Tom Crean's awkward Twitter foul-up

On Friday morning, our own Myron Medcalf explored the new world of digital recruiting, in which college coaches -- freed from the texting shackles the NCAA maintained since the technology rose to prominence -- are using every manner of pocket communication to build relationships with smartphone-tethered prospects.

Myron's story even included a subsection on potential pitfalls. When communication is simultaneously so fragmented and so instant, it only takes a push of a button to make a mistake, with effects ranging from mild embarrassment to secondary NCAA violations.

And then Friday afternoon, in one of the most fortuitously timed examples in the history of journalism, Indiana coach Tom Crean went out and showcased exactly what Myron was talking about.

On Friday, the following tweet appeared on Crean's public Twitter profile:

"I am doing great. I have been thinking about you alot since last weekend. A whole lot. How are you doing?"

Clearly, that was intended to be a direct message; college coaches can privately message recruits on Twitter but can't interact with them on the service's public feed. Either way: whoops. That tweet was almost immediately deleted and followed by two explanations:

What Purdue fans (and Kentucky fans) "wanted to think" surely involved something far more nefarious than recruiting, because let's be real: That message sounded a lot like something you would text your significant other. Rival fans were no doubt hoping Crean was typing from atop a motorcycle. You're certainly not sending that to your buddy.

But even if you grant Crean the benefit of said doubt, what the tweet reveals is the rather slavish way coaches go about pursuing high school players. In fact, if there's a context in which "I've been thinking about you a lot -- a whole lot" works other than courting, it's recruiting. That's it. Think about that. It's pretty weird, right?

Anyway, this is exactly what Myron was talking about. Crean historically has commanded his social media presence deftly, avoiding these sorts of casual mistakes, tweeting about reality TV and religious faith and summer workouts with minimal fuss.

But the "direct message made public" mistake is as old and oft-repeated as any Twitter faux pas, precisely because it's so easy to commit. The push of a button takes no time at all, and before you know it you're letting 82,000 followers see the inner workings of the hard sell. Ick.