Head Coach David Rader, I want to thank the Summer Manual Committee for allowing me to share with our peers in the AFCA some thoughts on recruiting. It is an honor to be able to contribute to the growth of our profession. Fortunately, I work with a great staff and they have contributed many of the ideas and framework of our recruiting pro- gram at The University of Tulsa. I would be remiss if I didn\u2019t mention the entire Golden Hurricane staff: Mack Butler, Rockey Felker, Pat Henderson, Dan Sharp, Ron Ta y l o r, Mark Thomas, James Tu c k e r, Fallon Wacasey and Director of Football Operations, Mark Wo j c i e h o w s k i .
Recruiting is defined by Webster as a verb1: \u201cTo seek out and engage (persons) for work or service.\u201d It involves, in the purest and simplest form, the use of pro- fessional selling techniques of what one is selling, when and how to close and, finally, how to overcome objections to the sale. To accomplish this, a staff must have knowl- edge of a recruiting or selling process that involves a planning cycle, qualifying, sell- ing the program, the close and follow up on the sell.
What are the circumstances that you have to work with at your university? The first variables involve what are the expecta- tions on campus, and from alumni and com- munity. Identify problems that are unique to each campus \u2014 admission standards, aca- demic curriculums, city, tradition and facili- ties shortcomings, etc. By the same token, you need to pursue and identify opportuni- ties \u2014 people that want to see your school succeed, unique academic offerings, city, tradition, etc. Once these parameters have been analyzed, you should prioritize the selling features and benefits your campus offers the prospective student-athlete (PSA). Along with this a conscious effort must be made to prioritize the standards by which the coaching staff will recruit the PSA \u2014 academics, character, physical, etc. Next is putting a plan into work \u2014 who, what, where and when \u2014 with a yearly recruiting calendar. It is of vital importance to match the backgrounds and strengths of the staff with the areas of recruiting responsibility. The final component of the planning cycle involves quality control, doing the right things and planning to get better. A post- season autopsy that involves both subjec- tive and objective measures of success or
failure in all aspects of recruiting can be an invaluable tool towards this goal. As the saying goes, \u201cIf you always do what you\u2019ve always done, you\u2019re always going to get what you\u2019ve always got.\u201d
The qualification of the PSAis matching the characteristics or abilities that suits a person for a particular position or need on your team. In the early stages, this is accomplished \u201con paper\u201d by verifying tran- scripts, height, weight, 40 times, etc. Questionnaires and player profile sheets in addition to coaches\u2019 referrals will typically identify players that have an interest in your university. This is a two-way street, viewed in the context that the university has to qualify in regards to the characteristics of the PSA\u2019s needs and desires. Ask ques- tions about family, friends, influences in life and reasons for wanting to go to college. Ascertain what they want most from a uni- versity and football program. Ask them to prioritize their \u201cwish list\u201d and remember, what you feel is significant in selecting a university and/or football program is not as important as what the PSA believes. Inquire as to whom will help them make the decision. \u201cWho will assist in looking out for your best interest?\u201d The \u201ctrigger man\u201d is the most important person, next to the recruit. The final step in qualifying is to get the recruit to say \u201cyes\u201d three times:
Q:\u201cDo you have an interest in us?\u201d
Q:\u201cWhat is your interest in us?\u201d
A:\u201cTradition, proximity, degree, etc.\u201d
Q:\u201cGreat, then I\u2019ll set you for a visit on
Once this criteria has been mutually established, the coaching staff has a start- ing point for the sell. By identifying this working list of PSAs, the chances of suc- cess have been greatly enhanced. As a staff, we prefer to work hard with recruits who will say yes instead of working equally hard on recruits that will say no. Even though this statement seems to be a trite oversimplification, think back to how much time, energy and money has been wasted on past PSAs that did not have your uni- versity qualified. We favor spending 80 per- cent of our time with players that give you a reason to recruit them, and 20 percent of your time for the \u201creaches.\u201d Focus in on the points that fit (qualify) your university and
continually reinforce these throughout the closing process. Remember, these are from the list thatthey qualified foryou!
The bottom line is getting the recruit to say \u201cyes!\u201d Nothing else is important, no mat- ter how hard you work. Coaches must grasp the difference between a presentation (i.e. one-way discourse) and proposal (i.e. two way conversation). You do not want to tell the PSA everything and receive no feed- back. The first half of the proposal should be 45 percent dynamic (talk) and 5 percent inert (listen) while the second half should be a mirrored opposite 45 percent inert and 5 percent dynamic. At this point you are attempting to create interest and separation between your university and others to create enough desire to move them to include you in the final decision. This must be done by including features and benefits of your uni- versity. Understand the difference between a feature - a prominent characteristic, and a benefit - a perceived advantage for the recruit. Anytime you present a prospect with a benefit, be prepared to support it either visually \u2014 pictures of weight room, stadium, etc. or verbally \u2014 testimonials from former players, alumni, etc.
Do not make the mistake of failing to convert the features of your university into benefits. The PSAhas to feel that there is a unique benefit in his attending your univer- sity that no one else can offer, or he will have no reason to attend. When you arrive at this point, you and the PSA h a v e reached an agreement stage, and are mov- ing toward the early stages of closing \u201cearly and often.\u201d
Closing is a gradual and ongoing process, not a one-time occurrence. Anytime you get a recruit to indicate an interest, spot a benefit in your program or
overcome an objection, you should be \u201cclosing the sell.\u201d Make it easy for the recruit to say \u201cyes\u201d and difficult to say \u201cno.\u201d You have to move the recruit to a position of a tie before you can win him over to your side. Look for body language as well as verbal confirmation. Do not close with a question that can be answered with \u201cno.\u201d Instead, utilize questions that encourage decision making and conversational responses such as:
\u201cFrom what you\u2019ve told me, the only decision we have to make is signing at home or at school. By the way, let\u2019s call Coach Rader and let him know you\u2019ve decided to become the cornerstone of this recruiting class!\u201d
When you ask closing question, wait for the answer and do not talk for them. If there is resistance to what you are proposing, they are indicating that they need more information or they have a misunderstand- ing of information given to them from a source outside your university. There are two reasons for every objection \u2014 the real one and the excuse they give you. Know the difference between the two to be able to handle them. Remember do not attack the person, attack the objection. Do not argue with the recruit. Get him to talk about the prioritized list that initially qualified the recruit to your university. Hear him out and ask why. Reverse the objection and ask, \u201cWould you come to State University if\u2026.\u201d See if this is an excuse or real reason. If a PSAwon\u2019t say \u201cyes,\u201d then he is trying to fig- ure out how to say \u201cno.\u201d Maintain conver- sation and not a yes/no answer session. Keep putting the ball back in his court and wait for answers. If they say it, it must be true. If you say it, they will doubt it.
Do not miss the obvious as it may not be obvious to the recruit. Most recruits base a decision based on emotion and not logic. Make sure that you observe, listen, and ask questions. Selling is not telling. Most recruits will chose a particular university because:
campus visit to take 15 minutes to fill out a recruiting survey and mail it back to cam- pus in a prepaid self-addressed envelope. This is done anonymously, and we tabulate and average out the results to approxi- mately 65 questions. The first part of the survey covers all aspects of our recruiting procedure: size, distance, academics, summer school, faculty, relationships on team, coaching staff, campus life, facilities, tradition, travel, style of play, living options, food service, recruiting process and infor- mation received during the year, etc. This is done with a graduated rating scale as the example below shows.
6 =Very Pleased
5 =Somewhat Pleased
3 =Somewhat Displeased
2 =Very Displeased
The second part of the survey asks the recruits to answer in short form questions pertaining to: Why you did or didn\u2019t make decision to attend, changes you would make in our recruiting process, what other univer- sities did in recruiting that you liked, etc.
The University of Tulsa
Pre-Spring: Feb. 5-April 30
sent out to prospects with crosschecks of recruiting services and head coaches eval- uations.
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