Quick Hit: Recruiting

Every year, around this time, the collective underpants of college football recruitniks build into a giant wad of angst and anxiety. Beaver Nation is not immune to this phenomenon.  At this time, the Beavers are in the top-5 or even the top-3 of many of their foundational athletes.  These are players who are not only going to add star power to the 2014 recruiting class, but also are going to be looked at as impact, multi-year starters for the Beavers.

Year in and year out, Oregon State struggles to land these players for numerous reasons. In some cases, the Beavers were the safety net school for a recruit, who was waiting for a bigger fish to offer. In other cases, there are players that are being wooed by multiple programs that all have good coaches and aspects of their program that seem like a good fit. Or maybe Oregon State is fighting against a girlfriend, parent, coach, or “mentor” who wants the prospect to go somewhere else.

During these times, many furious fans bring up corporate sales as the model for getting these players in. The term “Corporate Sales” is thrown around as if it is the same in every industry or location (the “Sales is sales is sales” principle). Others will postulate that the coaches should just work harder, or have a hard sell guy, or play a little loose and fast with the rules to get their A-list players.

Those people are not categorically wrong, but recruiting is not like sales. It is like dating. This is not about quantifiable situations like playing time, NFL potential, or offensive systems (at least not entirely).  It is also about feelings, about the thought of being somewhere for four or five years, and loving it. If you have ever been shot down at a bar or grocery store or church picnic, you know that there are situations that are completely out of your control — that are either going to open the doors of romance, or slam them shut.

You can be as tenacious, kind, pandering, and/or aggressive as you want, but none of that is guaranteed to take you out of the “Friend Zone” or overcome the fact that you just are not as attractive as the other would-be suitors. Maybe over time, after the initial infatuation of a school wears off, a prospect might realize that another school was a better fit, but for the most part, when a player signs on the dotted line and faxes in their LOI, they are saying “I have dated enough, I want to be exclusive with you”.

The coaches at Oregon State work very hard. VERY hard when you consider that they don’t have the staffs, money, facilities, or built-in hotbed of talent that many other schools have. It is not a matter of working harder. It isn’t even a matter of working smarter, not entirely.  The Beaver coaches have been very innovative in the past few years, milking many PR opportunities like airplane banners, In And Out Burger, film review via Twitter, new uniforms, new videos, the chainsaw fiasco, and many more methods of getting kids to notice them. The Beavers are trying to create the narrative of what their program is about and are getting it to more kids faster than at any time before (they just offered a 2016 prospect).

Unfortunately, when a player from California, who has been rooting for UCLA all his life, gets that offer a week before committing to OSU, now you are basically dealing with a common dating issue. The person your object of interest has always had a  crush on asking them out right before they called you to see if you were busy on Saturday. In that scenario, you cannot work harder, push more aggressively, or sit outside their window playing, “In Your Eyes” on your boom box and guarantee that they choose you.

All you are now is a stalker.

So when we think about recruiting, don’t think about it like a business man because it is not a business transaction.It is a relationship proposal and just like with relationships “Never take no for an answer” isn’t necessarily appropriate or welcome.

2 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Recruiting

  1. Roger

    I do believe that there is plenty of emperical data out there to prove OSU does not dedicate enough financial resources to recruiting. I have seen various articles, reports and columns comparing OSU spending (as a % program expenditures) to our peer group. OSU does spend less, in comparisan to the rest of the Pac-12. In other words we COULD get more “bang” for our dollars. Other programs in our peer group have stepped up their spending and it seems to be paying off, at places like WSU, UW, UCLA, ASU and uo, for instance.

    1. tocrcom

      I would agree that we could spend a lot more money, but I am not sure the money is there to spend. The athletic department is in the red and owes the actual university somewhere around ten million dollars. OSU Prof from Pure-Orange.net and BeaverBlitz.com has great information on both of these topics. While there is definitely more that can be done, there always is, I am not sure you can compare the financial state of OSU with any of those peers, save WSU. Their available funds, proximity to high quality recruiting talent and/or urban setting give them distinct advantages that OSU cannot replicate.

      I would say that your argument is not about bang for buck but adding more bucks to the pool. I think OSU gets a very good bang for their buck. If they really are spending the least amount on recruiting and still getting classes ranked in the middle of the conference, then they are getting way more bang for their buck than at least five or six of the teams in their conference.

      So if OSU wants to get more success in recruiting, like everything else, they need to make sure they are spending close to what their competitors are. I think they will be able to do more than most of their contemporaries if they had equal budgets. It is hard to win recruiting battles when a team like USC can have their coaches walk to a school with top 100 talent while you still have to fly there and get visits in with as many kids as you can. USC coaches can be at a lot more quality Friday night games than OSU’s can.

      But I do agree that we should spend more on recruiting. I honestly believe that recruiting is the most imperative part of modern football.


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