Auburn Football: How New Coaching Staff Has Changed Tigers' Recruiting Game
Auburn football has seen wholesale changes in the recruiting process over the past four years. Gene Chizik brought in a coaching staff that changed the recruiting game, not only in Auburn, but across the country.
With Big Cat weekend, the Tigers coaches have changed the face of the unofficial visit. When the coaches introduced Tiger Prowl, it changed the way that other schools approached evaluations.
In the game of college football coaching, to beat the best, you have to constantly reinvent the wheel. Gene Chizik and his staff have been known to bring new strategies to recruiting and will continue to do so.
Make no mistake, Chizik and his staff will ensure Auburn is at the top of the recruiting game for the foreseeable future.
The Tiger Prowl was first introduced in 2009. The Tigers coaches introduced the limo-style recruiting visits during the summer evaluation period of Gene Chizik’s first full season on the Plains.
The Tigers did well in the 2008 class, but the 2009 group was to be the first full class that was recruited by Chizik and his guys. They wanted to make a splash that would cause ripples across the country.
By 2010, the Tigers coaches had really boosted the Tiger Prowl into an event that transcended high school visits and turned into a full-on fundraising campaign. The campaign just so happened to include a huge tour bus wrapped in Auburn football greatness.
The NCAA quickly put a stop to the “recruiting advantage” that came with the limos and tour bus, but the Tigers coaching staff showed that they were innovative in their approach to new student athletes.
Auburn recruiting had become fun.
Big Cat Weekend
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Having a weekend that is dedicated to numerous high-profile athletes making unofficial visits together is nothing new in recruiting. There are a number of programs that rely on big weekends in the early summer months to land top targets.
Three years ago, the Auburn coaching staff decided to take that idea to another level.
Big Cat weekend was first witnessed in March 2009. The Tigers brought in a number of highly-rated recruits, and finished the 2009 class by signing a number of the visitors.
What made the weekend so different was that it was about family and fun. Typically, when a large contention of recruits land on campus, it's for a skills or development camp. However, Auburn wanted this weekend to be about fun and relationships, not just football.
With that approach, the Tigers coaching staff has completely changed the value of getting recruits to not just like a program and its coaches, but also a school and the teammates that will join them.
The tradition continued in 2010 and entered a fourth year this past spring. The Big Cat weekend has drawn some of the most elite talent from across the country, year after year.
Expect to see this weekend continue to grow and bring in top talent for the Tigers in the future.
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One of the unique qualities that Gene Chizik and his coaching staff carry is a focus on family. Each player is treated as a son by the coaches. They develop them as men, not just football players.
This has been a successful approach for the Tigers staff. Not only have they brought in good players, but young men that wanted to be a part of a program that was bigger than just winning football games.
This coaching staff works hard to ensure that future players and their families are a part of the process together. Big Cat weekend is just as much for the families as it is for the players. The coaches want to provide an opportunity for the parents to be a part of the process, and help make the best decision for the recruit.
The family approach is a unique one, but it is something that Auburn is known for. Every Auburn fan knows what it means to be in the Auburn family. It is a tradition that has grown with the community and one that makes Auburn recruiting unique.
Bringing Fun to Recruiting
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One of the biggest differences that this staff has made to the recruiting game is adding fun into the equation.
Since the rise of recruiting sites and the need of fans to draw constant information about the future of their favorite programs, recruiting has become taxing on the student-athlete.
The Tigers staff has done its best to remove a lot of the stress that comes with committed and prospective commits on the recruiting trail. Auburn recruiting has become fun, and playing for Auburn has become fun with it.
Fun being added to the recruiting equation has bred great results for Gene Chizik and company.
Built Around a Brand, Not a Staff
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Gene Chizik has done a lot to bring tradition back to the Plains. Chizik and his staff are big on selling Auburn, not just their production as coaches.
Chizik makes the Auburn football program about Auburn. His staff emphasizes how special it is to be at Auburn and a part of the rich football tradition that has come before and will go beyond the days that the current players take the field.
The Chizik staff have also done well by coming up with new ideas to spread the brand of Auburn. Billboards have been used for some time as a way to help sell tickets, but recruiting with billboards is new to the game.
With billboards encouraging recruits to attend Auburn, the staff are again emphasizing Auburn as a brand, rather than the offense or defense being run.
Make no mistake, coaching has a huge part to play in the decision of a prospective college football player. Players want to play in a system that will allow them to flourish. Those players want to know they are playing for a winning coach, but they also want to wear a strong tradition.
Auburn has that tradition.
Emphasizing Auburn’s brand has been and will continue to be a focus for the Chizik coaching staff.