Rule #1 - (Family First) - That's your dog, that's your wife and those are your kids. Yes, I know. Amidst months of bounding from one internet site after another, recruiting updates galore and scowering over each and every rumor that is bound to be true, you've forgotten one little thing. You're married, you have kids and you have a pet that looks at you a little cockeyed because you keep calling him the wrong name. Familiarize yourself with them again and if need be, check out family photo albums, drivers licenses and if you have to, go to the courthouse to check out birth records, just so you know some strange family didn't move into your house pretending to be related.
Rule #2 - (Make sure you are still employed) -You've called in sick 12 times, said one of your family members has been sick 7 times, took the dog to the vet twice a week three weeks in a row. Plus, you called in with the excuse that HAZMAT was outside your house, because you are pretty sure the sparrow that accidentally got into your house is carrying the ebola virus, forcing you to quarantine yourself in your computer room for two straight weeks. Every relative that lives more than a thousand miles away has died at least twice, you saw Sasquatch in your back yard prompting a three-day hibernation in the computer room out of fear and you even said that it's against your religion to hang up on telemarketers , hence the 48 straight hours down in the computer room, tending to the phone.
It probably wouldn't hurt to see if your key card for the front door at work still functions.
Rule #3 - (re-acclimation to "normal" life) - This is a very hard time for you. It's hard working yourself back into regular society. You still are ingrained with the habits formed while studiously and obsessively following recruiting season.
In a restaurant, your wife says something funny, but instead of laughing, your obsessive chat-room habits during recruiting season prompt you to suddenly grab a piece of paper, scribble quickly, "LOL" and flash it up to her every time you find yourself amused.
At work, your find yourself frustrated, as you hit refresh over and over and nothing seems to change. And then, someone tells you that you are on EXCEL.
Your conversations are still someone constrained to this addiction that's causing you some slight relapses.
Co-Worker: "Hey, Tom down in shipping and receiving says that the DOS delivery was two-days late, so he's got to re-send the request forms, so the delay is catalogued."
You: "What's Tom's forty?"
You: "Two days late? What? He didn't send his film in soon enough?"
You: "You can't expect to get offers if you don't get that film out on time. I mean, what's he smoking?"
Co-Worker: "Say what???"
You: "Maybe it's the coaches fault. Communication is key. I keep saying that. He's got to talk to the coaches, they have to talk to him, get that film out soon enough and if he's good enough, he might get that offer. For God's sake man, unless you go through the process, you will never know where you can go!!!!"
Co-Worker: "Uhh, I'm talking about a DOS delivery here."
You: "I don't care how you send that film, you just need to send it. Have Tom get ahold of me, I will make some calls and maybe I can get a coach to get in touch with him. It's not too late!!!!!"
Why, not even attending the wedding of your wife's best friend, "Cindy" can take your mind off of the recruiting season that was.
Wife: "Honey, isn't this just beautiful? I know they are going to be so happy together."
You: "He'll de-commit."
You: "He's from Florida, right?"
Wife: "Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?"
You: "Don't you realize that we are in Nebraska and it's impossible to get guys from Florida to come up here? He's going to de-commit. We never get anyone out of Florida. He shouldn't have a priest marry them, they need to get Kevin Steele. Otherwise, he's gone."
Rule #4 (They are not all going to start this year) - Ahh yes, one of the biggest problems with the day after recruiting season is that if there is a position lacking in depth or talent or some recruit has four stars or more by their name, they have been dubbed the next..........whoever. Like Curt Dukes last year, a variety of players this year will be dubbed, crowned and deified before they have even stepped on campus. You've already completed the depth chart for next season and out of the 22 commits, 7 are starting, 8 more are on the two-deep and the other 7 are red-shirting, destined to be starting the year after. In a year though, half of these guys, you won't even recall their name and the next recruiting class of 20 will have 7 starters, 7 on the two-deep and the other 6 are red-shirting, sure to replace that "crappy" recruiting class from last year.
Rule#5 (If it seems to good to be true........) - You know how this goes. Yes, recruiting season is done, but you've already got your eyes on the seniors-to-be. The problem is, you are still in that same habit as you have always been and seemingly refuse to break. Start with five stars and go from there. For once, don't look at those stars, because I can tell you exactly how this is going to go.
First part of the recruiting season: "Man, look at that guy. Five stars, five million yards, a billion touchdowns and he lists Nebraska. Yeah, if Nebraska doesn't get him, the program is finished."
Mid-way through: "Man, look at all those kids listing Nebraska. We are going to score huge!!! With all these kids listing NU, there's no way we don't end up with a major class. Top Ten baby!!!!"
Almost done: "!@@#!@#$#%$$%$#^o How in the F#$! Do you lose a kid to Rutgers?!?! This staff can't recruit!!! They are idiots!!! Why in God's name can't we get these kids to come to Nebraska????? FIRE EVERYONE!!!!"
After it's all said and done: "Hey, two guys with four stars and a bunch of guys those idiot recruiting analysts obviously underrate. Those morons don't know anything. These guys are all at least four star players. Man, I don't know what they are thinking. At least half this class plays within the next two years. Guaranteed. Great job coaches!!!!"
Rule #6 ("I commit to.......") - Ahh, the words the recruit utters. As you have already decided that it's never too early to follow recruiting again, please take this into account. If the recruit doesn't say "I commit", it's not a commit. It's not what their coach says, their mom or dad says and you don't believe their second-uncle on the mother's side who happened to be the only person any recruiting guy could get a hold of. For the sake of your sanity, remember that if the player themself doesn't say it, it isn't a commit.
Rule #7 (Will the real mystery recruit please stand up) - It's Joe Kedra. No, wait. It's Demarrio Pleasant. No, it's Lance Broadus again. Actually, it's Chris McKenzie. No, I meant the whole time that it was ........David Dyches??? Ok, maybe not. The best thing about a mystery commit is that you never know who it is, so if it ends up being someone even remotely unknown, that's the guy it was, even if it wasn't. On a gullible scale between 1-10, you just tipped the scale on it's side. Congratulations.
Rule #8 (And the winner is........) - The final thing that you can do to rid yourself of the recruiting blues and possibly ready yourself for another season of following prep athletes, but with a little more preparedness, you need only to remember one little thing about it all. They are just kids.
You follow them all year long and what you look at are stars, forty times, vertical inches and size. You look at stats, offers, camps and visits, both unofficial and official. You look at everything, analyze anything under the sun and throughout it all, you have forgotten that you are predicting the future of the program or at the very least, speculating on it, based on someone that has not only not committed to your team, but they haven't even turned old enough to vote.
Most of them don't know what they are doing that night, much less what they are going to do before LOI day of the next year. They don't know what career they want, what kind of offense or defense they ultimately want to play in or even if they are going to be at that position.
The measurables are almost never accurate, their early lists usually end up looking entirely different and they switch between favorites by the day, your emotions ever-swinging with each change of opinion.
Face it. Every emotional up and down you had throughout this last recruiting season was one you allowed to happen and it's because you had faith that they had more conviction and realization of their ultimate goal than you did when you were that age.
Me? I was road-tripping, guzzling "beverages" with the buds, chasing tornadoes and being a basic pain in the butt. Granted, I didn't have the kind of conviction these young men have to be where they are now, but they are kids, they do kid-like things and like all kids, they change their mind with the wind.
You want to know when you can start really depending on them being absolutely, positively, undoubtedly certain about where they are going?
Try the day after the NEXT Letter of Intent signing day. Then, you will know for sure.
These rules will not save you from that emotional drain that a recruiting season brings, but it could sure help to ease the strain on your life. After all and it should be considered blasphemous that I, a recruiting analyst would say this, but recruiting is much like alcohol. It's great, if taken in moderation. But, if you can't do that, I suggest getting a genealogy chart. Someone is going to look at you funny if your great, great grandmother dies for the eighth time.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619