Dave Clawson explains a recruiting lesson he learned the hard way
If you take a close look at Dave Clawson's first class at Wake Forest, you'll notice a trend. Clawson told ESPN in an interview this morning that his objective was to "sign an entire football team", meaning one player at every position.
After looking at his staff's haul, you could say they did just that. All in all they signed four defensive lineman, three linebackers, and four secondary players (two corners and two safeties). On the offensive side of things they signed five offensive lineman, three receivers, a tight end, and two quarterbacks and tailbacks because of the anticipated need in the next few years.
There's a reason that Clawson planned to attack his first season recruiting at Wake in that manner, and it's because of a lesson he learned while starting off at Bowling Green.
I’ve made the mistake before, when I got to Bowling Green, the coaches on the staff said, ‘Hey, we just recruited a great offensive line class. We’re all set there, we’ve got good depth, you don’t need to sign that position.’ We didn’t sign that position, and of those five players, only one of them was even decent." Clawson explained.
"Now we really had two years without the position which killed us. Having not been through a spring practice, having not been through a season with these guys, we basically just wanted to recruit a football team so we have one-deep at every position in the freshman class."
For programs with limited scholarships, that may be a good lesson to keep in mind. Clawson made the mistake, and then adjusted his recruiting philosophy accordingly, so it will be interesting to see what he does in year two and three at Wake and how that philosophy continues to evolve.
Video: James Franklin shares a moment with his daughter on signing day
James Franklin's first signing day at Penn State was surely filled with many memorable moments, but perhaps the best one was a milestone that he shared with his daughter.
Franklin's youngest daughter Addy wiggled a loose tooth out, and the cameras were there to catch every moment. Both of the girls were so excited about it, you'd have thought that they'd signed a five star recruit for their dad all by themselves. The pure joy on her face, with both arms thrusted triumphantly in the air, is absolutely priceless.
The cameras were there to capture the actual moment that the tooth fell out, and thus captured a special Franklin family moment on one of the biggest days of the year for coach Franklin.
Penn State saw the promotional opportunity here and branded the video with "Ever a coach...always a father." Smart move.
More than 50 million people attended college football games in 2013
Attendance for college football games topped the 50 million mark for the first time in the sport's 144-year history, the NCAA announced Monday.
All told, the 657 member institutions spread across four NCAA divisions hosted 50,291,275 fans at all home, neutral site and postseason games this fall, breaking the record of 49,699,419 set in 2011. FBS set a division record with 38,135,118 fans (45,671 per game), followed by FCS with 6,238,740, Division II at 2,985,610 and Division III with 2,465,231 spectators.
In FBS, the SEC extended its conference attendance streak to 17 years, setting an all-conference record with 7,567,406 fans. Michigan won its 16th consecutive attendance title (and 38th since 1974, and 44th since 1949) for individual schools with an average of 111,592 fans per game. The Wolverines were followed by Ohio State (104,933) and Alabama (101,505).
Five programs saw their gates jump by at least 8,000 fans per game over last season: Washington, Kentucky, Buffalo, Akron and Pittsburgh. Thirteen teams played in front of more than one million spectators this season, led by Auburn's 1,204,185 cumulative attendance in its 14-game run to the BCS National Championship game.
Overall, 35 bowl games drew a total of 1,714,617 fans (48,989 per game). A total of 23 FCS playoff games drew 8,012 fans per game, the Division II tournament averaged 3,342 in its 23 games, and the 31-game Division III tournament averaged 2,090 spectators.
In FCS, the SWAC claimed the conference attendance crown for the 35th time in 36 years with a total of 682,841 fans. Appalachian State won its sixth individual attendance championship in seven years, averaging 24,894 fans per game.
In the lower divisions, the Lone Star Conference won its fifth championship, but first since 1989, with 6,599 fans per game; Tuskegee won its seventh crown in 16 years with a 14,954-fan average. In Division III, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference earned top honors for the eighth time in nine years at 3,343 fans per game, and St. John's (Minn.) won its 13th championship in 14 years by averaging 7,364 fans per game.
1. SEC - 75,674 average attendance
2. Big Ten - 70,431
3. Big 12 - 58,899
1. Michigan - 111,592 average attendance
2. Ohio State - 104,933
3. Alabama - 101,505
1. SWAC - 12,415 average attendance
2. SoCon - 11,623
3. Missouri Valley - 10,722
1. Appalachian State - 24,894 average attendance
2. Montana - 24,830
3. James Madison - 21,011
Division II Conferences
1. Lone Star - 6,599 average attendance
2. Gulf South - 5,399
3. SIAC - 5,308
Division II Schools
1. Tuskegee (Ala.) - 14,954 average attendance
2. Grand Valley State (Mich.) - 10,116
3. Pittsburg State (Kan.) - 10,030
Division III Conferences
1. MIAC - 3,343 average attendance
2. American Southwest - 3,210
3. Wisconsin Intercollegiate - 2,953
Division III Schools
1. St. John's (Minn.) - 7,364 average attendance
2. Geneva (Pa.) - 5,358
3. Wisconsin-Whitewater - 5,063
Be aware of the message you're broadcasting
Two years ago last December I sat in a New York City ballroom listening to former Texas A&M president and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speak to a room full of college football coaches and administrators extol the merits and value of college football. Football was important, Gates said, because it's often the first and only view many people get of the college experience.
Gates was far from the first to hammer home the "football is the front porch of the university" message, but hearing it from such a respected voice certainly reinforced its truth.
And the question I'm pondering today is, How inviting is that front porch when it's blasting music about popping mollys?
We got a message from an FBS player personnel director noticing the uptick in schools producing videos accompanied by, ahem, questionable soundtracks. Every school wants to appeal as much as possible to its target audience, which often means blaring the same music its players and recruits bump through their headphones.
But, of course, those videos cast a much wider net than 17-and-18 year-old males. And as a byproduct, these programs are identifying themselves with the same lyrics and themes that coaches sit in living rooms and pledge to parents that they will steer their sons away from.
We're not advocating a raid on the music library of a local Sunday school. No, just advocating that programs put some thought into the message they may be unwittingly broadcasting in their recruiting videos, highlight videos and at practice.
If the football program is the front porch of a university, the music you play may be polluting your entire street.
Kentucky nails the two rules of creating a promo video
When creating a promo video, there are two basic rules to follow. Number one, reach your audience, and number two, don't be afraid to get creative.
Kentucky released a video highlighting a reinvented, reimagined Rupp Arena earlier today, and at first glance, it seems like just another well put together promotional clip. However, upon a closer second look, there is much more to it. Yes, this is a basketball themed video, but the underlying message is applicable for all athletic programs.
The clip does a great job highlighting the history of Kentucky basketball, and Rupp itself, but what really caught our staff's eye was the way that they creatively reached their audience. According to the video, the proposed renovations are about "creating a place that's equal to the passion of it's people."
You know coach Calipari had a hand in this one, brilliantly working in the hot blonde wearing just a UK jersey (for just a nanosecond), and then throwing rapper / super-agent Jay-Z in the mix as well. Since both pictures might appear for a total of one second, I've taken the liberty of including a shot of both images below for your viewing pleasure.
Props to Kentucky for finding a unique way to connect with their audience, on top of a very well produced video.
Herb Hand wins Gesture of the Day
Longtime Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand left for Penn State last month. While tidying up his affairs in back in Nashville, Hand took time out to thank the men he coached for four years, and he did so the one way every offensive lineman can truly appreciate.
He took them out to eat.
Simply put, this is why Hand is on the short list for Most Popular Assistant in college football.
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.