Imagining College Football Legends' Twitter Accounts During Their Playing Days

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2014

What would Red "The Galloping Ghost" Grange be like on Twitter?
What would Red "The Galloping Ghost" Grange be like on Twitter?Associated Press

In the modern college football era, fans can connect with athletes and coaches by simply clicking the follow button on Twitter.

However, fans in the past weren't so lucky. 

An insight into the lives of college football legends and pioneers like Jim Thorpe and Red Grange just wasn't available. Inspiration from athletes who toppled adversity on their way to the top had to come through the media.

So here and now, we'll try to zero in on what some of college football's historical greats would've been like if social media existed in their time.


Jim Thorpe, Carlisle

Jim Thorpe is regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

He played in the early 1900s at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where he was coached by the legendary "Pop" Warner. Thorpe participated in just about every sport imaginable and was simply a natural athlete.

He won two Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon. President Dwight Eisenhower (who played against Thorpe while at Army) once praised Thorpe's innate talent, per Greg Botelho,

Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw.

That natural ability draws comparison to none other than Johnny Manziel. In his day, Thorpe was a similar celebrity and would've been showered with attention on social media like Manziel.

Except, rather than tweeting with LeBron James and Drake, he'd be connecting with Babe Ruth and Louis Armstrong.


Bo Jackson, Auburn

Tell me if this description rings a bell: An outstanding two-sport athlete from Bessemer, Ala., who won a Heisman Trophy on the gridiron and also excelled on the baseball diamond.

If you're thinking Bo Jackson, you're right. If you're thinking Jameis Winston, you're also right.

Jackson wasn't just a great athlete; he also became an athletic icon through his "Bo Knows" Nike ad campaign.

Winston isn't quite to Bo Knows status yet, but he could very well be there once he goes pro. Jackson would actually be eerily similar to Winston on Twitter, except with even more hunting and fishing pictures.

Jackson is on Twitter now (@BoJackson), an account he primarily uses to promote his Bo Bikes Bama foundation. However, the younger Jackson would've given some great insight into the life of one of the most interesting athletes ever. 


Bear Bryant, Alabama

Paul "Bear" Bryant is known as one of the best college football coaches in history and is also one of the most quotable sports figures ever.

The Bear wouldn't tweet often, but he would make it count whenever he did. All those famous Bryant quotes would've come out on Twitter.

He won six national championships at Alabama and would've had plenty of opportunities to gloat about his accomplishments. Instead, he'd be the first to congratulate his players a la Michigan State's Mark Dantonio.

After all, many of Bear's quotes were about humility, including this one, via Drew Roberts,

“If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”


Doug Flutie, Boston College

Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy at Boston College thanks to his incredible Hail Mary against Miami (Fla.).

The BC great is known for being an excellent quarterback even despite his slight build. He was just 5'10".

Flutie might not be like any specific athlete on Twitter, but he'd be like many of the typical "#RiseandGrind" tweeters.

Flutie's Twitter feed would be all about inspiration—and being such an inspirational figure, he'd have a ton of followers and earn thousands of retweets.

He is on Twitter now, but he would've probably gained 100,000 followers from his Hail Mary alone if Twitter were around then.


Red Grange, Illinois

One of the greatest running backs of all time, Illinois' Red Grange also had one of the best nicknames in college football history: the Galloping Ghost.

Naturally, he draws comparisons to an outstanding modern back with an awesome nickname: De'Anthony "Black Mamba" Thomas.

Grange and Thomas share a nearly identical build, with Grange at 5'11", 175 pounds and Thomas at 5'9", 170 pounds. They also shared a similar running style, relying on elite speed and quickness to beat defenders.

Their running philosophy is likely similar as well. Grange once said, per Larry Schwartz of, "If you have the football and 11 guys are after you, if you're smart, you'll run."

Ironically, Thomas' new Twitter handle is "@RUNDAT2014" and his posts are always interesting and always in all caps.

He even posts video of himself running, which is something Grange would've done back in the day, though the post might not have been in all caps.


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