ATHENS — Social media has never played a bigger role in sports than it has the past 2 1/2 months with college sports sidelined on account of the coronavirus.
For better and sometimes for worse, fanbases have relied heavily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for their sports takes of late.
Certainly, social media had a field day on Sunday after watching “The Match ll” on television featuring Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
There was key insight into the Georgia football program to be found on Twitter, too.
More social media buzz is schedule for Tuesday, when UGA star pitcher Emerson Hancock holds a 10 a.m. Zoom press conference to announce his future intentions with the Major League Baseball Draft approaching.
On Wednesday, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity joins DawgNation at noon for the On The Beat program. The show moved from its customary 7:30 p.m. Monday slot on account of Memorial Day.
Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean appeared last week. The Bulldogs have a reloaded team that looks to break more records next season.
Here are three social media blasts worth noting from the Memorial Day weekend:
Monty speaks up and out
Georgia senior Monty Rice has yet to make first-team All-SEC, and he’s hardly a household name even in his home state of Alabama.
But the feeling here is Rice has evolved into the leader — and player — Kirby Smart knew he could be two years ago when he tabbed him to step in Roquan Smith’s shoes at linebacker.
Rice echoed his head coach’s Sugar Bowl post-game sentiments when he called out himself and teammates on Memorial Day, setting a tone that’s sure to roll into workouts when UGA players return on June 8.
It’s one thing for a coach to say it, but another when a team leader like Rice is sending the message in the locker room when the coaches aren’t around.
— Monty Rice (@RiceMonty) May 25, 2020
It’s worth noting Georgia led the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense last season and ranked third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense.
It’s also worth pointing out that it was Rice throwing a fit in the postgame of the Auburn game. While many others celebrated a 21-14 win, Rice was aggravated UGA gave up its first rushing TD of the season.
And, from the sounds of it, incoming freshmen like Kelee Ringo will see to it returning starters can’t afford to get complacent.
Peyton tees off
Former Tennessee standout and five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning is perhaps the greatest pitch man in football history, so he was right at home being mic’d up for “The Match ll” golf event with Brady, Woods and Mickelson.
Manning hilariously explained why he wouldn’t match the signature red and black colors worn by his golf partner, Woods.
“I’m mot wearing black and red, that’s Georgia Bulldog colors, I mean, I just can’t do that,” Manning said. “If you want me to get sick on the first hole I’ll do it.
“I”m not gonna let Kirby Smart get a picture of me in black and red for their social media account.”
— MikeGriffith32 (@MikeGriffith32) May 24, 2020
Tennessee has elevated its program image through social media throughout the offseason like no other program, trumpeting a No. 2 recruiting ranking that currently hinges more on volume than average player rating.
To boot, the Vols social media account is promoting fictitious cartoon “Coach Duggs” playing video games, celebrating the animated action as though it was real.
Back where it all began
Tennessee @ Toledo
Starts Now —-> https://t.co/MzqHRTGM0Z
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) May 25, 2020
Jake’s belated farewell
Celebrated Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm slipped away from the Bulldogs’ program via a social media farewell on Jan. 8.
It seemed odd that a player so highly regarded and accomplished as Fromm would choose to bid his program and fan base farewell via a social media post rather than an in-person press conference.
The personable Fromm is as celebrated a home-state hero as one will find. From his heroic Little League World Series days in Warner Robins, to his fascinating and fun character reveal as a star of the Netflix QB1 Series.
Fromm, now in the role of NFL underdog quarterback as a rookie with the Buffalo Bills, took time to share his sentiments for Georgia through the school’s football account on Saturday.
Most everyone knew how Fromm felt about the Bulldogs, but to finally hear him acknowledge the legacy he leaves behind had to leave UGA fans feeling fulfilled
Fromm shared some of his favorite memories, concluding, “What’s not to love about it? Everything, honestly …. I loved every minute of it, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the entire world.
“The fans are amazing, and that’s what makes Georgia football fun, the whole state of Georgia and DawgNation gets on board.”
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) May 23, 2020