CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We should all stand and applaud the NCAA today, as that venerable institution has rid college athletics of one of the great evils of modern times.
So, to the Great Hashtag Scourge of 2013, we say this: You never had a chance.
The association decided last week that member schools would be forbidden from placing hashtags on football fields.
For the non-technologically inclined, those are the cute little phrases that come behind number signs on Twitter feeds.
According to what Rogers Redding, the national coordinator for college football officials, told USA Today Sports, schools can place those hashtags on the sidelines, the walls and other sites in the stadium. They just can't put them on the field.
You know, the area on which the national and regional television cameras are transfixed for three to four hours each weekend.
The concern, in the NCAA's eyes, is those hashtags can become another form of advertising. And it can be ... for the schools. Mississippi State placed #HAILSTATE on its field almost two years ago and other schools followed suit. The NCAA apparently is worried that it might spiral out of control.
While no one wants to see #ChicosBailBonds plastered on anyone's football field, that also precludes Marshall from putting #thunderingherd or any other relevant hashtag on the Joan C. Edwards Stadium turf. Same goes for Pitt and #h2p, its shorthand for "Hail to Pitt."
In this ever-evolving world of social media, hashtags are becoming a quick, cheap and easy way to promote an athletic program. Not all recruiting budgets are created equal. So if something as simple as a hashtag can raise a university's stature - if it helps the Sun Belt gain a little ground on the SEC - shouldn't that university be able to promote itself where it's most visible?
Look what Florida Gulf Coast University was able to do with #DunkCity. Those eight letters helped make FGCU a nationwide phenomenon and didn't cost the school a dime. And the targets athletic programs are trying to reach the most - 17- and 18-year-old recruits - are some of the brightest stars of the Twitterverse, their noses buried in their smartphones.