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Bielema uses Twitter to watch opponents

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Associated Press
September 22, 2009
— Attention, tweeting college football players: Wisconsin’s coaches may be following you.

Adding a twist to the micro-blogging craze that is Twitter, Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said Monday that he likes to use it to keep tabs on what opposing players are saying.


“I’m probably not as good at it as I should be,” Bielema said. “What began to happen is, we would follow Twitter of opposing players. Find out things that they may say or may do.”


As for his players, Bielema said he has given some a hard time after finding out about their social plans through Twitter messages.


“I used that to my advantage,” Bielema said. “I don’t mean to upset you. I know from what I’ve read some of you get mad when I announce things on Twitter vs. these open press conferences. It’s technology at its finest. There’s probably good and bad with everything.”


Bielema’s Twitter feed had 1,799 followers as of Monday afternoon. Most of his recent posts have been very pedestrian, like this one from Sept. 14: “Today is a day off for our players but a heavy work day for our staff. Badgers and Packers win. ... Great weekend in Wisconsin!!!!”


Bielema said it’s hard to limit what players want to say on Twitter, which has become a popular outlet for professional athletes at all levels including Lance Armstrong, Shaquille O’Neal and Terrell Owens.


“It’s 2009,” Bielema said. “When they get done with a game, if they had a touchdown and they want to say, ‘It’s awesome to score my first touchdown,’ I don’t know how I can deny that.”


There will be plenty to Twitter about this weekend as Wisconsin (3-0) opens Big Ten play against Michigan State.


Michigan State (1-2) is coming off a 33-30 loss at Notre Dame that ended when quarterback Kirk Cousins threw an interception in the end zone with 57 seconds left.


Last year, an unsportsmanlike penalty on Bielema helped spark an 11-point comeback win by MSU.


Picked in the preseason to be among the also-rans in the Big Ten, Bielema has stressed to his young team that it could surprise.


“If no one’s seen us play, they’re going to base and assume what they saw last year is what they would see this year,” Bielema said. “And from what I have witnessed ... I know that we don’t have the same team. And it’s up to us to prove that on a game-by-game basis.”



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