A successful college football head coach must be good at two things.
First, he must be able to coach. He has to be able to evaluate and develop the talent that is brought in.
Secondly, he must be a salesman. When he finds talent, he has to sell his program to recruits and convince them to spend the next four to five years of their lives under his watch.
He also has to walk into homes of prospects and not only convince the player, but also convince the player's family. In a lot of cases, that is more important.
With under three weeks remaining until national signing day (Wednesday, February 6), Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff are spending a lot more of their time being salesmen than they are being coaches.
Until the NCAA-mandated "quiet period" begins on February 3, the staff's primary focus is on filling the holes in Auburn's roster. Most weekends, like this past one, will be filled with official visits by prospects. During the week, the coaches will be on the road visiting the homes of prospects.
By most projections, Auburn will have room to add approximately 21 signees on national signing day.
Malzahn has a lot of ammunition when it comes to building his recruiting pitch to prospects and to families. Whatever he said to 4-star WR Tony Stevens Sunday on his official visit apparently worked. He gave the Tigers a big commitment when he flipped his pledge from Texas A&M to the Tigers.
Safety Khari Harding also flipped his commitment from Arkansas to Auburn to give the Tigers 16 commitments for the 2013 class.
Malzahn appears to be a good salesman. Here is a video of him pitching Arkansas State to ESPN's Reginald Walker, Jr., before national signing day last year.
What should Malzahn's Auburn pitch entail? It will be different for each prospect, but here are five things that every prospect must hear.
Be a Part of a Historical Turnaround
At a lot of schools, being a part of a historical run is "rented." Prospects become a part of it by just signing their name on a national letter of intent.
After the worst season in the modern era of Auburn football that saw the Tigers go 3-9 and winless in the SEC, the 2013 recruiting class has a chance to make history instead of rent it.
Even if Auburn reaches the nine-win mark in 2013, it will be one of the fastest and biggest turnarounds in recent college football history.
History of Offensive Success
For the offensive players, Malzahn can pitch development of QBs and proven offensive success.
From Arkansas QB Mitch Mustain to Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, Malzahn has taken whoever his QB is at the time to a higher level of play.
He has also had a 1,000-yard rusher in every season as an offensive coordinator in college.
Opportunity for Early Playing Time
The opportunity for early playing time for the class of 2013 is there for the taking.
With a strong fall camp, 2013 signees can see the field as early as August 31 against Washington State. The chance for early playing time is even greater at positions like WR, DL, LB and in the secondary.
The ability to play in LSU's Death Valley and in College Station against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner as soon as next fall should be enticing for any prospect.
Chances Are That Auburn Wins Big Sooner Than Later
The Auburn football program is the 12th-winningest program in college football history and fourth-winningest in the SEC since 1980. Its three undefeated seasons since 1993 is unmatched by any other SEC team. Each of the past four Auburn coaches have had any combination of an undefeated season, an SEC championship or a national championship.
So chances are that Auburn will not stay down for long, despite how far away from a championship team it looked in 2012.
A Great Education in a Great Location
Most likely, playing professional football is not a certainty. An education at Auburn is among the nation's best. As far as education in the state of Alabama, there isn't a better place to get your college degree from.
Auburn is a short drive from many great locations. If a beach trip is in order, Auburn is only a short three-hour drive from from the beaches in NW Florida. If the big city and big lights are on the agenda, Atlanta is just a short hour-and-a-half drive up Interstate 85.
The next few weeks will be a roller-coaster ride in terms of recruiting. The de-commitments, like 4-star RB Jordan Wilkins, have likely not come to an end and neither have the commitments.
Regardless, it should be entertaining to see how Malzahn closes out his first recruiting class as Auburn's head coach.