The Future of College Recruiting …
Is only gonna continue to evolve and get worse. Want proof … Check out these comments from a National Champion Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher and the world of negative recruiting (click here to view the ESPN article). Oh wow … He’s now gone from FSU … How did that effect recruits? Sorry for the hockey word play-on and the football reference … we are just huge sport aficionados, and not just focused on baseball!
Note: however, this specific blog post and article will be directly linked with the sport of baseball and will be justification for our future computer app called RecruitsIQ … However, a great majority of the information is transferable to all sports and the college recruiting process in general.
Regardless of who you are (player, parent, or college coach) the world of college recruiting is being invaded by a ferocious storm, with very destructive winds and debris flying everywhere. Those caught in the path of the storm will most likely not survive. Drastic? The analogy … maybe a little bit. The reality of the future … a big fat NO!
Over the last 10 years, parents and athletes have resorted to gathering supplies and hoping the storm dies down before the debris nails them. They hang tight and stay hopeful that things will work out. College coaches have focused on using radar.
Over the years as a coach and recruiter, I have witnessed some players that have totally avoided the storm. These players were both extremely talented and also well prepared for the system. However, if you look at the transfer rates in basketball, the junior college departure rates in baseball, and the failure percentage of football players, it is very clear that many recruits do not.
The harsh reality is that athletes (and parents of athletes) that don’t have the critical information (and action plan) will get destroyed by the storm (or at least change course – transfer). Of course it only makes sense that you can’t have an action plan without knowledge of the process (what to do). On top of that, those that don’t know HOW to maximize exposure, leave it up to … chance and odds. And we all know the numbers are not in an athletes’ favor. The information (the what and the how) is NOW more important than ever. (NCAA stats)
Therefore, it’s critical that the athletes (and parents of the athletes), who are serious about playing at the next level, KNOW several critical elements in gaining exposure and navigating the recruiting process.
It’s an old adage, but it holds true now more than ever … information is power … “Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon.
Taking it a step further … Applied knowledge (namely, an action plan that can be implemented) is true POWER.
The challenge is that we currently live in a world of information overload. We are bombarded each and every day with information. And regardless of status, race, age, etc., everyone can access information. If you own a phone, you own the path to power. On top of that, everyone has an opinion and they all believe they are experts. From the neighbor who was recruited when the song Thriller was released. To the lawn care professional who played minor league ball back when prime time neon Deion was playing two sports. The emergence of social media has empowered people (our society) to share their opinion … as self-proclaimed experts.
Therefore, the most important step for ALL aspiring athletes IS … to eliminate the clutter (the “wrong” information) and get your hands on the “right” information from individuals who have been there – done that.
How did we get to this point?
Well, over the last 10 years, amateur sports at the major D1 level has turned into a highly visible and “evaluated business” that is judged on end-results over a short period of time. The end-results are measured by short-term performance – only. The key word is visible. The visibility is what creates the space (or area) between the outcome expectations and perception of performance … which is created by the non-experienced media.
The danger is that the visibility has disrupted the system … both the player development process and the recruiting timeline system are broken. Players and coaches (at both the collegiate and professional level) don’t have the luxury of TIME. Everything is moving faster … faster … faster.
There are many factors that have contributed to this … but the main reason is the profit driven media, and the explosion of hand-held technology.
For example, the technical media advancements and money invested in “League Networks” (SEC TV network, Big10 TV network) and national media outlets (ESPN) have changed the landscape of college sports. The rise of social media (the effect of the immediate release of information) combined with the voice of opinion that social media has enabled, have both played a role in the emergence of a broken system.
The explosion of the media, and the technology reach by members of the media is at it’s peak! And many times, the message (or story) is NOT justified by experience or fact. It’s amazing how many media members, with voices on the amateur level, never (EVER) played the game. They never wore the cleats. The ones that did, many of them rode the pine or kept the book. And so many times their opinions are not based on fact but rather perception or public manipulation. They have journalistic talents … far greater than mine! But they don’t have coaching or player development talents. They have never been in the game. Many in the business commonly refer them to as squirrels. That’s why ESPN is so powerful because they use both professional players and coaches as experts.
Another reason why the system is broken and coaches are NOT afforded the time needed to properly develop players is that they are also being judged and evaluated by college athletic administrators who have a poor understanding of the player development process or the state of the program. These administrators also implement a poor evaluation process … they focus on end-results (sometimes pushed by donors) rather than the foundation and culture of a program. They don’t understand and know the process of building a winning program. Why? They are administrators – not coaches. Here is a perfect example of a broken system (article on Jack Leggett … it’s not right). Coach Leggett is a hall of fame coach. Want more proof … Imagine if both Coach K and Dean Smith started their coaching careers today. Both would have been fired after three years (at their ACC schools)! Look at their records at that time. Coach K was 38-47 (9 games under .500). If you read Dean Smith’s book, you will know that he was being burned and hung in effigy.
Special note: I am not bashing the media (as a whole) or college administrators (as a group), rather, I am challenging the motives and/or actions of the ones who fall into the aforementioned categories. As you will see below, there are good and bad in everything. I personally know several members of the media who are great at what they do, but I also know several who report non-factual information (sometimes on purpose and other times by chance). I have worked with several college administrators, who seek the opinions of coaches and talent evaluators to accurately judge the stages of their sport programs. They are great at what they do … administer the athletic department and leave coaching to the coaches. Guys like Verge Ausberry, Senior Associate AD at LSU, are excellent in how they administer. For one, he was a former player. He gets IT. He has worked with coaches such as Nick Saban and Les Miles.
But back to the important issues … the athlete and the recruiting process.
I mention all of these elements because they have played a significant role (and affect the player) in both the recruiting process and the player development process. Why you ask?
Because everything always follows a natural trickle down effect (professional → major D1 level → lower collegiate level → high school level → youth sports level), everyone sees and feels the rumblings.
Over the last 10 years, the rumbling in the college recruiting process has caused great change. The speeds at which decisions are being made are expedited at a rate that is detrimental to ALL. It’s not the college coaches’ fault, nor the players’ fault, but rather a negative by-product of a poor system. It’s busted … broken.
The recruiting process is starting earlier and earlier for the high profile and physically gifted players. The offer process will also continue to flip … where freshman and sophomores attract attention, accept offers, and then decisions, on whether or not they will remain recruits and keep their offers, will take place during their junior and senior seasons.
So what do high school athletes (and their parents) need?
They need the truth … the insider information from those that have actually DONE IT. It’s all about a standard of qualifications. They need the confidence to win the system. (note: how do you build confidence? … click here to get sneak peak into the four habits of a champion performer… note: we always spell it this way.
If the athlete does not learn, and then, most importantly, adopt a player development plan that coincides with knowledge of the recruiting process, they risk being a victim of the broken system. They risk being caught in the middle of the ferocious storm. They fall off the college coaches radar! They need to change-their-game.
This is the exact reason WHY we created our sport-specific packaged programs and how the Champions Network was born. (Click here to learn about the reason WHY blog post)
Where Mistakes Occur
I have been blessed to be “in-the-game” as an athlete, assistant coach, recruiting coordinator, associate head coach, and D1 head coach, during the most dramatic transformation of college athletics – and specifically, when the recruiting game has changed the most.
I am honored to be the only recruiting coordinator, in the history of the NCAA, to have landed the nation’s #1 ranked recruiting class, while at the same time losing players from the originally signed class to a professional sports league for a combined total of over 10 million dollars.
As of today (7/1/15), 11 of the 18 players from that #1 ranked signing class, who choose to attend college, are currently playing professional baseball. Two are in the big leagues. Three of the signees who went straight into professional baseball already made it to the big leagues. And projected by MLB expert talent analysts, 9 of the total 22 players originally signed, will play in the big leagues.
I know the recruiting process is like a big puzzle, for I have successfully put the pieces together! And it’s hard to do.
Through it all, I have been a witness (can I get a witness?) to many mistakes that aspiring athletes and parents make. 50% of the mistakes fall under the “lack of knowledge” category, and the other 50% fall under the “failure in performance” category (note: even very talented players with D1 skills get passed up due to failure in performance).
Let’s start with the good news. High school athletes CAN overcome these challenges and limit the mistakes during the recruiting process. It’s all part of a (developmental) process.
Now here is a little bitty bad news. There are several thousand athletes and parents around the country that are being fooled … by people. They are being tricked into spending an absorbent amount of money on “services” that are designed to eliminate the mistakes. Ranging from private “skill-instruction” coaches, to recruiting services, to camps, clinics and showcase events (promising exposure to college recruiters). Over the last 10 years, people have sprouted up from everywhere with fake promises, or the quick-fix solution. These promises are centered on getting the player a college scholarship. And yet, when you dive deeply into these companies, they themselves DO NOT offer an outlet to earn scholarship with them … But we do! It’s part of our mission to pay it forward. (Click here for scholarship info)
Ultimately, the facts have not (and will not) change. Talent will always be king. Performance will always be queen. Exposure is when talent and performance merge on a consistent basis. And don’t forget … the numbers will not increase … unless the NCAA changes the scholarship allotment rules or new schools are built.
Let’s address these services. But first, let’s make it clear that we believe there is good and bad in everything (and in all aspects of life … It starts with faith and living according to actions that will determine the most important end-result … Heaven and H^*#). There are some good recruiting services (for some athletes … in some sports) and there are bad recruiting services. I have a very strong opinion on recruiting companies … because in all my years coaching at the D1 level, I never used a recruiting service in the sport of baseball to find and commit a player. Never once! I used exposure companies. The same can be said for a majority of D1 programs. The recruiting service packets are used to build the camp database! There are good skill instructors and there are bad skill instructors. There are good showcases and there are bad showcases. And so on, and so on.
So with this said, it ultimately becomes the responsibility of the athlete and his/her parents, to evaluate and scrutinize the companies and services … this can be done by asking two simple questions:
- Do they OWN the experiences that can provide world-class and expert guidance and information?
- Do they prioritize my son/daughter best interests, or are they just trying to take my money?
It’s that simple. Do they pass this 2-question test? Let’s break it down.
Recruiting services are a … I’ll let you finish that sentence. Just be careful with the companies started by high school coaches or are run by people with very little college recruiting experience. Just be careful with the companies that are started by dads of former recruits with absolutely no coaching or recruiting experience at all. Or the ones led by former college coaches with low level recruiting experience or with experience in one sport but they market and offer a specific recruiting service to all sports and athletes.
This is the exact reason WHY we don’t compete with recruiting services, WHY will be building a sport tech product (called RecruitsIQ) to eliminate recruiting services, and WHY we believe that many of them are “scams”. It’s also the main reason WHY we will never be a recruiting service but rather maintain our commitment to provide the truth and transparency that they don’t. We will always be a sport leadership company, built by championship coaches, that can also provide recruiting expertise to athletes and parents because they have been there – done that.
This is also the reason WHY we have created the Champions Network and will hire only championship coaches, in 8 specific sports, to be the recruiting experts for those sports. It is also the reason WHY I will only create programs with recruiting information for athletes in the sport of baseball – using my own personal experiences.
Private Skill Instructors
Now, let’s break down the private skill instructors. I address this topic a bit in my little league declaration and how it translates into the character development of champions (click here to see it). But when asked by parents of youth players, I always warn them that just because someone played the game as a professional, in the minor leagues, doesn’t mean they can coach and develop players. I encourage them to make sure the instructor has a proven background and track record in coaching and teaching.
I have personally watched former professional players, who had several years of elite playing experience, fail at coaching. They simply could NOT teach or lead younger players. I have also watched a professional scout, who is employed by one of the 30 MLB teams, tell a legit pitching prospects a laundry list of faults and weaknesses, and things the player should change. Then, when I asked the scout his opinion as to why the player always seems to be hit hard and what he should do to pitch “down-in-the-zone”, he couldn’t give an answer, yet alone the right answer. He just went back into explaining the players’ faults. Many of which had nothing to do with the correction needed to perform at a higher level.
On the flip side, I know several former professional players that are elite instructors. They know how to translate a playing career into an instructional career, and they can communicate effectively with young players. I also have friends and associates, who serve as professional scouts, and they are also great skill instructors. Some are former coaches who know how to teach and communicate important and individualized skill enhancements. One is a former assistant coach of mine. Just do your homework!
Exposure / Showcase Companies
I grew up in the sport of baseball, when there was no showcases, there was no exposure camps, and legion baseball was a big thing (dates me a bit). The showcase circuit is now the IT thing. Many companies have built multi-million dollar businesses around the “showcase” concept. Even professional scouts have benefited from the scene.
And now, in 2015, there are some kids who ONLY participate in showcases. They sparingly play for an organized summer team. Some don’t even play for a team, and just go from showcase to showcase and get “picked-up” by travel organizations to play on their roster for selected showcase tournaments. They might pitch one-game and then go home.
Some of these companies provide “fake” promises to kids and parents about “exposure” to college coaches and professional scouts. The kids and parents buy-in because they think the big programs, and the full-time scouts, will be present at the events. In reality, the “right-eyes” are not in the stands. Sure, a volunteer coach of a top-25 program might be “hired” to be there on site. But the recruiting coordinator of a staff (or the coach who makes the offer) is not there.
Some companies, like Perfect Game Baseball, abide by a certain philosophy and adhere to a certain mission to accurately be an outlet for high school players to “be scene”. They have a reputation that garners a following by high profile professional scouts and top-25 college baseball recruiting coordinators.
Or companies like Prep Baseball Report, who specifically works to provide player-ranking services for college coaches and professional scouts. And their events are designed to fulfill their mission.
Always remember, there is good and bad in everything! And it is critical for recruits and parents to properly vet each opportunity and service.
So … are you wondering … where do you start?
Start with this first question … Do you find it difficult to gain exposure to college recruiters, earn that college scholarship offer, or simply get opportunities to play at the nextLEVEL?
If you are young (sophomore or rising junior) and have elite physical talent, the answer is no … absolutely NOT! You are being courted and the college scholarship offer is real.
If you don’t have the elite physical talent (but you have ability), and are not getting the offer, then the answer might be YES. If you are in your junior year, or starting your senior year, and have yet to be offered, the answer is a resounding YES.
Regardless of your answer, you need to know HOW to properly navigate the recruiting process? And you must understand that exposure is directly tied to performance. Both the elite talent and the lesser talented players need to know the HOW.
We break it down to a simple 3-step process … Access, Clarify, and Implement.
It all starts with getting the RIGHT information. Then, once you have the information, you need to gain clarity to understand the process of it. There are timing challenges that many recruitable athletes face. And finally, the information needs to be transferable into a specific action plan. This is the exact 3-step process …
- Gain ACCESS to the information.
- Gain CLARITY to the information
- Properly IMPLEMENT the information.
Remember, information is power … “Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon.
Taking it a step further … Applied knowledge (namely, an action plan that can be implemented) is true POWER. There are always exceptions to the rules, but here are a few standards of excellence (timing) for recruits:
- The recruiting process, for all athletes, should start during the sophomore year. Use the freshman year to analyze desire. Use the sophomore year as a period to gather information and learn about programs (using our future computer app RecruitsIQ). This is also when the love-of-sport can be turned into a game-plan to play. At this stage in an athletes playing career, transferring passion into commitment becomes the necessity. It’s a choice.
- Regardless of skill level (elite vs. average), a high school athlete should verbally commit to a college program (not coach) after their sophomore year and during either their junior year or senior year. Never before that. This is currently a huge issue in college baseball – where regrets by both coaches and athletes become a reality. There is too much risk to commit too early.
- A recruit should never fail to honor a commitment (verbal honor through a handshake) to a program. (Exception = coaching change)
These three timing guidelines will be a challenge for some recruits – who are being targeted and offered at an early age – during their freshman and sophomore years. That’s why I call them a standard of excellence. It takes integrity to uphold to the standard.
See, if an athlete and his/her parents can abide by the timing process above, then most often, good things will happen. When they commit to understanding the recruiting landscape, and then have an established plan to evaluate coaches and programs and stick to it … an educated and proper decision usually follows. Regrets are washed away. Transfer possibility is lowered. Decisions are made for the right reasons. On the flip side … the programs that choose not to recruit according to a standard of excellence (run players off due to performance failures) … get exposed.
We warn athletes and parents that because the recruiting process (in all sports) has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, it is critical (now more than ever) to understand the recruiting landscape and take a proactive approach to the process. Please do NOT leave it to chance and odds. KNOW THE PROGRAM BEFORE THE PROGRAM KNOWS YOU.
For you parents to pass on …
This is the future for us. We will be launching a new computer app in all sports called RecruitsIQ … Baseball will be our first sport. We want athletes tot be able to leverage their talent and earn the best scholarship at the right fit program.
© 2015 | Coach David Grewe, Founder and CEO, Potential Meets Legacy Sports Leadership