Hope spends.

Recruiting sites’ business model, explained:

… It’s an online environment unique to college sports, which are intrinsically rooted in an element that many of the writers and publishers of these subscription sites say is the driver of the whole business: hope.

Distill this whole thing down, and that’s what you’re left with. To cover a recruiting cycle or a coaching search is to cover hope—and those are the two biggest drivers of traffic for most sites in the Rivals and 247 networks. Games are great, but college football delivers the fewest of any major sport, which leaves a ton of time to fill. “Most teams are guaranteed 12 games,” says J.C. Shurburtt, who first joined Rivals as a recruiting analyst in 2004 and now owns and edits the South Carolina 247 site after serving as 247’s national recruiting director from 2010 to ’15. “Some play 13, 14, 15. So that leaves 350 to 353 days out of the year to be passionate about your team. Most of the focus during that time is on roster personnel, what’s going to happen in the future and then, in a lot of cases, hope.

“College football teams, they don’t play exhibitions. They don’t do scrimmages. They … play very few games. I think, what are you going to do for the rest of your time? We’ve kind of solved that. That’s the thing.”

In other words, some of us have too much time on our hands.  And what better way to fill that for some by wedding what’s on the back of the jersey to what’s on the front?

“The college fan is way more intense than NFL,” Heckman continues. “That’s the school that accepted you, right? … It’s family. These guys accepted me, so I want that team which represents me and my self-worth to be successful. People are very personal. A lot of people met their spouses at the games and tailgates, right, so the fanaticism [is personal].” He has a corollary to that theory specifically about recruiting. When a great player picks a school, he says, fans aren’t happy simply because their team improved. “That player validates you as a person,” Heckman says. “This person thinks [my school is] cool. He’s a great player and that validates me. It’s a totally different level that people don’t understand.”

If you think that sounds a little pathetic, consider this premise:

Talk to enough of the guys—and that’s what they were for the most part, young and middle-aged white men—who were on the scene when the idea for Rivals was hatched, and the conversation is bound to head toward porn. There were just too many parallels back then: The company that handled the 900 numbers mostly dealt with college football and porn. The men who posted video to the early servers streamed through hours of college football and porn. They are, as Heckman says, two things people are willing to spend “an irrational amount of money on.”

Hmmm.  Maybe I should spend more time here following recruiting.  (I keed, I keed… I think.)


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

11 responses to “Hope spends.

  1. I think there is also a little bit of “I know something other fans don’t” to this fascination with paid recruiting sites. I worked with a guy who spent a lot of time on Rivals and he loved to know more about the team roster than I did, and feed me unsolicited “inside” knowledge. The guy really had no clue about x’s and o’s though. He couldn’t tell a wing-T from a wing nut.


  2. artful codger

    I must admit to having become a recruitnik since the online ability to follow it evolved. Kirby has put meat on CMR’s soup bone, and it keeps me fixed in the off season.


    • Greg

      Started following it when everybody and their Mother (Dawgs) was watching, praying, hoping and reading about where Herschel was going. Great day when he committed. I am guessing most all dawg people follow it to some extent. I enjoy it, always have…and yes, great way to follow CF in the offseason.


  3. David K

    If you’re paying for porn you’re doing it wrong.


  4. “The college fan is way more intense than NFL,” Heckman continues. “That’s the school that accepted you, right? … It’s family” Just one reason the front of the jersey is more important than the back.


    • Makes sense, if you ignore that whole “That player validates you as a person,” Heckman says. “This person thinks [my school is] cool. He’s a great player and that validates me.” part.


  5. I don’t see those things as mutually exclusive. Both can be true.


  6. Argondawg

    Meh. For me it was more about being a part of the Dawg community online. I don’t see or hear from many of my old room mates and college friends. Life (kids) just got in the way. Several of my old friends are on that site (Rivals) and we discuss this and that. I probably log in once a day just to make sure I am not missing something in the off season. I enjoy it. Not as much as porn though……I keed, I keed.


  7. Napoleon BonerFart


  8. Hogbody Spradlin

    Exhibit A is Mr. Cannon Shot from SC.