Tough time coming up for seniors or the Class of 2019. Tough time coming up for the Class of 2020. Tough time coming up for the Class of 2021. Football recruiting will start picking up with the beginning of football season.
With all of the crazy “stuff” happening in college football, as we speak, young high school football players have it tough. And honestly, for all classes, not just the seniors. But the seniors have to really evaluate their decisions as to where they play football on the next level.
Seniors. The “culture,” the “culture,” and the “culture.” Understand the culture of the football program that you are considering to spend four or five years of your life.
Understand the head football coach that you will be working for – personable? Will you actually be able to see him with major personal problems? Will have to schedule appointments to see him? Will he speak to you walking down the hall? Forget the recruiting “bull crap,” because after you have signed the dotted line – everything changes (most of the time)
Understand the head coach and injuries. If you get injured and you were a starter, will he throw you “under the bus” Will he have you jog and jog and jog at practices. Will he include you in practices? Will he make time just to visit and check on how you are doing? Will you be considered an “outsider?”
Understand if that head football coach will be there, during your 4-5 years at the school. I can tell you one school that has done a tremendous job recruiting. The school has not won for years. This will be a “stepping stone,” for the head coach. He will move to a higher profile and better paying job. The head coach is good and will win. Who takes his place? Will you be on the same page as the new head coach?
Understand the head coach, if he tries to intimidate you by being a “tough guy?” At 19-21 years old, will he still try to be an intimidator to you. You know – try to bully you? Forget the recruiting sales pitch.
Understand the head football coach. Will discipline pretty much be the same for all. Will discipline problems be covered to some extent with the team? Will there an “elitest” atmosphere for certain players. Bear Bryant once said about discipline – “Depends on what team (1-2-3) that the rule breakers are on.”
Understand the strength coach and his young assistants. Are the results from present and former players good? Will you get bigger/stronger/faster the right way? Will the supplements be healthy? Will it work, when the strength coaches challenge to go ‘beyond your limits?” Will these coaches challenge your toughness and manhood? Will these coaches get caught up into “yelling and screaming” and not teaching?
Understand assistant football coaches’ ability to teach and motivate. Will they teach you proper technique and be patient doing it? Will they spend QUALITY extra time before practice and in the video room to make you better? Will they yell and scream – “saying nothing?” I knew an assistant DB coach at a big school and who is now coaching in the NFL. He would “rip” the 2nd and 3rd team guys, but never yell at the 1st team guys. For heaven sakes, players know it.
Understand the assistant coaches with regards to being who they are. Will you respect a coach who is tough, but teaches and coaches you to the best. If he cannot put two sentences together without swearing or using the “f-bomb,” will you still listen to him. If he is patient, but coaches and teaches well, will you still play hard for him.
Finally, if you were a high school superman or an over rated “star prospect,” and simply is put on the AYO team, will you be able to handle it? Some programs will simply try to “run you off.” Other programs will find every reason to take your scholarship. Will you have the mental toughness to beat the head coach’s effort to get you out of the program.
The “culture,” the “culture,” and the “culture.” So important.
I believe that often and sometimes too often, parents and high school football coaches do not pay attention to culture. They are so caught up in “what it means for them.” Say in Ohio, O-State is the ultimate for so-many Ohio people. Michigan for others. Notre Dame for others. Michigan State for others. Toledo for others. If the school is more than a four hour drive – check the culture of that school.
Before parents or the football coach does anything, check – the culture. Really check the culture of the program that the recruit is considering. Do not get caught up in the school’s name. Of course, I might as well being talking to my yellow lab.
Is it a losing culture or a winning culture? Is it a win at all cost culture? Is it a culture that is trying to emulate an NFL environment? Is it a culture with no discipline or structure? Is it a culture that actually cares about their people? Is it a culture where the animals are running the zoo?
Is it a culture where you can actually develop as a person and not a football factory worker?
I really believe that the cultures at any school – regardless Power Five, Mid American, D2 or D3 – parents should not get caught up in the name. Hopefully, a recruit will be spending 4 or 5 years of his life at that school. Life is too short. Enjoy those 4 or 5 years.
As the football recruiting season begins again, somehow think about the “football culture,” when finalizing your decision to attend a certain school. The best to you in your choice.