Sports, society & recruiting. An imperfect science
"Here's a novel idea, say no."
Topic: Maybe the players aren't the soft ones anymore
This past week I was shared an article about Gene Smith, the Athletic Director at Ohio State testifying before congress on the need for NIL legislation. I have always respected Gene Smith, I think his messaging is generally on point and for the betterment of college athletics in general, but this one has me thinking. Maybe I'm too old school, maybe I was brought up in a different time but Gene Smith, you're soft. Our so-called leaders in this day and age, AD's, Presidents, you're soft. I think we really need a reevaluation of who is and who should be running college athletics. One of the takeaways from the article, and there were many positive messages, including Mr Smith talking about the positives NIL has had and will have for the student athletes. But for for me the takeaway was Gene Smith telling congress, some recruits think nothing of "asking for 5K just to visit." Many read that and are in shock and awe that a young man or woman or a family would have the audacity to ask that. Here's a novel idea, say no. Is this how soft our leadership has gotten, that a millionaire Athletic Director or Head Coach or anyone can't simply say no? Instead, they run to Congress of all places, waste my taxpayer money, the elected officials we vote for our spending time when we have a multitude of issues in this country that need real attention, that's the answer? You can't say no??? Wow!
Imagine a Head Coach at any level, if they told a player to work hard, then that player told their parents and the parents called the head coach, can you imagine the outrage the coach would have. They're soft!! They can't figure it out for themselves they'd shout. I really respect Gene Smith, I really respect sports, but all this $, all this fame, it's made you all soft.
Footballscoop article for reference:
"To say that an 18 year old only has this window to make life changing money is one of the most disrespectful things we can say to any student athlete."
Topic: Is your window for $ closing or is it in fact just cracked open?
NIL has become a huge topic in sports, you know of it as NIL. As long as sports have been around, recruiting has been the lifeblood of any program and nowadays the transfusion is transfers and high school prospects alike. Many of those prospects are enticed with $, not all but many. While the program can't officially be involved the boosters & collectives are smart and match things up. I have always liked NIL and I think that in it's purest form it is a very cool opportunity and truthfully I believe it's how it should be. However, like anything, we ruin it. I struggle with the messaging, because many will say "You only have a small window to make this kind of money." Or "It's life changing money." That's where I vehemently disagree and where the messaging must change. You're 18, 19 year old, why is this your only window? Why can't you can make the same amount of money if not more when you're 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 years old ? To say that an 18 year old only has this window to make life changing money is one of the most disrespectful things we can say to any student athlete. Millions of people do this but why do we pigeon hole young student athletes? Because we think we're helping them? Or are we really helping ourselves? Agent fees, contract negotiations, taxes, lawsuits... What 18 year old wants that? Here's an idea; Great young lady you can make a million from a car dealership at 18 but think about making a million a year at 35 because you own an investment firm... Or maybe, awesome young man, a 100K NIL deal to support baby wipes, what about that 800K a year for being a pediatric surgeon when you're 40... We do such a disservice to these kids by making them think this is their whole life, and frankly it makes me sick.
"All those things the presidential hopefuls said at the debate last night were to LAND the presidency, not to do it."
Topic: Landing the presidency and being the President are 2 completely different things
I used to have a saying, "we can't coach em unless we get em." That right there, is the battle line of recruitment vs development. You can't make a player an all American if he or she is not on your roster. Well... you can, but that's a different blog. It's true though, just like those running for President of the United States. I regrettably watched the debate in Milwaukee, yes to see the potentials but also to see my new home city live and in action. If you listen closely, there are a lot of statements and comments to BE THE PRESIDENT. Not one of them spoke very candidly and all of them stayed in lanes that will help get them elected as the candidate. They also sidestepped any real conversation as it may derail their chance to the White House.
Recruiting in many ways can be similar. A college coach may have to say things to get you to commit, to sign a NLI. I'm not talking anything illegal and I'm not talking NIL but maybe they talk about you playing early, or how they see you switching to be the next great shooting guard, or how you may be tailormade for the starting goalie spot, it could be a lot of things. Those conversations are mainly to land you on the roster, but when you get there maybe they push you instead of being that goalie but ask you to transition to defense on the 3rd line. All of those things the presidential hopefuls said at the debate last night were to LAND the Presidency, not to do it. That right there is the difference, did they lie to get you? That's your answer to decide, but more importantly these are the things you should be looking for in the recruiting process. Previous history; like with the candidates can give us a glimpse, but no one has a crystal ball. See through the glamour and the photoshoots and the gear and the big stadiums to figure out what those coaches will be like when they LAND you, not today what they're saying To land you.
"Why do we do this to these kids, why do these kids do this to themselves? The joy of a commitment or signing your NLI looks nothing like the person 3 years in. The smiles and hugs on Draft Night look nothing like the holdout in camp. Why... Why does it come to this?"
Topic: Where have you gone Mr Taylor...?
Watching the Jonathan Taylor saga with the Colts is honestly... it's normal. I'm immune to it now, I have just seen it so many times. No, I'm not talking about the holdout, about who's right or who's wrong, I'm talking about that drastic change in expression, in just how miserable JT looks. Pull up a side by side of JT on draft day, wherever he was, in New York or at home, there were smiles, joy just overwhelming happiness, I guarantee it. Now look at his picture on ESPN, frustration, distrust and overall un-happiness. What does this teach us? Just like with recruiting it just goes to show the natural human element. In a world where we scream about being consistent and "trusting the process" you see the swings in emotion that life brings upon people. Young student athletes are so happy on their un-official visits, taking pictures in the gear, mom and dad are there and it's just sheer joy, this is my "I'M HOME" moment. 2 years later it appears there's a lot of "there's something better out there" let's join that portal, this isn't good enough situations. What happens and why do we do this to these kids, why do these kids do this to themselves? The joy of commitment or signing your NLI looks nothing like the person 3 years in. The smiles and hugs on Draft night look nothing like the holdout in camp. Why... Why does it come to this?
People happen, emotions happen, life happens. What today seems like the greatest thing ever, the "I just hit the lottery!!" moment, the "I worked for this my whole life" moment quickly becomes, "Yeah, it's not that great here." It's normal now, I've seen it for a long time. Mr. Taylor what really happened? To the owner, what really happened? it's rhetorical, and I don't want to tamp down anyone's exactment for great moments. In that great moment, before you go crazy and jump around and hug, close your eyes and envision 5 years from now, the good and the bad, and ask yourself if this is really that good today?
"I didn't so much as learn quitting is wrong, it did however teach me that being persistent is the best solution."
Topic: What college football didn't teach me
Playing college ball for me seemed like a million years ago. For a guy who used to live and die in the weight room I can tell you I never thought that today, getting up from a knee after cleaning the floor when I spilled orange juice that this in fact would be my physical challenge. But with age comes differences, difference in perspective, difference in areas of strength but also different memories. When I played we used terms like "don't quit" or "find a way" that was my personal favorite. I learned a lot, and I am confident all those that play high school sports and college sports will do the same. But it also didn't teach me a lot.
Playing college ball didn't lack for opportunities to learn and better myself, everyday provided a opportunity. In the moment when you're young, heck at times you may just be trying to survive the workout, just get through that 1 last gasser. Coaches will often talk about what you're learning from it, what you will apply to your life. They're 100% right!! Trust them when they tell you that this situation will come back again. However, I also didn't learn some things from playing and coaching college ball. When I was a player, I didn't so much learn quitting is wrong, as it did teach me being persistent is the best solution. There were a lot of times I had to quit using a bad technique to find a better way to sack the quarterback. I didn't learn that doing "everything right" equaled victories, but I did learn that doing "everything right" gave me my best chance. We didn't always win when I was a player, or a coach. But the times I deviated from doing everything right, maybe cheated film study, or my diet, or didn't finish that last Wednesday squat rep because I was a little tired, those Saturday afternoons we always lost, always. I didn't learn that life would reward me for hard work, but I did learn that through hard work I could truly see who had my best interests at heart and mine in theirs.
When you're going through any sport you'll learn a lot, I am sure of it. But there's also a lot it won't teach you... or maybe you just didn't realize it in the moment.
"No automatic drive, a busted support bar duct taped together, blades not sharpened in 3 years... but I had a little gas in the can and after 25 pulls she fired up, and I have a replica of the 15th fairway at Augusta."
Topic: 3 years later, there's still gas in the tank.
My wife and I bought a home. While that's not mind-blowing it should be noted that this is our 3rd home purchase, but for the last 3 years we were in a condo. Beautiful place, we liked it but it just didn't feel like home. So we searched, found a way to finance it and 3 years later, here we are. In a condo however, you don't cut your own grass. So when we sold our 2nd home I stored the lawnmower in the garage and for 3 years it sat. I get to the new home and the grass is in desperate need of a cut. I find time in my schedule to go to the gas station, get some gas and as I grab the can I realize, there's a little in there. So after 3 years, I fire this baby up. No automatic drive, a busted support bar duct taped together, blades not sharpened in 3 years... but I had a little gas in the can and after 25 pulls she fired up, and I have a replica of the 15th fairway at Augusta.
Boy if that's not recruiting and your career in a nutshell. It's the long game, you can't live only right now. Someday you'll be in the middle of a college career and you'll harken back to your recruiting journey and think of all the gas you had in your tank, all the energy you'd bring. But now, you're wondering if it's worth it. I bet you there's gas left in that tank, I bet you if you give it 20-25 pulls you'll fire up. It changes after you've been in the game, and that is normal and ok. Yank on that starter cord, use the gas in the tank and go finish. Recruiting is a long game, and those that look at it that way always have gas left in the tank to finish.
"This year is not about your lasts, in fact it's full of first. Your last first day, your last first game, your last first moment. But remember, for someone it is their first of many firsts."
Topic: C/O 2024 Its your last first.
It's August 1 and if you didn't start your senior year camp, you are not far off. How long have you been waiting for this? How many times have you said, "I can't wait for senior year!" Well here it is, and look how fast that went. All year you'll be focused on the last moments but instead remember all the firsts you'll have that will in fact be the last. This year is not about your lasts, in fact it's full of firsts. Your last first day, your last first game, your last first moment. But remember, for someone it is their first of many firsts.
Some 3rd grader is having their first practice, just like you did. Some Freshman is having their first year on the court and hoping just to make the team, just like you did. Maybe even some Senior will have their first start, just like you did at an early age as a Sophomore. Remember your firsts, and apply that knowledge to someone who can use it to grow and never forget it.
The problem we all have when we get older is we forget. We forget what it's like to have your first practice in a helmet, or your first serve to try and get the ball over the net, or your first strikeout on a 75 MPH pitch from a Senior. We grow, we think we have it all figured out and we start counting down to the lasts, I encourage you to treat it as your first, just like you did going into your first. That youthful exuberance is what's needed this year, your last first year as a Senior!
"At the beginning there's want to get contact, then at the end there's want it to end. It's a viscous cycle, but it's also natural."
Topic: There will be stress, don't go looking for it.
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. "If I had all those offers" or "If I had those star rankings..." Its inevitable to think that if you had all of the interest coming it, it would be easy. I'm here to tell you it's not, the recruiting cycle is not easy for anyone.
When a prospect starts the journey there is always so much excitement, but also a lot of stress and tension about how and when it will start. As the process progresses it always happens, the exhaustion, the stress starts to weigh and you almost see prospects and families asking themselves, "is this worth it?" At the beginning there's want to get contact, then at the end there's want it to end. It's a viscous cycle, but it's also natural.
It's a fine balance between not searching out the stress and doing just enough to make sure you have options. Find that balance, feel it, and trust your circle. Stress is part of it, but be careful what you wish for.
"the prospect of college football was; I get to play ball, go to school AND you all develop players for the next level. It's now become, they develop players for the NFL AND I get to play ball and go to school.
College football has become big business and it seems to have happened in about the last 15 years. It is a rocket ship that has taken off and probably not stopping anytime soon, at least not on this planet. For players in the 90's and early 2000's the prospect of college football was; I get to play ball, go to school AND you all develop players for the next level. It's now become, they develop players for the NFL AND I get to play ball and go to school. Is this right or wrong?
Big business means big money, but I don't think big money has come as an enhancement of college football, in fact I think it's come at a cost to the game.
Everyone goes to college to prepare them for the next step, every student on every college campus is there for "the next level" so that part is fine, but what we've created in college football, stepping over the college experience part is flat disturbing.