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Categorized | Coaching Book Reviews

Meat Market

I also just finished reading Meat Market by ESPN reporter Bruce Feldman. Feldman spent a year embedded with the University of Mississippi’s football coaches as they went through the process of recruiting their players. Although there were far too many names of both coaches and players and it was hard to keep everyone straight, the book did a great job of exposing all of the ins and outs of the recruiting process. Now granted, recruiting in the SEC might be a little bit more competitive than other conferences, but it was interesting to see this process from both the players’ and the coaches’ perspectives.
Some highlights of the book…

1) Verbal commitments mean absolutely nothing. It is routine for players to verbally commit and then jump ship several times before officially signing with a college. What bothers me is that the players have no sense of what the word, commitment, means. I suppose that verbal commitments are just an archaic tradition left over from the days when a verbal commitment meant something.

2) I have tremendous respect for the coaches and the time they invest in recruiting. Ole Miss has the reputation as the hardest working group of recruiters. They spend thousands of hours watching game and highlight tapes trying to find those players that can help their program. Their analysis of these videos is brutally candid. In one video, they will rip apart a potential recruit for not being flexible enough or quick enough and then for the next player, watch 30 seconds and offer that player a scholarship right on the spot. These coaches also spend all of their time, either coaching Ole Miss, watching recruiting tapes, watching HS football games live, or traveling to meet w/ recruits. There is no off-season or slow-season for these coaches.

3) The importance of grades and character of the player in the process. So many outstanding players can’t play in college because of grades. Now there are lots of ways coaches can try to get around bad grades. There are on-line courses that players can take from BYU which help to increase their GPA… borderline diploma mills. There are post grad/military schools that players can go to for a year until they become eligible… but not a guarantee either. The coaches are also looking at attitudes and work ethics. Many of their recruits get left out because of character issues.

4) National Signing Day is the Day of reckoning for these coaches. This is when all of their efforts get measured. Can you imagine having your emotional well-being, future, and job evaluation be determined by the decision-making-process of an 18 year old?
ESPN has now made this day into a huge event so we’re able to see the antics of these future stars. How many more times do we need to see some selfish kid put on a college hat, take it off and put 2-3 more hats on, trying to build the suspense, before committing. Better yet, why are we glorifying these players and giving them this opportunity?
Overall, good read and very enlightening.

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