I don’t know if you saw this story yesterday about Matt Luke and his decision to step away from college football, but it’s an interesting read. Georgia’s former o-line coach is presented as the canary in the coal mine with regard to the toll non-stop recruiting is taking on college coaches.
The entire recruiting calendar has accelerated exponentially compared to 15 years ago, says Kirby Smart, Luke’s former boss at Georgia. Prospects are deciding on their destinations earlier. When Smart and Luke were coming up as SEC assistants, prospects often made their decisions after official visits in December and January.
That timeline is now spring or summer before their senior season—something that resulted in officials creating the December early signing date and adding springtime official visits. These changes have only expanded and accelerated the recruiting calendar.
Smart sometimes feels like he spends more time recruiting potential players than he spends with his current players and his own family.
“Every coach, true to their heart, would say there should be more dead periods so they could (A) be with their families and (B) be with their team,” he says. “There’s 85 kids, including walk-ons, on campus that get neglected, too, because you’re spending so much time recruiting.”
Smart expects more coaches to go the way of Luke, particularly in the SEC, where he says TV contracts have sent salaries soaring, affording coaches the opportunity to step away. The 15-month pandemic recruiting dead period that ended last spring showed coaches what life without recruiting is like.
“The x-factor in this was COVID,” Smart says. “You can’t measure what COVID did to a coach’s mindset. There’s two types of people: (1) the ones who had too much [off time] and couldn’t wait to go back recruiting; or (2) the ones who loved it and asked, Why can’t I live a normal life like this?”
It reminds me of the observation someone made a couple of weeks ago about how the staffing model is changing to one of putting the younger assistants in the on-field roles and backing them with older coaches as analysts.
“Almost every person I talk to, it’s, I don’t know how people over 30 keep up with all this s—!” says Scott Roussel, president of FootballScoop.com, a site devoted to football coaching news. “The demands are constant. A lot of guys are getting burned out. There is a significant groundswell of people saying, There’s got to be a better life out there right now.”
The amusing part of this article is here:
Other head coaches are more laid-back. For instance, Steve Spurrier, the former Florida and South Carolina coach, notoriously spent much of his offseason golfing. The coaching profession, he says, has turned into coaches gloating not about their on-field success but their off-the-field grinding. “Coaches are saying, ‘Well, I work hard. Nobody is going to outwork me. Here to midnight every night!’” Spurrier says. “That’s the theme to go get a job is trying to convince the ADs and everybody how hard you work instead of ‘Hey, what’s your record?’”
Yeah, can anyone imagine the OBC succeeding in the current recruiting environment? Actually, we don’t have to imagine that: it was the story of his last few seasons at South Carolina. That ended well.