Photos: The top 10 graphics from signing day
On signing day, all programs are not created equal, but one area that programs seem to have be on an even playing field is the creation, and execution of graphics to promote the program. Every program seems to have a guy that can whip up some sweet graphics when the occasion calls for it, and no occasion is more fitting than National Signing Day.
Christopher Kaiser, Michigan's assistant director of marketing partnerships, kept a really great tab on a lot the different infographics that were used throughout 2014's signing day, which was a big help in putting together this list. You can see his full collection here.
I decided to take a look at all the graphics I could get my hands on, and comprise a list of the ones that looked the most crisp, and appealing overall. Many programs took very different approaches, but here's my list of the big winners.
#10 - Oklahoma: Simple, clean, and effective
#9 - Oregon: This is Oregon's way of saying, "Screw the 'star rankings'. If our coaches are targeting you, there's a really good reason why."
#8 - Southern Cal: I really like the way USC set this up, especially the layout of the state (and hometown location) behind the player. Well executed.
#7 - Iowa State: Another one in the simple, and effective category, with bonus points for the "CYNING" day creativity.
#6 - South Florida: Really well done infographic style announcement, with a good excerpt from ESPN talking about the strengths of the recruit to help inform the fan base. Including the star rankings is another nice touch.
#5 - Delaware: The only FCS school to make the top 10, Delaware went the infographic route, and hit a home run in my opinion. Lots of great information in this one, and it's set in a way that makes you WANT to read every bit of it.
#4 - North Carolina State: Crisp and clean infographic that gets across all the pertinent information of the 2014 singing class and their accomplishments. Another one that makes you want to read every nugget its got.
#3 - Wyoming: Wyoming does a great job with everything from the state inspired background to the font in this one, and is the only one in the top ten to include the head coach's take on a specific recruit. Very well laid out and appealing.
#2 - Michigan: Although you can't get the full feel for it here, Michigan went the interactive infographic route, allowing viewers to click on a players name to get a full profile on each of the signees. The "Make your commitment official" season ticket line at the bottom is also a nice play on the excitement of signing day.
#1 - Oregon State: Simple and impressive. A dangerous combination. The research that went into this one (counting up all the staff's miles) is downright impressive. Brilliant idea.
(H/T Christopher Kaiser)
Inside Ball State's recruiting philosophy
Fanfare at Ball State's signing day wouldn't compare to the likes a majority of any teams in the big six conferences of college football, but one thing that Pete Lembo does have is a crystal clear vision of how to build his program from a recruiting standpoint. In his signing day presser Lembo provided some unique insight on how his recruiting philosophy has helped him build Ball State into a program that has accumulated 19 wins over the past two seasons.
Ball State didn't go out and sign 28 guys, and none of them were rated as blue chip prospects, but the players that the staff were able to sign are players that fit the mold of what Lembo is looking to build his program on. Those traits include high character kids, who were leaders at their high school (15 of their 19 signees were captains of their high school team) and then surrounding them with good people, in a positive environment.
“If you think about our program, and where we were three years ago, and where we're at now, it really gets down to surrounding yourself with the right people." Lembo explained in the News-Sentinel. "Putting them in a positive environment and giving them the structure and support that they need, showing that you care is real important, and then pushing them really hard to develop in all areas."
“If you do that, then you're going to have a chance to be successful even if you may not have everything that you want to have or think that you need to have. Those intangibles go a long, long way in allowing you to have some success."
While a lot of programs went out and ceremoniously signed 25-29 guys, Lembo and his staff went out and carefully selected just 19 guys. While many people may see that as a failed recruiting season, Lembo reminded fans that it's all part of the long term plan he envisioned back when he first interviewed for the job.
'We have done a good job of retaining players, and we have done a good job of redshirting players. If you were (Ball State president Jo Ann Gora), I sat down with her over three years ago, those were the fundamental things, there were six or seven fundamental areas that we talked about addressing to get the program on solid footing and put it in position for long-term success. Retention and redshirting were two of the most important things that we talked about. If you are doing those things, then you are going to be signing 18, 19, or 20 players, instead of 27, 28, 29 players. That is a good thing, a smaller signing class.
To wrap things up, Lembo shared one interesting nugget that they started doing while recruits and their families were on campus to help give parents an unfiltered look inside of the program.
“We do a panel with the parents on visits, We'll line up five of our players and lock them in a room with the parents, the coaches will leave and we'll let the parents fire away without their sons there or the coaches there. They can ask our kids 'What is this program really all about? To play at Ball State, to be a student at Ball State, to live in Muncie. They get asked some really, really tough questions."
I've heard of a number of small college programs doing that exact same thing. Parents love the insight that it provides, and it allows your current players to have a direct impact on a recruit and their family and that bond carries over once the recruit gets on campus permanently.
Take some of this insight and consider implementing it within your program. There's a reason that Lembo has been successful at Lehigh (44-14 overall), Elon (35-22 overall), and Ball State (25-13 overall) and it starts his vision on recruiting.
'There are a lot of attractive reasons to be at North Carolina, but I don’t think pay is one'
There are nine public schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Of those nine, North Carolina ranks dead last in assistant coaches' salaries.
It's not as if the Tar Heels can't afford it.
North Carolina ranked 25th in the NCAA for athletic department revenue in 2012 at $82,424,430. That was good enough for second in the ACC, trailing only Florida State. North Carolina ranks more than $12 million ahead of Clemson, the same Tigers that plunge nearly $4.2 million into their assistant salary pool.
Clearly, North Carolina can afford to pay their assistant coaches more than they do; they just choose not to.
“I think there are a lot of attractive reasons to be at North Carolina, but I don’t think pay is one that is a driver for us,” North Carolina athletics director Bubba Cunningham told the Daily Tar Heel. According to Cunningham, the culture around campus in Chapel Hill dictates a conservative salary strategy for coaches and faculty alike.
According to the USA Today Assistant Coaches' Salary Database, six of Larry Fedora's assistants made $250,000 in 2013, tied for 30th in the ACC. Eight of Clemson's nine full-time assistants made more than that.
North Carolina lost three assistant this off-season, offensive coordinator Blake Anderson to the head job at Arkansas State, running backs coach Randy Jordan to the same position with the Washington Redskins, and tight ends coach Walt Bell to a spot on Anderson's staff at Arkansas State. Bell was the ACC's lowest-paid assistant according to USA Today, making $120,000 in 2013.
North Carolina's new offensive coordinator hire, Seth Littrell, made $356,500 at Indiana last season. Littrell declined to offer his salary upon arriving in Chapel Hill - details have not been released - but it's clear to see he didn't leave Bloomington for the money.
“It’s not as much about the money, and that’s not talk — that’s reality,” Littrell said. “To me, it’s about coming in and working in a place and an environment that you feel like you can be successful and enjoy.”
Video: Taking offseason work to the next level
After finishing an 8-3 season, Division II Concord University (WV) has had a taste of success, and doesn't plan on taking a step back anytime soon.
The program has come a long way since their winless season in 2008. In their season opener this year, Concord beat Lenoir-Rhyne 18-10, which turned out to be a huge victory considering the Bears then went on to rattle of 13 straight wins before eventually losing to Northwest Missouri State in the D-II national title game.
That taste of what it takes to compete, and beat, the elite teams in Division II are helping the Mountain Lions power through their winter workouts, and as you can see from the work they're putting it, they're hoping that 8-3 is just scratching the surface of what they're able to do in 2014.
These photos of Mark Richt need to be examined
Mark Richt got his photo taken on Sunday and I just... I don't know.
There was a happy ending, though.
The backstory to this photo adventure should be enlightening.
Video: Experience signing day at NC State as Dave Doeren's shadow
Solid video here from NC State that follows Dave Doeren around on signing day from the moment he pulls into his parking spot at 5:15 am, through his congratulatory phone calls to the newest members of their class of 2014, and finally to his signing day presser.
I really like how they gave a mini shout-out to each member of their signing class at the end of their video as well. Very cool.
Video: 'Charlie Strong's Journey'
Longhorn Network put together a very nice featurette on new head coach Charlie Strong. Of course, when you're running a 24/7 network devoted to one school, you should be together nice featurettes on your new head football coach.
Digging deep back into Strong's biography, the feature picks up on Strong as a young graduate assistant getting his first full-time job at Southern Illinois in 1986. "He was very in control, which impressed me," said Al Preston, Southern Illinois' wide receivers and defensive backs coach at the time, of meeting Strong for the first time.
Strong considers Lou Holtz one of his greatest coaching mentors. He worked under Holtz as his defensive line coach at Notre Dame from 1995-96, and then as his defensive coordinator from 1999-01. The respect quickly became mutual between the two. "Charlie handled problems before they came up," said Holtz. "So many times an assistant coach will come running, 'What do you think I ought to do here and here and here? Charlie did. Charlie would come to you and say, 'This was a problem. Here's what I did. Does this meet with your satisfaction?' And invariably it always did."
From there, Strong's eventual path to Austin is well known. Eight years as Florida's defensive coordinator, four years as Louisville's head coach and now he's the subject of LHN features. But with great behind-the-scenes footage, the video provides a great testimony to those who only know him as Urban Meyer's former assistant and Teddy Bridgewater's former coach.
Nice high school video: 'Awaken Texas'
Coaches tell us all the time they nab ideas off the The Scoop, and we love hearing it every time. Here's a real life example.
In September, we posted Georgia's excellent "Awaken the Nation" video the Bulldogs put out before their game against LSU. (It worked, by the way. Georgia 44, LSU 41.) Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas, saw that video and decided to make their own.
The end result - "Awaken Texas" - is pretty good.
Here's Seven Lakes' version.
And here's the original, Georgia's "Awaken the Nation".