Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As football drives more players to transfer to different high schools ... is that wise for the long run?

So it appears that quite a few Texas high school quarterbacks are transferring to high schools where they can get a better shot a displaying their abilities in games, as noted in an October 4 article by Rick Cantu in the Austin American-Statesman. Guess that's understandable to a degree, and it's driven in large part by the now-or-never aspect of recruiting for each class of recruits. High school football players who hope to be recruited by college football programs (and their parents too) believe, rightfully so, that they really have only one good year (or maybe two)  to be recruited as they graduate from high school, and that how they stack up against all other players at their position (i.e,,in their recruiting class made up of potential recruits across the state and country) is a key factor in whether they'll be recruited or not. That becomes a driving force many of them, beyond almost any other consideration about their futures.

But you've got to wonder if this isn't the tail wagging the dog. Even if most of these students transfer, their leaving behind friends and teachers and other opportunties beyond football (and yes, they do exist) ... and for what? That would be the chance to be recruited to play college football. But most of these young men, even those that are recruited, would probably be better off in the long run if they simply got on with their lives without so much concern about playing college ball. Even for players who ultimately make it to the pros (and their aren't many, percentage-wise), football ends for them some day ... and they are young men when that happens. High school football players should prepare for lives beyond football ... and that should be their priority.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New guidelines on college admissions exemptions for athletes

Many athletes are offered admission to colleges and universities without meeting the academic requirements that other, non-athletes have to meet. Some colleges are more lenient that others, and that's a concern among college administrators and athletic department officials who fear that some schools will then have an advantage over others.

Now, an organization called the Association of Chief Admissions Officers at Public Universities has developed a set a guidelines, with a set of  best practices, for managing these types of admissions practices.

The document ... hits on topics ranging from how to handle inquiries from the athletics department and how to tackle questions about international credentials, recruits’ privacy and documents, transfer students, and mid-year graduation,” according to an October 5 article in Inside Higher Education.
Sounds like great reading for anyone interested in college football recruiting.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A top recruiting consultant on what colleges look for in recruits

When I wrote Beyond Friday Nights: College Football Recruiting for Players and Parents, my book on the college football recruiting process, former college coach Randy Rodgers was one of my excellent sources. These days, Rodgers runs Randy Rodgers Recruiting, a recruiting service for college football programs. In other words, he evaluates high school football players for those programs, providing them with accurate information about prospective recruits. For high school players and parents, he's one of the good guys in college football recruiting, with excellent knowledge about what colleges look for and what they don't look for. And to top that off, he's also a great communicator ... it's very easy to talk to him, without ever getting the feeling that he thinks he knows more than you ... and he's a straight-talker too. And for a high school player and his parents, that sort of rapport is always welcome.

Today, Rodger's advice about offensive linemen and what colleges look for in them is featured in an article by Greg Tepper on Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine website. Even if you aren't interested in offensive lineman, the sort of analysis provided here offers some good insights into how colleges go about sizing up potential recruits for a position. Check it out.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Some schools don't like multi-year scholarships ...

There's still not much hard evidence yet about which schools might be offering the new NCAA-approved multi-year scholarships to college football players. But the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls has a good article today about the entire issue. Bohls notes that some coaches argue that players with multi-year scholarships might become complacent and not work as hard to perform at their best if they know they won't lose those scholarships. With one-year renewable scholarships, they argue, student-athletes have something to work for, and therefore will be more accountable.

Guess that could be an issue for some players, but it's hard for me to believe it would be widespread, certainly not at a level to jeopardize the whole concept. Instead, multi-year scholarships would seem to be one of the few protections players have in world of Division I college football, where coaches have ultimate control over so much of their player's lives, and there is generally little room for players to appeal any coaching decision or behavior. For once, we have an NCAA that is looking out for players' best interest, even if it comes at the expense of the winning-at-any-cost mentality that permeates much of today's big-time college football.

See previous posts in this blog for more background on the multi-year scholarship issue.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

North Carolina ... paying the price for NCAA infractions

Taken verbatim from the NCAA, here's some more disheartening news for the college football world, including potential recruits:

"University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is responsible for multiple violations, including academic fraud, impermissible agent benefits, ineligible participation and a failure to monitor its football program, according to the decision announced today by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

"Over the course of three seasons, six football student-athletes competed while ineligible as a result of these violations, and multiple student-athletes received impermissible benefits totaling more than $31,000."

And here's a link to the full story, again from the NCAA itself.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Social media's big effect on the recruiting process ...

Social networking is rapidly changing the recruiting process, whether NCAA regulations keep up or not. Those regulations don't allow college coaches to text potential recruits, but they allow communications through the email function on Facebook. They also allow regular, direct email communications. But throw Twitter and other social networking capabilities and you've got a rapidly increasing number -- and difficult to police -- ways in which college coaches and even fans of college teams can and do communicate with potential recruits. A recent Killeen Daily Herald (Texas) article does a solid job presenting these issues. Check it out ... it's a good, informative read.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Multi-year scholarships ... anyone offering them?

Trying to determine how multi-year athletic scholarships (which can be offered by NCAA Division I colleges and universities now) might change football recruiting, I posed this question to the football recruiting experts at Dave Campell's Texas Football's “Mailbag Madness” column: “Now that Division I multi-year scholarships have withstood a challenge, are any Texas colleges or universities offering them?”

In response, they said they're not aware of any being offered so far, but ... so be sure to take a look at their insightful answer. (At that link, scroll down to the end of the page.)

See my previous post on multi-year scholarships for more background on them. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Multi-year scholarships survive ... just barely

The votes are in, and multi-year scholarships for Division I schools survive ... but just barely! Opponents of the optional multi-year scholarships, which now can be awarded to student-athletes instead of the previously required one-year renewable scholarships, needed 62.5 percent of the vote to overturn it. They got 62.12 percent, reports the NCAA.

Those percentages are based on similarly close vote counts. Overturning the measure would have required 207 votes -- five-eighths of the total -- from 330 institutions. But opponents only mustered 205 votes, reports Steve Wieberg in USA Today.

The vote was required of the Division I membership after enough schools complained about the multi-year scholarship reform measure, which was adopted late last year by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

This extremely close vote indicates, however, that there's not much consensus on this issue among Division I institutions. So what are the implications? Hard to know at this point, because it depends on how many institutions move to multi-year scholarships, and how soon they do that. But it seems clear that it will be a great recruiting tool for the schools that offer them. And it would seem to be a great deal for student-athletes too, guaranteeing them a scholarship for the length of their eligibility, giving them needed security for all of the contributions they make to a school's athletic program and thus the school itself.

But might there be some downsides, too? For example, it would seem that there will be fewer opportunities for walk-on football players to earn a scholarship at a Division I school. That's simply because the guaranteed multi-year scholarships allow schools much less flexibility ... at least as compared to the renewable one-year scholarships ... in making year-to-year scholarship decisions. To be sure, fewer scholarships will now become available, under the 85-scholarship limit in place for Division I institutions, to walk-on players. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Multi-year scholarships ... changing the recruiting world?

Based on what we can see after National Signing Day last week, it’s hard to discern the effect of multi-season scholarships on recruiting. Those multi-year schollies are now allowed after the NCAA enacted a package of reforms, at the behest of NCAA president Mark Emmert, last fall.

To be sure, some schools reported signing new recruits to multi-year scholarships (Auburn, Florida, and all but three Big Ten schools – Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue) last week. But there’s no word from so many others.

Did the offer of a multi-year scholarship at a particular school win any recruits over the offer of a single-year, renewable scholarship at a competing school? There’s not much, if any, news on that. Possibly this change is so new that is simply isn’t on the radar of many potential recruits and their parents … and therefore it doesn’t play much of a role in their decisions. It should.

Prior to this change, Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS) football programs could offer only single-year scholarships that had to be renewed from one year to the next.  Although not tremendously common, a scholarship that is only guaranteed for a year at a time can be pulled at the end of that year and awarded to someone else if a student-athlete isn’t deemed to be performing well enough for the team.  In contrast, a multi-year scholarship is cannot be pulled based on performance on the field – it’s more of a guarantee that the student-athlete will always have a scholarship throughout his football career in college.  

From the point of view of student-athletes, multi-year schollies could help control oversigning – a big and seems-to-be-growing problem among Division I FBS schools. Those schools are limited to 85 full-ride scholarships at any given time. So if a school signs, say, 25 recruits every year, they are oversigning student-athletes. That school obviously expects that quite a few of those recruits will not be on scholarship every year of their eligibility. Some of that happens through regular attrition … players decide they don’t to play football any longer, fail to make necessary academic progress, etc. But single-year, renewable scholarships also give those schools needed flexibility when they need to pull scholarships from some players, maybe only because the school needs that scholarship for an incoming recruit expected to contribute more over the long run.  And because student-athletes cannot transfer to another Division I school without sitting out a year, that’s seen as a bit unfair when coaches can take a job at another school without any such penalty.

Multi-year schollies are concern to schools that don’t have the financial resources to guarantee such a commitment. They’ll be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, widening the gap between the haves and have-nots in the world of college football, they say.

For all of these reasons, enough schools expressed concern that the NCAA is reconsidering its decision to allow multi-year schollies. Members will vote next week, from February 13 through February 17. Stay tuned.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Finding the lesser-known recruit ...

When I interviewed college coaches for my book Beyond Friday Nights: College Football Recruiting for Players and Parents, I asked if there any schools to which other coaches pay more attention when it comes to recruiting. In other words, do the coaching staffs at some schools have a reputation, among other college coaches, for finding and developing diamonds in the rough among lesser-known high school football players?

TCU is one of the schools known for that ability, I learned. There's quite a bit of evidence to support that belief, too. TCU football teams have performed at top-tier levels in recent years, but without top-tier recruiting classes, at least as based on such annual rankings by Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and others (if you believe in those things) on every signing day.

After signing day this year, which was only a few days ago, TCU's recruiting class was ranked No. 36 by Rivals and No. 24 by ESPN. So it will be interesting to see perhaps three, four, or five years from now how high TCU will be ranked for performance on the field at the end of the football season.

But what are the implications of all of this if you are a high school football player who hope to play in college? For one thing, it means that if TCU or another school with the same type of reputation for identifying potential among lesser-known high school players becomes interested in you, there's a good chance that other schools will begin looking more closely at you too.

But there's a bit of a downside, too. Too avoid bringing a below-the-radar recruit to the attention of other schools, sometimes a school (not necessarily TCU, I should point out) delays offering a scholarship to that guy. In other words, the school wants to keep its recruits "hidden" for awhile, rather than attracting attention from other schools that might want to recruit a player and convince him to sign elsewhere. That can lead to some anxious weeks or months for the recruit, who wonders why a school showing such strong interest in him won't pull the trigger and offer him a scholarship.

Thoughts and comments welcome below ...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Class of '07 Fabulous 55 ... what happened?

A couple of items in today's Austin American-Statesman take a look back at how well the paper's Class of 2007 Fabulous 55 high school football players panned out when they went to college. Not so well, indicating how difficult it is to accurately evaluate prospective football recruits and how misleading such lists can be. Check out the story and the list.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Three reasons why rankings of college football recruiting classes are full of it ...

College football fans love the annual rankings of college football teams' recruiting classes. Interest peaks around National Signing Day, which is February 1 this year. But as a measure of predicting success on the football field, these rankings of recruiting classes are pretty much meaningless, looking at team performance four years later. By that time, most of those players would be seniors or redshirt juniors. We’d expect them to have moved into starting positions, or at least be making strong contributions to their teams’ success. So likewise, we’d think that we’d have college football teams performing in line with the perceived strength of those recruiting classes. Here’s why we need to think again:

1)     Most of the recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 fail to produce teams that perform at that level. In 2008, the recruiting classes of six college football teams were ranked among the top 10 by all of three national recruiting sites (Rivals, Scout, and ESPN). Those teams were Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Miami, Georgia, and USC. But of those, only two – Alabama and USC – ranked among the top 10 in the final Associated Press rankings for the football season four years later, in fall 2011.  And another three of those consensus top-ranked recruiting classes – at Miami, Notre Dame and Ohio State – produced teams that didn’t even make it into the A.P.’s  top 25 at the end of the 2011 season.

2)     Many of the recruiting classes ranked low – even very low – produce teams that perform at very high levels. For example, Stanford’s 2008 recruiting class was ranked No. 50 by Rivals and No. 43 by Scout, and didn’t appear in the ESPN’s top-25-only rankings. But Stanford ended up the fall 2011 season as the No. 7 team in the nation, according to the final A.P. poll. Arkansas is another example. At the end of the 2011 season, it was ranked by A.P. as the No. 5 team in the nation. But its 2008 recruiting class was ranked No. 36 by Rivals, No. 24 by Scout, and No. 18 by ESPN.

3)     Rankings of recruiting classes don’t – and can’t – take into account all of the intangibles that affect player and team performance in the future. There’s no way to know which recruits will be able to adapt to the physical and emotional demands and faster pace of the college game. It’s a tough transition for many. Other factors include the nearly 50 percent turnover rate among NCAA Division I head coaches every three years. New coaches often bring different offensive and defensive schemes that might not fit the skills and talents of players recruited by previous coaches. These and other issues are explored in Beyond Friday Nights: College Football Recruiting for Players and Parents, a great read for anyone interested in college football recruiting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

NCAA reforms ... the lastest

Where do we begin in noting all that came out of the NCAA’s annual convention, which concluded on Saturday?  NCAA president Mark Emmert is really shaking up things, especially in Division I college football, which might make you wonder how many toes he’s stepped on and thus how long his tenure will be. After all, the NCAA is made up of member organizations whose representatives hire the NCAA president. But Emmert’s original five-year contract was extended for an additional two years by a unanimous vote of the NCAA’s Executive Committee last week. That means he’ll be around until at least October 2017, which would seem to be enough time to push through quite a few needed reforms that he’s backing, with more to come, no doubt. So his extension might be the biggest single item to note in all of the news from last week.  Hmmm … will the NCAA’s big football powers try to deal with this within the organization, or will they think of pulling out of the NCAA and starting their own, separate association?  That’s a topic for another day.

For now, let’s take a look at some other big, recruiting-related, Division I items coming out of last week’s annual NCAA meeting:

·         The $2,000 stipend proposal seems to have strong support among the college presidents and chancellors who make up the Division I Board of Directors, although they sent the proposal to a committee (okay, a “working group”) to work out implementation details and come back with recommendations in April.  After any changes are made to the proposal at that point, the NCAA membership would then again have the opportunity to give it give a thumbs up or thumbs down.

This stipend was approved, for immediate implementation, by the NCAA Board of Directors last fall as a way to provide help full-ride scholarship athletes pay for miscellaneous costs – things like a movie, laundry, transportation, or meals out – beyond the tuition, fees, room, and board for which scholarships pay. Although the stipend wasn’t mandatory, 160 schools objected to the measure by December, which meant that it was suspended and had to go back to the Board last week for another look. Much of the opposition was based on the cost of the stipend to schools, and the limited resources with which many of them have to pay for it. And if they didn’t implement it, they felt – it would seem legitimately – that they would be at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting student-athletes.  Concerns about gender equity issues – since football programs put many more men, compared to women in other sports, on full scholarships at a given school.

It’s interesting to note, though, that the student-athletes who signed national letters of intent in November – and who were promised the stipend at that time, when it was in place – will still receive it. Students who signed after the measure was suspended in December will not.

·         Allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships – instead of only year-to-year scholarships based on performance –  seems to be a done deal, pending a vote by the entire Division I membership in February. Although concerns about this measure were also voiced by schools in December, not enough of them objected to cause suspension, and the Board stood by it at the NCAA meeting last week.

·         Parents can now be considered agents. This measure would prevent parents from “shopping” their student-athlete children to schools. In other words, parents could no longer ask a school for money (something other than a scholarship) in return for their kids to sign with that school.

·         Proposals to limit the number of scholarships – by five in football – were defeated. It would seem that savings in this area would have provided money to fund the $2,000 stipend at many schools, but that analysis might be too simplistic and na├»ve, I realize. And, of course, a reduction in scholarships would eliminate opportunities for some student-athletes to play college football in roles other than walk-ons that pay their own way.  Bummer.
Comments?  Insights?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Grad rates for Alabama and LSU ...

Sports commentators across the country have analyzed the Alabama and LSU football teams from one end to the other. But I'd bet that probably only here, on the Beyond Friday Nights blog, will you find the graduation rates for these two football powers in one place! 

BCS Championship Bowl --
GSRs:  Alabama, 69; LSU, 77

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Grad rates for Bowl teams ...

Talk about evenly matched, at least in the classroom ... check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Sunday's bowl game. Bowl --
GSRs: Arkansas State, 73; Northern Illinois, 73

Friday, January 6, 2012

Compass Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Saturday's bowl game, one of the last of the season.

BBVA Compass Bowl --
GSRs: SMU, 72; Pittsburgh, 65

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cotton Bowl grad rates ...

NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) offer one of the best available insights into the academic perfomance of players on college football teams. Check out the GSRs for Friday's bowl game.

AT&T Cotton Bowl --
GSRs:  Kansas State, 62; Arkansas, 56

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Orange Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Wednesday's bowl game. Draw your own conclusions about these and other bowl team grad rates posted previously. Comments welcome!

Discover Orange Bowl --
GSRs:  West Virginia, 75; Clemson, 62

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sugar Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Tuesday's bowl game. Draw your own conclusions about these and other bowl team grad rates posted previously. Comments welcome.

Allstate Sugar Bowl --
GSRs:  Michigan, 71; Virginia Tech, 79

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Graduation rates for Jan. 2 bowl teams ...

Six bowl games are on tap for Monday, January 2. Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for each team. Once again, I'll invite you to draw your own conclusions, and let us know in the comment section below!

Ticket City Bowl –
GSRs:  Houston, 57; Penn State, 87

Outback Bowl --
GSRs:  Michigan State, 62; Georgia, 65

Capital One Bowl –
GSRs:  Nebraska, 67; South Carolina, 55 Gator Bowl –
GSRs:  Ohio State, 67; Florida, 76

Rose Bowl –
GSRs:  Wisconsin, 66; Oregon, 63

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl –
GSRs:  Stanford, 87; Oklahoma State, 65