Here’s what’s been banging around inside my head during Little League World Series week...
College football recruiting is a curious business.
Most Power 5 Conference schools offer hundreds of prospects in a given year. Others, such as BYU, chose from a far smaller pool of athletes.
Approaches -- and results -- will vary.
The key is getting the right players to come to your school. And by “right,” I mean kids who want to be there, not just the best players. I’ll never understand coaches who don’t give releases to athletes who want to transfer, or give releases grudgingly after making the kid sweat for a week.
If he doesn’t want to be there, it’s counterproductive to your program, right?
Recruiting always breaks down into a numbers game. For instance, BYU has 10 commitments for the Class of 2015 so far. The Cougars also have a large list of returned missionaries for 2015, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15. With 25 seniors on the roster, implementing my superior math skills, it would appear that BYU is about right on schedule.
This doesn’t account for attrition, or how many of the Class of 2015 will actually leave on missions, or other transfers, so there is room to play around a bit. While the Cougars like to get their recruiting work done early, there’s always a chance for a surprise on February’s signing day.
Another curious aspect of BYU’s recruiting is the importance of doing well in-state. Right now, the top five prospects from the Beehive State are likely headed elsewhere. That includes linebackers Osa Masina of Brighton and Porter Gustin of Salem Hills, who will both probably end up at Power 5 Conference schools.
Big losses for BYU, Utah, Utah State? Maybe. But ultimately, the recruit has to choose, and it’s not always a good fit. The chances an 18-year-old kid will make a mistake in picking a school is pretty high. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed more and more athletes are transferring after one or two years.
They could be back.
Also overlooked is that a very small percentage of college football players end up making a living in the NFL.
Get your education, son.
The start of it all: This weekend, ESPN did a terrific feature on Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS. He’s credited with creating the Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon sweeping the sports world.
The ALS Association reports donations are up 400 percent from a year ago, so it’s working.
By the way, last Thursday, in the outfield at Fenway Park, Frates took the Ice Bucket Challenge himself.
If you believe: Coaches want bad boys on the football field and choir boys off it. Much of the news in college football is about when that doesn’t work. Players around the country are in trouble all the time for off-the-field activities, and that includes some at BYU. That’s not a problem that’s unique to the BYU, but with its LDS church affiliation, the program’s approach is.
This week, BYU offensive line coach Garrett Tujague was asked about needing his players to be meaner and nastier, yet still acting as proper representatives of the program off the field.
“This is what I love about being at Brigham Young University,” he said. “If you take the Book of Mormon, you find anywhere in there where it’s soft? It’s all about wars and guys cutting heads off for what they believe in. Football is exactly the same thing.
“You come off the field, that’s where you open a door for a young lady, that’s when you call your mother, tell her you love her and give her a kiss. But when go across those lines your fighting for what you believe in.”
I like that.
Go hard: Tujague said the pace of BYU’s offense requires every offensive lineman to be ready to step in if needed.
“Last year, [offensive tackle] Michael Yeck played 95 plays against Houston,” Tujague said. “That’s unheard of. That’s like two games for some people. And we’d rather have someone who’s will is at 100 percent and skill is at 80 percent than someone with their skill at 100 percent and their will only at 60 percent.”
And finally: The simplest answer is usually the best. When asked why he takes so many threes, former NBA forward Antoine Walker said, “Because there are no fours.”
Have a great week.