The ‘truth’ about recruiting

By Shane from Centerpoint
I’m not going to enjoy saying what I’m about to say but, nevertheless, I’m about to say it. I think it’s time for somebody to put all the cards on the table. I’ll start with a simple question. What do you get when you cross a 40 year-old highly competitive salesman (recruiter) – who has a limitless supply of money and support from powerful people – with a very talented high school boy, who has no clue how to handle the product he is being sold? The answer is simple. The experienced recruiter (salesman) will run circles around the young man. The dance that follows is a pathetic display as the coach panders to the whims of the player. Some even promise the moon knowing that nothing can truly be guaranteed.

At times I find it hard to believe that some of these coaches expect the athletes they recruit to remain loyal to their verbal commitment, especially with the potential that the very coach recruiting that athlete may be gone at any time.

Actually, I’m starting to believe that the best recruiters in the business are also the smoothest liars. Some of the stories that these guys tell the families of young recruits should be subject to punishment by law. For example: How can 25 rookie players start for the same team when only 22 are allowed on the field at a time, and there are experienced veterans already in place on the team?

Honestly, some coaches become so obsessed with the numbers that innocent young boys become nothing but pawns, who are played against each other in a game they know nothing about. That’s why it is very important for the players’ parents to be involved in the process.

Do I think that money is involved with the recruiting process? Most definitely! I’m not sure of the methodology, since there are a million ways to deliver the payments. I wouldn’t dare accuse anyone specifically, but I am aware of many incidences where money has been used to entice certain athletes to play for some universities.

Do I think sex is used to steer star athletes toward playing for a particular program? Absolutely! Every school uses attractive young women to welcome and escort potential players when they come to visit the schools. Anyone who doesn’t consider that sex becomes an issue is being naïve. I’m not saying the escorts are providing the service, but that more mature women who support the program may be acting as closers. I must say that I do not approve of such activities and the idea is classless. Nevertheless, that’s one of the more extreme methods I’ve heard that has been utilized to seal the deal.

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Am I certain that a few “bad apples” out there recruiting will lie, cheat and steal to sign a five star player? Yes, yes, and yes!

Are automobiles ever used to obtain the services of a player? I don’t know for sure, but I do see some driving $60,000.00 vehicles and I know their parents are lower to middle class people. Logic says that it would be impossible for either the parents or the child to afford such expensive transportation. Therefore, I deem it reasonable to assume that someone who supports the program involved provided the athlete with the new “ride”.

Dedicating four years of his life to obtaining an education from the university and committing to invest 100% of his effort to his football team should be the main thrust of a recruiter’s message when talking to an athlete. Some coaches, like Alabama’s Nick Saban, are able to utilize honest methods like those I just mentioned because they have enough clout to attract the best players without resorting to deceptive tactics.

However, the other schools that don’t have an icon heading up their football program will inevitably use techniques that “push the envelope”. They bring in hired guns that specialize in the art of persuasion. These types bounce around because, even though their production proves they could sell ice to an Eskimo, they don’t have the ability to coach the players once they get on the field.

When you look at the big picture it’s hard to believe that sitting in the middle of all the sharks is a young football player looking to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. He needs to get sound information from his suitors. He needs to hear an honest assessment about his chances to succeed at the collegiate level. He is looking for a leader to follow. If he is smart he places great emphasis on which head coach is in charge at each place that he might consider.

As I illustrated with my opinion of Coach Saban above, I’m not putting every coach in the same boat with some of the type of characters I mentioned above who are willing to do anything to sign the best football players. Ultimately, the renegade recruiters cast a long, dark shadow over the entire process.

I’m quite sure that girls, cars, and cash have been used as the primary bait that colleges might’ve used over the years when trying to convince the players who need that type of motivation to consider the school. I was born at night, but not last night. I am completely understanding of the fact that players need transportation, a place to stay, and food to eat.

The most disturbing part of recruiting is the deception that occurs when the recruiter makes unrealistic promises and knowingly deceives the very player he will be expecting to be totally honest with him. If more programs would adapt to a system like Nick Saban’s – a process of honesty and sound guidance – their football-factory mentality might change for the better.

By the way, I know I didn’t break any news with this piece. I was just attempting to talk about some of the realities surrounding what is fast becoming one of college football’s newest favorite pastimes. You won’t find much of what I talked about being discussed by ESPN’s Tom Luginbill, the Rivals gang, or Scout, because that isn’t how they make their money.

I wish that recruiting was all about class and integrity but, much like everything in this modern era, it has an ugly side that none of us really want to talk about.