The Buffalo Bulls got paid good money to head down to Knoxville Saturday and get stomped by the Volunteers. The Buffalo News paid writer Bob DiCesare good money to head down to Knoxville to cover the game. Much like the Bulls’ defense, DiCesare got faked out by Tennessee’s offense.
In a game preview story published in the Saturday edition of the Buffalo News, DiCesare used quotes from a phony Tyler Bray Twitter account as the premise of his story. From DiCesare’s story:
Tyler Bray, Tennessee’s sophomore quarterback, has little doubt what will transpire at Neyland Stadium this afternoon. He’ll size up the University at Buffalo secondary, he’ll pick out a receiver and he’ll let it fly, certain of the result.
“The @UBBullRun blog is appropriately titled,” Bray tweeted this week. “The Bulls’ DBs will be running. A lot. ‘Cause I like to go deeeep.”
“87% of the time my name appears in print it is preceded by the word ‘gunslinger’.”
“Ovr/under on the number of different players with receptions on Saturday?”
“I could set the over/under at, say, 9. But then I’d just spread it on around to 10 guys. So y’all will have to guess amongst yourselves.”
Most of Bray’s teammates spoke from a position of diplomacy this week as Tennessee, a 28.5-point favorite, prepared for the Bulls.
Those quotes would make for a great story, if they were true. Knoxville radio host Josh Ward pointed out Saturday that the writer was quoting a phony Twitter account. The writer’s quotes came from the @AllBray account, which has just 120 followers. The real account for the Vols quarterback (@tbrayvol8) had nearly 10,000 followers entering the weekend, and the tweets were far more bland and far less braggadocios.
I can’t even grasp how the writer screwed up as badly as he did. Even in his own story he noted that most Tennessee players spoke diplomatically about Buffalo. Yet nothing went off in his head to caution him that, hey, these quotes might not be real? Did he not put it together that the phony account also tweeted to “Dooley Pants” the same day to ask “Would you characterize yourself as slacks or trousers?” Was he not surprised that an SEC quarterback only had 120 followers on Twitter?
Some writers complain about social media becoming part of the job for journalists. They should kindly embrace the challenge and realize that having a basic understanding of Twitter can keep one from being embarrassed.
Incidentally, Tyler Bray made good on the fake account’s promises; the sophomore quarterback went 21/30 for 342 yards and four touchdowns.
Thanks to Kegs ‘n Eggs for the tip. Below are screen shots of the story and tweets:
UPDATE: Buffalo News issued a correction at the bottom of their game story.