We are proud of our work ethic here at Bucknuts (when we get around to working, that is…). And we are proud of the quality of the finished product (well, when someone proof reads and edits it…). But we take particular pride in covering recruiting.
The past two seasons have held their share of learning experiences, for sure. We like to be first, we like to be right - but we like to do right, as well. That can be hard to reconcile at times and often we swallow hard while someone else gets "the scoop". A scoop that we might already know, but were asked not to publish.
David Patterson, from last year's collection, was a good case in point. David and Duane Long have been close for nearly two years now, sharing info and opinions, and talking football into the wee hours. As you could imagine, David assured Duane he would let him know where and when he committed. And he would tell Duane before he told anyone else. Sure enough, David was a man of his word and let Duane Long know on a Monday that he had given his commitment to OSU. But he asked us not to make that decision public until David could hold a press conference at the end of that week. So Duane, also being a man of his word, held off on announcing it.
But on Wednesday of that week, another media vehicle called Patterson's coach who spilled the beans. It was then announced that "…as we were the first to tell you, David Patterson committed today…," etcetera. Hey - that's the way it goes. Footballs take funny bounces!
Last week, Ben Person told Duane that he was going to commit and asked Duane not to make it public. Other sources then called Person a "soft commitment" even though we knew it was "hard". It was also hard not to say anything! But sometimes it is better to "do right" than to "be right". Ben e-mailed Duane over the weekend and apologized that Duane didn't get to announce what Duane already knew to be true. Que sera sera…
So what's with this behind-the-scenes confessional? It leads eventually to a point. We cover recruiting differently than most Internet sites, magazines and radio shows. First off, we are all of those and, therefore, have a little different access and a little different perspective. Hey - we have our secrets (I know about John Kerr but I'm not telling!). But we want the relationships that have been developed with the kids, the coaches and with OSU to remain sterling.
Yet, there are those engraved Bucknuts' philosophies:
1. Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.
2. We like what we have so much, we want more.
3. Through excess, we are lead to wisdom.
That last one is by Blake (William, not Henry…)
So we have examined all the ways we've covered recruiting these past few years and distilled our thinking down to one aspiration: What do our fellow recruitniks really want out of recruiting coverage?
Sure, it would be nice to be first on every announcement. Ain't gonna happen! We know that. It would be nice to have 100% foresight. Huh uh. Look at the Kenyon Buford saga. We were forced to report "the truth" as per Kenyon (he told us three different times…) and as per his father (twice…) even though we strongly suspected that there were inherent inaccuracies in their version of the truth.
No, Bucknuts needs to play to our strengths. And our particular strength is the relationships that we build over the years with the recruits. Hey - Duane has been talking with Dareus Hiley since the middle of his freshman year! And now he's talking to the "next Hiley", the phenomenally gifted Cleveland freshman, David Lighty. It's nice to be first to "announce", but - over time - only the hard-core critics amongst us ever remember who that was. It's even nicer to stay close to these kids and report what they are thinking.
Duane Long helps us do that. But we have beefed up our coverage substantially in addition to Duane. Kirk Larrabee, Matt Natali, Charles Babb, Dave Biddle and I "divvied up" the top thirty Ohio seniors-to-be this year and are staying in touch personally with the whole group. That's a new - and better way - to get and keep accurate information flowing.
I've got a couple of the Dayton kids to cover, as an example. Two of the highest rankers are Marcus Freeman and Anthony Turner. I've spoken twice with each of the kids and held discussions with Coach Jay Minton (Wayne) and Coach Jim Place (Chaminade-Jullienne). We have tapes on the kids. We have exclusive photos. We have their e-mail addresses. We have commitments that they will appear on Bucknuts Internet chats and on our radio shows. We have a lot of information and insights that we can't talk about. Yet. And we have this kind of relationship, now, with most of the top 30 Ohio recruits.
Similarly, we are developing a database of the top out-of-state recruits. Tomorrow, in my monthly recruiting report, I will "narrow it down" to my "SUPER SEVENTY", an early look at a list of 70 non-Ohio kids that either OSU is pursuing or that the kid wants to be pursued by OSU (and in some happy cases, both applies). That list will change enormously before the recruiting process is over. That's why we are on the Internet. That's why we have a radio show.
And what's in it for you, our patient and faithful Bucknuts' followers? Well, for you generalist recruitniks, we will still publish a ton of free material including my monthly update summaries, that will become weekly around the start of football season. We also set up a new free Duane Long "Q&A" message board. Yes, Duane will be there and, yes, we have straightened out those gremlins that haunt his computer. (Man, some of you are the biggest skeptics in the world, no?)
But for the Bucknuts Fan Club Members, we have special treats in store for you this year. That's right - membership has its privileges. Let's break it down: the more memberships we get, the more we can expand our coverage. It's simple. We are investing in more bandwidth and in more writers (Babb, Biddle, and Natali) as well as more time from our Bucknuts photo essayist (Evan Mercer). So it's a natural spiral. We hope to make the coverage better. That attracts more fans and more money. We take the money and make the coverage even better. That attracts more…well, you see how it works.
And this is how it will work in 2003. Many of you will see - this week - the sensational new issue of Ohio's Future Stars magazine. Duane has almost 200 juniors reviewed (and ranked), in addition to nearly 100 sophomores and freshmen. Great photography and great write-ups. That's the time when we officially kick off this season's recruiting coverage.
But there's more. We will have the top kids on Fan Club chats, where Kirk will moderate (so that we don't get anyone in trouble) and you can talk "directly" to the recruits. We will be taping interviews each week for the radio shows so that we can have 2-3 quick hitters each week. How do you benefit from the radio show if you are a Club member? Simple. We will give you access to a commercial-free internet feed of these shows before they go out on the air. Cool technology, there.
And finally - drum roll, please - we are collecting and editing highlight tapes on many of the top recruits. We have bought additional bandwidth and will make these tapes available as a library to all our Fan Club members.
Yeah, this kind of coverage costs money. Many of you don't care that much, so you will be satisfied with all the free coverage. But for those of you who want more - we've got more!
When you think of it, it's kind of a Bucknuts communal effort. The more we provide, the more we hope you can support it, so we can provide even more. Almost like PBS without the begging.
Let me know what you think (not that we are worried you won't…) as we unfurl the different services this year. I answer about 100 e-mails each week so keep those "cards and letters" coming. I will get around to all of them. Even the obscene ones…
We want to make recruiting interesting for the fans and less stressful for the recruits. We want Ohio State to look good in their minds and in the minds of fans everywhere. And we want you Bucknuts aficionados to feel good about your favorite site.
Now, is that too much to ask? Let me know…
E-mail Mr. Bucknuts at email@example.com