Sixteen months and more than 5,300 tweets later, Forde has long abandoned his initial prejudice toward Twitter. "It's kind of like sitting at this giant cyber-sports bar and only sitting next to people you find interesting," he says. "Twitter has pretty much become the morning newspaper. It's the first site I visit every day."
Millions of "internet people", as Florida coach Urban Meyer refers to us, follow suit. And many of them follow Forde, who is the most popular (27,677 followers as of Monday, August 9) tweep among sports writers who specifically cover college sports. Of course, in the time you have spent on this story, Erin Andrews has probably gained another thousand followers, but that's a different story.
"Twitter is like having a twisted AP wire," says Forde, whose Twitter bio reads "Father, husband, sportswriter, curmudgeon."
"Look at all the information out there. When I first got on Twitter, I thought it would be people telling you what they had for dinner. But it's not. It's being privy to as much information, provided as immediately as information ever has been, as you can possibly digest."
Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach banned his players from using Twitter last September. In doing so, he mistook the power of Twitter for the self-absorption that is Facebook or MySpace. "It's a bunch of narcissists that want to sit and type stuff about themselves all the time," said Leach, who would be forced out at Tech three months later. "We'll put mirrors in some of their lockers if that's necessary, but they don't have to Twitter."
The irony in Leach's statement, of course, is that the Pirate Captain would be one of the most intriguing people on Twitter if he were to open an account. "I'd love to see Leach on Twitter," says Forde. "I'd love to see (Alabama coach) Nick Saban, too."
Forde launches into a riff about what Saban's tweets might be like:
"6 a.m., How are we going to get LSU's quarterback?"
"8 a.m. How are we going to get LSU's quarterback?
"9 a.m. I need answers: HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET LSU'S QUARTERBACK?!?!"
Although he is one of the most widely read columnists at ESPN.com, Forde acknowledges that actually seeing the number of followers one has adds pressure. "We live in an age of measurables, such as page views, unique views," he says. "But this is a direct measureable.
"I feel like I have a compulsion to tweet regularly."
Asked if he ever thought five years ago that he'd utter a sentence such as "I feel like I have a compulsion to tweet regularly," Forde laughs. "You know, I have all of these followers, but my wife has never even been on Twitter. She doesn't have the slightest idea what I'm doing. At best, she finds it annoying."
Here are the final 99 members of the Twitter 200 who join Forde on our inaugural list. You'll notice the media members come to an end. We then go to a listing of players and coaches (and one cheerleader) who we should all be following.
Twitter 200 Media (cont.)
Brandon Rink: @accblogger
Runs ACCblogger.com. Solid source for all things both Atlantic and Coastal.
Adam Rittenberg: @ESPN_BigTen
Covers the Midwest like August humidity for ESPN.com
Lenn Robbins: @LennRobbins
College football writer for the New York Post. Curmudgeonly exterior belied by soft, chewy center.
Michael Rothstein: @mikerothstein
Reporter for AnnArbor.com who covers RichRod and the Wolverines.
Yogi Roth: @YogiRoth
Co-author of "Win Forever" also played at Pitt, coached at 'SC, and now does radio/TV analyst work.
Barrett Sallee: @BarrettSallee
Atlanta-based SEC columnist for College Football News.
Joe Schad: @schadjoe
ESPN news-breaker who tweets between, and perhaps during, cell phone calls.
Mark Schlabach: @Mark_Schlabach
ESPN.com columnist and co-author of a new book with recalcitrant retiree Bobby Bowden.
George Schroeder: @GeorgeSchroeder
What David Straitharn is to other actors, the Oregon-based Schroeder is to other college football writers.
Dave Singleton: @pigskinpundit
Las Vegas-based founder of Pigskinpunditry.com
Stephen M. Sipple: @ssipplesports
Columnist for the Lincoln Journal-Star will give you your Husker fix.
Michelle Smith McDonald: @macsmith413
FanHouse writer who provides coverage of the misty collection of schools we still refer to as the Pac-10.
Sports Illustrated College Football: @si_ncaafb
SI's official college football feed, but if you are looking for more insight, faster breaking news, follow ...
Andy Staples: @Andy_Staples
SI.com columnist is likely the only dude in the press box with his own national championship ring. He was a walk-on for the Gators under Spurrier.
Phil Steele: @philsteele042
No preseason pigskin prognostication publication is as heavily researched, no one is more likely to break from the conventional wisdom, and few are more often correct than Steele.
Patrick Stevens: @D1scourse
Scribe who circumscribes the Beltway with his coverage of college football and more in D.C., Baltimore and Virginia.
Pete Thamel: @PeteThamelNYT
The Grey Lady's man on the front line for college sports coverage.
Charissa Thompson: @CharissaT
Sideline reporter for the Big Ten Network who is prone to changing her hair color, creating mass confusion among sports bloggers.
Clay Travis: @ClayTravisBGID
Intrepid FanHouse man on the SEC beat, former Deadspin contributor and co-host of a Nashville-based sports radio talk show.
Jake Trotter: @Jake_Trotter
Covers the Sooners for The Oklahoman.
Tim Tucker: @ajcuga
Handles the Bulldog beat for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
David Ubben: @ESPN_Big12
ESPN.com's man on the plains.
Kyle Veazey: @kyleveazey
Covers those other SEC Bulldogs, located in Starkville, for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
John Walters: @jdubs88
That's me. Big Ten, Notre Dame football, and whatever else comes to mind.
Austin Ward: @Vols_Beat
Vols beat reporter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Is he eligible for hazardous-duty stipend?
Dick Weiss: @NYDNDickWeiss
Elder statesman for the New York Daily News and the guy you most hope to be seated next to in the press box.
Dan Wetzel: @DanWetzel
National columnist for Yahoo! Sports. His avatar is a shark. Nice.
Kelly Whiteside: @WhitesideUSAT
USA Today's college football foot soldier.
Jason Whitlock: @WhitlockJason
FoxSports.com's popular, provocative national columnist. Unlikely to tweet, should Brian Kelly start 4-0 at Notre Dame: "Yes, but he's doing it with Charlie Weis' players."
Scott Wolf: @InsideUSC
USC beat guy with obsession for being photographed on sidelines with cheerleaders -- who actually follows through on it.
Tracy Wolfson: @TracyWolfson
CBS' primary game sideline reporter.
Brent Yarina: @BTNBrentsBlog
Blogs for the Big Ten Network and his tweets are never banal.
Matt Zemek: @Matt_ZemekCFN
Columnist for College Football News. Always an interesting read.
Armando Allen: @A_Allen_5
Three-year starter at tailback for the Fighting Irish.
Matt Barkley: @MattBarkley
USC sophomore QB who has Moses-like task to lead his program through the desert over the next two seasons. On his bio it reads: "I'm lovin life. No MySpace, No Facebook, just Twitter."
Armon Binns: @ABizzle80
Cincy fans might wonder why the Bearcats' top returning wideout does not follow @ZCollaros7.
Ahmad Black: @AhmadBlack35
Black's tweet in the midst of the agents' scandal in July -- "Money talks and I speak it fluent LMAO" -- received more than a few retweets.
Brett Bielema: @bretbielema
Head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.
Tim Brewster: @Play4brew
Head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Kendric Burney: @Kendric_Burney
Now that Marvin Austin no longer tweets, you need to follow his buddy on the Tar Heel defense.
Tank Carder: @ballinfrog
The TCU linebacker is one of the most intriguing players in college football. Here's hoping he tweets more and gains another follower or two.
Zach Collaros: @ZCollaros7
Starting QB at Cincinnati who, in limited action last season, actually had a higher passer rating than Kellen Moore, the nation's leader in that category (Collaros did not meet minimum number of pass attempts)
Randall Cobb: @rcobb18
Not the dude who once fought Muhammad Ali and had a small role in "Raising Arizona." This Randall Cobb returns kicks, catches passes and even lines up at QB in the Wildcat formation for the Wildcats of Kentucky.
Dayne Crist: @DCrist10
Former junior high schoolmate of Jimmy Clausen now inherits his position in South Bend. About to go from under-the-radar to household name.
Bill Curry: @coachbillcurry
No more decent man in the game, now coaching at Georgia State.
Derek Dooley: @DerekDooley
Head coach of the Tennessee Vols who should retweet the text he recently received from Bryce Brown.
Nathan Enderle: @nenderle
Give some love to the lower profile QB from the great state of Idaho, he of the Idaho Vandals.
Steve Fairchild: @CoachFairchild
Colorado State's coach is the only MWC coach on Twitter: "20% of the teams in the top 10 of that USA Today poll are excluded as AQ by the BCS?? How can the BCS say the system is fair?"
Pat Fitzgerald: @coachfitz51
Head coach at Northwestern who was the heart of the Wildcats' defense when they won a pair of Big Ten titles in the '90s.
Sione Fua: @sionefua
Nose tackle for the Stanford Cardinal.
Blaine Gabbert: @BlaineGabbert
Second-year starter at QB for Missouri is also an exceptional student and could just become first-team All Big 12.
C.J. Gable: @CJ_Gable
USC's backup tailback hopes to gain as many yards this season as he has followers.
Chris Galippo: @ChrisGalippo
USC middle linebacker who will anchor defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's unit.
Turner Gill: @CoachTurnerGill
Nebraska QB legend returns to his conference roots as the new coach at Kansas.
Jim Harbaugh: @JimHarbaugh
Stanford head coach is enormously popular on Twitter. What's his deal? (The three co-founders of Twitter reside in the Bay Area, though none are Stanford alums)
Jacory Harris: @JacoryHarris12
Extroverted 'Canes QB is in for an early Heisman showdown at the Horseshoe on September 11.
Vidal Hazelton: @Vidal_Hazelton7
Former USC wideout is back in action after transferring to Cincinnati and sitting out a year. Latest tweet was, "Im out twitter yall b good," so he may be shutting it down for the season, Boise State-style.
Dan Hawkins: @CoachHawk
Head coach (still) of the Colorado Buffaloes.
Mark Herzlich: @MarkHerzlich
Former ACC Defensive Player of the Year who returns after a season away battling Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Everyone will be rooting for BC's middle linebacker in '10.
Skip Holtz: @CoachHoltz
Dr. Lou's son is now the head coach at a BCS-AQ program: South Florida.
Jerrod Johnson: @JerrodJohnson
Talented senior quarterback at Texas A&M who is poised to return the Aggies to relevance.
Julio Jones: @jonesala8
'Bama WR has as good a shot as anyone at the Biletnikoff award this season.
June Jones: @CoachJuneJones
Head coach of SMU, his second successful reclamation project of the past decade. Why isn't he in charge of finance reform or oil-spill cleanups?
Ryan Katz: @BigKatz12
The QB for BCS-buster-busting Oregon State --or so they hope-- who play both TCU and Boise State in September.
Brian Kelly: @CoachBrianKelly
A realistic goal for the new Fighting Irish head coach would be to garner as many followers as Notre Dame Stadium has seats (80,795). Tweeted before visit to NYC just before Irish hired him: "Any good deli in NYC? This is a test."
Lane Kiffin: @Lane_Kiffin
Lawyers (one of whom happens to be his new boss) likely have advised him not to tweet.
Kassondra Landry: @kasskass37
If you follow just one major college cheerleader, why not this one from Boise State? Chris Petersen has only banned his players from tweeting. Besides, Bronco cheerleaders have a way of making news.
Mitch Mustain: @MitchMustain
One of the most curious college football stories of the past half decade, Mustain has scored more touchdowns in his career against USC (1) than he has for them. Please tweet more, Mitch.
Greg McElroy: @GVMcElroy
The national champion Crimson Tide's returning starter at QB.
Urban Meyer: @CoachUrbanMeyer
Because there's always a chance he'll get irked enough this season to be candid.
Les Miles: @LSUCoachMiles
Tiger coach's tweets still have a way to go to catch up with his quotes.
Dan Mullen: @CoachDanMullen
Mississippi State's dynamic second-year coach is a frequent tweeter.
Rick Neuheisel: @CoachNeuheisel
The toe-headed former college QB with a law degree who has returned to his L.A. alma mater and is not named Pat Haden.
Kevin Newsome: @KevinNewsome12
The new starter at QB in Happy Valley is thus far a reluctant tweeter.
Houston Nutt: @RebelCoachNutt
Ole Miss coach who once sent more than 1,000 texts to a female reporter is clearly off his game thus far in the Twitterverse. Maybe the arrival of Jeremiah Masoli will inspire him.
Kristopher O'Dowd: @ODOWD61
USC's center enters his third full season as a starter.
Ed Orgeron: @CoachEdOrgeron
You will not be surprised to learn that USC's drill sergeant of a recruiting coordinator loves using exclamation points!!!! (Also, fittingly, only person he follows is @Lane_Kiffin)
Jay Paterno: @JayPaterno
Because his dad will never tweet, but this Penn State assistant coach will. Follows, among others, Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica).
Bo Pelini: @BoPelini
Third-year head coach at Nebraska enters season with his best squad yet.
Christian Ponder: @cponder7
Florida State's Heisman hopeful at quarterback has already earned his MBA. Smart dude.
Nick Reveiz: @nreveiz
Undersized (5-foot-10, 224 pounds, and that's what they list him, so you can imagine ... ), but never overwhelmed linebacker who is the emotional leader of Tennessee's defense. A former walk-on.
Mark Richt: @MarkRicht
Preternaturally tanned Georgia head coach. Judging from his tweets, associate athletic director Claude Felton is his ghost tweeter.
Jacquizz Rodgers: @JQR1bgs
The younger half of Oregon State's most exclusive -- and dynamic -- fraternity. From late Sunday evening: "Twin bed, no internet, hungry I could keep going but I'm not I'm a go to bed and wake up chasing my dream."
James Rodgers: @J_Rodgers8
The older half of Oregon State's most exclusive -- and dynamic -- fraternity is also college football's most prolific tweeter of whom we are aware.
Kyle Rudolph: @krudy9
Rudy is a the latest in a long line of NFL-bound tight ends to suit up for the Irish.
Steve Sarkisian: @CoachSark
The U-Dub head coach is as Twitter-friendly as they come, even posting a Twitpic of his daily nautical commute on Lake Washington.
Tyler Sash: @TSash
If Sash can collect that many followers without even tweeting, imagine the number the heart of Iowa's secondary will gather once he starts. #StartTypingTyler
Brian Smith: @BCSmith58
Senior inside linebacker for the Fighting Irish will be playing for draft position all autumn long.
Ricky Stanzi: @RickyStanzi
Is this really the Iowa QB's Twitter account? Hope so, because the dude is funny. Let the bandwagon grow.
Bill Stewart: @CoachStewart
Few coaches tweet as often as this folksy reserve of Americana nestled in the Appalachians. Wonderful stuff.
Chris Stewart: @ndcstewart59
Starting left guard at Notre Dame also happens to be starting law school this fall. #ISeeGamedayFeatureComing
Luke Stocker: @LukeStocker88
Stud tight end for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Charlie Strong: @CharlieStrong10
Former Gator defensive guru takes over as the head man at Louisville.
Kevin Sumlin: @CoachSumlin
Head coach of the Houston Cougars, who has Case Keenum (a non-tweeter who could finish the year as the most prolific passer in college football history) at his disposal.
Tyrod Taylor: @TyTaylor5
Taylor will double, perhaps trebles, his number of followers if he leads the Hokies to victory versus Boise State on Sept. 6.
Tommy Tuberville: @TTuberville
At last, T.T. is the head man at T.T. Guns up, Coach!
Dave Wannstedt: @CoachWannstedt
Head coach of the Pitt Panthers.
Deunta Williams: @27akaTheHitMan
The Tar Heels' senior free safety is just one of many UNC defensive starters whom NFL scouts will key on this season.
T.J. Yates @JTsetay
QB for North Carolina, a team that should be in the news, for good or bad, all season long.
Coming Thursday: We'll take a look at the college football people who need to get it in gear in terms of Twitter.