Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Looking past stars: what I like about Jags-era recruiting

I do my best not to get emotionally invested in recruiting news. Past experience has me hardened to the flawed rankings and the gossip sold as news by the major sites. It’s a long was from wooing a high school kid to the ACC championship. Staying somewhat detached from recruiting keeps things in perspective.

What does interest me is where the staff recruits and how they sell BC. BC is not for everyone. The program remains a unique niche and it is up to Jags and his staff to sell that niche -- and not themselves or the opportunity to go to the NFL. When you sell the coach or -- as Jags often references -- the fancy weight room, you are setting the student up for disappointment. Jags might not be here in five year, but BC will. Regardless of their success on the field, these kids are going to be BC students and future alumni. That should mean something to us, the current students and alumni. Therefore, I am thrilled when I hear the recruits spout off these points:

"Great mix of academics and athletics." This is our most important selling point. We respect the student and give them great support to graduate. It also attracts the type of kid who can see the big picture.

"Northern school playing big time football." One of the most misguided criticisms BC took during the ACC expansion was that we would be out of place in our new conference. The ACC gives BC another distinct recruiting pitch. We are the lone school in the northeast that allows a guy to play in front of friends and family, yet also take on teams like Florida State, Clemson and Miami. The Big East teams cannot claim our level of attention. Penn State has a similar position to BC...fortunately we never seem to go head to head with them over recruits.

"Connecting with the guys" -- "Felt at home." etc. As much as we talk about coaches or selling the school, one of the most overlooked selling points is how the guy clicks with the current players. Each recruit is going to have to go to battle with these guys, spend hours on end with them, and compete with them. There must be a connection. We don’t have a bunch of choir boys, but most of the current BC players are good people. That’s important and players self selecting into that culture should keep the team filled with good “BC Guys.”

I am realistic. I know playing time, style of offense and getting on TV help our recruiting. But as long as the right message gets out and the player knows what he is getting, the coaches are doing their job the right way.

The other aspect of our recruiting that pleases me is the breadth of our recruiting territory. In addition to New England, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania and the Midwestern Catholic Schools, the new staff is placing an emphasis on Florida, Texas and the southeast. The dividends may be small at first, but I think now is the time to leverage BC’s reputation. We consider ourselves a national school. Our football team should embody that as well. I know our pitch will be ignored by the vast majority of top kids in SEC land. There will also be plenty of kids who will respond.

Recruiting is evaluation, sales and hard work. I think this staff believes in what they are selling and is certainly working hard. If their evaluations are good, we’ll be benefiting from their efforts for a long time.


Marie said...

I would love to see some recruiting down here in SEC country (southeastern AL, specifically.) There is an outstanding CYO sports program that feeds into a some very good high schools - Catholic, private and public - that produce some excellent athletes. I think that the Catholic and private schools would be fertile ground for BC, as they produce the type of student-athlete that would be a good fit. There are more local kids going to BC all the time; I think some of the very bright, successful local athletes would take a look if pursued. It's a tough challenge - the Auburn-Alabama pull is strong.

Big Jack Krack said...

The weather seems to be less of an issue - but I'm sure it is still an issue for some student-athletes.

I agree with Marie about exploiting those connections - not only in southeastern AL, but anywhere in the country they can be found.

I can't remember ever getting a highly sought after recruit from South Carolina - but it just happened. We're getting some interest from Florida and Texas - and Maryland and Pennsylvania this year, as well as the northeast and the midwest. We even see California now. I'd love to see a recruit or two from Auburn-Alabama country. We have a quarterback from Georgia coming in.

It's really interesting where these players are coming from. I find this very interesting and exciting.

Could it be that in the past when a certain player might pick Notre Dame, every now and then those same type players are choosing BC? Just wondering.

Eagle in Brighton said...

I hope Jags is around in 5 years...

Talent + high integrity + national scope is all you can ask for in terms of recruiting. It will be interesting to see if we can translate our recent prominence into the pursuance of some blue-chip prospects to supplement the solid, hard working type of kid that has come to define the program.

Michael said...

Your analogy with Penn State is flawed. Penn State football has gone downhill since they joined the Big 10. Families of recruits from Jersey and Pennsylvania, their traditional base, do not want to go to Iowa to watch their kids play.

Paterno had a chance to make the Big East into football power with Miami, but he was jealous of Big East basketball and pulled out. We use to fear Penn State, now they are a step below Rutgers.

I like everything about Jags. We have the potential to finish as a11-3, Top 10 team that has a top graduation rate and has not had a significant problem in years. Yet this season is somehow viewed as a disappointment on campus and with alumni?

TOB was not entirerly wrong. We need to appreciate what we have, not what we don't have. Let's keep an eye out for UConn in recruiting.

BCNorCal07 said...

First off, I want to say that I think that Jags and Co. are doing a great job and that this season has been wildly entertaining and a lot of fun. We got a bowl game in Florida (a program goal for a long time) and the recruiting seems to be going well.

I agree with Michael, per Penn State, but not so much about UConn. The Big East has been hit really by coaching defections in the last year (Petrino and now Rodriguez). I don't know how well a program like WVU, with it's unique offense, is going to regroup under a new coach. If the 'Neers struggle, that's another big-time program on the mend in the Big East. I don't see how that can't hurt recruiting in the conference in general, as it will be one less opportunity for athletes to play an elite team and be on television. We'll still be competing quite often with UConn for recruits, but Jags is also showing that don't have to rely on the Northeast for recruits, and - unlike the Big East - it seems like the Big East (with UNC improving, Miami recruiting well, Paul Johnson at GT, and NCSU improving) is only trending upward.

BCNorCal07 said...

check that last comment. it's the ACC that's improving, duh.

Sebastian said...

Big Jack Krack--

I agree when you say BC is trying to go after the ND type players. I don't know if the players are necessarily picking BC over ND yet, but I think BC is trying to go for the player that fits that mold.

luch said...

I wish that they would hit Southern California harder in recruiting; besides Florida, the best athletes are down here (or at least the gamebreakers) and there are some major Catholic high school sports programs in the area...Mater Dei, Rancho Santa Margarita, Cathedral Catholic (formerly Univ of San Diego HS), St. Augustine... get in the mix with a kid looking at SC. we are a different school and can legitimately get deep into the recruiting battle precisely because we offer something unique, especially if a kid is looking for an all-around student-athlete experience.
there are also quite a few kids who grow up and are enamored with the idea of going "back east" for school and its huge now to be able to play the florida states and miamis of the world.
as i write this, espn is talking about ugo okpara's de-commitment from Arkansas and switching to BC...

ATL_eagle said...

Luch, I think you'll see BC continue to be selective in California (like Boek this year). But the distance will always be a factor. A BC staffer cannot check out a Friday night game in LA and be in Clemson or NC State for a Saturday kickoff.

luch said...

good point, i didn't think about evaluations during the season. maybe its time for Father Leahy to get BC its own plane to make it possible...does the Diocese have one to sell :)

BBBC08 said...

luch - best comment i've ever seen on this blog. wouldn't be surprised if BC's world domination plan involves a fleet of private jets.