Dan Tudor

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The Customer ISN’T Always Right (and Neither Are Your Recruits)Monday, October 19th, 2015

It was a revolutionary idea back in 1909.

Harry Selfridge, an American entrepreneur who began Selfridge’s Department Store in London at the turn of the century, coined the phrase – and the philosophy – that “the customer is always right.”  It was meant to reassure retail shoppers at the time that they were going to control the shopping experience and that their complaints would be listened to and treated seriously.  It was a revolutionary idea at the time.

But then, in 1914, a counter-philosophy began taking hold. After years of customers taking advantage of the good natured intent of the rule and abusing the kindness of retailers, it was time to re-think the adage.

“If we adopt the policy of admitting whatever claims the customer makes to be proper, and if we always settle them at face value, we shall be subjected to inevitable losses”, wrote Frank Farrington, author of the 1914 book Successful Salesmanship: Is the Customer Always Right?  “If the customer is made perfectly to understand what it means for him to be right, what right on his part is, then he can be depended on to be right if he is honest, and if he is dishonest, a little effort should result in catching him at it.” In short, the customer isn’t always right in the world of retail business.

This has direct application to your recruiting one hundred years later:

Your recruits, and their parents, are dishonest with you at times and are just plain wrong in the way they deal with you during the recruiting process.

The problem that compounds this?  Most college coaches allow it to happen.

Your job as a college coach, as I emphasize in the recruiting training workshops we have done for college athletic departments for more than a decade, is to control the sales process. Somebody has to do it…either you, or your recruit and his or her parents. Since we work for all of you, I vote for you!

That means that there are going to be several times during the recruiting process that you are going to have to identify your prospects as being wrong about something, and require a change in their thinking.

Here are some of the top ways your recruits are going to be wrong during the recruiting process, and what you should do to re-direct their thinking if you want to successfully manage their recruiting process:

Your recruit will easily give in to common misconceptions about your school or program. This will happen earlier rather than later in the process, and if it isn’t corrected and called-out as “wrong” then you will have let it become fact, and it will rule the rest of your recruiting conversation with that athlete and his or her family. Note the root cause of this problem: You. We can’t blame the athlete, who is using limited information and has never gone through the process before, for trying to come to some initial definitions (positive or negative) about you and your program. That’s to be expected, especially if you haven’t won a national championship lately, aren’t in a great location, cost too much, don’t have a successful program history, can’t brag about your extensive resume…you get the picture.

The person that can be blamed is you, since you and you alone are the voice that can correct those common misconceptions quickly and effectively. Most coaches, however, don’t do that. They give in to definition that their prospect has wrongly created, and begin the recruiting process with two strikes against them.

Don’t do it. Correct their perception of your program, and re-define it for them boldly and in as much detail as possible.  And, do it as early as possible. Once we decide something is true, we don’t like being proven wrong and seldom change our mind. Don’t let that happen with your recruit.

Your recruit will tell you they need more time. More time to look at other schools. More time to think about your offer. More time to come back for another visit. In general, “more time” is the same as telling you “I don’t want to make a final decision.”  Even recruits that we interview for our clients as a part of our ongoing strategic work in developing their recruiting message tell us that much of the time they knew they were going to commit to that program, but just didn’t want to make it official…or they were scared to end the recruiting process…or they felt like if they waited another bigger, ‘better’ program would come calling.

For the majority of your prospects, it’s imperative that you set a fair but firm deadline. It’s wrong for your recruits to think that they can control the process and make you wait. It’s your job as a coach to give them the direction that they need to understand your timeline for making a decision.

(Note: This is not a universal rule, certainly. There are situations where you will strategically want to give your prospect more time, and where waiting puts you in a better position to get that athlete. However, in the majority of cases, college coaches don’t direct their recruits strongly enough, resulting in the recruit and his or her family dictating when they will give you a decision. And as I’m sure you’ll agree, most of the time that isn’t to your benefit).

Your recruit lists objections as to why your school or program isn’t going to be right for them.  Sometimes, they’re right. Much of the time, they’re wrong. (And most of the time, the reason they’re wrong is because you haven’t corrected them about the common misconceptions about your school or program, as we talked about a few paragraphs earlier).

Objections are not bad. They are needed in the recruiting process! Tell me about the last top-tier recruit you had who didn’t have any questions, objections, hesitations, or arguments with you about your school. When was the last time that happened? Almost never.

You need to address each objection, and correct it. When your prospect objects to something you have presented, or in the way that they view your college, it’s because they want to know why they should think differently. Read that again, Coach. When your prospect throws out a reason that they aren’t sure your program is going to be right for them, most of the time they want you to give them a counter-opinion as to why they are wrong. You need to do that, Coach. (Here is a quick video primer on the steps to do that).

Do you get the idea, Coach? It’s your job to set the standards, manage the timeline, and correct false assumptions. In short, you need to tell your recruit – your “customer” – when he or she (or the parents, or their coach) is wrong.

If you don’t, nobody will. And if nobody does, the inmates will continue to run the asylum.

Learn more of these kinds of advanced recruiting philosophies and techniques by enrolling in Tudor University, our online training and certification class for college recruiters. It’s an effective way to gain the edge on your recruiting competition! Click here to get started.

How College Coaches Control The Future Of SpecializationSunday, October 11th, 2015

wayneby Wayne Mazzoni, Pitching Coach, Sacred Heart University

I hope all college coaches reading this agree with this statement: The specialization of young athletes is an epidemic we must take part in changing.

To do this, let’s look at the facts and trends. Over the past 15 years there has been a strong movement by people/coaches to make a living from their sport. These are generally well meaning people who enjoy coaching young people, but in an effort to make a living doing what they do, try to get their pool of kids to pay for their coaching services not only in their primary season, but in as many off-seasons as possible. Some of these coaches give priority attention and playing time to their best customers and thus creating an environment where others feel they need to do the same to keep up. In addition, often times these coaches tell their players and parents that not only is playing their sport for two, three, sometimes four seasons is the only way to develop to play in college, but that this is what college coaches want!

So we are left with young athletes and their parents not knowing any better any who think the only way to develop, and in fact keep up, is to narrow their focus on what they spend their time doing. But this is completely contrary to the way we were all raised. It is also completely contrary to raising a healthy, physically and emotionally balanced child. Worse yet, it also seems to put a focus on the future and making that sport seem like an “investment”. It is not an investment. It is a fun, competitive way for children to grow as people. If an 8 year old is hitting baseballs all winter so his parents get rewarded with his recruiting or a scholarship down the road, then we have completely lost our minds. Plenty of other things for a kid to do in the winter. Wrestle, play basketball, ski, walk in the woods with his dog, you name it. If he loves baseball he can find the time to hit or play a day or two a week during the winter and still be involved in other things.

I am not telling anyone how to live, trust me. I am still figuring out live like everyone else. But I do know when I hear a nine year old only play soccer all year round, give up family time, friend time, to devote to this one sport, this one endeavor, I feel like I’m living on Mars. I just don’t get it.

This concept seems to continue in high school. Kids who either would like to play two or three sports start getting the message that to be really good you have to spend time on just one sport. Most of us know better. We know that the more sports you play, the more skills you build, that will help you be a better overall athlete and better in your primary sport.

As college coaches, I think it is our duty to let all people we come in contact with, whether it be at coaches clinics, speeches, during recruiting, or even around the office, it is important we let everyone know how we feel. Recently helping coach my son’s 6th grade football team I saw the older brother of one of our players. Big kid, great shape. He was a very good high school football player. But when I asked him how the season was going, he said he gave up football (as a hs junior) to play fall lacrosse. He said he was getting attention from the lacrosse coach at my school (Sacred Heart University). So I said to the kid, “Do you think Coach Basti would rather you play lax or football this fall?” The kid replied that obviously the coach would want him to be playing lacrosse. Having had this conversation with many of my fellow coaches, across many sports, I went on to tell the kid that I was 100% sure that coach would prefer him to play football and told him all the reasons why. He was floored and said he would give it a second thought.

When I ask the players on my college baseball team if they have any regrets about their sports experience, to a man, they always tell me they wish they had not given up playing another sport when they were in high school. They realized later that this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and you don’t get to even play high school basketball again when you get older.

While I am a big public school proponent, this is one of the things I love about private/prep schools. Many of them in New England require athletes to play three sports, thus making them well rounded as people, teammates, and athletes. Often times you hear about a kid who did something he never did before and loved it. We have a freshman pitcher on my team now who went to Canterbury School and had to pick up diving to meet this requirement. He said he went into it pretty skeptical but came out loving the whole experience.

Let’s do our part to let all our recruits, friends, family, and community know that believe kids should play multiple sports. If not formally on their school teams, then pick up a golf club, tennis raquet, or even bike or skate board and do something athletic outside of what they plan on doing their four years in college. Specialization will come soon enough, why rush it?

Wayne Mazzoni is the pitching coach at Sacred Heart University and writes his blog at www.CoachMazz.com

Confirming Your New Prospect’s Interest: How Do You Know If They’re Serious?Monday, September 7th, 2015

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What’s On Their Minds?Monday, June 1st, 2015

by Ingrid Rockovich, NCSA Athletic Recruiting

It’s one thing to find all of your potential recruits in one place. But learning how to make your program seem more viable to talented recruits that would be great fits academically and socially?

Between other coaches providing advice, consultants who are hired to help advise you in your search for recruits, and recruiting services who work with recruits every day, knowing where to find definitive insights into the mind of a high school prospect can be pretty difficult.

In an effort to make recruiting easier and lessen the mystery of working with high school prospects, we would like to share some of what we know about how prospects feel about the recruiting process.

There’s something unique about hearing these stories directly from student-athletes: to hear about what they went through, to hear about what scared them or intimidated them, how they were able to succeed and to hear about their final decisions is a pretty powerful experience.

In order to share that experience with others, we started this blog – Recruited Today. This blog is full of stories from prospects about their experiences throughout the recruiting process.

It is our hope that these stories can provide coaches with the real stories about what it’s like to be a high school prospect today and help better the recruiting process for everyone.

Keep an eye on this blog for new stories every day.

Is Your Program the $2 Bill of College Recruiting?Monday, March 30th, 2015

That’s a picture of a $2 bill sitting our counter at home.

In and off itself, that’s not unusual except for the fact that I have teenagers in the house, and loose cash never sits unaccompanied for very long.

But we’re going on three weeks of this $2 bill just lying around, in a place that gets passed by many times a day in our house.  I noticed that it remained untouched about two weeks ago, and now it’s become a sociological experiment.

An experiment that could have some direct implications for you and your program’s recruiting efforts.

Here’s what I mean:

In our experience of working with college coaches, we’ve kept track of some of the things that seem to keep a prospect from actively engaging with recruiters.  You see, there’s this delicate balance of being outgoing, creative, interesting and respected that sometimes crosses over into odd, bothersome or just plain weird.

I think that is what’s going on with our poor ignored $2 bill: Do I really want to hand a cashier a $2 bill?  What if they don’t notice it’s a $2 and they don’t give me the right change? What if they look at me like, “Are you serious, mister?”  It’s like the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin they issued a few decades ago. Seriously?…you want me to carry around  10-pounds of loose change that looks the same as a quarter?

I don’t want to see you being viewed that way when you interact with your next recruit, Coach. So I wanted to pass along several of the red flags that your prospect might view with that “are-you-crazy???” look in their eyes. Nothing too scientific, just general observations I’ve made in our work with our roster of clients:

Your first phone call goes past ten minutes. Your prospect is already a little uneasy about speaking with an adult on the phone – a device that they haven’t grown up with, at least the talking-into-it part. So when a coach takes the attitude that they’re going to try and prove how much the prospect means to them by spending 45 minutes on the phone with them the first time they talk, it is received negatively more than 8 out of ten times, according to our research.

You’re social media posts are a little too immature.  By “immature” I mean you come across as trying to be too much like a kid. Your prospects are really good at picking out the coaches that are trying too hard, and once they come to that conclusion it’s very hard to regain that command and respect most coaches want to establish.  It’s a fine line, because you don’t want to be so stiff and all-business that they aren’t able to relate to you, yet at the same time you can’t abandon your role as their recruiter and their coach. But once that fuzzy, hard-to-define line is crossed, you risk becoming that weird little $2 bill that sits around wondering what’s wrong with you.

You hang around the prospect and your team during a recruiting visit to your campus.  One of the complaints we’ve heard over the last decade from your college athletes while we are working with athletic departments conducting our recruiting workshops is that a coach at a college they were visiting never left their sight. We’ve heard athletes describe visits to schools where the coach would call the hosts every 30 minutes to check in, or hover around conversations and valuable team/prospect time, causing them to sometimes ask the current team members, “Is he always like this?”  Or, “doesn’t she ever let you guys be on your own?”  They notice how you are acting when they are on campus visiting your school, Coach. That’s why we devote an entire chapter in our book, “Freaking Awesome Campus Recruiting Visits” to create a new model visit with your current team, train them to conduct the visit, and then trust your hosts enough to get out of the way and let your team do the bulk of the recruiting.  It works, and it preserves your identity and a confident, normal college coach who gives off a positive vibe to his or her recruits.

You’re only sending them “business” communication.  Let me define that: Updates on your team’s performance, your monthly email newsletter, a new academic ranking from your school, news of a professor who was named tops in his or her field of study…it is very, very, very rare that one of your prospects is going to care enough about that singular event (or a string of those events) to cause them to choose you as their top choice.  As I’m tying this article, I can think of three instances where an athlete looked back on his or her recruiting experiences and was able to talk about “business communication” from a coach being the thing that swayed them to come to their school.  And that is out of thousands upon thousands of focus group conversations that we’ve conducted heading into second decade of work with college coaches.  The truth is, most (not all) send that out because it’s “something to send the recruits” and it’s easy.  It requires little effort in a day filled with a hundred other more important uses for your time.  But my warning remains: Relying on that kind of communication will not get consistent results, especially if you’re trying to set your sights on that “next level recruit” most coaches want to attract.

Not asking them for a commitment during their visit, or at least outlining what their status is. In fairness, this isn’t “weird” for your recruit. It’s just incredibly disappointing, and causes them to question what your intentions are. Even if you aren’t their top choice during your visit to campus, they want – and expect – to be pursued.  They are looking for a serious commitment from you, because I can tell you that when they make the effort to come to campus (even if it’s an official visit and you’re paying for it) they view that as a big commitment on their part. How you ask for a commitment, or outline your plan and their status, is going to vary strategically from recruit to recruit.  But the important thing I want you to know is that if you don’t do that, it’s highly disappointing to them.  And, it can negate any of the positive feelings you and your team has earned in the recruit’s eyes as they leave campus empty handed.

Why do they still print $2 bills?  I don’t know…perhaps so grandmothers around the country can have some creative to give to their grandchildren inside of a birthday greeting card.

Why do coaches still make some of these very basic, easy-to-fix mistakes?  I don’t know that either. But I’m guessing it’s in the absence of a better plan, and a better recruiting strategy.  Or, worst of all, because “that’s the way they’ve always done it.”

Just hear my plea: Your prospects are actively looking to see if you’re a coach who they would enjoy competing for, and like being around. Do everything in your power to demonstrate that you are that coach.


We will expand on this topic at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. You need to be a part of that, Coach. You can register here to reserve your seat and get all of the details about the upcoming event.


Why We Should All Care About the Little College That’s ClosingMonday, March 9th, 2015

Sweet Briar College is closing it’s doors.  And that makes me sad.

I know quite a few of the coaches there, and they are all good people who worked hard.  I was honored to be on their campus several years ago.  It’s a beautiful place, with 114 years of tradition under it’s belt.

And it’s closing.  Financially, and I’m over-simplifying the situation here, they aren’t making ends meet.  They are shutting their doors, and everyone suffers.  The community, the coaches, and the athletes (here’s an excellent article by my friend, and former SBC lacrosse coach, Hillary London wrote for ESPN on the topic).

In 2007, I began doing some simple research for an athletic director who was a client, and came to a rather abrupt, yet undeniable, conclusion:

There are too many colleges, and not enough incoming college students.  I’ve been sounding that alarm to anyone in college athletics who will listen ever since.  I’m pleased that Mark Cuban reaches the same conclusion; not because I am looking for more colleges to close, but because I want college coaches and athletic directors to view this as a very real “canary in the coal mine”.

There will be more colleges that won’t make it.  And before they close, their athletic departments will be cut back.  Severely cut back.

Since you, as a coach or athletic director, have only a small measure of control over what happens to the larger student loan and budget conversation beginning to happen inside your school’s President’s office on the other side of campus, here’s what I would want to see you doing.

If what I think is going to happen is actually going to happen, I don’t want it happen to you and your college:

Make recruiting your number one priority.  If you’re a small college, the quantity and quality of the athletes you bring to campus is vitally important.  Not only to your athletic department, but to your admissions department.  If you’re at a larger school, you should already be doing this.

Understand your school and department’s budget situation. You need to be a part of the solution.  To do that, you need to know what the challenges are.  Strengthening your college and athletic department should be a team effort.

Find ways to become self-sufficient. The Ivy League has seen their athletic departments become self-sufficient through a sustained, intelligent financial plan. More colleges will follow suit, primarily because of necessity. Will your athletic department be ready to take on the challenge?  Will your individual sports program be ready for the challenge?

Develop your recruiting skills.  If we are seeing the genesis of some kind of grand Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest world of college sports emerging, you’ll fall in one of two categories.  As my old football coach used to say, “You’re either the bug or the windshield.” More and more head coaches and athletic directors are going to be looking for individuals who can recruit.  Period.  The X’s and O’s knowledge?  Yes, that’s important.  Your recruiting knowledge? It’s going to be even more important asset in your coaching career toolbox.  Develop those skills. Become great at it.  It may just be the thing that saves your career.

There is a creative, passionate effort to save Sweet Briar College following the shocking announcement of their impending closure. I’m going to donate, and I would encourage you to do so, as well.

As a college coach interested in avoiding this storyline unfolding on your campus, hear my call: It’s time to become more than just a coach.  It’s time for you to be a better marketer, a more informed financial expert, and a more consistent recruiter.

Fast Food Menu Mayhem and Your Recruiting MessageMonday, December 22nd, 2014

It hurts your eyes, doesn’t it?

It’s a visual overload.  This fast food restaurant near my home town doesn’t know when to say when, when it comes to their menu.

They’ve used every available square inch of their available frontage to show nearly everything on their menu.  From Philly Cheesesteak, to the Shrimp Basket Dinner, to Drinks with Crushed Ice, to Cones, to Burgers…it’s an avalanche of fried food mayhem.

Unfortunately, it resembles the approach that many college coaches take with their messages out to recruits, especially the messages at the start of the recruiting process.  I’ve reviewed letters that cover everything from the number of majors their school offers, to the acreage of the campus, to the conference they play in (and that’s just in the first two paragraphs).  I’ve reviewed emails from coaches that bounce from subject to subject without any kind of connection.  I’ve listened in on phone calls that cover every topic under the sun on the first conversation.

In short, it looks quite a bit like this fast food message: A frantic, unfocused plea to like something about what’s being offered, even though it’s difficult to understand exactly what the specialty of that particular restaurant might be (other than frying stuff).

We’ve covered this topic before, of course.  But let me give you some added ideas on what your prospects want from your initial messages – and how to make sure it comes across both loudly, and clearly:

  • If possible, tell them where you saw them or how you found out about them.  This seemingly obvious idea is mostly ignored by college coaches when they first reach out to a recruit.  And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that you are serious about them initially.  It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them, and – most importantly – why they should take the time to reply back to you.
  • If possible, tell them what you like about them.  I say “if possible” for these top two recommendations because I realize that sometimes you are recruiting from a list, or from a reputable recruiting database, and may not have detailed scouting notes in front of you when you reach out to your new prospect.  However, if you do, use those notes.  Be specific about two or three positives that you saw from their performance and from their information.  It’s another important way to tell them that they are uniquely qualified, in your eyes, to be considered for your program.  When coaches are able to include these first two points in their initial messages, it increases replies by almost a 3-to-1 margin versus a more generic, non-specific message.
  • Less is more.  In your initial message, the worst thing you can do is explain everything about your college, your program, and your team.  If you want a response from your prospect, that is.  That’s because our research clearly shows that recruits are most apt to respond out of curiosity instead of information.  Be short, to the point, and leave room for their curiosity to take over.
  • Be clear about what you want them to do next.  And, narrow it down to just one thing.  Make it simple (“reply back to my email before Friday”) versus complicated and time-intensive (“fill out our online questionnaire”).  At the beginning of your communication with a prospect, your goal is a conversation, not a conversion.  Aim to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.
  • Pick one main theme, and build your reputation around it.  Do you ever notice that the great restaurants in your area usually focus on one thing that is done very, very well?  The great Italian restaurant…the amazing seafood restaurant…there is always a single focus to their greatness.  There’s a simplicity to it all.  That is what more college coaches need to do: Pick one big idea that can gain the initial interest from a recruit, and build around it as the relationship grows.  It could be your area, your academic prowess, the three straight conference championships that your team has won.  Whatever it is, pick one thing and start there with your story.  As time the conversation grows with your recruit, you’ll have time to get into the rest of what’s great about your college.  But be patient, and don’t overload them with information right at the start.

You’ll notice in the picture of the restaurant above that some people are still going in to eat, despite the signage outside.  It’s on a busy corner, so it’s almost impossible not to get people coming in to eat just by virtue of where it’s located.  And, those people wandering in will probably leave feeling full. (Maybe even a little bloated).

But does the business stand out?  Does the menu get talked about?  Does the restaurant become a destination?  Not likely.

You’re probably always going to be able to fill-out a roster and field a team.  But without a clear message to your recruits, it’s going to be nearly impossible to bring in the difference makers that most college coaches crave.

Looking for help with developing a clearer, more focused messages to your recruits? Dan Tudor and the staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies works with college coaches and their programs around the country on a personalized basis.  To discuss your situation and how the program would work with you, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com. 

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On IceSunday, December 14th, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheiFireWithin.com

You need to sign talent in recruiting and then develop it. Yes, there are many other factors, but talent is a biggie. The movie Miracle ends with captions of what happened to the players from the gold medal-winning 1980 US Olympic hockey team. What Disney showed was what they did as far as ‘real jobs in the real world’ and did not show that over half of the 1980 team would play in the NHL, some for many years. It was like in a subtle way the director wanted the audience to think these guys weren’t good enough to have been pros, when in fact just over half were NHL caliber.

There is a perception out there that Herb Brooks drove around with a bus and got some hockey guys and went to Lake Placid and beat the mighty Soviets 4-3. The reality is he had a lot of really talented players with physical gifts.

Buzz Schneider could run a 4.2 in the 40. Bill Baker looked like he had stepped off a Viking ship. Mark Pavelich was quicker than a butterfly with hiccups. Ken Morrow was a 6’4 sentry of a defenseman who would win four straight Stanley Cups with the Islanders right after the Olympic run.

When I work with college programs, my point is that it was NOT a miracle back in 1980. It was EARNED. There is no reason that every college program cannot reach their dreams because that team showed it was possible. After really hearing their backstory, your players and coaches will feel there is NOTHING they cannot accomplish and NOTHING they cannot overcome.

The players Herb basically recruited to the Olympic team were not as skilled as the Soviets. Herb knew he couldn’t match their skills in seven months so he focused on maximum conditionging. “We may not be the best team in Lake Placid,” Herb would say, “but we WILL be the best conditioned.”

Herb would tell them that they did not have enough talent to win on talent alone. He didn’t mean they had to get more talented to beat the Soviets and Czechs, but they had to become a total and complete team, have the ability to take advantage of opportunities, and be in Sparta-like condition.

“You don’t put greatness in people. You pull it out.” Herb always said that and he pulled it out of them over 7 months from July 1979 to February of 1980. He would say, “Men, I appreciate your talents and therefore I am going to maximize them.”

When Herb brought the 60-plus players to Colorado Springs in July of 1979 that would be whittled to 20 just before Lake Placid, he brought a lot of talent in. But as I have said before, he was looking for the right players and not the best players. Here is an example from my background. I was a TV News sports director at local stations for 25 years, including South Bend, Bakersfield and New Orleans. When I was in South Bend many top line sports reporters wanted to work at the CBS station I was at because Notre Dame football was on a tear from 1988 to 1993. I would get job applications from guys in big markets and pro sports backgrounds. I would listen to them, but would always hire a guy from a smaller college with a more humble background. That was the right guy. The best guys, the ones with the big names from having played pro ball, would be happy in Notre Dame football season, but I knew once I asked them to grab a TV news camera and drive to Bremen High to shoot girls basketball in the dead of winter, they would recoil in horror. Instead, I hired guys like Dean Huppert who had played tennis at D2 Univ of Indianapolis, and Greg
Carroll, who had played soccer at Xavier, and Greg Kerr who had played baseball at VCU. In over 25 years, I had people call in sick less than ten
days. That’s because they cared. And, they were very talented. People like Dan Tudor, who was a sports reporter for me at KBAK TV in Bakersfield and would go on and develop his Selling for Coaches program.

So, like Herb, in recruiting go for talent, but the right kind of talent. Don’t buy into the myth that the Miracle on Ice team was a lucky thing that happened. They earned it. Sure, the Soviets probably ‘won’ that 4-3 game in that they out shot the U.S. boys 39-16, but Herb had put together enough talent that was opportunistic enough to outscore them.

And in the end, in the big game that is all that matters.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

Herb Brooks: The “ULTIMATE” Recruiting JobMonday, December 1st, 2014

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

Herb Brooks did the ultimate recruiting when he brought together the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. All of the players were either college players, or had played college fairly recently.

As I have written about here before, Mike Eruzione was a pivotal part of the team. Years ago John Powers and Art Kominsky wrote a book entitled One Goal about how that team was brought together. Regarding Eruzione, they wrote “he had everything coaches say they want in an athlete” –

* Drive
* Resiliency
* Team loyalty
* Instinct for the big play

Those are four key factors in recruiting, especially instinct for the big play.

Leadership is critical and there are conflicting reports about how Eruzione was made captain of that team. Herb let the team vote, and Buzz Schneider was a very popular player. He would have made an excellent captain as well, and the players thought he would be voted in, but it came out as Eruzione. Some of the players thought Herb had pulled an Idi Amin. He denied it. Who knows, but Eruzione as captain was brilliant.

This week I also wanted to write about the importance of motivation in recruiting and in winning in college athletics. Herb Brooks said this: “Motivation is the energy that makes everything work. It is clearly the single most critical part of performance.”

Herb had all kinds of motivational stories and tools he used in recruiting and in the development of his teams at the University of Minnesota (3 NCAA titles in 7 seasons) and the Olympic hockey team. As a longtime motivational speaker who has done hundreds of talks in high school settings, I can tell you that young people respond to powerful motivational stories.

When Herb told the team just before the historic game vs the Soviets that they were born to be hockey players and meant to be there, he delivered one of the greatest messages in sports history. Mark Johnson scored with :01 to go at the end of the 1st period to tie it at 1 because of that speech. He never let up because his coach had basically told him that it had been written in some book centuries ago that they were destined to be there.

Mike Lightfoot is a hall of fame NAIA basketball coach at Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. Go in his office and you will find shelves of motivational materials he has used for decades. His teams have won multiple national championships and he has developed many fine young men. Having brought in my workshop on lessons we can learn from the Miracle on Ice boys, one of the things he has told his team over and over is that “legs feed the wolf.”

Herb used to always say that in getting his teams to optimum conditioning.

Next week I will write about the best books out there on how the Miracle on Ice came to be — books that every college coach should have on their shelves.

Motivational Speaker Charlie Adams delivers his More Than a Miracle program to college coaches and athletes. He explains how the 1980 Miracle on Ice was not so much a miracle as it was work ethic, remarkable vision and leadership, commitment to change, commitment to team, and perseverance.
Charlie can be reached at StokeTheFireWithin.com and at charlie@stokethefirewithin.com

How College Coaches Can Profit From Watching “The Profit”Monday, October 27th, 2014

Most college coaches who have spent time in the private sector would agree that being successful in recruiting is a lot like being successful in business.

If you run your business the right way, profits will follow.  If you run an organized recruiting effort, you’ll get good recruits consistently, year after year.

Many businesses, like many coaching staffs, don’t organize themselves to operate profitably.  The results are dire: They struggle financially, jeopardize their personal relationships because of the stress, and often have to close their doors.  While the end results for a college coach may look a little different, the symptoms are identical: Struggling bottom-line results, increased stress, and losing out on the recruits you really want.

This is where a reality T.V. show might just be the answer you’re looking for – whether you’re a business owner, or a college recruiter.

The show I’m referring to is the CNBC hit, “The Profit”.  It features Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, as a business success “prophet” who goes into a struggling business, invests his own money (much of the time in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) to take a controlling interest in the operation, and turn it around through a set of principles that he has developed, and uses in his own operation at Camping World.

It’s that set of principles that college coaches can learn from, as well as measure against the way they currently operate their coaching office and recruiting efforts.  On the surface, Lemonis’ principles seem to be very simple: People, Process and Product.  In every business he invests in, those three things have to be present in order to realize success.

And that’s where college coaches can take a page from his winning strategy to turn around their recruiting results.

As I take you through each of the principles laid out by this successful entrepreneur, ask yourself, “Is our coaching staff, and our recruiting approach, generating the kind of recruiting “profits” that are building our program’s brand and separating us from the competition?”

Your People

Do you have the right coaches on staff to be as successful as possible, and are you communicating with them to make sure that they have what they need to get the job done?

Notice this set of principles doesn’t start-off with “stuff”. I didn’t ask how new your stadium is, or what your budget was, or the year you won your last conference title.  Frankly, those types of things become more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to what a coach talks about, or how they tell their story to a recruit.

What’s important is having the right people in place, not only from purely a coaching perspective, but also when it comes to communication ability, sales ability, and other traits that typically make-up successful coaches at the highest levels.  Do you have those people on your staff?  Are you one of them?  And if you aren’t, are you taking steps towards educating yourself and making yourself the best recruiter you can be?

If you don’t have the best people around you, and if you aren’t the most competent recruiter you can be, it’s going to be impossible to succeed over the long haul.  That’s true in business, and it’s true in college athletics.

Your Process

If you looked at the way you’ve laid out your recruiting process, could you say that it reflected these traits?

  • You have an agreed upon plan of attack when it comes to the geography you and your staff will be recruiting, as well as who is best to recruit those areas.
  • When you scout prospects, everyone is using the same measurement metrics that reflect the criteria for a top prospect as outlined by the head coach.
  • Are you giving your recruits a consistent, compelling message that tells the story of your program and answers the question, “why they should want to compete for you?”
  • Are you setting-up fair but firm deadlines that put you in control of the process?
  • Is your staff evaluating how a previous recruiting year went, and what can be done to change and improve the results for the next year?

The process you put in place is critical to your success as a recruiter.  Without a good process, all the talented people in the world won’t matter.

Your Product

In one sense, you might say that this is an area where you, as a college coach, have no control when it comes to the quality of “the product” you can give a recruit.  You can’t control the type of facilities you have, what they look like, the location of your college, whether it’s blazing hot in the Summer or icy cold in the winter…all of that is out of your hands.

But let’s choose to focus on the parts of your product that you do have control over:

  • The coordinated effort with your team to wow a recruit you bring to campus, making them feel like your team wanted them the most, and are the easiest to get to know.
  • How you interact with the parents of your recruit, and what you do with the separate from their son or daughter during that recruiting visit.
  • The tone of your voice on phone calls, and how you personalize a recruiting letter.
  • Using the largest and most influential public relations resource that you have at your fingertips to engage with your recruits, showing them what your program’s personality is all about.

Coach, don’t get sucked into the false assumption that it’s only the size and quality of your facility that sways recruits into choosing one college program over another.  That’s false.  You can counteract any shortcoming when it comes to something like facilities, location or your team’s recent performance by nailing those four important parts of your overall product.

I’m not suggesting that any coaching staff or athletic department can be turned around magically overnight with just a few simple tweaks.  However, these three areas are a good foundational starting point when it comes to figuring out what to focus on when you’re looking to include you program’s recruiting performance.

And the best part? There won’t be any reality T.V. cameras following you around while you do it!

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