The winds of change are blowing as the NCAA has moved to deregulate the recruiting landscape. While the Big Ten coaches and athletic directors hope to fight the news, the fact is that freedom is on the way for those in the recruiting game. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports falls into the same category, as his most recent piece on the recruiting "Wild, Wild West" details.
Ultimately, all of the talk is merely reinforcing the ideal that kids need to wrestle more power from the guys who are recruiting them. It should have started a long time ago, and indeed it did for some kids, but with the 2014 change coming, now more than ever, recruits have to recognize and act upon the upper hand they have in the process.
We've all heard the horror stories of the coaches that won't quit calling, the guys who text message and Facebook chat as soon as a prospect jumps on. We know about the ghost phone calls and the burner phones, too.
With the new rules coming, it all sounds like just an amplification of those original horror stories. Except it doesn't have to be, and more importantly, it shouldn't.
Job one, going forward, has to be teaching these kids how to say no. Say no to the late-night phone calls. Say no to returning text messages during your school hours. Say no to taking the Skype session while you're trying to eat dinner. Say no.
More is not more when it comes to building the relationship necessary for landing a recruit. However, because these kids, and the people around them, don't understand that they truly wield the power, people are reinforcing the idea that more contacts is better for a coach and program. By taking the call but saying nothing, texting instead of calling or just ignoring calls, players are validating the coaches' plans of action.
When you are the product, you should dictate the terms. That is something that high school coaches, parents, guardians, family members, friends and people who have been through the process have to make kids aware of. We've talked about elite players holding the power before, here at Your Best 11, and in 2014, more than just elite players have to put their foot down.
This is not about shutting down your recruiting after your commitment. Quite honestly, I'd always advise against players stopping the visits and entertaining the calls. Rather, this is about managing your own recruitment, not letting the recruitment manage you.
I know, at first, it seems great. You're getting all these calls from schools that are interested in you. They talk about how much you mean to them, how you'd fit into their scheme, how you could play early, how they can develop you into an All-Everything player and such. It's awesome.
The phone rings and different area codes are popping up and everybody wants to talk to you!
Then, after a month or two, it gets old. The phone rings and your eyes roll because you already know what's going to be said and how the conversation will play out. It's just them touching base and making sure you know they are interested and making sure you're still interested in them. You make some small talk; if they're good, they'll ask about your classes, your mom, maybe your upcoming opponent on Friday night or how working out is going.
The point here is not the phone calls themselves; rather, it is that you're taking all of these phone calls and those calls are taking you away from things you'd rather be doing. Things like sleeping, talking to your friends on the phone, hanging out with your family, going to see your girlfriend or just eating dinner.
What prospects have to realize is they can control this game. If you only want to take calls on certain days, let schools know that. If you only want to take calls between certain hours, let schools know that. If there are periods when you most certainly will not take calls, like dinner time, let the schools know that.
It's not being a jerk, it's not being a prima donna; rather, it is letting schools know what you expect out of them in this process, the same way they expect certain things out of you. Players have to qualify academically, they have to fit the scheme and they have to be talented enough to warrant a school's interest. Schools should have to understand a player's desires from a recruiting process standpoint in order to warrant a prospect's interest.
Odds are the coaches will appreciate the scheduled calls; it works a lot easier for them. However, for the program that says to hell with what the kid wants, I'm calling him at 11 p.m., that guy gets to learn a hard lesson. Be prepared to let a coach know that you don't take calls at that time and it bothers you tremendously to know that he doesn't respect you enough to honor that. If it happens again, be prepared to drop that school from contention. Apparently it didn't matter enough for them to care about you.
The recruiting process is about to get opened up even more, and we'll all be watching how coaches handle this. What our eyes should be on is how recruits grow into more powerful roles. They have to dictate the contact, from both a frequency and medium standpoint. Instead of just letting the process get what it wants out of them, the prospects need to get what they want, and need, out of their own recruitments.