Good Ol’ Rocky Top & the Undeniable Power of Social Media

When Greg Schiano woke up Sunday morning, life was pretty good.

He had a cushy assistant coaching job at a big-time football school making close to three-quarters of a million dollars a year, he had a handful of other big-time football schools bidding for his services, and he was about to quintuple his income. 

It's good work if you can get it.

Just as church was letting out in Knoxville, word began to spread that Schiano and the University of Tennessee had reached an agreement for him to take over as the Volunteers' head coach for what one can only assume was a big ol' boatload of money.

But that boat started taking on water and fast.

The rabid Volunteer football fans who just weeks before had screamed until former head coach Butch Jones' head had been served to them on a Big Orange platter suddenly decided, en masse, that Schiano was not the man for the job, and they decided to do something about it.

They took to the streets carrying protest signs. They called their state senators. They called the University administrators. They even painted The Rock, the centralized graffiti message board in the center of campus.

But most importantly, they turned to social media to air their grievances.

Now I'm not enough of a football expert to pretend to know if Schiano's coaching resume made him the man for the job, but football didn't seem to be the main issue.

And I'm not enough of a legal expert to know if hearsay evidence from a 20-year-old sex scandal at one of Schiano's former coaching outposts was enough to disqualify him from the job.

But I do know this: None of that matters anymore.

His resume and his legal footing are useless weapons in a trial by Twitter.

The world has changed. Perception is reality. And you are who Google says you are.

If you Google Greg Schiano now, you'll find page after page of articles, like this one, linking him to the coverup of child rape at Penn State. Those articles aren't going away anytime soon.

Schiano went from having his pick of multi-million dollar job offers to possibly being unemployable in the span of a few hours not because any new evidence was found, not because any new witness came forward, but simply because a few hundred (maybe a few thousand?) people decided to grab the nearest megaphone and scream into it.

And their new megaphone has turned the power structure of our society upside down.

Social media has given the people a more powerful tool than the almighty vote granted to us in the Constitution.

Just over a year ago on election day, more people logged onto Facebook than turned out to cast their vote in a presidential election that sent shockwaves to the powered establishment. No one, and I mean no one, gave Donald Trump any reasonable chance of winning that election. Traditional media scoffed at him.

But Donald Trump had a new megaphone that no other political outsider had ever had. The very same megaphone that echoed across the hills and hollows of East Tennessee and into Ivory towers everywhere.

The world has changed.

The way information changes hands and changes minds has changed.

I have conversations every day with business people who "don't have time to play around on Facebook," who sneer that social media is just a bunch of millennials with their nose stuck in their phones.

I don't know Greg Schiano. Maybe that's what he thought up until Sunday afternoon. I bet he doesn't think that anymore.

Social Media is a powerful force for changing lives, changing businesses, and changing institutions from Washington DC to Rocky Top.

Virtual reality is as real as it gets

Terry Lancaster helps salespeople and entrepreneurs create armies of buyers who know, like and trust you BEFORE they’ve ever even met you. He’s a best selling author, keynote speaker, and a beer league hockey all-star as if there could ever be such a thing.

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