Shawn Jansen: Player's facebook joke leads to headaches for Buhach Colony's Matt Cochran

September 30, 2011 

jansen,shawn

Shawn Jansen

MARCI STENBERG — Merced Sun-Star

Matt Cochran had committed to Auburn and didn't even know it.

Well, not really, but that was the rumor that quickly spread around the country last week after the Buhach Colony center was the victim of a practical joke by teammate Aziz Shittu.

"It was a regular day of school," Cochran said. "When I got to fifth period, I got two simultaneous text messages from my parents, saying they've been getting a lot of calls. In my dad's text he said, 'Did you commit to Auburn!' "

The exclamation mark told Cochran something was up.

"My phone was blowing up," Cochran said. "I was getting five or six calls every five or 10 minutes. There were people from recruiting sites calling who wanted to write the story. There were some coaches calling wanting to know if the rumors were true."

It all started with one Facebook post by Shittu.

"I was just trying to be funny," said Shittu, who claims to have studied football at the East Alaska State School of Technology on his Facebook profile. "I didn't think it would get to that extent."

Shittu and Cochran were sitting next to each other in their AP Government class talking about colleges.

Shittu was joking around that he silently committed to Cal.

He then went on Facebook and congratulated Cochran for committing to Auburn and wished him luck.

"What I told Aziz is the Internet is a powerful thing," Buhach Colony coach Kevin Swartwood said. "Back in the day, when it was just word of mouth, word didn't spread as fast. Now if you say something on the Internet it's different."

It didn't take long for the news to spread as friends, teachers and former teammates congratulated Cochran on his college choice.

Coaches from Cal and Utah called Cochran to find out if the rumors were true.

Even Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes called Cochran.

"The craziest thing was how fast the information spread to people around the country," Cochran said. "All off one joke from Aziz."

"I kind of laughed through it. I think if I would have got mad it would have made the situation worse. If it didn't come from my mouth you shouldn't believe it."

As for Cochran's plans to get Shittu back?

"I thought about it, but Aziz jokes around so much that I think he'll get himself," he said.

All kidding aside, Cochran has scheduled a couple of his official visits.

Cochran has scheduled his first two official college visits.

Cochran will visit the University of Washington on Oct. 29 and Cal on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, Shittu made his first official visit this past weekend with a trip to Texas A&M.

"Texas is a different place," he said. "Football is life out there. I could tell by the game-day atmosphere I was in. It was like nothing I've seen before."

Shittu watched a big matchup between the Aggies and Oklahoma State won by the Cowboys.

The Thunder defensive lineman was caught off guard after the game.

"They know their football," Shittu said. "There were fans who came up to me after the game. They knew who I was and they thanked me for coming out from California. I had dads taking pictures of me with their sons and I was signing autographs."

Shittu says he hasn't scheduled any other visits yet, but may make the Washington trip with Cochran.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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