Pete Gillen had his quips. Skip Prosser has his quotes. Now, in the growing line of media amusements by Xavier basketball coaches, Chris Mack is becoming known for his tweets—the 140-character sound bites posted on the social media site Twitter. Last May, he began posting some of the amusing and informing thoughts that pop into his head, and his witty one-liners are drawing the attention of the media across the nation. Sports Illustrated columnist Stewart Mandel even called Mack “the funniest coach on Twitter.” Why?
Dec. 14: Arby’s drive thru manager just screamed, “Go Bearcats” at me. I yelled right back at him, “Go McDonald’s!”
Crowning Mack as the funniest coach on Twitter is a claim that actually bears a great deal of validity. Not many coaches have joined the craze. And those who have are, well, boring. Their posts tend to run along the realm of, “Thanks for the support fans,” or, “We had a great workout today.” Mack seems to have a better understanding of the social media concept and is existing in his own world.
Feb. 17: Our bus feels like we are driving in a mobile greenhouse. Now I know how Frosty felt when the door got shut....
Mack just laughs at it all. “Coaches are typically so guarded about what they say,” he says. “I try not to take it too seriously. It’s a lighthearted thing for me. If I find something funny, I’ll tweet it. Obviously some things pop into my mind that I can’t tweet. But I try to let people see my personality.” And that his personality expands outside of the confines of basketball. Family, society, life—they’re all fair game in his Twitter world. Consider:
Feb. 9: When asked if they wanted 2 go 2 school late & eat breakfast as a family @ Bob Evans, my 2 girls said “we can’t be late.” I’m raising nerds!
Letting his personality show also has its benefits. Recruits, for instance, can get a better look at the man they’ll call Coach—although that’s all they can get since the NCAA prohibits coaches from responding to tweets by recruits. It also helps him build a fan base. Mack now has more than 6,100 people receiving his tweets. Some simply read his latest offerings. Some retweet his witticisms. Some ask him questions, to which he actually responds.
“If I’m in a hotel room waiting for a recruit’s open gym or something and people hit me with questions, I’ll respond,” he says. “But if I don’t get to it within 12 hours or so, I figure they’ve already got an answer.”
[Read more Mack tweets]
Of course, one of the drawbacks to social media is that it allows “fans” to complain directly to the source with relative anonymity. After the Crosstown Shootout loss to UC last season, people started tweeting him comments like, “Worst coached program in 50 years,” and “Thanks for having the troops ready.”
Ouch. Mack, though, shrugs off the stings. It comes with the territory, he says. Instead of getting angry, he typically responds with something a little more humane, such as:
March 11: My 4 and 5 yr old keep me sane. After game older 1 crying her eyes out that we lost, 4 yr old crying about not being able 2 go back to pool.
Mack admits that he was reluctant to get started at first. “I didn’t know anything about it or what the fascination about it could possibly be,” he says. “I think most people feel that way until they get into it a little.” Now, though, he’s hooked. He checks his phone every three or four hours to see what the people he follows have to say or if any news organizations are reporting anything of note.
“My wife would say I’m addicted, but if I had to quit, I could,” he says. “But I do enjoy it.”
March 29: My wife was up at 5:15am and in a yoga studio by 6am. That makes one of us!!
So can other social media be far behind?
“My assistants are killing me because they think Facebook is the best way to recruit,” he says. “I have a page set up, but I’ve never looked at it. There’s 350 people waiting to be friended.”
Maybe later. For now, Mack’s just going to live a tweeter’s life.
Oct. 9: Daughter’s soccer game. Wife says to her, “Be aggressive. Go after the ball. Kick it hard.” Her response........ “Can I have a donut?” Haha