On Wednesday, college football coaches across the nation will celebrate the end of the recruiting cycle by embracing a familiar routine. They will each deliver the exact same national signing day speech once their busy days come to a close.
Sometime late afternoon or early evening in their finest school-centric attire—right when the national signing day festivities begin to wind down and all faxes have been accounted for—each coach will greet the media, singing a familiar tune.
Of course it won’t be the exact same, but it will be oddly similar. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) a particular class might be. It doesn’t matter what school it is or how friendly a particular coach is with the media. The names of players will vary, but the message will not.
The Coach Speak Super Bowl is nearly upon us. Here’s what you’re guaranteed to hear (and why).
“Hello, and welcome. Thank you for covering our team and for your interest in our program. This is an exciting day for all of us.”
It will likely begin with a quick media backrub, which is never a bad idea. The head coach didn’t have time to leave gift baskets on each seat, so this will have to do. And honestly, it really can’t hurt.
It especially can’t hurt if you’re moments away from unveiling an underwhelming class, ready to navigate a slew of “this isn’t going to cut it” columns from the media masses. Oh, they're coming. Maybe they've already been written.
Will a quick bit of thanks prevent those? No, but you have to build off your media goodwill while you can.
When we turn, we really turn.
“First and foremost, I want to thank our entire staff. The efforts from our assistants and others in the administration have been extraordinary throughout this entire process.”
Now we get to the meat on the bone, and this is just the perfect group to touch on with the handshake out of the way. This praise is genuine, and the assistants deserve utmost praise for the miles traveled and hours put in.
The offensive coordinator hasn’t slept since July, and even the mascot has Red Bull dripping from his furry veins at this point. Recruiting is a relentless, vicious grind for these assistants, and they deserve a quick shoutout and one good night’s rest. But seriously, this grind starts back up on Friday. Enjoy the day off.
“We’re thrilled with the class we’re bringing in. We think we’re bringing a lot of talent to the program. More importantly, we hit on a lot of key areas and we got the guys we wanted.”
Of course you did. No one ever misses out on the guys they wanted.
This is my favorite part of the coach speak, and every coach—and I mean every coach—will say this regardless of how happy they actually are.
Nick Saban will say this about his army of 5-stars, although begrudgingly so. And [insert overly enthusiastic coach looking down at a gathering of 2-star players on a piece of paper] will sell you on why this is the class to turn everything around.
Just imagine what the response would be if a coach said, “Well, just look at the mess I have in front of me. This batch of players just isn’t going to cut it. We messed up. Heck, I might get fired before we start conference play.”
You probably won’t hear that, but you never know.
“Not only did we land a lot of good players, we think we landed a lot of good students and young men.”
The coach will rightfully deliver this thoughtful bit of perspective early on, all the while wondering where he’s going to play that 4-star athlete from Nashville while he does it.
Winning games and filling stadiums are only a part of the college experience; this is about growing as a student and human being. But seriously, where is he going to play that kid? So many options.
Don’t worry, he’ll figure it out before he’s done mailing in the rest of this press conference.
“We expect many of these young men to contribute right away. Our hope is that these players see the field as quickly as possible.”
Translation: “Have you seen our depth at corner? Oh, it’s bad. It’s really bad. Just put on the game tape and you’ll see how bad it is. You with the tape recorder in the front row—you want a scholarship?”
Of course a head coach plans to play some of these true freshmen immediately. In many cases he doesn’t have any other options. And if he says he doesn’t expect these kids to start, he’s—in a cryptic way—saying they’re not good enough to start.
This will all be sorted out with actual practice, but for now let’s roll with this until proven wrong.
“The competition in spring practice is going to be fierce. We expect the players from last year’s class to step up. Let’s not forget about them.”
We’ve been here before. A year ago the coach said the same thing about the class before it. The year before, well, he was probably at a different job because that's pretty much how this whole thing works. If he was at his current job, he probably said it then. If he was at a different job, he probably said it there.
It’s how it works, and this is where the cycle comes full circle.
“It’s time to get back at it. Spring football is around the corner, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead.”
He means it too. He’ll be studying tape on the team for the coming weeks, penciling in a spring football depth chart. Oh, and he’ll likely spend the rest of the day recruiting the 2015 class, working on the next batch of potential game-changing players.
It doesn’t stop. It never stops. It just starts anew.