College Football Coaches Can't Impose Their Will When Recruits Hold the Power
On Thursday, Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on his talks with Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson about recruiting. Johnson, a guy who has seen recruits pull out at the last minute, like most schools, was very candid about his feelings on high school coaches, other collegiate coaches, the recruits and the like.
Now, for anyone who has followed Johnson and his unique recruiting philosophies, this should come as no surprise. He does not permit his commits to take visits elsewhere. He wants an early signing period as a means of protecting himself. He wants high school coaches to turn away college coaches inquiring about his commits.
He wants recruiting by Paul Johnson, for Paul Johnson.
This is less about Johnson and more speaking to a point that we made closer to national signing day here at Your Best 11. The player is the one who has the power. As coaches realize it more and more, they can either make it work for them or against them.
In the case of Johnson, instead of adjusting to the market, he has decided to try to create his own market.
It sounds nice. The idea of getting players who are fully committed to Georgia Tech and have no desire to reach higher or go elsewhere makes them the ideal recruits. Unfortunately, given the nature of today's college football recruiting landscape, those players are either not good enough to win you a title or do not exist. At least, not enough of them exist.
Watching the transition has been increasingly interesting, as the light has come on for more players now than ever. They are the reason why coaches make the big bucks. They are the guys who put themselves out there to take the hits on Saturdays. They are the ones who the coach is practically begging to get on campus to help him keep his job.
As more players realize this dynamic, recruiting has been turned on its ear. No longer are the coaches the power players, looking to force kids into commitments, scare them into staying committed, all the while looking for another, better player to put on the roster.
It has gone from a "you're lucky that you're getting recruited" to a "you're lucky that I committed" feel on the big-time college football landscape. Coaches are the salesmen, hoping to entice players to pick their product over the competitors'. If it takes dancing a jig, then that's exactly what they will do.
Some folks, like Sporting News' Matt Hayes, do not like the idea of players controlling recruiting. The idea that the guy who puts his body on the line and has his future to think about being in charge of picking where he ends up, and how he is courted in the process, makes them ill.
Heaven forbid that the 17-year-old who is suiting up to help Coach X add another zero to his paycheck gains some ground in this mess. Heaven forbid that these coaches have to get out on the track and do a little shake to get these kids. Heaven forbid that the coaches banking dollars have to go out and do their job.
But perhaps the coaches should be in charge. After all, they are the ones giving these kids scholarship offers. It is not like the kid earned that offer. It is not like the coach needs those kids to win ballgames. It is not like the player should have a choice in how this process is handled.
It is not like the player is the most important part of the process, right?
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