Coaches Corner: State of Recruiting Part III

Coach Johnson continues his series on the state of college recruiting

This time I want to continue talking about recruiting rules. The past two weeks we've covered some of the changes over the years that I feel have been positive in the recruiting process. Before we talk of some rule changes I think could make recruiting better, I'd like to enlighten our readers about some precise and often tedious requirements we must adhere to in the recruiting process.

Most people have no idea of the exhaustive documentation all coaches have to complete in the recruiting process. All these records have to go on file in our database to complete an extensive file of all our recruiting activities. They become a matter of record for our compliance personnel and the auditors. These records are on file in the event there is a concern about an athlete's recruitment by our university or the NCAA.

Each of our coaches must complete a journal of all activities when he is out of town recruiting. This must include when he left and returned, what high schools he visited, and what high school coaches and administrators he visited. He must list every single athlete he evaluated or contacted and where and when they occurred.

Telephone records have to be kept with regard to phone calls to prospective student athletes at all times. The coaches have to turn in a complete record of who was called and when in the months of May, September, October, and November, when they all have only limited calls. This is very time-consuming and easily over-looked in the busy haste of our own practice activities in the fall.

Records on file of each prospects official visit are kept in exacting detail. How and when he traveled, who came with him, where he stayed, where he ate and/or was entertained, who was his host — and on and on. The prospect, his student host, the recruiting coach, and the head coach must sign off on the validity of al records. You should be able to trace the recruiting path of each of our recruiting coaches in exact detail during the months of May, September, October, November, December and January when they are able to call, evaluate, and contact the prospects.

Now, for some changes or modifications I'd like to see considered by the rule making powers that be.

A school may have only seven recruiting coaches out each week when the rules allow them to leave campus. The head coach may be one of the seven if he needs to go out. He can "switch off" with an assistant if he only needs to be out for a day or two. This allows a school to keep seven out at all times if need be. I think with the limit on recruiting numbers that seven is enough, but since we have to, in great detail, document which seven are out each week and document when an assistant comes home and the head coach goes out we should be able to document switching off assistants also. This would allow us to see every prospect every week during December and January with the recruiter on the staff he knows best.

As recruiting winds down a given recruiter may have only a couple of players to see but it isn't as effective if another coach on the staff has to call on a prospect he hasn't been recruiting because the players recruiting coach is "land locked" on campus by the seven out rule. I feel this would also save money because many times a coach has to leave his area and fly across the country to fill in for a coach who couldn't leave campus that week.

Currently the coaches have one phone call in May to a prospect, then one call a week to the prosect in September, October, and November. No face to face contact can occur unless he comes to our campus on an unofficial visit i.e. football camp, games in the fall, or just on his own to look things over. So those weekly phone calls are critical to begin to "get to know" each other. However, September, October, and November is a busy, busy time for the prospect and for our coaches. Imagine each of our coaches having to make several calls to prospects on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights at the busiest pressure packed time of the year for them.

Imagine the number of times you have to dial before you get to talk to that highly recruited player who gets eight or 10 calls a night? Can you imagine how the prospect even gets to study or see his girlfriend or think about his next game? How would you like to be his coach trying to win knowing your best player is on the phone every evening for three or four hours? The funny thing is there's not much happening since the call last week and the recruiter and prospect generally consider it a hassle. But if you don't call you are conspicuous by your absence. The prospect feels your interest is luke-warm at best. So the call has to be made every week.

My proposal would be to consider one call in May, one in June, one in July, one in August, one in September, and one in October. Then in November go to one a week. This would allow you to get acquainted of a period of time at a much less busy hectic time of the year. The player would actually enjoy having those calls during the summer before fall practices start. By phone call the recruiter could encourage him to consider college football camp, or to "come see us unofficially." You would save money because there would be fewer total calls and I know college coaches would appreciate the extra time for those early fall game preparations. I have thrown this idea out before but so far I haven't detected much interest.

The third change I'd like to have serious consideration for is one that I don't think would fly either. That would be to not allow the head coach to go out recruiting. Instead, allow a prospect's parents to fly with him at the colleges expense for his official visit. It costs a fortune for the head coach to fly all over the country to put in an appearance in a prospects home. Many times the trip occurs only to counter Coach X's being in his home last week. There would be substantial saving even with the cost of transporting the parents. The head coach could spend valuable telephone time with several prospects by being on campus and be accessible daily for his current squad.

Keep in mind these thoughts are my own strictly. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of probably many coaches or recruiters.

In his 19 years as an OU assistant coach, he helped the Sooners build a 150-67-5 record, win a national championship and five Big Eight Conference titles and post seven bowl game victories.

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