Recently Bobby Burton and Geoff Ketchum wrote some interesting pieces on the changing dynamic within recruiting, specifically the NCAA allowing the creation of scouting branches independent of the coaching staff.
Both articles made many good points and sparked a necessary conversation. However, it’s nearly impossible to mention Mack Brown’s name without inciting those who have replaced their orange colored glasses with those that only see red.
Brown’s recent statements about still being in the research and development stages didn’t convey enough urgency to some (perhaps even myself) but what’s being lost in the shuffle is the new rules don’t take place for nearly six months.
That’s a lot of time; the Astros will have gone from zero to 85 losses by then. I will have gone from some sort of pale off white to Apache.
Much of the consternation stems from the creation of this body appearing to be a time consuming and painstaking process. It’s not; at least it shouldn’t be for Mack Brown. As the de facto manager of the football team, all he needs to do is make one solid hire, that of director of scouting. The person hired needs to have the vision and creativity to carry out the desired plans and the network to staff such an undertaking. Mack should be relatively hands off. He has a team to coach after all.
Also, lost in internet rage is the need for money to be apportioned by the Board of Regents. Once a budget is outlined, Mack will have an understanding of just how sophisticated his new hire can make this operation. If the money is insufficient to create one of the best recruiting machines in the nation, blame would lay at the feet of those who control the purse-strings, and that’s not Mack Brown.
The above is me giving Mack the benefit of the doubt because we’re six months away from full implementation. That said, I am a bit concerned about him understanding the need for new staff. Mack’s circle of trust is actually the Venn diagram where insular and paranoid overlap. Here’s a small illustration: O
Mack Brown heads up the most private staff in America. A guy who does that isn’t going to be quick to let in 20 “outsiders,” and if he does, new evaluators are going to be led on some wild goose chases. “Look, man, I can’t TELL you his name, his initials are DW though. Now go scout him!”
I kid, sort of.
Like I said, Mack needs to only make one slam dunk hire to alleviate him from the hands on tasks. Burton did a good job outlining the qualities necessary for the position. Texas needs somebody young, energetic and a personnel man through and through. He needs to have vision and creativity. He doesn’t need to adapt, there’s nothing to adapt to. He needs to innovate. He needs to be slick like Nick Naylor while possessing the evaluating chops of Gil Brandt.
Hmmm, I may be on to something. What happens if you push Naylor’s and Brandt’s face together really hard? Exactly, you get Mike Mayock.
Go get him, Mack!
Beyond Mack’s ability to start this process off on the right foot there are a lot of new angles to protract. I’ll break this large situation up into a few different smaller points I’d like to make.
NCAA shortsighted as usual
Does anyone know the NCAA’s intent with these new rules? If they’re intentionally trying to ruin the sport, they’re on the right track.
How does this benefit the student-athlete? They’re already bombarded during contact periods by coach after coach, and by JAGs like me year round, now the NCAA wants to allow unlimited contact with them?
The NCAA must know they have a problem with dirty programs. I don’t know for sure based on their inaction, but they have to know, right? If it stands to reason there are far too many dirty programs in the country, why would you make their football specific staffs larger? If a program is dirty, then by extension their scouting department will be as well. These scouts (or “$cout$”) have year-round access to the players and will start serving as concierge.
I’ve seen it written that the only contact the new personnel can have is on-campus. Okay, I’d love to see the NCAA enforce that. The NCAA could have Scout X from College U on tape at Disneyworld with a single mom and her triumvirate of talented sons and they’d justify it as coincidence. They got lost at the Under Armour game, you see…
These new rules are going to be bad for Texas and the Big 12 as Nick Saban climbs aboard that inexplicable elephant on the Crimson Tide logo and rides through the piney East Texas woods like a modern day Hannibal. Destination, Metroplex.
If Texas is smart, it will embrace these new challenges and meet them head on. The Fabian strategy will not work here.
Taking advantage of a sizable warchest
Texas has Longshanks’ war chest and resources, but it needs to be matched with Wallace’s passion.
The first thing UT needs to do is fortify the castle (Texas). Once that’s done, Texas can either pursue land and title, or go on a Crusade, depending on your point of view. I don’t care what you call it, but Texas needs to be the aggressor.
With there being zero limits imposed on the size of the new staff, Texas should put 4-5 people in both of the state’s recruiting hubs. East Texas could be serviced from Dallas, while Southeast Texas would be covered by the Houston group. Central Texas/San Antonio would have to be addressed as well with a few scouts.
With Texas theoretically covered, it would be time to branch out. I’d have two guys in Louisiana (Torshiro Davis’ old coach comes to mind, DeCarlos Holmes) and a few in Montgomery, Alabama.
Popular theory previously held that SEC country was a waste of time for Texas to recruit. This is something I largely agreed with, but with this being a long term process where real, lasting relationships are made, I tend to think Texas could make some in-roads especially since scouts have more time to identify the type of kid they’re after. Think Georgia Tech when it comes to quickness in their head, with an Alabama first step.
Out west, I’d station four scouts in Southern California. They would also be charged with Northern California, Las Vegas and Arizona.
I would definitely consider putting someone in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and DMV corridor, but at some point Texas would be a bit over extended. Class sizes are still only 25, after all.
Each scout in the field would answer to the Director in Austin, who works in concert with the staff. Scouts would know each coach’s personal preference. If Darrell Wyatt likes explosive receivers, you keep your fondness of gritty Steve Largent types to yourself. Unless of course they’re the second coming of Steve Largent.
There would be no management in field offices because there would be no field offices. These are scouts. They work from their computers and phones in crappy restaurants and motels. It’s not sexy.
Technology is your friend
One of the first things I would do is have an internal database, not unlike a recruiting website, set up. Anything important would be stored here and it would be the field hands job to keep it updated with logs of live scouting, a running list of pros/cons, character concerns, grade concerns, coach’s comments, and any other notes.
“Prospect #149T showed up to Jack Yates high school in a crimson Cutlass, license plate reads BAMABOI, may be time to eject”
“Dad played at OU under Switzer, asked about dorm hoes and handouts.”
This database would be accessible to any person that passes the Mackground check and would ensure the entire staff is on the same page at all times.
If Larry Porter is going to see some running back that a scout has made positive in-roads with, all he needs to do is check the database to get fully up to speed. An increase in scouting of this magnitude means a much wider swathe of recruits. Remembering all of them well enough to make a connection would be hard to do without ‘at your fingertips’ background information.
There are many more moving parts in all of this that I’m sure we’ll get to as this new practice starts to materialize, but for now these are the thoughts I’m having.
Mack Brown still has plenty of time to get this operation jump started, but the key is making the correct initial hire. After that, it will be fascinating to see how this plan of action unfolds.