Mike Gundy’s recruiting vision brings college football closer to the NFL
STILLWATER — College football is becoming NFL Jr.
This isn’t news to anyone who follows the ocean of money floating through the game, or the rule changes that treat players a little more like professionals. Profit from name, image and likeness, and the transfer portal serve as cheap imitations of contracts and free agency.
The NCAA is slow to evolve or we would have come to these cheap imitations years ago and be closer to the real thing.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy seems to want to bring us closer together.
“Eventually the colleges will have a staff that will come out and watch the boys play,” he said Monday. “Then it will allow the assistant coaches to be with the current team that they are coaching that they are helping to coach academically and athletically throughout the season, which is what it should be. Instead of hitting the road on Thursday and Friday nights.’
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Forget the academic part of Gandhi’s statement. The academic support staff helps the strong midfielder with his calculation, not the midfielder coach.
Gundy suggests that college coaches will be entrenched with their teams during the season, just as NFL coaches are with theirs, for reasons other than class work.
“More than ever, the guys on our team need us by their side at all times. This is our job,” Gandhi said. “And when we scatter on Thursday and Friday nights and show up and play a game on Saturday, there aren’t that many of us.
“You can say, ‘Well, they’re big kids, figure it out.’ This is true. But on a slightly smaller scale, it’s no different than wanting to be around your kids when you’re raising them.
“You want to be there to help them make the right decisions. Or if they need help, talk to them. Or when they are hurt. It is one and the same.
“So it would be good for the recruits and their families, and for the coaching staff, if that was taken care of.”
Will it be good for recruits and their families? Very controversial.
Gandy’s proposal allows five of his office’s recruiting staff — recruiting director Todd Bradford and four of Bradford’s assistants — to visit recruits instead of traditional aides. As Gandy and his 10 full-time assistants are tasked with taking care of the recruits for the next four to five years — remember, he compared those kids to his “children” — the families of the recruits should get to know the coaching staff a lot more closely than the recruiting staff.
Will Gandhi’s offer be good for the coaching staff? It would be healthy for employees. It would cut their work weeks from insane to outrageous. In that sense, yes.
Does Gandhi’s proposal score in terms of practicality? hmm…
“We have all the video in the world,” he said. “I can pull up every game that was played last Friday night.”
That means Thursday and Friday night season trips to high school games aren’t nearly as rewarding as they were before every college coach with a computer was running a Hudl on every high school player.
As for in-season trips to prospective team coaches and principals’ offices? For character assessment?
“We don’t get a lot of really accurate information from the schools,” Gandhi said Monday. “We live in a society where teachers, coaches, parents and administrators can’t talk about things that could potentially say something bad about a kid, and they potentially end up with a lawsuit or being fired. I can no longer tell the truth.”
Gandy suggests that if high school campus visits are going to be less personal and reliable than they used to be, they should be left, at least during the season, to his recruiting staff. They become NFL scouts because it is NFL scouts who attend the prospect’s games and practices instead of NFL assistant coaches.
“This staffing that some of these schools have is expensive. I’m talking about multimillion-dollar investments a year,” Gandhi said. “So they can just as successfully recruit and then feed that information back to the employees. And when the season is over, the staff can go out and talk to those kids face-to-face and talk to their parents.”
Some of it makes sense.
It would make more sense if high schoolers signed contracts instead of being offered scholarships to play for college teams. If only they had the right to collective bargaining and revenue sharing from these billion dollar media contracts.
Then the enterprise becomes less personal, the college players become less like “kids” and more like “employees,” and it seems more reasonable to turn a college recruiting program’s staff into a scouting department whose staff lives out of suitcases as they bounce high. grade school through high school each fall.
Until that happens, Gandhi should probably keep his meetings to Friday night light.
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