Fake reporter "Richard G. West."

Sports Twitter accounts that just make up reports have long been around, from fake insiders through “Ballsack Sports.” A further development of that still comes from people pretending not to be a specific insider (for seeming purposes of gaining some “of course it’s legitimate!” comments) or a news outlet (for “it’s more out of frustration seeing, okay, this is what the world wants” purposes), but rather creating profiles that seemingly look like the kinds of local news reporters who do often break news, and then using those profiles to spread fake news.

One of the longest-running troll jobs there comes from “Richard G. West,”  who in 2019 created an entire story out of thin air about Colgate men’s basketball player Jordan Burns supposedly missing a flight and taking an Uber to a NCAA tournament game against Tennessee:

That completely inaccurate tweet remains up three and a half years later, and it was picked up and used as the basis for stories by CBS local news sites, including CBS New York, CBS Pittsburgh, and CBS Philadelphia. It also led to even Burns’ mom calling him and asking what was going on.

Well, fast forward three and a half years, and “West” is again in the “news,” this time for a series of completely inaccurate tweets about ESPN’s College GameDay (which will be at Tennessee Saturday ahead of the Florida Gators’ game against the Volunteers), plus that game in general.

Some of those:

In order, that’s an old photo (from 2016), it does not appear that Napier is having managers throw golf balls at players (but it can be wise to look out for golf balls at Neyland Stadium), and no GameDay guest picker has yet been announced (sadly, it seems like it will not be Dolly Parton). So disregard those tweets, and anything else you see from “West.” But the more remarkable thing is that whoever’s behind this particular account is still doing this bit of tweeting fake news three years after the Burns scenario, and seemingly still getting a good bit of attention for it (as of 4 p.m. Eastern, the tweet about fans lining up had more than 1,100 likes, while the golf balls one had more than 2,000 likes and the Spurrier one was close to 2,000).

Of course, there are several things with the West account that make it clear this isn’t a serious person. In 2019, his bio link went to an unregistered website; the link is now only to a photo of a Tennessee player flipping double birds. A reverse image search reveals that the profile image is of Australian Sky News presenter Peter Stefanovic. (It seems to be from an old photo of him with fellow presenter Laura Jayes.)

That’s before you get to some of the supremely weird and wrong old tweets on that account, most of which didn’t get any traction:

But it’s truly remarkable that “West” is continuing this bit three and a half years later, this time with a bunch of seeming “reports” on GameDay. And it seems to be working, with these tweets getting quite a bit of attention.

[“Richard G. West” on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.