Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tick-Tock | by Pat

There is still one excruciatingly long week ahead of us until the start of spring practice. To help pass the time, everyone gather round the old cyber armchair here and listen to a tale about the crazy recruiting wars back in the 60's. If you think that incessant text-messanging, Tom Lemming, and non-stop recruiting website updates are proof that recruiting has hit rock bottom, you might reconsider after reading this.

The story comes from Lannie Julias, a current contributor to and a former college coach and recruiter for a number of D-1 schools. Julias' blog is a good read that dishes out both talent evaluations and ancedotes about his days as a coach. A few weeks ago he shared a story about the lengths he went to in order to secure a talented running back prospect out of SoCal for his team, San Jose State. Highly recommended reading.

The story is split into two parts. Part one sets up the recruiting climate that existed back in the day.

Again, no letter of intents. Also, there were no 'dead' periods in recruiting. It was an era when 'kidnapping' (with the player's consent) was a common practice. That was a term used for when a week or a few days before the opening of fall practice, a coaching staff would hide a player somewhere so that they could get him on the field for the first day of fall practice. Then he was part of the program and couldn't go anywhere else.
Part Two details Julias' efforts to keep the recruit hidden in various motels from competing college coaches who were tracking the recruit down during a 22 day period leading up to the first day of fall practice.
I gave the bell hop 10 more dollars (a lot of money in those days). Lucky for me, it was only 5:50 a.m. and even though we were near the San Jose airport, a lot of business travelers had not begun to check in yet. So there were only about 40 cars at most in the hotel parking lot. I woke Walter up. He showered and dressed and I informed him that I would pick him up at the back door of the hotel in about five minutes. I walked around the hotel to the parking lot and from afar could see the assistant coach through the window eating his breakfast and reading the newspaper. It was a few minutes after 6 a.m. I checked the license plates from car to car and finally came upon that coach's car. It was just waiting there for me and I slit all four tires of his rent-a-car (I'm a city guy, but like a lot of travelers of that day, always carried a pocket knife for protection purposes only).
Hiding recruits, spying on other coaches, slitting car tires... It's the kind of full-contact recruiting that must bring a tear to the eye of Ed Orgeron. Reading this good yarn not only highlights some of the down and dirty tatics used to get recruits to a certain school, but makes me wonder just what current coaches are doing, more specifically the young assistants striving to make a name for themselves, to make sure the guy they are recruiting signs that all important letter of intent. Anyway, enjoy the story. Only one week until the gold helmets return to the practice fields.