Last week, I read about Notre Dame’s “Pot of Gold” recruiting mail program. Basically, their top recruits received 477 pieces of handwritten mail in a packet, one for each NFL Draft Pick Notre Dame has ever had. I saw some of the materials posted online by one of the recruits, and it is high quality stuff. You can read more about it here: http://espn.go.com/college-sports/recruiting/football/story/_/id/10165891/notre-dame-fighting-irish-sends-477-handwritten-letters-recruits-pots-gold
Kate is my name, and I will always hate Notre Dame, but that is not what this post is about. If I had a son who was blessed with enough athleticism to be recruited to play college football (or more likely basketball, in our case), and he EVER received a package like this, that school would be in serious jeopardy of being cut from his list. It’s annoying. I’m all for recruits receiving basic mail and notes from coaches regarding the University and its football program, but this is a waste of resources. I’m not a tree-hugger, but c’mon, man. What poor intern/GA had to do this? What a waste of time!
Unfortunately, these shenanigans work. We live in a society of one-upmanship. If you read the linked article, you can see that the kids love the attention and see it as a notch on their belt. They don’t necessarily care about the content of the letters, just that they received them. One kid, who seems pretty intelligent, is quotes as saying, “From my perspective, it makes me feel wanted and shows interest because the letters are handwritten. They take the time to write and design all of the letters, so recruits realize that and feel special. It’s just different from getting letters from every other school, because of the time and effort they put into it.” Another kid tweeted that he wanted more letters, like it’s a competition or something. The NCAA so badly wants to regulate things – regulate this.
I understand the recruiting game better than most, but I feel that coaches can make kids feel “special” with the occasional phone call, note, and on his official visit. (You hear about these moms who have to protect their sons from hundreds of phone calls per day – wouldn’t happen in my house!) I want to raise a child that doesn’t need constant attention from the world to feel “special” – I’m beginning to sound like my high school English teacher. As the last week has shown us, coaches move on. Athletes should pick the school, not the coach.
If a kid is really going to select a school based on “how much love” he gets, I don’t know if I’d want that kid on my team. That’s not a mature way to make a decision. These seventeen-year-olds are treated like gods and are then expected to fall in line and say “yes, Coach,” six months later. If Johnny Five-Star is too much of a diva and you have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get him, take Johnny Three-Star and coach him better. It worked for Butch Davis. And Chris Petersen. Ed Reed, Ken Dorsey, and Jeremy Shockey (the list goes on) were not highly rated recruits but they were outstanding college football players (and NFL in some cases). So often coaches fall in love with size and speed but fail to realize the greatest assets a player can have are in his head and his heart.