In case you haven't heard, things got a little interesting around here on Saturday night. I put up a story about what seemed to be Alex Oriakhi's second twitter criticism of Jim Calhoun in three days (here's the first). Before I knew it Amy Oriakhi, Alex's sister, started tweeting at our account taking umbrage (to put it politely) at what I had published. Around the same time someone claiming to be Amy (seemingly confirmed by her twitter account) took to the comments section on the post and well, things got a little out of hand. One sidenote: I did not call her an angry troll, I said our commenter was either her or an angry troll.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Alex Oriakhi Sr. also got online in the wake of the post, took to facebook and kindly requested that I shut up. He then let me know that if I had any problems that he was more than happy to "meet with me" after the Arkansas game on Saturday. (I will add here that he didn't explicitly challenge me to a fight, but that's how I interpreted his comment and I think it's a fair reading. He might as well have told me that he would see me at the flagpole after school.)
As crazy as all of this was, I think the real issue has both been evolved and been distorted over the past few days. The original reason I posted the two stories was simple: Oriakhi, a captain, seemed to be calling out his coach on twitter. That's notable for two reasons: first, a captain and key contributor on a national championship team is frustrated with his role this year and second, that frustration has led him to criticize the coach publicly. That, to me, is newsworthy. Now, it's become pretty apparent that Jim Calhoun and the coaching staff really don't care about the tweets -- the original one didn't cost Oriakhi any playing time and there has been no indication that mumugate is going to have any more of an effect. That's fine, if Calhoun does not care, then Oriakhi should tweet away. I'll probably still note it -- his frustration is relevant given that we're a blog that writes about newsworthy UConn-related things -- but if it's not actually causing an issue with the team than it isn't much of a story.
A lot of the issue his family seems to have with me centers around the definition of the Nigerian slang term "mumu," which they claim means "boss" and the rest of the world seems to agree means "idiot." At this point it doesn't matter who is right or wrong about what the word means -- I for one have wasted far too much time researching it and wish I had never heard it -- but that obscures the real issue.
The real problem is Oriakhi's public image and interactions with fans. Like it or not, he's a public figure. Ten thousand people follow him on twitter and associate what he says with the university. Criticizing the coach is fine as long as the coach signs off on it, but telling fans things like: "pls shut up," "u sound stupid foreal" and "u sound stupid too," can only lead to trouble. Furthermore, his family -- unfairly or not -- becomes an extension of him when they speak out in public. when his sister starts insulting UConn fans on our website, or his dad comes after us on Facebook, it just makes Oriakhi, and by extension the school, look bad.
It should go without saying that I am a big Oriakhi fan, and I'd like to see nothing more than for him to kick ass for 30 minutes a game. I'm pulling for him, and if Calhoun does not think this affects the team, that's fine. But I'm also an alum. I care about the school and its image, which is affected by what Oriakhi says, and he needs to realize that.