By Bennett Conlin
The JMU athletic season has arrived, which means it’s time to refresh our annual list of best Twitter follows for JMU sports fans.
I fell in love with JMU sports across my four years at the university, and that love affair started early on during my freshman year. I credit a small but (passionate group) of Twitter accounts with sparking my interest in JMU sports.
I’m sure I would’ve become a die-hard fan eventually, but seeing alumni truly care about the football program in 2014 as it worked to regain its spot as a consistently dominant FCS force accelerated my fandom. Seeing fans voice support — and share opinions — on women’s basketball and softball also told me I found a good landing spot, a place where fans watched and supported all of the team’s athletic programs.
If you’re a new JMU student, a parent of a student, a new professor, or a recent graduate, this list is for you. Want to track JMU sports more closely? This list is a good starting point, especially if you’re a frequent Twitter user.
I wish I had this list back in August of 2014, so hopefully this helps at least one person become obsessed with JMU sports.
Shameless plug: We tweet a whole bunch over @JMUSportsNews, so feel free to give us a follow. You can also follow me @BennettConlin and @fitzalltheway (Jack Fitzpatrick), as the two of us created JMU Sports News and will fire off JMU takes from time to time.
Rob and Todd have blogged, podcasted, posted, etc. about JMU sports for over a decade through the JMU Sports Blog. It’s been around for so long, it might deserve the Ohio State treatment of being called THE JMU Sports Blog.
The two alumni know their stuff, and they’ve paved the blogging way for people like Jack and myself. They’re opinionated and informed, which is in an ideal combination. There are plenty of times I disagree with their opinions (I’m sure they’ve disagreed with plenty of mine), but their reasoning is well-explained, and it’s easy to debate JMU topics with them without it becoming personal. That’s a tough find on Twitter.
Perhaps most impressively, they don’t spam your feed. Other suggestions on this page might tweet 20 JMU things per day, which can feel overwhelming. JMUSB doesn’t do that, but when they tweet, it’s often relevant to what’s happening in the JMU sports world. I highly recommend following the JMU Sports Blog, and I’m excited to dive into their podcast and articles this fall.
Just don’t mention pumpkin beer in a positive light around them, unless of course you’re up for a lively debate.
The Beat Reporters
I’ll be the first to brag about the importance of JMU’s spot in the Sun Belt. I’m bullish on JMU’s athletic future, buuuut the Sun Belt isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of college sports. The football program isn’t Alabama, and the men’s basketball team sure isn’t Kansas.
Given JMU’s place in the college sports landscape and the state of local news, JMU fans are damn lucky to have a pair of beat writers at Harrisonburg’s local newspaper, the Daily News-Record. Noah Fleischman is a new addition to the paper (less than a year), and he’s tasked with covering the football program.
Shane Mettlen has been there longer, mostly covering the basketball programs. He tweets about everything, though, and he has a strong understanding of the entire athletic department. He’s a quality follow.
At the local TV station, TJ Eck is a good follow. He covers JMU thoroughly, and he’s often one of the people covering the biggest (and smallest) JMU sports stories.
JMU’s student newspaper, The Breeze, is also worthy of a follow. The paper has a sports-specific Twitter account.
While not a JMU beat reporter, The Athletic’s Chris Vannini covers the Group of 5 as well as any national reporter. If you want a better understanding of the Sun Belt’s place in the national football landscape, he’s a tremendous resource.
The Craziest Fans
Michael Evangelista frightens me. Not really. But maybe.
I’m not entirely sure how he tracks JMU football’s recruiting as closely as he does, but his retweets are arguably the best way to track JMU football recruiting. He knows plenty about the football program, including depth chart battles, which makes him a valuable follow for die-hard fans. He tweets valuable information, while also trash talking opposing fans. He tweets a lot, too, and NEVER lacks energy. Maybe that’s where my fear stems from. What kind of coffee is this man drinking??
Every school needs a parody account of a prominent head coach, and Not Curt Cignetti fills that role in JMU Twitter circles. Sons of Bridgeforth is another die-hard fan with knowledge of the FCS/G5, and if you want the intense fan perspective, give them a follow. Preston Adams also falls into the die-hard fan category. If you want die-hard fans in your Twitter feed, he’s a good starting point in addition to Mr. Evangelista. I’ll toss Jamie Williams into this mix as well.
Not quite beat writers, these three have ties to the university. Dave Riggert is the radio play-by-play voice of the Dukes. He does a fantastic job tweeting out radio interviews with coaches and athletes, which makes him a worthy follow.
Curt Dudley is the voice of JMU sports, often handling TV/streaming broadcast duties. He’ll tweet about every JMU sport.
Kevin Warner is the assistant AD for communications, and he often shares interesting stats/tidbits about the athletic department.
You’re likely not getting any JMU criticism from these sources, but the information they share is still helpful to casual and die-hard fans.
Chase Kiddy works for BetMGM, and the JMU alumnus knows plenty about sports betting and the Dukes. He hosted a lengthy Twitter space previewing the season last week, and while his tweets aren’t all JMU by any means, he provides useful insights when analyzing the Dukes.
Nick Stevens might be the most informed JMU baseball fan on Twitter, so if you’re interested in baseball, he’s a must-follow. He’ll likely be a podcast guest this spring.
We also asked for must-follow accounts on Twitter, and our good friend Brian Reese suggested himself. Humble! He’s in a group chat with myself and Jack, and in defense of Brian’s Twitter self-promotion, he knows the athletic programs just as well as we do. Hit the follow button.
And JMU’s Alumni Association was also suggested, as the account can be a good way to find JMU watch parties hosted by alumni chapters across the country. Those are a good time, and it’s a great way to meet people if you’re a recent graduate living in a new city.
Any other suggestions? Drop them in the comments.
Enjoy the upcoming football season, and the Twitter conversations. They’re sure to be entertaining.