So we all get what's happening now, right?
Slower plays, decisive early moves only on elite recruits, deeper dives in scouting and player evaluations, more focus on what players might be instead of what they currently are, staff mechanisms to hold each other accountable instead of offense/defense fiefdoms, greater tolerance for athletes who don't project cleanly to a position as 16 year olds, and the purposeful stringing out of recruiting commitments to spread the light of recruiting sunshine across all of the bright faces while stealing every bit of offseason media oxygen from the room.
This is deliberate, this is different, this is good. Recruiting with an associated new media strategy.
- Camp fever has been fed a steady diet of aspirin and cold compresses. Only elites may apply. Current staff temperature: 98.6. Major Applewhite, once forced to file a minority report of dissent on offensive takes with a staff hoping to be done by February 15 so they could hit the golf course, now finds himself in the driver's seat with a group of assistants who are as young, hungry, and aggressive as he is. And a head man who is buying in wholeheartedly with scholarship discipline and greater judiciousness.
- Each commit announcing on their individual day instead of in clusters of three, five, eight, ten immediately post-Junior Day gives each recruit a chance to shine - an individual write-up in every paper in the state, their name in lights online, even a press conference (see RS-J on Wednesday). It's classic feel-good Mack Brown stuff, steeped in hard-headed practicality. You've just extended the news cycle. Ailes-Carville 101.
- It allows Texas to shine a constant light on the program every week of winter heading into spring. We establish lines of continuity and momentum after what was a "subpar 8-5 season": Aggie win, bowl win, national signing day triumph, 2-3 elite recruits a week spread out until Spring practice, Spring game, summer development, camp combine superstars emerge, S&C Wylie features, Fall Camp, 2012 Football season. The program dominates the news cycle and steals all of the oxygen in the room simply by drawing the process out daily.
- The staff, now assured that their colleagues won't grab five random kids with firm hand shakes named Chase/Cooper/Tyler/Skylar to create false scarcity (a tactic which turns in on itself at a certain point) and with cross-staff mechanisms where they can now call bullshit on each other's laziness, have the ability to build early relationships with more kids that we're not quite sure on yet. We can put them in the freezer as TCU/A&M/LSU/Okie State commits or Undecideds and circle back later with credibility instead of in January stinking of pre-signing day desperation. Yeah, we may have to pull your girl as we leave if we can't find someone better at the party. Sorry. That's why we laid the groundwork earlier at the punch bowl.
- On a related note, if a staff has to defend their takes and go the chalkboard with their recruiting homework in front of coaching peers who are working their asses off, they're going to dot your i's and cross your t's. Otherwise, it's the scene from Animal House when they throw Flounder up on the screen. Here's a kid I found 4 minutes from my house. He is steeped in estrogen, physically maxed out, and has the athleticism of a tree sloth, but HE'S REALLY excited about being a Longhorn. What do you guys think? Manny Diaz throws a Jim Beam bottle at screen. Wyatt rips off his shirt emitting a primal scream. Harsin throws two middle fingers and kicks your chair out from under you. Yeah, you're probably going to get out to see that kid from Houston you heard about.
- Time is our friend, patience our ally. Players get better. Players get worse. Players get fat. Players lose focus. Players grow three inches over the summer. Players recover from that high ankle sprain. Build a strong base, put some prospects on gridiron layaway, and keep your options open.
Final thought: Texas has dropped the mean age of our coaching staff by about a decade in the last year.
This fact is not unrelated to those above.
Recruiting is a young man's game.