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Work Your Plan
n behalf of The University of Tulsa and 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 program at The University of Tulsa. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the entire Golden Hurricane staff: Mack Butler, Rockey Felker, Pat Henderson, Dan Sharp, Ron Taylor, Mark Thomas, James Tucker, Fallon Wacasey and Director of Football Operations, Mark Wojciehowski. Recruiting is defined by Webster as a verb 1: “To seek out and engage (persons) for work or service.” It involves, in the purest and simplest form, the use of professional 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 knowledge of a recruiting or selling process that involves a planning cycle, qualifying, selling the program, the close and follow up on the sell. Planning What are the circumstances that you have to work with at your university? The first variables involve what are the expectations on campus, and from alumni and community. Identify problems that are unique to each campus — admission standards, academic curriculums, city, tradition and facilities shortcomings, etc. By the same token, you need to pursue and identify opportunities — 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 — academics, character, physical, etc. Next is putting a plan into work — who, what, where and when — 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 postseason autopsy that involves both subjective and objective measures of success or
failure in all aspects of recruiting can be an invaluable tool towards this goal. As the saying goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get what you’ve always got.” Qualify 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 “on paper” by verifying transcripts, height, weight, 40 times, etc. Questionnaires and player profile sheets in addition to coaches’ 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’s needs and desires. Ask questions about family, friends, influences in life and reasons for wanting to go to college. Ascertain what they want most from a university and football program. Ask them to prioritize their “wish list” 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. “Who will assist in looking out for your best interest?” The “trigger man” is the most important person, next to the recruit. The final step in qualifying is to get the recruit to say “yes” three times: Q: “Do you have an interest in us?” A: “Yes.” Q: “What is your interest in us?” A: “Tradition, proximity, degree, etc.” Q: “Great, then I’ll set you for a visit on January 8.” A: “Yes, my parents will be coming also.” Once this criteria has been mutually established, the coaching staff has a starting point for the sell. By identifying this working list of PSAs, the chances of success 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 university qualified. We favor spending 80 percent of our time with players that give you a reason to recruit them, and 20 percent of your time for the “reaches.” Focus in on the points that fit (qualify) your university and
Michael Foster Recruiting and Special Teams Coordinator University of Tulsa Tulsa, Okla.
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
continually reinforce these throughout the closing process. Remember, these are from the list that they qualified for you! Selling the Program The bottom line is getting the recruit to say “yes!” Nothing else is important, no matter 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 feedback. 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 university. 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 — pictures of weight room, stadium, etc. or verbally — testimonials from former players, alumni, etc. Feature Benefit Study table, 81 percent academic center, etc. graduation rate Business school ranked in top 10% nationally Coach Thomas coached off. line for 12 years 98% of graduates employed in two months 10 players entered NFL during this time
overcome an objection, you should be “closing the sell.” Make it easy for the recruit to say “yes” and difficult to say “no.” 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 “no.” Instead, utilize questions that encourage decision making and conversational responses such as: “From what you’ve told me, the only decision we have to make is signing at home or at school. By the way, let’s call Coach Rader and let him know you’ve decided to become the cornerstone of this recruiting class!” 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 misunderstanding of information given to them from a source outside your university. There are two reasons for every objection — 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, “Would you come to State University if….” See if this is an excuse or real reason. If a PSAwon’t say “yes,” then he is trying to figure out how to say “no.” Maintain conversation 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. Follow Up 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: 1. They always wanted to go there; dad, uncle, went there etc. 2. Particular attraction to benefit, head coach, assistant coach, etc. 3. Do not really know and go to best salesman. Post-Season Recruiting Autopsy We ask each recruit that takes an official
campus visit to take 15 minutes to fill out a recruiting survey and mail it back to campus in a prepaid self-addressed envelope. This is done anonymously, and we tabulate and average out the results to approximately 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 information received during the year, etc. This is done with a graduated rating scale as the example below shows. 7 = Excellent 6 = Very Pleased 5 = Somewhat Pleased 4 = Pleased 3 = Somewhat Displeased 2 = Very Displeased 1 = Poor The second part of the survey asks the recruits to answer in short form questions pertaining to: Why you did or didn’t make decision to attend, changes you would make in our recruiting process, what other universities did in recruiting that you liked, etc. Recruiting Overview The University of Tulsa Pre-Spring: Feb. 5-April 30 Gather Information A. Mailing calendar set for year. B. Recruiting services information entered in computer. C. Questionnaires sent out to high schools and junior colleges. D. Individual player profile sheets are sent out to prospects with crosschecks of recruiting services and head coaches evaluations. E. Recruiting notebooks for individual coaches are prepared with all individual information inserted. F. Recruiting coaches call high school/junior college to set spring visit dates. Spring: May 1- May 22 Spring Evaluation A. Twenty evaluation days; seven coaches per day. B. Coaching assignments and calendar set. C. Player profile sheets are updated and transcript request made. D. Recruit’s data placed in one of four categories:
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 university that no one else can offer, or he will have no reason to attend. When you arrive at this point, you and the PSA have reached an agreement stage, and are moving toward the early stages of closing “early and often.” Closing and Overcoming Objections 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
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
A = Offer today. 1. On mainframe with Admissions for mailouts. 2. Head coach phone call and personal notes. 3. All mailings from football office. B = Prospect: Offer official visit. 1. On mainframe with Admissions for mailouts. 2. Recruiting coach phone call and personal notes. 3. All mailings from football office. C = Suspect: Further evaluation needed. 1. All mailings from football office. 2. Move up or off list by November. D = Do not recruit 1. Academic casualty, keep for junior college list. 2. Athletic casualty - not above the line, remove from file. Summer : May 24 - Aug. 31 Form List and Elimination Last week in May (May 24-28) will be inhouse evaluation and elimination time. A Recruit: Junior video/Junior college freshman video & transcript evaluated by: 1. Recruiting coach. 2. Position coach.
3. Coordinator. 4. Head coach. B Recruit: Junior video/Junior college freshman video & transcript evaluated by: 1. Recruiting coach. 2. Position coach. 3. Coordinator. C Recruit: Junior video/Junior college freshman video & transcript evaluated by: 1. Recruiting coach. May 28: Staff meetings — Names, etc. of recruits in summer camp. Fall: Sept. 1 - Nov. 30 Fall Evaluation A. Set calendar for nine staff days out to evaluate only: Sept. - Nov. B. Assist with crossover evaluations. C. Evaluate fall video from film services during off week (Oct 4-9). 1. Move “C” suspects up to “B” or off to “D” list. 2. Move “B” to “A” list from fall evaluation. 3. Finalize visits with approval of head coach - based on position needs. a. Junior college and high school visit dates for December — send letter. b. Junior college and high school visit dates for January — send letter.
Winter: Dec. 1 - Feb. 2, 2000 A. Set calendar for staff days out for contacts - Dec. - Jan. B. Final evaluations and cross checks ASAP! C. Eight contacts during this period (including one by head coach off campus). D. Quiet periods. E. Dead periods. F. Log all contacts, evaluations, phone calls. G. Call-ins from road. H. Returning players by position in conference and competing schools in recruiting areas. I. Graduation rates in conference and competing schools in recruiting areas. Based on: a. All students. b. All athletes. c. Football team. d. Transfers. I would once again like to thank the committee for asking The University of Tulsa to share some thoughts with the AFCA membership in this year’s Summer Manual. Best of luck in the upcoming season.
Keep The Head Out Of Football
Excerpted from an article by Dick Schindler for the National Federation News
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Keep the head up. Discuss risk of injury. Keep the head out of contact. Explain how serious injuries can occur. Involve parents in early season meeting. Have a set plan for coaching safety. Clearly explain and demonstrate safe techniques. Provide best medical care possible. Monitor blocking and tackling techniques every day. Repeat drills which stress proper and safe techniques. Admonish and/or discipline users of unsafe techniques. Receive clearance by doctor for athlete to play following head trauma. 13. Stress safety every day. 14. Don’t glorify head hunters. 15. Support officials who penalize for illegal helmet contact. 16. Don’t praise or condone illegal helmet contact. 17. Provide conditioning to strengthen neck muscles. 18. Entire staff must be “tuned in” to safety program. 19. Check helmet condition regularly. 20. Improper technique causes spinal cord injuries. 21. Helmet must fit properly. 22. Be prepared for a catastrophic injury. 23. The game doesn’t need abusive contact. 24. Player safety is your responsibility. 25. It’s a game — not a job — for the players.
• AFCA Summer Manual — 1999 •
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?