New College Football Coaches Face Huge Challenges in Recruiting

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJanuary 18, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - DECEMBER 5:  Former Wisconsin Badger Head Coach Bret Bielema speaks during his introduction as the new Head Coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks on December 5, 2012 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

So far at Your Best 11, we've hit on the overall recruiting process and discussed why official visits are such a critical point of the process. Today, we will hit on something that multiple coaches will be going through this year: trying to recruit as they transition into a new job.

For established guys like Mack Brown and Mark Richt, recruiting is a big headache as they try to work with their staff to schedule everything and woo the best kids they can. For guys like Bret Bielema, Gary Andersen, Dave Doeren or Mike MacIntyre, it becomes a full-blown nightmare.

Getting a promotion is great: You get more money and more prestige and are in position to reach higher achievements than you could at your previous position. You are also thrust into a whirlwind over the course of a few weeks where you have more to do than every coach who is not changing jobs.

Nowhere is this more true than in recruiting.

Sure, hiring guys is a tall task, but recruiting becomes a true mountain that coaches fight to conquer from day one through signing day. The issues run the gamut from reassuring committed players that you want them to hoping to scare kids away that you have no interest in and identifying other targets for which you hadn't previously pushed.

It is a lot, and that's all before you even make contact with the players.

Every coach has their own offensive and defensive systems. Their own approach to recruiting. Their own "type" of player that they are looking for. When a coach walks into a new job, he is looking to remake the old staff's recruiting process into his own. 

For some coaches that means targeting better players. For others it means shifting from recruiting pro-styled kids to getting more spread-friendly players. But for others it is about the total opposite of that. Some coaches are looking for more measurables than the previous staff; others are just trying to ink the best 25 players they can.

The staff that the new coach is taking over spent a couple years making decisions on the kids they offered. They combed over their film from high school and decided to offer the player a scholarship based upon the relationship they built and what they saw on tape.

Now, new staff, you've got a limited window to decide whether or not these kids are going to work for you. In some cases, coaches are begging the old commits to stay on board. In other cases, the new staff is hoping the commitments change their minds and leave with the old staff.

After you pick which of the already offered kids you want, you have to convince them to come. That means telling them that you are honoring their scholarships and then trying to create a relationship off of the work the previous staff did.

You have less time to find their hot buttons. You have less time to figure out who the decision-makers are. You have less time to convince them of just how much you care about them and why your system is going to maximize what they can do at the collegiate level.

As this goes on, staffs also have to find new targets to fill out their class. Yes, some guys hope to bring players from their old job; however, depending upon the caliber of job, that is not always possible. Guys who would be good gets for Louisiana Tech or Western Kentucky are not necessarily the guys you want at Cal or South Florida.

In other cases, you also have to contend with geography. Sure, Bielema would like to have some of his old commits down at Arkansas, but getting them down to Arkansas—out of the Midwest—presents its own problem.

Thus, coaches have to quickly review tape, check uncommitted players and find players they can target, in their region, to help them fill out their classes.

It is a big hurdle to overcome because these players have already established their favorites and built relationships with other schools. Getting into the game late requires both a silver tongue and something tangible to entice the kid.

We're not talking money here, so spare me the cheating jokes.

Rather, we're talking about playing time, an offensive or defensive system that will benefit them or a great track record for producing NFL prospects. If you have something like that to sell, you can get a foot in the door. Then, it's up to your pitch to get the kid interested.

Just like that, we've arrived at the most critical—but most often overlooked—portion of recruiting for a new coach: the official visit. The official visit is a big deal, and new coaches are thrust into the proverbial lion's den, sitting behind the eight ball where officials are concerned. Not from a scheduling standpoint—logistics are the easy part.

No, they are between a rock and a hard place because not only do they not know the recruits that well, they know next to nothing about the current roster that they are asking to host kids.

Because of the push to get kids in, coaches likely have had more interaction with the recruits than they have had with their own actual team. It's the offseason; they lift weights, and you don't have many full team meetings or functions. Picking the hosts who are both willing and able in recruiting is a tough task.

Yesterday, we talked about pairing kids and how critical that is to the official visit. Now, imagine trying to find that balance while having a very limited knowledge of both sides of the equation.

It's not easy.

New coaches have their hands full, and working the recruiting trail is one of the tallest tasks that they must tackle on the new gig. Year two is infinitely easier than year one, but you need to start your push in the first season because a lost year of recruiting doesn't help your cause.