Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marketing in High School Football

Two weeks ago I was watchiing the Shaker Heights team warm-up and this guy was walking around the field taking notes from certain players. The players were stretching and he was asking them questions. After the initial stretching, this same guy had probably 6 players circled around him on the sidelines, and he was getting phone numbers. Remember- this was while they were in pregame warm-ups. I asked some guy from Shaker who that guy was. Answer, "I think that he is from ESPN." I guess I should have known.

After this coach told me that, I just shook my head. His answer, "I guess it is all about marketing." Why would a head football coach allow this to happen? Do you think Chuck Kyle, Steve Specht, Mike Mauk, or Tom Bolden would let this happen. Regardless of the success of the program, this is silly. No - do not tell me about marketing. I deal with colleges all over the country. They know about the kids in Ohio.

Hudl has recently taken Ohio by storm. Video is instantly available to the colleges. Players can make their own highlight tapes, either during the season or after the season. I get video from players using Hudl all of the time, asking me either just to evaluate them or to promote them if I feel that they are good enough. Type in a player's name and his video is available on youtube. Cap City Preps, out of Columbus does a nice job with video. Scouting Ohio has more players than anyone on their site.

A recruiting service sent me an email last week reqesting my list of the Ohio players in the Class of 2013. Are you kiddin me!!! They charge kids alot of money. A few years ago, a recruitng company near Cleveland me wanted to work for them. Their fee began at 600 dollars and ended at 2,000 dollars.  Began at 600 dollars! I told him that I was not qualified. He "ripped" me. Of course that hurt me for about thirty seconds. That company, by the way, is now "bottoms-up.

Marketing. If you are good enough, college coaches will find you. If you go to one day camps, college coaches will find you. If you play your "butt" off, college coaches will find you. If your high school coach works hard to promote you, colleges will find you. If you attend good creditable football combines, college coaches will find you.

Game day visits. Somewhere on this site there is an article about game day visits. I would add this advice to that article. When the college coach is talking to you, look him in the eyes and listen to what he says. Analyze him. Game day visits are two fold. One - You get a chance to see the campus and the game day environment. You get to go home and tell your friends about the trip. Parents can boast about (let's use Ohio State) invited "him to game day." Last year, a dad told me his soon was invited to four OSU games. The player ended up going to a D-III school. Two - College coaches get to "eyeball" you and chat with you.

Handlers. Three different men have talked with me recently. They intorduce themselves and, eventually, get to the point of telling me they are working this player to get him more exposure. They are trying to get colleges to take notice to of him. Two guys who I know fairly well have learned some of the inside working with their own sons to get exposure for other players. Self-annointed handlers. I wonder where money comes into play. I hope that the inflated ego is what it is about, instead of money.

With the growth of recruiting internet media, I realize times are changing. Be careful. One thing has not changed over the years. I was the youngest  little league baseball head coach ever in Upper Sandusky. I began coaching in 1969. I was a head coach at 24. I was a D-III assistant for one year and went to being a head football coach in high school. I was a high school track official for 15 years. I spent 31 years in the academic classroom. In all of those years of working with kids, one thing has not changed --- Parents will hear what they want to hear. If you do not tell them what they want to hear, they will find somebody to tell them what they want to hear. If that somebody does not tell them what they want to hear, they will go until somebody says the right thing. For many parents, that scene never changes over the years.

I have a deep appreciation for high school football coaches. Their jobs get tougher and tougher. And, you know, the Vanlue's of Ohio have the same problems as the Massillon's and the McKinley's. Just not as many. Marketing is a crucial part of being a head football coach.

One final note.  Not trying to crack on parents at all. This past week a parent from a smaller school football program told me his son ran a 4.5/forty. Warn you, I have seen his son run. My question to him was- Does that mean your son could run away from Colerain defenders? Good guy, but I am sure he is looking for the next "somebody."

 Off to C-bus to see Marion Franklin - Walnut Ridge.

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