There Is No Off-Season
“No off-season” is right up there with “no air to breathe” or no “water to drink.” When it comes to the world of college football, if a fan isn’t continually swimming in information (with the exception of a small stretch from June to July), you’re just not trying hard enough.
What evidence is there that college football fanaticism exists between the BCS National Championship Game and Labor Day weekend? Just have a look at the recruiting scene.
It used to be that watching your son play at Kinnick Stadium was just another Friday night. Such things don’t exist anymore, at least to the untrained and often enviable unaware, mind.
If you’ve attended football events in the Omaha Metro area in the last five years, it’s guaranteed that you’ve sat next to a staff member from a collegiate football program. The recruiting interest is not only regional; in total, we are talking hundreds of programs from all over the country.
College football recruiting is a concept that seems to start earlier every year for prospects. Usually a kid starts to officially be evaluated during his sophomore year of high school. That’s assuming he doesn’t possess phenomenal skills, of course. In that case, he might have an offer in hand by the time he steps onto his high school campus as a freshman.
The difference from a scant ten years ago is amazing. Now, athletes compete in so many combines, camps, and competitions that the sheer quantity rivals any NFL testing. Why would a young man put himself through such vigorous and tortuous endeavors?
There still isn’t a universal answer. The prospects themselves usually shed some light on that. Whether it’s about academics, following a legacy, an opportunity to play in “The League,” the reasoning is entirely individual. How does all of this relate to recruiting from everyone outside of their world?
While coaches will evaluate them up close, you’ll have college coaches, recruiting analysts, and fans with relative experience watching these young men play live and in color. Their every movement will be broken down, replayed, second-guessed and replayed again on film. Before a single phone call is made to Johnny Bluechip’s house, there’s a good chance that ten or so people know more about his abilities than he does.
The scrutiny can get to be a pain, though. As of this writing, Texas A&M University has commitments from six young men who are currently juniors in high school. Why point that fact out? Published reports about next year’s class were already printed late last year.
These six likely wanted to get their decision out of the way, and who could blame them?
Some high school recruits get as many as 50 to 60 offers. Now, take that number and multiply it by two, to account for both Rivals.com and Scout. These two services help cover recruits across the country for a school’s fan base. If the school is well-known, it has two websites devoted to it. Take Huskers Illustrated (on Rivals.com) and Big Red Report (on Scout), for example.
Then the phone calls come. A lot of phone calls.
What’s key is how a prospect is treated by the staff member calling. Does the caller make it clear that they’re going to be respectful of the young man’s time? Will they acknowledge that the kid might have a significant other to be with, religious services to attend, family commitments to honor, or may just want to decompress?
Take into account the media, the recruiters, and the fan base craving info about a team’s prospects. You could have a young man that’s getting phone calls every hour of the day. The concept of the 2 A.M. recruiting call is not unheard of.
Of course, while all of this is happening, so is the courting process. There are flights and road trips to college campuses all over the country, meeting new people, experiencing new sights and sounds. In between are in-home visits with the family by coaches on meatloaf night.
There is constant evaluation that ideally leads to a scholarship offer, a signed letter of intent, and finally the move to college.
There’s an off-season? No there isn’t—not anymore.
Feel free to contact Brandon at bcav [at] eightlaces [dot] com (bcav [at] eightlaces [dot] com) and follow him on Twitter @bcbleacherrep for all of the latest sports news, reviews and other general merriment!