about him.
“I do it very little,” he said. “Every now and then I’ll go on a little run and (direct message) some people that are out there supporting us, I’ll let them know it’s appreciated. But sometimes you see the other things.”
Coaches blocking people, even those who have never tweeted a negative thing about them, is not uncommon. Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins blocked just about anyone who ever mentioned his name, while former Nevada coach Brian Polian said he used to laugh at what opposing (mostly Boise State) fans would say, then block them.
“I’m pretty open,” Rolovich said. “... (Fake Coach Harsin) loves his team, and I think it’s one of the great things about college football. It connects the fans and the coaches or players. One of the best days of my life is when I stopped caring what people thought about me.
“I know it makes me vulnerable if we lose a game, a few games in a row. ... It’s worth it for the exposure our program’s getting.”
Rolovich isn’t so sure he could deflect negative comments if he was an 18- to 22-year-old player. Boise State junior quarterback Brett Rypien has had Twitter since May 2011, but his last tweet was: “I’ll be off of Twitter starting tonight until the end of season. Looking forward to a memorable fall, Bronco Nation!”
That was a year ago.
“I think it’s more of a poisonous environment than a positive environment,” Rypien said.
Harsin’s blocking spree started before he was in Boise. Arkansas State fans have discovered they are still blocked, according to Forgotten5.com, some saying “not even sure what I did.”
Perhaps the tactic is changing: Harsin responded to a tweet poking fun at his decision to send fellow Mountain West coaches potatoes as a gift, saying (and not following up with a blocking): “They are Idaho potatoes! Obviously you’ve never had them. I’ll send you some too. It’s time for ball!”
“To me, it’s not for that negativity, and that’s probably why I did block somebody,” Harsin said. “I’m trying to use it to build up the program. You know there’s some things out there critical of you, but if you’re going to use social media, you need that positivity. That’s what it’s for. There’s too much of that other stuff out there.”