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Athletic Recruiting Education & Navigation LLC


Clients’ Testimonials


"Dan has given me thoughts and ideas I may not have considered to ask throughout the process. In the ever changing world of recruiting he keeps me up to date with how I can best guide my players. It is a great help!"

- Terry Hessbrook, High School Head Football Coach


"The information Dan gives you is priceless. He takes a deep dive into your recruiting process and identifies critical information that is often overlooked during the journey."

- Jason Byers, High School Parent of Student Athlete














RECRUITING TODAY

An ongoing series of informational entries about the state of athletic recruiting

Recruiting 101

10/21/20 Archived...

11/2/2020 Archived...

11/15/2020 Archived...

11/24/2020 Archived...

12/3/2020 Archived...

12/15/2020 Archived...

12/23/2020 Archived...

1/25/2021 Archived...,

2/2/2021 Archived...

2/15/2021 Archived... Misconceptions in the Recruiting Process

2/22/2021 Archived... Misconceptions in the Recruiting Process

3/4/2021 Archived... Misconceptions in the Recruiting Process

3/'31/21 Archived...The trial of society v the NCAA

3/23/21 Archived...Review of Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal.

4/13/21 Archived...The offer phenomenon.

5/6/21 Archived... Sports-Offers-Motivation

5/18/21 Archived... Solutions in sports

5/24/21 Archived... The Wild Wild West

6/1/2021 Archived... The fear that is college recruiting

6/13/21 Archived... One simple but profound change to college football recruiting

6/28/21 Archived...The need for Billion Dollar Leadership

8/9/2021 Archived... He just loves to race

8/17/21  Archived... The Journey of College Athletics

9/6/2021 Archived... Badger Volleyball in Review

9-14-2021 Archived... Coaching changes and your recruitment:

2-3-2023


Topic: Passion fruit


It has been a whirlwind month with college coaches buzzing around in high school hallways trying to finalize the 2023 class as well as getting a feel for the 2024’s. Talking with the AREN programs it sure appears the college coaches want to hear from the high school coach, and after reviewing the national signing day numbers it is still clear to me that the high school coach is still the best facilitator of opportunities for prospects out there. That is not the purpose of this discussion today, today I want to talk about passion. I want to talk about an aspect surrounding passion that many will not realize, I want to talk about the passion fruit. Passion fruit is a term that I believe you’ll see at a coffee shop regarding tea or smoothies, but that’s not what I mean. When it comes to passion fruit this is a term, well frankly, I just invented it. The more I talk to people, the more I talk to families and recruits and see comments on social media I see so many marketing the passion they have for a sport, or a passion they have to keep playing “the game they love.” I even see it in the business world where I can see it and feel the passion some have for their business, or a podcast, or a project they have started from the ground floor. Now let me be clear, passion and that passion fruit is a valuable thing, it keeps you motivated, it can keep you driven, it can push you through troubling times. All these benefits are extremely valuable, I myself have a passion for AREN LLC. Today I want to talk about the darker side of that passion fruit, the pitfalls of passion.


How can having passion be a bad thing some may say? I MUST have passion to propel any endeavor, it’s my passion that will make me a great, or playing is my passion and that is why I should play division I Football or Volleyball or Baseball or Softball etc… When I hear people use the word passion I sometimes cringe, because what people who use passion as an example don’t understand is that at times that same passion can also cloud you from growth. While you grab for that passion fruit that will propel you to focus 100% on your lane you may miss the 25 other fruits out there on a different branch that in fact may help you grow. I have been there, I was so passionate about my ability to coach football I would continually miss out on opportunities to grow from a different limb because I always said “I’m passionate, that will get me where I want to go.” When I started AREN LLC I was determined to get it off the ground, I believed in it, I knew what I wanted and I knew where I wanted to go. Do you know what the best path for me has been in the last year? Do you know how I’ve had a 3x growth since the founding of my company? I let the passion go and started taking on fruits that were on different branches. It’s 100% true, I am completely transparent here. I started looking at fruits on all sorts of branches, and yes some of those were moldy, rotten fruits, but some were just as ripe as the passion fruit that I began with. It has helped me to release stress, it has given me clarity to look at things from multiple angles and frankly it has opened up doors that I would never have had opened to me if I just stared at that one passion fruit. When I started to realize that if someone tries to take my passion fruit, if they were to snag it from me that I’d be ok, because I have plenty of other alternatives, I started to really grow. It made me realize that my passion fruit is in fact so great, that I know I can do it again if needed. It put me in a position to have a positive eye on so many other things both professionally as well as personally that the fear I had of losing that passion fruit slowly dissipated. There’s something to be said for passion, but there also becomes a point where your passion and that focus on the passion fruit can blind you from so many other things that can create your growth. Don’t allow your vision on the path of your passion fruit to shroud you from opportunities that can be just as if not more so beneficial than the vaunted passion fruit. Recruits, passion and that passion fruit can be good, but other fruit can be beneficial for you as well. But you have to be open to reach for it to find out for sure.


This blog is dedicated to all those who have lost someone in their lives. May you find the peace and healing you need to continue to move forward all the while honoring their life.


Have a great week

1-19-2023


Topic: The big parachute


2023 is the year of messaging at getaren.com. After spending time evaluating how, where we can help as effectively as possible this year, I really believe this is the top priority. In many cases my messaging is aimed at adults or the high school coach. The reason for that is that they are the adults in the room, and kids need proper adults in the room now more than ever. Today’s message is however targeted at the prospects, to the student athletes who find 5 minutes out of their evening to read this. I want to talk today about what I think is a very important message in recruiting, that parachute that will at some point open and save you. I see a lot on social media about “my recruitment is 100% open” or “just looking for an opportunity” etc… When I see this, I believe the prospects are reaching out in the hopes that someone will swoop in maybe someone that hasn’t already seen them or talked to them and throw this metaphorical parachute on the back of said prospect as they are free falling through their recruiting process and make everything just perfect. When I think of that I also think of myself. Me, Dan, how is this relevant to a student athlete, I’m almost 40 (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little…) and I’m not being recruited. However, I’m referencing my company, getaren.com. How does this help the student athlete and how does this reference messaging you may ask? Let’s discuss.


Starting AREN LLC was a very scary process, one that is still just as scary, but that’s as close as I can get to that feeling of being a recruit. Starting a company, much like being recruited is scary, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, you’re searching for advice, you’re sitting around thinking of “what do I do next?” and so on it goes. So, prospects, hear me out. What is the best advice I was given that helped me move along my company? It actually was one statement, nobody. I asked my most trusted mentor, I asked them when the company was in a very odd place, a place where I didn’t know if I had a day left or a week or a month as funds were drying up and my potentials were getting colder. I simply asked, “when will I get mine? When will someone come help me?” I asked it in all seriousness and I was also emotional and down and in a rough place surrounding everything. I asked that question and in my lowest point my most trusted mentor responded, “nobody is putting a parachute on you.” I was like, “geez, that really helps” but I didn’t understand, I didn’t get what my mentor was saying was to let me know nobody is going to swoop in and save you, they won’t put the parachute on you, so why don’t you put it on yourself. Instead of waiting for someone to open the parachute, why don’t you open it. It changed my whole course of the company, I am in a positive direction since because I was simply told NOBODY IS GOING TO HELP YOU, and frankly I needed to hear it. Now let me be clear, I absolutely have been given help, people have helped me, but at that point I had been laughed at by close friends, cussed out by a 3rd party showcase owner, been told no more times than yes etc… I had spent so much energy letting the defeats beat me, consume my mind that I was in a difficult place of frustration, disappointment and whoa is me. I didn’t need a helping hand, I didn’t need someone to place a parachute on my back, I needed someone to tell me that in fact noone was coming to help. That completely changed my perspective. It cleared my vision, I focused on what I could do as opposed to what I couldn’t. I started to focus on those few that did believe in me as opposed to the 100 that said no. I started to compartmentalize all that discouraging feedback and use it as fuel to focus on my path. This advice potentially could go in one ear and out the other for a student athlete, I get it, but try to let it sink in and embrace the value of this statement. I am 39, it took me time to really allow it to sink in, but when it does, when you realize you will never be handed anything you haven’t earned, the better you will be for it.

1-12-2023


Topic: The Energy Crisis


As I was watching the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahwaks game hoping for a miracle so my Detroit Lions had a chance at the Playoffs later that night, I heard the commentators talking about Sean McVay, the Head Coach of the Rams. They were talking about how he may not return. I was so flabbergasted I listened with great haste. Won’t return I thought, what??? They won the Super Bowl just last season, is their owner that insane?? In fact, it’s not that, there are “reports” Sean McVay is “burned out” and he may step away. I thought to myself, boy that’s odd, I thought his niche was all of his energy, isn’t that why they hired him? I spent the last few years of my coaching career hearing the buzzword of “energy”. “That guy had great energy” he was so “energetic” I heard it nonstop, in fact I was told I didn’t get a job because another candidate had great “energy” it was just so hard to pass up apparently. Juxtapose this with what I saw on the bottom line, coach Belichick planned to return for his 24th year with the Patriots. Has anyone seen coach Belichick on the sidelines or in press conferences? He’s a statue, cmon coach where’s the “energy”? To me, we focus way too much on energy, people get blown away by a hot shot coach on an interview because they can talk real fast, bring energy, and then 3 years later they burn out. What did you expect?  It's the same for athletes, we get so fascinated by the 1 play wonder as opposed to the players who simply win.  Make 1 sweet windmill dunk, you're the greatest thing ever...today.   Make that 1 handed catch 1 time that can be posted on Tik-Tok, give him a NIL deal...   How does this translate to recruiting one should ask? Let’s discuss.


I thought about a former player I coached from 2011-2013 Michael Albrecht. Michael was a receiver at Saginaw Valley and I’m here to tell you this cat could play. He ripped a corner post off in 2012 to beat Valdosta State and that play still goes down as a top 5 play I can remember. I heard this Sean McVay story and I was immediately taken to a moment in a pregame with Michael that for whatever reason has stuck in my mind. One pregame when we were warming up I was standing next to Mike, we hear all this screaming and yelling behind us, it sounded chaotic. We both turned and it was the other team hooting, hollering and yelling in pre-game. I looked at Mike, he looked at me and we both smirked and chuckled, I will never forget it. He went about his pre-game, ran his warm up route and the game went along, and he went on to rip them for 100+ yards and we won by 30. I’ll never forget that chuckle, that look of “all that yelling won’t save you boys.” The opponent burned up all their energy, and this little receiver who just went along with his day dominated. Recruits, it’s not about burning energy, save that energy for your classwork, or your training sessions with your team, it’s not about being at a camp and yelling so everyone can hear you, that’s not going to get you recruited effectively. In fact, it may actually hurt your recruitment, you may burn out and have a horrible performance at said camp. Let me be clear, I don’t want anyone walking around like a zombie at camp, but maybe it’s time to be a little more like coach Belichick and not get enamored with the new shiny bright thing like coach McVay. Burned out? Burned out? Are you kidding me? I bet there’s a million factory workers in this country that are burned out, that would like to retire at 37, but there is no option, it’s wake up and do it again. Give me a break, burned out… Michael had it right, play your game, stay the course and win by 30. If you want to burn yourself out and win by 1, great, I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong, but I am here to tell everyone that maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the value of energy because like with coach McVay and coach Belichick, there’s no perfect answer.

1-2-2023


Topic: Take it easy on the kid would ya…


With 2023 in low gear I like to both look back on the previous year, the last few years and use that to give thoughts and ideas about how 2023 and the recruiting process will unfold, a projection in a way. While none of us can predict the future with 100% certainty it is valuable to look back so we can use this as a guide moving forward. As I thought back about 2022, 2021 even the Covid year I started to think of society constantly going on social media to rip kids for posting their offers. Now let me be clear, I am both for kids posting their offers but also in favor of educating them on the dangers that come with the mindset of so many offers, and what it really means. When I thought about the constant flood of adults airing their grievances of these kids making such a heinous mistake, I think of Coach Prime. I have heard some phenomenal interviews with Deion Sanders the new Head Coach at Colorado football. Let me first off state how much I like coach Prime, and I 100% believe he will not only do well there, but will be on to “bigger and better” soon. I have advocated for him to be provided a Power 5 head coaching position since his 1st year at Jackson State. In the interview he goes on to talk about how kids are worried about how many “likes” they get on a post, or about how the kids just want to “stack offers” he also goes on to talk about how they need to just work, to embrace the grind to get to work for what they want. That last part, to me is where it gets murky, but I want to focus more on his statements about how kids are just in it for the “likes” and “stacking offers.” I constantly try to see both sides, and again I work with kids and families about the dangers of social media and the mindset this creates that can have a negative impact on their performance. If you really want to look into this though you have to get in the minds of the people who are making these apparent mistakes, and to me I just don’t see social media posts and or likes as a mistake or find a need to slam the kids for “stacking offers.” When I apply this to recruiting, here’s my stance. We all have to get feedback, we all have to use whatever data points we have. We have to use the feedback to know about the best possible road we should take.


At the beginning of this blog I talked about how no one can predict the future perfectly, certainly not our youth. How can they? They don’t have the life experiences, so what do they do, they evaluate the data points they’re offered. Let’s use “likes” first. If I’m interested in school A and school A “likes” my post about their offer, then I have a good sense that maybe it’s legit interest, maybe it’s even committable. With that said, I’m going there for a visit. If school B does not “like” my post about their offer, maybe it’s not legit, maybe it’s not committable and maybe I should really consider whether or not that three-thousand-dollar un-official visit is worth it. It’s a data point, its something to use as feedback to help me move forward. Regarding stacking offers, what are they supposed to do? Should they not let anyone know, should they keep it a secret? I would first off say, why? What’s the big concern? I can and will answer that. The big concern is that you let your guard down, you don’t keep developing, and that’s what I do with AREN as much as I’m able. For the kid, who’s a really good prospect, why not state the 3 or 4 or 20 schools who offered you? If you post those “stacked offers” now you have a good base, even saved data of who’s offered you. Maybe you even go through 3 months and heck, you forgot who all offered you, let’s scroll on our SM feed and double check. These are all valuable data points to use to work through the future opportunities. I do this all the time to navigate my own company. I go on my marketing feature and assess what works and what doesn’t, and how do I know that, I see what the clients “liked” and ones that weren’t “liked.” Its all a tool, its how we grow and adapt and those that use it effectively have the data points to move forward to the best of their own ability for their own unique path. If you’re Coach prime and your agent reaches out to Colorado and you hear nothing back, you don’t get that “like”, should you sit down with your wife and consider a move to Boulder? When you’re a college coach and you “offer” a player, but you never hear back from them or you don’t see anything on SM about the “offer” should you lock them in for national signing day ? Use the data at hand, work with our youth about the mindset, and call it a day. Maybe I’m too old school, but I say, “let the kids be kids, and adults, stick to adulting.”


When I think about what I see on social media from the public, or these millionaire college coaches, I remember a line from one of my favorite movies of all time, “take it easy on the kid would ya…”-Dazed and Confused


Have a great week!

12-22-2022


Topic: Where have all the competitors gone...


As December NSD is upon us I was talking to an old high school coach about the process, about what’s different and yes we both at one point said, “back in my day.” But the conversation went further than that, we started talking about how recruiting and the process is really the fundamental foundation of college football. Think, regardless of how you get into college sports, when you get in you will inevitably be influenced by how you were brought up in recruiting. It’s clear as day, and it’s something I talk about frequently, but it was interesting to hear another voice. As we were texting he sent this to me:


It’s still out there, but it’s the competitive challenge that I don’t see in many people right now

I see kid’s taking walk on opportunities over lower level scholarships all the time now, just to say they’re in the pool. Is this a social media impact? I don’t know probably, but where’s the competitiveness? Where are the ballers? I see postings all day about “Baller alert” but then they don’t want to go ball unless it’s in a certain pool, I just don’t get it. Forget that, a D2 is offering them money and a D1 is offering a walk on, take the walk on, that’s what society tells them. Ballers gotta still be out there, but that storyline doesn’t get played.


Only so many people will swim in the deep end in any pool. But Football now is full of people sitting in the zero-depth area just to say they’re in that pool. It’s popular to say you are at this specific pool party. Guess what, there’s a lot of pool parties out there with deep ends, why are you only targeting one pool party??!!

I miss the days when no one wanted to get in cause it was a little cold and the rowdy football players just jumped in because they didn’t really care about their speedo shorts and they just wanted to make people comfortable to join us


Like I played ball with some tough guys growing up, none cared at all about actually wanting to go play college football or even go to college. Those cats are all successful today, every one of them.


Now if you long snap for the freshman team grandma wants to know when Harbaugh is gonna stay the night and the kids think, yeah I can do this in that pool.” -High School Coach


Now I am on record as believing I want each prospect to do what’s completely best for them, if a walk on is what’s best for you over a scholarship, awesome, you’ll always have my support, but this message is worth hearing. This mindset is one we need out there in athletics more, take recruiting out of it and just apply this to student athletes in general.


It was really the last part that got me, because he’s right, it’s become tough as a kid to be a kid and just play ball. Someone is always in your ear about “go get yours” and that messaging is very, very damaging. It can really have a detriment not only your recruitment but also your future in sports and after. Someday you will be put to the test, to not get into the pool party you want and you’ll have to choose nothing over the want for that specific pool party. I’ve been there, I was put to the test, and thank god I learned early the benefits of not getting exactly what I want when. I have an inordinate amount of wealth, more than I ever imagined. I didn’t get that from targeting one specific pool party, instead I did it by diving into the deep end of the pool at the party I could get into. It’s hard, in the social media age to find a true competitor but my concern is, if we stay on this path there will be no competitors left when we all leave. I am reminded of an old Polish fable my grandmother used to tell me. “There was a wealthy man and a poor man. The wealthy man was the elder of the area and the poor man was the youngest and one day the wealthy man said “it’s time for you to have my wealth, so I will teach you my ways. I won’t give you my money but I will teach you how to make money the same way I did.” The poor man was confused, he needed money and he didn’t understand why the wealthy man wouldn’t just give it to him, it wasn’t like he didn’t have enough to give. The poor man said “sir, why not just give me the money, then I’ll be fine?” The wealthy man responded “because then, when I’m gone, who will keep this thing going? And sir, it will be going much longer than you or I.” Now at the time, I didn’t understand it, but I do now. If we keep giving, and giving and no longer build, who will be left to keep it going when I’m gone? Who will teach the generation after? Who will even know how to teach the next generation? I’m worried about the future of the game, and that’s because we aren’t creating competitors, but there is still time, and all I need is time.


Have a Merry Christmas and a safe New Year!

12-20-2022


Topic: Fodrocy 3:16 says I just found authenticity


If you really look closely, what sports struggles with right now is true authenticity. Are there any authentic coaches out there who just want to coach? Are there any players out there who just want to play? When I look around the country, when I watch games, when I listen to press conferences and interviews I believe we are looking for that white whale, waiting for that authentic savior to come marching down the ramp. My first question would be to ask, what is authenticity? Was Tim Tebow authentic? In the social media age, in the 24-hour news cycle, people get ripped apart from every angle and at times it may be hard to truly know. Coach Prime, Coach Saban, are they authentic? It again appears so, but even at times with them I just don’t know. In sports why does authenticity matter and what role does it play? It provides hope, it gives us a reflection that anyone can truly make it, it gives us a belief that you can’t politic or cheat your way to the top, and that alone gives us hope. When I was in High School I was a die-hard WWE fan, me and my friends would walk around the halls doing the Diamond Dallas Page, or the Whoooo from Ric Flair, and or give the “Hey Yo” from Scott Hall and making the Wolfpack sign from the NWO of the WCW. I probably should have payed closer attention to my math and social studies and science classes, but I digress. While we all knew professional wrestling was entertainment, it provided a release, it provided some fun, but we all knew it was an entertainment business and this was an act, and I don’t think we cared. Then the glass broke, then the sound of one Stone Cold Steve Austin took hold, and for anyone that follows wrestling the homage to Stone Cold is not a remembrance of a wrestler, but in fact a lifestyle. Stone Cold took over the wrestling world, he was fun, talented, entertaining and appealed to everyone. The trucker, the farmer, the city kid, he captivated the world of sports for years and why, because he was truly AUTHENTIC. He didn’t care who you were, what you looked like, rich or poor, what you thought was cool none of that mattered it appeared. I knew one thing, he was going to give someone the stunner, period and that was authentic. He played the game, he understood the entertainment side, but when that glass broke and the crowd erupted and he stormed down the ramp cussing, yelling and started stunning people, it felt like It was me storming down there, I could feel the crowd because it was like I was in that arena, like I was standing on the turnbuckle smacking 2 Busch Lights together and raising hell myself, and that was fun. How on earth does any of this matter to recruiting? Let’s discuss


When I think of Stone Cold and that time in my life, I think about if any coach or kid is truly running out of that tunnel because it’s a passion, or is it simply because of the money and the fame and the power? I don’t know if the answer lies within this blog, but I truly wonder. When kids commit are they committing and signing because the sport fuels them, because they want to just ball, they just want to go out there and play the game? Or is it all business decisions, is it all about “this program will get me where I want to go”?  When these coaches lead their team out of the tunnel is it because they just want to make a difference, or is it because “If I win here, I can go get that next payday”? I don’t speak for any player or coach, but I do wonder where all of this fame has taken the game, I wonder if they’re in the game because they “want to be like Stone Cold” or are they in the game because “they are Stone Cold”? That’s the difference between authentic and a fraud. Now I 100% understand that finding the true authentic character in this world is very difficult, because the payday and the fame is a real aspect, it’s a true fact and I take nothing away from anyone who does use that as a motivator. If you’re in college sports to try and be a millionaire, you’re not wrong, that is up to each individual how they want to live their life with their family and what is a priority to them. I do wonder how many are truly authentic, how many are truly in this because of that passion to go out and do it? These are questions I can’t answer, I can only make assumptions, but I truly hope that all these young kids flocking to the coaching profession are doing it because they just want to make a difference. I hope all these players flocking to showcases and camps and transferring all over the place are doing it because they have that burning flame inside to just ball. I truly do hope that is the case, but I for one think my hope is going to be overshadowed by the current state of sports. All of the money and fame and celebrity shouldn't drive that passion, the passion should lead to the $. You shouldn’t try and use that motivator of money and fame and celebrity to try and build your passion, it will always fail you. When Stone Cold stormed down the ramp I felt like all he cared about was entertaining people and the money and fame was just a byproduct, and as I continue to support sports and the game I will continue to hope for that glass to break when the true authentic character enters the arena, I hope that day comes soon.

12-11-2022


Topic: Why don’t you need football?


Over the past 4-5 years I have heard some common messaging, mostly on social media. They go something like this; “Football is my only way out” or “All I need is one chance” and then they are preceded with highlight videos. I also see many players posting the “0 offers but still grinding” messages. I try to respond to those; rarely do I get a response. I may have come to the 0 hour on some prospects, 2023’s I don’t know if I can change the mindset, I don’t know if it’s possible. 2024’s I hope it’s not too late for some, but I do worry. Why is this messaging so bad you ask? It clouds your mind from hundreds of opportunities that are well within your reach. College is expensive, and that offer is a critical piece to making that achievable, but why is college the ultimate goal in the first place? More importantly why is the messaging to our young people about the need for college so important? I believe the best thing for a recruit is to ask yourself this one simple question, why don’t you need football? Let’s discuss more.


Let me also be clear, this isn’t just about football, this message relates to basketball and soccer and rowing and volleyball, but I’m using football as an example. If you’re a 2025, 2026 or even now a 2027 it is becoming increasingly clear that you are starting to think about the process already. While you’re not wrong for doing that, I do think you should start with asking yourself “why you don’t need football.” Think of the answers that could come from this early in your life. Maybe an answer is “I don’t need football because I don’t like sitting in class all day.” Maybe an answer is “I don’t need football because I want to operate a crane” or maybe the answer is “I want to run the farm anyway; football won’t change that.” There are a lot of answers that could come from this answer. Many may read this and say I’m trying to talk people out of sports or college in general. Not the case, in fact I believe having this conversation will truly enhance your ability as a recruit. Here’s what college coaches are looking for, its really this simple. Fast, free playing and confident players. That’s really it, and you can see it on film and when they play/practice in person. Now let’s go back to that question you ask yourself, and imagine you going through your 4 years playing freer, faster and more confident because you really don’t care about having a bad game, you don’t care about failing because college ball isn’t all that big of a deal anyways, imagine how explosively you can play without the mental and emotional stress and weight of that “football is the only way out” message that get’s implanted in your head. Imagine playing without that 200 lb coat of pressure on you because you don't feel like every game is a chance to “get that offer” or “lose it”. It’s an interesting thought, to have young people and their parents, families and educators start talking to and changing the message that you don’t need sports, because in fact that will make you a better recruit, a better player and truly provide you with more opportunities. It is a message we really need to start pushing back into our young people because it will make them better workers, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and also better recruits, that I am confident of.  


Have a great week.

Topic: The Saban Effect


I am overly critical of college sports right now, and at times I have been critical of the players. I played, I was in their shoes, but that was a generation ago, so maybe times have changed. However, I have also been critical of coaches, I was in that environment 3 years ago, so again, I’ve been in those shoes. I never achieved a high-level job so thus, my opinions aren’t very highly valued, and I get it, that’s life. It’s not truly about what you know, it’s about the logo on your chest, I get it, I lived it. Go to a coaching clinic and see the packed rooms, FBS coach in 101, D3 coach in room 102. Room 101 will have 4x the number of participants, that’s life, I get it. At my last clinic I ever spoke at I talked to a room of roughly 20 people, while Josh Gattis and Don Brown spoke to a room of 400, I get it. One of those participants in my room was John Herrington, and I was shaking in my boots the whole time not because I was nervous, but instead because I was honored. But coaching has changed, Nick Saban has changed the game, Bill Belicheck now Deion Sanders, they’ve changed the game, and I call it the Nick Saban effect. Has anyone seen the amount of coaches on staff’s now? It mirrors a massive fortune 500 company in a big city, hundreds of employees, young kids just begging for internships and why??? The Saban Effect, money & fame, plain and simple. Does anyone truly want to coach, or do they want the $? Does anyone truly want to coach or do they want the fame? Does anyone truly want to coach or do they want to have the packed room at the clinic? Nick Saban was a grinder when he was young, he worked to get to where he is, but I don’t think coaches want, embrace or think they are required to pay that same service, and that is what concerns me. I do think we need to listen to coaches, I think they need to be handed an element of control back, but do they deserve it? I don’t know if I have the answer, so I asked a coaching friend of mine for his opinion. Here was the response:


“Any grocery store parking lot in America will tell you exactly what's wrong with our coaching society today. There are two types of people in this world. "cart returners" and "non-cart returners" and that’s true in the coaching profession as well.

Cart returns- put others interests before their own. They work for the betterment of the team. They see the big picture. They go out of their way to do the right thing.

Non-cart returners- think about ME and not about the program. They'll give you every excuse in the book why they couldn't return the cart. They aren't thinking about anyone besides them.

The problem with coaching today is that it lacks real leaders. As a former player and now a coach, I am around cart returners and non-returners every day. I learn from them, I learn from the non-returners, I learn what NOT to do.

The issue we're seeing today is SM has given a platform for everyone. Cart returners and non-returners alike. The noise on SM makes it difficult to distinguish who's who. The issue is more times than not, the cart returner isn't spending time, thought or energy engaging in these conversations on SM and you have kids that don't know which way is up and then following straight up loser’s advice thinking that is the gold standard.

It's the kids, right? It's always the kids. It wasn't like this when we played, it wasn’t like when I started coaching. Kids today don't know what hard work is- BS!!! I'm sick of seeing non-cart returning coaches actively complain about kids not being engaged, entering the transfer portal, or having unrealistic expectations regarding their talent/skill set.

I'm sick of seeing coaches complain on SM. I saw a coach complain about a kid entering the transfer portal, when he did the exact same thing at a school a couple of years ago. Here's my question- what can you do today to improve the situation for the next kid? Tweet? That's about as much as you get when you hire a Non-cart returner. "

Source: Anonymous College Coach


I’m worried not only about the future of the game, but the future of coaching. We’re going down a slippery slope and I hope the next generation gets their hands on the railing before the train flies so far off the track that it can’t be saved. In my year and a half working with buck Nystrom I listened to stories of him telling me about his salary when he was working at some of the biggest D1 programs in the country, and they weren’t 6 figure salaries, they were in fact 5 figures. Yes, those 40K a year days are gone, the world adapts and I’m not saying it should go back, but that truly tests your belief system, that truly challenges your commitment, and I think that is something we need back in the coaching profession.

12-8-2022


Topic: Dec 8th 2022, a date which will live in infamy


I spe​nt a large chunk of yesterday waiting, then asking myself “surely I can’t be right”. I spent the day asking myself if I was wrong, if I had been so caught up in my daily life that I was just not looking at the calendar correctly. I felt like I remembered the video, but something just wasn’t registering. Now, I have never claimed to be a smart man, my children need someone else to help them when homework questions come up surrounding 3rd grade math, but boy I felt like I remember that famous line from President Roosevelt. “December 7th, a date which will live in infamy…”-President Roosevelt, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I swear I remembered that, but all day on SM I was waiting for the posts, I was waiting for something about the President being at Pearl, I was waiting for a flood of updates on my Facebook timeline, but yet, only one. That’s what got me, “surely I have to be wrong, surely this post is a pre-emptive post for the correct date, and surely I am just missing something.... Right?” No, the date came and went, little to know fanfare on social media, or the news that I saw, I was floored. I am regrettably on social media way too much, and unfortunately it is where I get my “news” if that is what you call it. I asked myself the following day if it was simply the algorithms that got me? Are people talking about this and I hear nothing simply because of algorithms? Am I watching political clips and Brock Lesnar UFC match highlights simply because that’s what I watch 364 other days a year, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the brave men and women that went to a cause bigger than themselves is not enough to overshadow the leftist arguing with the rightist on this one day? I can’t believe it happened, December 8th, 2022, a date that will live in infamy as the day we stopped focusing on the commitment and sacrifice those made, to a greater good. In sports we talk about commitments, and getting drafted, and I am guilty, guilty as hell of having this discussion. There was however a time when men made a commitment to get on a boat and go storm the beaches, not knowing if they’ll return. There was a time when women were drafted into the factories to make the tanks that these soldiers would climb on, to fight in North Africa. We talk about being drafted into the NFL and how its life changing and there was a time when young men were forced into a draft to hold a rifle, not by choice but instead by social security number. What a long way we have come, myself included where we sit in front of our 55” plasma, with our feet up and type on a phone about how lousy our lives are, then we go to sleep in the comfort of our warmed houses and complain about the climate crisis. What a time to be alive.


I bring this up to say this, when will the next great event be overshadowed? Will I be sitting in my rocking chair in 2065 watching highlight reels of my Muskegon Catholic State Championship from the year 2000 on September 11th and say “hey wait a minute, what day is it?” I remember where I was standing when President Barack Obama was inaugurated, or my exact location on January 6th 2020, will someday I say “hey remember that one president, what was his name?” Or “hey remember that day a few people went to DC, man that was something.” Time is a scary thing, but have we lost sight so badly that we have forgotten what commitment truly is? Apparently, we have, apparently the White House briefing on Twitter was more important yesterday than remembering the Arizona or the Missouri. Who’s to blame? I am, me, my generation. We are a bunch of entitled pathetic losers who talk always and do nothing. We complain, we whine, and we have made this world worse, today proves it.


When I think of how this relates to sports and ultimately recruiting, which is the purpose of this site, I think of my Son. When I watch him play basketball I don’t say a word, I rarely cheer and I surely don’t yell. I watch hundreds of others do that so I don’t think it’s because of a lack of sideline Sabans, but I just watch because as scary as it is to think of this, I dream of him being in the service, aboard an air craft carrier giving his commitment to something bigger than him. Now, that may be a pipe dream, he’s 9, I don’t know what the future holds for him, if athletics will in anyway play a factor for him or not, or my daughter either. I do hope they think about something other than sports, about something other than money, about something other than themselves. I think we need sports now more than ever, we need sports to remind us that this is just a game, that life is more important than money, and that our dreams are to be alive and healthy and anything else is not as important as we perceive. On Dec 8th 1941 a group of men and women went to sign up for a commitment about the bigger picture, and how glorious of a country we were… then.


This blog is dedicated to all the brave men and women who have made a commitment to this country, who truly answer the bell in the face of evil in this world.  Thank you!

Topic: The big difference


When it comes to college athletics there is a big difference between men’s and women’s sports. The realities are women’s sports do not get the same coverage regarding national TV, regarding the new NIL climate and these are just some of the starting points. Men’s Football dominates the airwaves and streaming services, it dominates the headlines on ESPN and that is not a fault to the men’s athletes, but it is not completely fair to women’s sports either. With that said, the stark reality is men’s sports drives athletics, it drives the conversation, it drives the money, it is the premise for change amongst college athletics, because right or wrong, it is the breadwinner. However, when it comes to college recruiting I wish women’s sports drove the direction, and here is why. Women, and the young women who are striving to become collegiate athletes are simply smarter, they just are. Sorry men, and I in no way am trying to demean men, but we are awful at the recruiting process. We make awful decisions, and use our brains very little when it comes to the recruiting process. Let me try to make this a little clearer.


Young women make decisions based on education, young men make decisions based on weight rooms.


Young women make decisions based on coaching relationships, young men make decisions based on a digital graphic.


Young women make decisions that will benefit them for 50 years, young men make decisions based on if they can buy a Mercedes in 3 months.


And on, and on and on it goes. I’m sorry to be so blunt to the young men out there, but you need to be more like the young women, start making decisions that benefit you as a person more than how well you can run with a football, or shoot a basketball. Sports are awesome, but men have created a culture where it’s Sports-#1, Academics-#2 and young women have created a culture where it’s Academics-#1, Sports-#2. Frankly, it’s refreshing, frankly it’s what’s needed, and frankly young men, you need to reflect the young women more when it comes to your decision-making process. If you choose a place that can’t provide you a Bentley from your NIL money, but can provide you an education that can take care of you for 50 years, that’s the smart money, and this is how young women think, this is how they make decisions. Maybe not all, I don’t speak for every young woman out there and their family, but the high majority I talk to do reflect this focused, educated, thoughtful thinking approach that we all should have in the recruiting process.


Look around at the culture of college athletics and I personally do not think the men’s game is in a better place than it was 15 years ago, and stepping back, rethinking our position as young men and how we make decisions, is a good place to start. Moral of this blog, men, be more like the women and you have a chance to be a better man.


Have a great week!​

11-1-2022


Topic: Maybe we need HS recruiting now more than ever


I like everyone in sports has witnessed the film of the “scuffle” in the tunnel between Michigan and Michigan State Football. Everyone has their own opinion, thoughts and as usual everyone also has the answer. I have many opinions on the “scuffle” between the players but I am not going to address that here, I want to talk about the root issue, a problem I see percolating in college athletics, primarily because of the lack of leadership. Now let me be clear, I am not anti-transfer guy, I’m comfortable with transferring and the rules are what they currently are, and I accept them. However, it’s time to dissect, it’s time to re-evaluate in my opinion. I don’t claim to know if any of the players in the “scuffle” were transfers, that is not even the element I’m going to talk about and why we need to get back to HS recruiting as a primary foundation of rosters. It actually has to do with the adults NOT involved in this “scuffle.” But there were no adults involved many would say, that’s exactly the problem I would say. Where were the adults stepping in to stop this? Not stepping in, they were standing there filming it. Where were the coaches who were near the players they knew might be emotionally charged after this game, close because they know their players well because they recruited them as Juniors in HS, then got to know their families and have spent years developing them to get them to this point, but also know they have growing to do, where were they? Nowhere to be seen, maybe because they don’t know their rosters all that well anymore, because it’s 1-year cycles now because of the transfer portal rules. The players don’t know the coaches, the coaches don’t know the players so everyone just goes their own way and then throw their hands up. Instead of being right next to that Michigan player saying “what are you doing, get in our locker-room.” Where were the Michigan State adults/coaches standing right there, ready to jump in and keep their players back, because they know the impacts something like this could happen on a person’s future? Nowhere to be seen because they probably didn’t know and or didn’t expect it. That’s exactly the problem, that’s the problem with our current recruiting structure and win now mentality (FROM THE PRESIDENTS and UNIVERSITY CHANCELORS & DONORS) Win now, or you’re fired. Bryan Harsin, less than 2 years at Auburn, get out of here as an example. How do you recruit HS kids in that environment? You can’t, you have to recruit win now players, players that can step in Day 1 and help you beat Bama & Kentucky, or else… But then this happens, you see this because no one knows anyone on the roster, the rostered players don’t know the coaches and everyone throws their hands up and we see this because no one is defending anyone, because no one is invested in anyone else.


I was in a heated argument on the 50-yard line after an emotional game, screaming, yelling, and it was one of my players that stepped in and said, “Coach, let’s go.” Now I’m ashamed yes that I lost control of my emotions, I should have been the adult in that moment, but I lost control and someone who knew me, because of our YEARS TOGETHER, someone stepped in and protected me from myself. Where is that when you bring in someone in June? Where is that when it’s 50% turnover every year? It’s not possible, and adults, our inability to see the impacts the transfer portal has had on the kids is something we should all be embarrassed about. I think it’s time for the leaders, what few there are out there, to chill on the pressure cooker you’ve created, to take it easy on coaches and say “You’re getting your contract, we want you to win yes, but do it right, recruit people as much as talent, go do it right.” To me that starts with putting a higher emphasis back on HS recruiting and how you have TIME to get to know these young people, for all that’s worth it in sports, please go back.


This blog is dedicated to all those impacted by the Waukesha Parade tragedy. While some form of Justice has been served, the loss, the emotional pain you still feel may yet to be alleviated and I continue to pray for your healing

10-9-2022


Topic: Why vs Why


One of the most in vogue statements right now, especially surrounding sports is to find your why. I talk about it all the time as well; I talk to HS coaches about asking their players their why. I talk to families in the recruiting process about continually coming back to their why when it comes to trying to find a fit and trusting the process. Your why in this case is fundamentally what motivates you, what keeps you going. For some its family, it's proving to their family that they can achieve something, or being the first to go to College. For others their why is financially, they are motivated to use athletics as a way to a better life. For others you’ll hear terms like love of the game, or “it’s all I’ve ever done”. In my humble opinion there is no perfect answer, this is not the moment to challenge which why is better or fundamentally what is the right way to approach it. So many discuss this, throw a stone on social media and you’ll hit 20 motivational speakers talking about finding your why. There’s another why that no one discusses however, and this is the why vs why dilemma. Recruits, young recruits, I highly encourage you to listen and listen well.


Finding your why can be valuable, but always asking why can be very damaging. What’s the difference you may ask? Imagine your coach asking you to move from Corner to Quarterback for 1 simple week and you’re a prospect with multiple opportunities at the next level. What will probably be your first question? Why? Your coach will tell you the importance of that summer lifting schedule and or the conditioning times, and I imagine you’ll ask, why? So on and so on it will go. We are seemingly knee deep in a world where everything is questioned, every move your coach or your teachers or your administration will make is questioned, but I encourage you to get okay with saying okay. Let that sink in, imagine a world where your coach says, we need you to move from OLB to Left Guard this week, and you respond, okay. Imagine your coach saying to the team after a gut punching loss on a Friday night that he wants the whole program there on Saturday morning and you respond with, okay. Imagine a college coach telling you, I’m sorry but we just don’t have a spot, and you say, okay? These are all conversations and situations we are faced with, not only in sports but in life. Someday your boss will say “Dan I’m sorry but this just didn’t work out, we’re letting you go.” As difficult as that can and will be, saying okay and falling back on your why to move forward will be much more beneficial than responding to that boss with why. I talk to recruits and families about finding that why early in the process and challenging that as we go through. But learning to take why out of your vocabulary when it comes to responses to your coaches, to your team leaders, that has value as well. This is a fine line to walk I know, in some cases it’s prudent to ask why, but I encourage you not to make it a habit, know when to ask why, and when to say okay, that’s the best approach. While you’re going through your career and pushing to keep your future opportunities in line, the battle of why vs why can be crucial in your growth.


This blog is dedicated to the seniors who are approaching their final few weeks of playing the great sport. You’re more than an athlete but embrace every moment while you have it.


Have a great week.

9-11-2022


Topic: The beauty of college athletics and the beast


I have stated many times before college athletics is truly a passion of mine. Although each sport isn’t covered with the same ferocity as Football or Basketball, and while my time is limited, I could watch any college sport at any moment. If Carroll University had a lacrosse game going on and I happened to be walking by, I could sit with true intention and enjoyment. A small College basketball environment, in a small gym, with a handful of students, I’m in. Watching the Badgers play volleyball in a packed fieldhouse or jump around in the 4th quarter at Camp Randall, sign me up. However, as I stated, like anyone with a young family our time is limited and or filled, so I find myself watching from the living room. Maybe someday, maybe there will be a time where I can frequent these games on the regular. This past weekend, as most weekends do, I am reminded of the beauty that is college athletics. I don’t claim to be close friends with the Washington State head football coach, we worked together for a few years, and while I did have one of his assistants on my old podcast State of Play, I wouldn’t consider Jake a close friend, we haven’t talked in many years. But what you saw from their win Saturday afternoon was pure joy, even Brock Huard said it when Jake was jumping into his dad and brother’s arms after winning in his hometown state’s stadium, “I love college football.” (Huard, Fox Network-2022) That’s what makes college sports so great, not NIL deals, not the chance to be on a national commercial, not driving a Mercedes, pure happiness of a job fulfilled, of feeling something you work so hard for, but at what cost? Therein lies the beast…


As happy as I was for Jake and the staff and the players, one thing kept ringing in my head, the transfer’s that got him there. Yes, the beast, the inevitable transfer portal beast. I discuss this all the time, I talk about it, have a strong stance on what I believe is good and not good for the game, and this is not the time to talk about that aspect, it’s time to talk about that very difficult balance. While I was so excited to see Jake win and feel that joy through my TV screen the reality is, a transfer QB and a transfer RB amongst others were crucial to that win, they were crucial to Jake and everyone feeling that joy. I referenced that it’s not about driving a Mercedes, or a NIL deal or any of that, but because of those things, because of those options and that drive to want to receive those things, the transfer portal has exploded in the chase for all that money, fame, and success. There in lies the beast, because under all of that, under all that shroud lies pure joy, something more than money and power and fame, if only for a few minutes, on the field in an embrace with your family. Make no mistake Jake is paid well, I don’t know how much, I don’t care to ever know, but in this current climate of college coaching, everyone is paid in the 7 figures range, but you didn’t feel any of that on Saturday in Madison and that’s the beauty. Where does the high school recruit stand in all of this? If winning leads to that pure joy, and in fact a transfer can help you get there, how does a college coach pass on a transfer for that un-proven 17-year-old high school player? It is so difficult, and a high wire balancing act that I don’t know if we will get out of for a long time, if ever. College sports, be careful to disassociate too far from that pure joy, be cautious to take that away from everyone that truly enjoys the game. Recruiting fame, money, being on national TV commercials, who doesn’t want that? Let’s get to that fine balance, let’s create that all for one mentality that used to persist in college athletics, that still does in many cases, let’s keep that alive. Let’s not let the beast overtake what is a truly beautiful game, the game of sport and all it provides.


This blog is dedicated to all those who lost their lives on September 11th 2001 in that dreadful act of cowardice. To all those who ran into those buildings to save lives, for those that stood up to save others in the face of unknown fear. To those who following that moment made the decision to go stand on the line to defend this great country moving forward. You will not be forgotten.

8-7-2022


Topic: We're here to eat watermelon and run power, and we're out of watermelon.


25 years ago I started my journey in the game of High School football. It was 1997, I was a freshman and The JV squad was my start.  25 years ago you showed up to camp, you ran, practiced, ran some more, got some water then practiced more and went home to get ready for another day tomorrow. We lifted little, maybe got 1 or 2 in during a week, but they were bare bones days, no fluff, straight Football. Was it fun? Hell no, and in all honesty, I wasn’t a huge fan. I stayed the course however and I look back on my High School career with great adulation.

College was much different, I remember High School camp being tough, but College camp was unlike anything I had experienced. It felt like a job. My coaches were new people, but from a standpoint of coaching style, they were similar. I heard yelling before, I had demanding coaches before, that was nothing new. It was the mental drain, it was the amount of time, it was the constant daily and sometimes hourly competition to win a job. In High School you were a senior, you paid your dues, you were in there. In college, if you were a Freshman and a great player it was “You’re up!” Mentally exhausting, took a few years to adjust, and when I did, I couldn’t imagine doing it a different way at all. It was similar though from a standpoint of football, meetings, film, lifting, more football then go sleep to do it all again tomorrow. What is today like? A lot of Football yes but also watermelon eating competitions, belly flop jump offs, lineman catching punts and team bonding drills and speakers to the nth degree to create that “family environment.” And why? Does having a watermelon contest help you execute wide zone on 3rd down to secure the conference championship? No. Does a team building drill help you dominate the LOS to win the State title? No. Then why do we do this? Why do we do this at almost every level? I don’t care what anyone tells me, none of this helps you be a better football player or soccer player or volleyball or softball player, but it’s called evolution. Evolution you say, why does that matter if it won’t help someone win? The reason for that is coaches are master evaluators, they adapt better than anyone on earth. They look at the past, to make the future better. They don’t settle for “well in my day!” No, they look at what’s the best approach for THE WHOLE TEAM! They have evaluated that with all they ask of their players there is massive value in maybe taking your foot off the throttle here or there, or spending some time to get to know this players as people at night instead of practicing the pivot TQ on punt block. They realize the value that maybe what they did “in their day” wasn’t the best way to do it, and certainly not today, and they have the mental fortitude to make the tough decision to adapt and grow. In a world where change seems almost everywhere you look, the coach is no different. But it’s not change for the sake of change, it’s change because that’s what’s best for the players and the game. The High School coach will set you up for success more than you can imagine, more than you can know right now, but I see it. I realize the growth they have all made, but also at the same time they do not jeopardize their fundamentals with all this growth. They still coach technique, consistency and toughness constantly. To the coaches that are growing, I implore you to stay the course, to understand that you’re doing it right even if the outcomes don’t match the work. That French Fry eating contest is fun, it’s worth it, but you won’t execute the counter trey better because of it, but those players will value that time, they’ll probably talk about that at their 21 year High School reunion the way I did, and more times then not that’s more important than a win.


Have a great week!

Topic: Elon Musk is NOT smarter than the caveman!


I like many people are amazed at what Elon Musk has done in at least the last 10 years. His growth of Tesla to truly change the trajectory of automotive development, to Space X and the race for space. It is amazing and remarkable and from the very, very little I can tell about him he seems pretty genuine. We have seen people come and go from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the the Walmart family to Warren Buffett who seemingly engross the national attention as we watch their ascension to “the richest man on earth.” When you think about what they’ve done it’s amazing to see, it’s amazing to follow but in no way is it even in the same category as the change the Caveman made. What you may ask? How does this matter to recruiting you should ask? Let’s discuss.


If you know anything about the automobile you would know that in fact the automobile started as “horseless carriages” that’s the genesis of every vehicle you drive everyday to work. In the 1800’s you were moved around town by the power of the horse, as the century turned to the 1900’s many, many people started developing engines which would in turn power the carriage, thus no more need for the power of the horse. What you probably don’t know is that at the turn of the century there was a battle between electric engines and the internal combustion engine. Henry Ford and the internal combustion engine won out, and for the next 100 years we burned up fossil fuels with the intention to ease people’s travel. Again, how does Elon Musk play into this, and what does the caveman have to do with this? Elon Musk didn’t invent the electric automobile, I just told you there were electric cars in the early 1900’s but the internal combustion engine was able to be produced on a more efficient scale. Mr Musk has said before he’s not really smarter than anyone else he just tries to fix mechanical and production issues, and he’s done just that, but he didn’t invent the electric car. However, the caveman invented the wheel, a device that up to that point had absolutely no contemporary, nothing at all to compare it to. How did it happen, probably by accident but the enhancement from that point is the largest thrust forward maybe in the history of human kind. Think about it, no wheel, no Tesla. That is true genius, that is true ingenuity. So who’s more important, who’s more impactful? I would say the caveman, Mr Musk didn’t create anything, he just improved an already established device. So as a recruit, remember you don’t have to create the wheel to be remembered, you just have to perfect your wheel! You don’t have to be something different, you just have to be the most efficient version of what everyone is always looking for. You don’t have to change the world with a new invention, like the caveman, you just have to keep the sports world moving in the direction it’s already going, and maybe enhance it 1% along the way.


The caveman is a genius, but the game changers simply enhance, like Mr Musk.

Topic: The power of the mirror


During the summer months I find myself in a real quiet time when it comes to consulting with my AREN families and or coaches. I do that intentionally as I really want them focus on their summer camp performance as well as the coaches getting a chance to take a breath before the rush of the season. I therefore find myself monitoring social media a lot so I can keep the vibe of trends in recruiting, what changes may be up on the horizon etc. I watch and listen to the tones on social media I also do get a sense from the few conversations I have with my families about the aftermath of the summer camp circuit and I have noticed lately the disappointment of not receiving an offer or getting a lack of confirmation after traversing the country when a multimillion dollar coach asks a family to pick and make the trek at the hopes of an athletic offer. My job is to give them the facts to the best of my ability as well as point them in the right direction after hearing out the path they took to get here. We discuss options, what’s next, important times to come up next in the timeline and even sometimes we start the brass tax conversations of maybe coming to the realization that sports may end after high school and how that’s ok, and everything in between. The biggest message I find myself saying, that I’m not sure anyone is preaching is the power of the mirror. The mirror, what is that? The mirror is not symbolic, like many of my blog topics are, it literally is a mirror. We all have them in our bathroom to prepare us for school or work, you can also find them plastered all over weight-rooms and fitness facilities across the country. So, what power lies in the mirror you may ask? Let’s discuss.


When you commit yourself to a future endeavor, we all know there will be ups and downs, there will be pitfalls and great days. I work with families all the time that can’t seem to get a response from a college coach, and in 1 day it all changes. I also work with 5-star prospects that can’t get that offer from the 1 school they really want to attend. It is a natural part of the process and while every journey is completely unique, these topics happen to absolutely everyone. I find myself giving the best possible advice but lately I have started using the mirror as an evaluation tool also. When I talk to families it inevitably comes up “what more can I do?” The prospect has been to 10 camps, they have had communication for almost a year now and they are running out of options. My answer: maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and tell the person they just are not good enough… right now. Now, I was so nervous to share this message early in my consulting career because I thought it would devastate the prospect and they may give up, then I realized the power of those last 2 words to the person in the mirror. Right now, not forever, just right now. Right now you may not be good enough for a scholarship but imagine if you took that motivation and turned it into work ethic, what may happen tomorrow, what may happen in the season, what may even happen in 6 months? It hurts, it is absolutely no fun to discuss amongst your circle that maybe the lack of success is in fact due to your inability…right now. I have been there, I know exactly how it may feel, but maybe that’s the answer, maybe it’s the 1 last stone to turn over and imagine if you did that? Let me be very clear, when you’re talking to the person in the mirror it is only regarding your athletic ability, who you see as a person in that mirror is ABSOLUTELY ENOUGH! You don’t need to change as a person, not 1 bit, but maybe you need to get faster, have a little better feet, work on your jump shot or your passing or batting just a little more against the curve, that’s what you say to the person in the mirror. Maybe instead of blaming everyone else or comparing yourself to anyone else in sport it’s time to talk to the person in the mirror and accept that this individual needs to make an athletic change. It is 100% ok to accept that in an athletic endeavor you may not be where you need to be, right now, and that will sting. Ask that person in the mirror if you can work harder at your craft? Ask that person if a little more practice will help? Ask that person in the mirror if you have put in the requisite time needed? The answers stay with you, but maybe you get an answer, and that can be very powerful.


Have a great week!

7-6-2022


Topic: Change and “the human element”


You do not need a Harvard Law degree to see that the sports landscape is changing rapidly before our eyes. College athletes and NIL, the transfer portal, conference realignment etc. High School sports are inundated with recruiting pressure, the slow growth of NIL in their arena as well, AAU and travel sports, specialization and training and yes even transferring. It is different, it is a different game then it was even 5 years ago. While I can say sports have always changed, things have always grown and adapted in sports, this is a lot at once. For the “old timers” it’s tough to accept and maybe because it’s so much at once, it’s like drinking from a firehose. Is all this good? Is all this bad? That is not the portion I want to discuss today, instead I want to talk about all this change and the human element. The human element, what does that have to do with sports you may ask? This was a term I have heard a lot when speaking about professional sports, the major sports media talks about this a lot and about how we have the technology to take out the human element and make things better. Think about calling balls and strikes in Baseball, instant replay in Football or Basketball as a few examples. Maybe I’m an “old timer” but I have always enjoyed the human element when it comes to sports, I have always thought that playing the person was just as valuable as throwing a strike per say. As I spent time thinking about this for a while, I was listening to my standard Brewers game on the radio, and the great Bob Uecker and Jeff Levering were discussing the computerized system that is about to be implemented into Major League Baseball to better monitor balls and strikes. I believe it is called Hawkeye Vision and it will be a set of multiple cameras and computers that get the ball and strike in the PEREFCT position. I, like Bob Uecker was a little off, wondering how this is all going to work, and also why this is needed? I listened, I heard Jeff Levering talk about the device, how it’s going to work and how it will improve the game. As I contemplated this new direction, I thought about all the human element that has been taken out of sports in general I thought of Detroit Michigan. Detroit Michigan you say, what does this have to do with sports?


When you hear the word Detroit, what is the first thing you think of? Obviously, it is the Detroit Lions and the greatness of the franchise and their impending Super Bowl, but after that surely you think of cars. You think of all those cars rolling off the factory floors, you think of all the companies based in Detroit and you think of all those thousands and thousands of workers on the floor, putting those beautiful cars together in the 30’s all the way to the 90’s. All the families that grew up with parents working in the plants, rolling car after car together, putting their kids through school on the back of hard work, generations of people growing and investing in their communities because of the great jobs they have. Now let me ask you, have you been through Detroit lately? Do you know what there are not a lot of in Detroit? Car plant workers, at least not nearly as many as when they started these companies, and you know why? We took the human element out of the car companies, we automated the factory process. Now, robots build cars, with very little human oversight. These people who operate the robots to bolt a car together or paint or put the frame on, they are very skilled individuals and work extremely hard, but there are a lot less of them. This is the collateral damage of taking out “the human element” many times. Great, the cars are cheaper, they roll off the line faster, the things are quicker, but is this truly better? I may be a dinosaur, but I just don’t see it as better. This is also not an indictment on the companies, every company operates to take care of their bottom line and there are many factors that come into play, I am not taking a shot at any company. However, if this is the cost of taking out the human element, when it comes to sports, I’ll take a hard pass. I don’t want the game to be ruined and or destroyed because certain powerful people want to make the game faster or even more efficient. I want to see umpires out there blowing calls, I want to see a receiver catch a ball out of bounds and it be ruled a touchdown, I want the human mistakes. All of this creates memories, all of this creates discussion, all of this creates relationships. Anyone remember Armando Galarraga? Well maybe not, but I bet almost anyone will remember Jim Joyce. He blew a call on this young man’s perfect game, on the last out no less. You know what, because of that I will never forget Armando Galarraga, not until the day I die. I couldn’t tell you 5 names of people that DID pitch a perfect game, but I remember this one that did not. Please, don’t take the human element out of sports, it gives us more then you can ever realize.


This blog is dedicated to all the lives lost in 2022, to the families that sit here with loved ones taken by the senseless violence we see almost daily. May God provide you peace and understanding, somehow.


Have a great week!

6-6-2022


Topic: The mental pressure dilemma in youth sports


If someone asked me what the biggest issue is facing youth sports today, would I say NIL? No. Would I say transferring? No. Would I say sport specialization or even sport specific training? No. While all of these are real concerns and ones that need to be addressed with honest consideration, the #1 issue facing youth sports is in fact the mental pressure we have placed on our youth, but also that which they place on their own shoulders. With college football camp season in full swing it becomes more evident than ever. For complete transparency I have not been to a college summer camp in over 3 years, that was when I was still coaching, so I have not been on a field in that capacity in some time. However, from talking to prospects and families, from following the messaging on social media I am still pretty well informed here. Back when I used to be on that field you could feel the tension in the air, it hung like a cloud, countless kids there, working and ready to show their skills to impress some 40+ year old coach in the hopes of gaining a college scholarship. Now let me also make very clear that the drive for a college scholarship is not the only factor creating all this mental pressure, but for the point of this conversation, I will stay in this lane. You could feel it, and now with the “Mega Camps” providing so much hope and want daily, the mental pressure is a real concern. Is there an aspect of life where you need to learn at a young age about pressure and how to deal with it? Yes. Is getting a college scholarship a great opportunity? Yes. Does the summer camp matter? Yes. Can all these things also be true and at the same time can it be true that we need to reduce the mental pressure for our young people? Yes. I understand the dilemma, I totally get it. While it was over 20 years ago, I remember being in that boat, I remember feeling like I needed to run well at the Toledo camp or the CMU camp, and yes it also taught me at that age that there is an element of pressure that comes with life, so I am not here on this pipedream that it’s magically going to vanish. No, instead I am hopeful that we can come to a place where after camp, when it’s over we can learn and teach our young people to decompress, to step away from the mental grind of the camp and what it all meant. I talk to my AREN families about this almost exclusively right now, after a camp, in between when there’s time before the next one to find a way to decompress. Be a kid I say, parents leave the conversation about recruiting and the connection to the camps alone for a while, let it breathe. It will pay off dividends for the next camp by having that bounce in the step, by having that energy you can feel when they get to campus. Will it be enough to get a scholarship on the spot? I don’t know, that will be determined at a later date. However, those heavy legs, that tightness of a full-blown balloon ready to pop, that approach is certain to put you in a boat where you don’t perform well, and that never gets anyone a scholarship. Whatever your release valve is as a prospect, after the camp, open it. Video games, a night at the movies whatever it may be, I encourage you to open that valve and let the conversation about a scholarship simmer for a bit. Parents, I know it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and maybe that 1 conversation will be the breakthrough, or your son or daughter received that 1 DM about a camp coming up and you want to discuss it. I get all that, you’re the adult in the room. Understand however that an 80% performance will probably be more detrimental than you realize, and that mental pressure is a big factor on how to unlock the 20%. So, don’t be afraid to let it breathe, give it some time, if an opportunity goes away that fast, was it ever that real in the first place?


This blog is dedicated to the brave souls that stormed the beaches of Normandy in defense of the freedoms of this country and against the oppression in this world.


Have a great week!

5-11-2022


Topic: You focused on the wrong horse


Ah the Kentucky Derby, a collection of bad outfits, hats that should have remained at the antique store and degenerate gamblers hoping and praying to hit the parlay were on full display. The Kentucky Derby always feels like one of the first big events of the spring, thus ushering us into the summer months. While we all go goo goo ga ga over the celebrities flying in on their private jets and the billionaire owners and trainers walking the red carpet for a 5-minute race, I always think of the horses out there. They do all the work, they are the ones competing and racing against the other competition, they pound the dirt for our enjoyment. The horse is the star, not the celebrities or the awful head pieces that adorn the hallowed grounds. This year I missed the race, I was at a dance event for my daughter and only heard about the results from your standard social media sites. After that I was witness to the helicopter or drone video showing the 80-1 odds winner barreling through the crowd of proud athletes to fulfill a longshot win. After viewing the great win,  I went on with my life, As I returned to check the Twitterverse I was inundated with the “never give up” tweets, or the coaches speaking about how this is a reference to why we need more teams in the CFP, because of course, you never know blah, blah, blah. I get it, this country loves the underdog, the longshot, it gives us a sense of comparison to our own lives, and connects what we balance each day with being that gallant horse, weaving through the adversity of life to achieve the grandest of prizes. You see it after the NFL Draft, “This kid was a walk on, and now he’s a draft pick, NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!!” Alright I get it, but I’m here to tell you, you were all watching the wrong horse.


When you view the aerial shot of that Kentucky Derby it is hard not to watch the longshot winner, they literally spotlight him so you can follow the run, but I instead was transfixed on the leaders, the horses out front at that ¾ pole. I asked myself not about how could the 80-1 do it, instead I asked myself, how could the leader lose it? Maybe it’s a, the cup is half empty thought process but I started to compare the leaders to what we see on a daily basis in life. We now use this 80-1 long shot as a mirror for our life, to go get what we want because, you just never know. Instead, maybe you should look at the leaders, the horse that was the 5-1 or 6-1 odds, the favorite and realize, even for the most talented, you will lose, it will not always go your way. As an athlete, you can be the fastest player, have the greatest jump shot, maintain the tightest spiral and yet, you will lose at times. So instead of using the 80-1 message I use the 5-1 message of “how are you going to react when you lose?” Will you give up? Did you do all that preparation work, did you contain all that talent, only to lose and then give up because the outcome is not what you anticipated? The facts are the 80-1 longshot didn’t get the outcome they anticipated either, no way that jockey and trainer truly thought they would adorn the roses at the end, no way you can convince me of that. I am never a fan of using the longshot as a parallel for all of our lives because I am a believer in the odds, and if we all kept playing the longshot odds, we would end up broke and with no options. As an athlete, as a recruit, I encourage you to think like the leaders at the ¾ pole, make decisions with the best odds for your life. Make decisions that will provide you the best outcome possibilities based off the odds you have created. Maybe you’re not talented enough to play in the Big Ten, that’s your 80-1, but you are exceptional at math and the opportunity to go to a technical school, and make 100K after graduation is your 5-1, I’d seriously consider it. Maybe you are a 5-1 to play in the Big Ten, are you going to coast and just land at a school, or are you going to push even faster and harder in that last ¼ mile to make sure no one catches you? Athletics, just like the beauty of those horses is a gamble, make no mistake. How you play the game, how you navigate the adversity will be challenging, there is no 1-1 bet in sports, it doesn’t exist. However, if you trust your circle, listen to their guidance you have a better chance of turning that 5-1 into lifelong success. Will you hit the jackpot, the big longshot? Probably not, but think of this, in the last 80 years, how many 80-1’s won the derby? There’s a reason they are 80-1. Find your 5-1, and attack that last ¼ mile!


Have a great week!


In honor of National Police Week this blog is dedicated to all those who paid the ultimate price while protecting the rights and privileges of the citizens they are sworn to protect.

4-16-2022


Topic: Messaging in recruiting


Today was an interesting day in my life. Every day is, but today for whatever reason I woke up and decided I was really going to go, engage on social media. I was going to attack the day and really get in there and dive into some conversations regarding topics I like to talk about, I wasn’t going to holdback, no feed was off limits. That’s the purpose right, conversation? Would I be right? Would I be wrong? Would any of it make sense? I wasn’t going in with those intentions however, I was simply going in with the intention to engage. As I dove in, I was soon embraced with what social media is and has become, a love fest. There is no intellectual content on there, there is no opposing views accompanied by true thought and consideration. I engaged with a few individuals covering a myriad of topics and the one certainty I crossed was if you don’t comment on the thread in the way people want, you won’t receive any support. I watch people post nonfactual statements only to turn around and claim you “are not stating facts” when you place an opinion. When someone poses a question, yes one with a legitimate question mark, they are excited to engage, unless if in fact your statement doesn’t align with the answer they wanted. When you claim sources, they shame you that you don’t have the level of sources they do. It is a fascinating environment; I was certainly entertained. However, I was not informed, I received no valuable rebuttal in any of my conversations. Now I realize I can be a little gruff at times, I realize I come across like I am challenging the sheer fabric of ones being, and that certainly would be concerning to me also. With that said I never would have thought simple questions will no longer be matched with simple answers. I never thought people who make opinionated statements of their own will also slam you for your opinion. We live in interesting times folks.


What does this have to do with recruiting you may say? I get it. I get it more than ever what it’s like to be a recruit in today’s world. I understand more than ever what it’s like to be confused on how some receive accreditation by saying the exact same thing you do. I get it when you wake up with the excitement to engage in something you enjoy but watch others blow out your flame with the exact same sentiment you are criticized for using. I totally get it and I feel for you, it’s difficult out there. However, I also learned something valuable to present to you. I made the choice to engage in the arena, no one put a gun to my head, I made the choice. For all the confusion and frustration, I point a finger at myself as much as anyone else. What will I do, will I leave the arena tomorrow because of my confusion? No, I won’t give up just like you shouldn’t give up in frustration simply because there are kids out there that have “offers” and you think you’re entitled to one. Point the finger at yourself tomorrow and go get better, point the finger at yourself and say, “I can control my outcome by working” just like I am going to point the finger at myself for today and remind myself the next time I want to have an intellectual conversation, “why expect it on this site?” Here’s the deal, I’m 39, at least that’s what my wife tells me, even though I am convinced I am still 29. I can handle it, I enjoy talking about college football and recruiting, but I can handle it. You are 16 or 17 though, you don’t have the life experiences to fall back on like I do, so I realize how impactful what you are seeing can be. Point the finger at yourself and take the ownership to go get better tomorrow, or at Monday’s workout with the team. There is so much bad messaging out there, there are people sharing false narratives, but none of that needs to stop you from getting better, from earning everything you are entitled to. Point the finger at yourself, it’s ok to not have everyone pat you on the backside all the time, as I learned today, messaging is rarely about agreeing with you, or even hearing out your side with any intellectual thought at times, no matter what you have achieve to this point. Embrace your process, don’t be sidetracked by poor messaging or discouraged by what the appearances of others may be. As I learned today, the more you talk to people, the more you realize that they know just as little as you.


Have a blessed Easter and a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the Sparks family.

3-30-2022


Topic: Perseverance and the recruiting process


Over the past week I have been motivated by stories about perseverance. This past weekend I had an opportunity top head back to my old stomping grounds and speak to some families about the recruiting process in West Michigan. I talked about the ups and downs, how hard you need to work blah, blah, blah… Not sure who stayed awake during the message, but hopefully I made a few impactful statements. At the end of the event Joe Berger, who had a 13-year NFL career spoke about his journey. A journey that started with so many ups and downs, twists and turns that it could give you motion sickness trying to keep up. He persevered through a lot, and that perseverance not only provided him a great football career but has put him in position for the rest of his life to succeed. Joe persevered a lot, but nothing compares to the perseverance I witnessed in a documentary about the 13 individuals that were rescued in a Thai cave during the monsoon season in 2018. For anyone that doesn’t remember 12 young men and their coach were stuck in Thai caves for 18 days. It was sheer perseverance the athletes and the coach showed, but also the story of perseverance from the entire rescue operation. The operation was led not only by the Thai Navy Seals but also a group of cave divers who held the unique skills to traverse the caves, and the mental courage to risk their lives for the purpose of giving these young men and the coach a chance at life. For the players and the coach, they persevered, they lived by remaining as calm as possible for 10 days before they were even located. 1 Thai Navy Seal did lose his life in the efforts, he is a hero, period. Now nothing I did today and or have done to this point has ever approached the level of courage and commitment the rescuers and the young men showed, but it was motivational and today I decided to continue to push my message about the recruiting process.


Today I took off a day of work, no AREN work (outside of this blog) no rideshare driving, and no working at the store. I had about a 6-hour window, so what do I decide to do? I decided to walk from Cudahy to the 3rd Ward in downtown Milwaukee. It was a relatively nice day, and I enjoy walking so I embarked out on the highway and parked at a park in Cudahy. I got out, no real plan, but I put in my air pods and setup Spotify with Aaron Lewis and here we go. About 100 yards in, as I’m walking along a beautiful marina I see a sign for the Oak Leaf Trail, it’s a walking path that stretches from Cudahy to a few different sections of Milwaukee. On the initial sign I see one that will lead me to Milwaukee, perfect! I have seen these signs before, as I have been on the road, I have seen the sign and figured “yeah I’ve seen this before, this is exactly what I’m looking for today.” The walk starts off great, first half mile is along the water, in a nice area of Bay View. Like most trails there’s connections, parts where you go over to this road, over to that road and meet back up along another beech line. I’m walking, following the signs as best as possible but about 30 minutes in I realize, I’m not seeing a lot of signs, and frankly I hadn’t seen a sign in probably 4-5 blocks. Right as I think that I look across the street and there’s a sign, across the street. When did it switch? I couldn’t remember, but let’s roll, not a big deal. Walking further and still, not a lot in the way of signs, but the sidewalk ends. Kind of odd, but I see an island and a way to cross the street, so I figure, “just stay on the path, the one that’s leading me in the same direction” and I should be alright. Sure enough, after about a mile, another sign. Kind of weird, didn’t get a clear path on how to cross the street and or find this next sign, but I figured it out. Another mile or so and I am in a little of sketchier area, nothing of concern, I mean if an issue arose my good friends Jack Johnson and Tom Dempsey would be ready to roll, but just a little dicey. Also at that point, I start to see the skyline of the 3rd Ward come into view, and honestly, I questioned whether I wanted to go that far. So, as I’m contemplating if it’s worth it, an Antique store shows up and I figure, let’s take a little break, see if I can find that pristine Mantle card just waiting to be found by me. Nothing great though, back on the path and frankly felt refreshed. I start to close in on the 3rd Ward area and I realize, no sign for the Oak Leaf Trail in sight, at this point however I kind of moved on from looking for the signs. Just like when I drive, I trust my superior primal navigational skills, and I always make it to where I’m going. 3rd Ward of Milwaukee, I MADE IT!!! I was so excited, it was a nice walk, and on the way back I stopped at O’lydia’s for lunch, got a wonderful mozzarella melt. What a journey, and on the way back I realized just how similar that is to the recruiting process for kids these days. At some point there may be signs, at some point there may not be. At some points its beautiful, and fun, and at sometimes you’re like, “I want to get out of here!” You also at some point may need to take a break, and surely at some point you will ask if it’s still worth it. None of this is anywhere near the seriousness of what those cave divers and the Thai Navy Seals did to save those young men and the coach, but in my world, there was some perseverance involved. I persevered to make it to my destination by staying the course, by trusting the information I did have at hand, by trusting my gut and even sometimes by looking back to retrace my path for the way home. All of this came together to make the journey worth it, it made the outcome enjoyable. Was it perfect? Was it the greatest destination ever? I mean, I wasn’t exactly on the boardwalk in San Diego, but it was fun. In the recruiting process, it is like this a lot, you will go through a lot during this process. At times you will think you’ve got it all figured out and at times you will think about not even playing ball after High School. What’s the best answer? Stay the course, trust your instincts, and listen to those that have your best interests at heart and things generally work out favorable. The young men and the coach in that Thai Cave showed such courage, the rescuers showed perseverance and courage to match their own selflessness and it saved lives. The latter is more important, but today is about realizing the importance of having perseverance in your life.


This blog is dedicated to Sgt Major Saman Gunan and Officer Beirut Pkbara who’s courage and sacrifice is a reminder to all of us of what a difference you can make when you put the chance for others to live over your own.


Have a great week!

3-21-2022


Topic: Do you walk or run 2 miles?


We have all heard the old adage, which is heavier, 1 pound of feathers or 1 pound of steel? Obviously, we know the answer is both, it just takes more feathers to match the same weight for steel. Today we had another glorious Midwest afternoon, 70 degrees, very little wind, and I was afforded about a 2-hour window, I wanted to be outside. Go for a run I ask myself? Maybe a walk instead, so I embark out on my walk in this beautiful town. I’m on a leisurely saunter to the other side of town, not with the gait of my friend David H Sartin, but a brisk pace. Along the way I get a spam caller, so I decide to have a little fun, and after about 20 minutes of that, I look down at my watch, and boy has the time passed. I decide, my window is closing, I have about an hour left, and while I was walking it took me over an hour to get where I am. Based on my Saginaw Valley education I realize I can’t make it back in the appropriate time at my walking pace, so a run it is. I get a little jog going, again nothing too quick, but I was obviously going faster than my walking speed. As I approached the house I realized I had saved even more time, I had an extra 30 minutes, (I must have been going faster than I thought) I slow down, finish with a walk and made it home. My mind started going, and I asked myself, why walk when you can run? Also, I asked myself, why run when you can walk? My head about exploded, before us is the question that will consume humanity long after I am gone. Dan, have you lost it? Many of you should say. What on earth does this have to do with recruiting? Let’s discuss.


I embarked on that walk today with the intention to make it a certain distance, and after a while I realized I needed to run. Both have pros and cons, there’s just no 2 ways around it. Think about it, if I walk, I can do so much more. I can look around, take in the sights, I can hear the birds, and yes, I can even text on my phone without the risk of a massive crash and possibly injury. I can also pick up trash along the path, I could even move a large rock on the road so the next person doesn’t have to stumble on it. I could do all those things, but I can not get to my destination faster then if I were to run. So, let’s run then. If I do that I better keep my eyes up as my speed is such that now a crash, could really be catastrophic. That means no texting, that means I may miss posting or liking an epic twitter comment, devastating I know. I also must decide when I get home to shower or not based on the level of sweat I produced from the run, so many difficult decisions, but I have more time at home, something I don’t have with the walking pace. In recruiting it is so similar, some choose to run, some choose to walk. As I have spent years in this space, I don’t know if I can confidently say I see one work better than the other. Some feel the need to push the envelope on social media, drive exposure that way, and sometimes it works, and sometimes after they are just burned out of the process. Some choose to just stay the course, and while they land a place maybe thy will always say “well what if…” I truly don’t believe one is better than the other, at least not until I get to know the individual and their family. Once we sit down, discuss the why and get to the crux of what this is all about, running vs walking can become more clear. So, do you run or do you walk the 2 miles? I can only guarantee you one thing, if you choose to run or walk, you’ll make it 2 miles, if you choose neither you won’t, it’s really that simple.


Have a great week!

3-14-2022


Topic: The man in the driver’s seat


If you go on social media enough you will see people post randomly about hard work, and cliché statements to drum up “likes” and interest, I imagine for a reason to build their brand, but I honestly don’t know. If you really want to get a lot of likes, as I’ve learned, post something that is just towing the company line. For instance, if you want a lot of likes just post a small portion of any talk that coach Saban has given, pick out a 8 words trigger sentence about “working hard” or “character” and you will get 500 likes, almost guaranteed. That is fine, in many cases I agree with a lot of the posts, but I think there’s a deeper dive, one that can help us be better people and or in the case of recruiting, a better player at the next level. I see people daily post things about themselves, post about what’s best for them, make general statements about how they live their lives, about how what they do is the right way to do it. If you look and scroll long enough you will see a very common trend, self-promotion. It may not even be on purpose, many times I am sure it is not malicious, but you see self-promotion on social media every, single, post. Adults, not kids, adults love to go on social media and talk about how their way is the best, and everyone else is wrong, but all the while doing it without making it look like they are questioning others. It really is one of the great magic tricks out there, and even better than the magician who performed at halftime of the Admirals game this past weekend. Adults love to spend time talking about how they are right and how others are wrong, all the while without saying it. For instance, this past weekend I noticed a long post, from an adult, about how another adult referenced not being able to attends his or her child’s sporting events. The post went on to talk about how if that were them, they’d quit, on the spot, because #familyfirst. I was taken back, I was a little discouraged by the post, because I simply don’t agree, but as you see the likes adding up, it is clear the circle around this post simply does agree. My point countering the post was that simply saying #familyfirst doesn’t make you a better family man or parent just because you hashtag this, it doesn’t make you better than some adult who doesn’t attend their children’s games, it doesn’t mean you are more noble and honorable then another parent and here’s why. Great, you go to all your child’s games, but what about the parent who works 3 jobs to support that child’s education, are they not #familyfirst? They miss the game, but put a roof over their heads, food on the table, but they don’t tweet #familyfirst so they are not as honorable as you? They are there every morning to wake their kids up, get them on the bus, make them breakfast, but they miss a basketball game or soccer game here or there, but they don’t tweet #familyfirst so they are not a good parent? What about the parent that sends their kids to daycare, because 1 income isn’t enough to pay for the child’s clothes and or activities, are they a bad parent because they are not there 18 hours a day and or tweeting #familyfirst? It is a real interesting conversation, and I also love when they say “I’d quit my job if I have to miss one of my kid’s games! #familyfirst” So, let me get this straight, it’s wrong to miss a game but ok to teach your children to quit, to put yourself in a position to lose a paycheck? Honey, I quit, we can’t afford the mortgage, but darnit I’ll be at that soccer game...” Dramatic? Yes, and now I’m just like the #familyfirst people.


This stuff bothers me, the messaging on social media, but as I’m reminded daily, I make the choice to go on there, so ultimately, I blame me, no one else. A friend, a good football coach reminded me today “This is about miles per gallon.” Because I am not very intelligent my initial response was huh? He explained, it’s about the investment you are making along the journey, it is about what you put in and what that then get’s out for you. My mind was blown, genius I said, this makes sense. He went on to explain, “some go 20 miles and use a hybrid, spending little gas, but have very little power to get there, some drive a F350 diesel and burn up tons of gas, but have the power to not only get there but to tow a camper along the way.” Again, #mindblown. It’s not about what we do, it’s about what’s best for each of us, it’s about what’s best for this family, and what’s best for that family. The road is the same, how we each individually choose to get there, irrelevant to each other. The journey stays the same for all of us, but the man in the driver seat is completely unique, and their approach is right, for them and their family. You want to talk about #familyfirst, instead of tweeting “I’m a great family man” just BE a great family man.


Have a great week!

3-5-2022


Topic: Did you run/walk in between the lines today?


Today in Waukesha it is supposed to be close to, if not 60 degrees. It was about 40 at 9am and if you’re born and raised in the Midwest like me, at this time of the year, when 40 hits, it is pool season. So, what did I do, like everyone else, I went for a run. Now let me say, I am a huge advocate for health, especially adolescent health. While there is no perfect health structure or physique, I believe no one can or will argue that we need to spend more time focusing on our health. Doing something for even 30 minutes a day, as long as that is safe, I think it is something we need to focus on, and more. So, on my run I noticed 2 things. 1 unfortunately was litter, not a lot, but a crushed can here, or an old used mask there. I do try and pick up around my neighborhood on Friday’s, so we will be busy for the next few weekends. The second thing I saw and noticed today was the crosswalk lines. If you live in Waukesha, with the twists and the turns of the roads, you will see a lot of crosswalk lines. At some points there are even 5 roads that come together, and at many points there is almost an “island” structure that breaks up the main road from the turn lane, which you must navigate on your run. Every time I stopped to push the crosswalk I noticed today, for some reason more than ever. So, what do we do with this? What am I even talking about? How does any of this play into athletics and more importantly recruiting? Let’s discuss.


These lines to me represent something we need to discuss more in recruiting, these lines represent guidance, and maybe more importantly, safety. Think about this, someone, long before you went for that run today, sat down, talked about building a road, one that can service everyone In the community, and part of that discussion was the walkers and runners that may want to take that path also. A group of people got together long before your run and mapped out a plan, debated the pros and cons and then contracted out a developer to put that road, and sidewalk in, following their thoughts and discussion about what is best for everyone. Also included in those lines, in fact are rules, rules that really should be enforced. Again, what does all this have to do with recruiting you may ask? Your High School coach, your administrators, what they tell you every day is the exact same approach the people in your city used to build that road, sidewalk, and place down those crosswalk lines. Your High School coach has seen not only their own careers and learned from them, but also many other athletes come through their field or court. They have the experience to plan, develop and guide you to the right path. Just like the laws, in fact they may need to enforce that policy, just like the Police entrusted to enforce our laws. (Do they even enforce jaywalking? I honestly don’t know.) So maybe think about the High School coach and the crosswalk lines, are they that different? You really don’t have to do anything your coach is telling you to do, this is America, you can do anything you want within limits. Just like the crosswalk lines, you don’t have to follow them, you can take the shortcut and step over them to get to the sidewalk faster, they are not molten lava, and as I said, the Police have bigger issues than to focus on you missing a crosswalk line by a foot. However, the lines remain, your High School coach keeps preaching the path, so the choice is yours, you make the decision. Do I know better than my coach, do I know better than my city council? Life is choices, that is your choice to make. In my experience trusting the coaches, trusting the lines gives you the best chance for success.


Safety, you mentioned safety Dan, how on earth is this connected? Great question, and think about the demands your High School coach places on you to go along the path to stay inside the lines, but why, why are they pushing me to be at that 6am workout? 1 missed workout is not the end of the world, right? What if that workout made you just a little stronger, and in the 4th quarter you were strong enough to stay on your feet, to not create a pile, a pile in which your starting running back then has to jump over and subsequently rolls his ankle keeping him out of the playoffs? What if that extra conditioning allowed you to be in better shape running up and down the court and being able to still avoid the defender when she goes up to block your shot, and instead of falling after the shot, and hitting your head on the court, instead you land on your feet and move on? What if you went to that 6am throwing session with your coach and it improved your accuracy and timing and instead of leading your receiver into the safety on the dig, you are reacting quicker, driving the ball faster and now he catches it, turns up field and scores a touchdown instead? Yes, coaches are demanding, they want a lot out of your time, but what if it’s for the right reason? Those crosswalks are there to protect you, to hopefully help save you from being struck by a car, to give you the best possible chance on your run/walk. If you dart across the middle of the street, outside the lines, what is the driver to do? Are they supposed to read your mind, or is there an expectation that you would cross at the lines? Maybe this is too extreme, but at the end of the day, the same reason you run/walk in between the lines today, very well could be the same reason you win a state title. Trusting those lines, you don’t have to, but I do, and I would recommend it.

Have a great week!

3-2-2022


Topic: Do little things matter?


When it comes to being a student athlete does doing the little things matter? Whether you are a high school player, or college player do you take them serious anymore? I think it’s a legitimate question, one that I don’t know if I am going to try and answer for you, but instead give you something to consider. Let’s start with the messaging coming out of social media. If you are on social media, you get one side who talks about working hard, controlling what you can control and that this is the key to not only a successful high school career, but also a chance at the next level. On another side are the folks who say, “this is a business” and go get yours, sometimes at all costs. You have multi-millionaire coaches saying do it this way because that’s what we do here and of course we should all do exactly what the top 2% do right? You have an endless amount of high school coaches, the ones in the trenches daily saying do it this way. So, who’s right? I don’t think that’s an answer I can provide, I do fundamentally believe in the, to each his own theory. However, does doing the little things matter? Being early and on time, does that still matter? Working hard, does that still matter? I believe it does matter, what you choose to do with the little things, however, is up to you. Let me give a little more clarity to my stance.


I was fortunate to play college football at a program in Michigan, Saginaw Valley State University. We won a lot of games, because we worked hard, because we did the little things, because we were coached well, but primarily we won because we had great players who were in many cases great leaders. We didn’t win them all, we weren’t exactly North Dakota State Football or Stanford Crew, or some program that rarely loses, in fact we couldn’t get over the hump in the NCAA playoffs, but we won a lot. There is 1 story that I have always remembered that for me clearly defines for me why doing the little things does matter. Our quarterback my freshman and redshirt freshman year was a short little athletic kid named Matt LaFleur, in fact Matt was a transfer from a Division 1 school. He was competitive, lead us to a lot of wins mainly with his grit and ability to escape and keep plays alive and also a great group of receivers to throw to in the pass game, along with a dominant offensive line and running backs. In fact, the backup behind him was much more talented, bigger, taller, stronger arm, but Matt had a funny way of putting us in position to win each week. The story I am always reminded of is 1 simple day at practice, right before we started our warmups. Matt wasn’t then and still isn’t today a big yeller and screamer, he was extremely vocal, and in fact I would argue with him regularly at practice, he was pretty stubborn. One day he’s getting on us a as a team for not cleaning up our tables in the Doane cafeteria. When we were there, as is usual, most of the players sat together when we did get into the café at the same time, and we got in a bad habit about not taking our stuff to the trash. Maybe a napkin here, or a plastic utensil there, we weren’t slobs, but the tables weren’t always completely cleared after, and in fact, Matt was right. So, he addressed it, and frankly I can’t remember if we really started taking care of it better or not, but I remember that day at practice Matt complaining and bringing it up. Now, if you live in Wisconsin, unless you live under a rock the name isn’t a coincidence, Matt is the head coach of the Packers currently. Matt started his coaching career as a student assistant at Saginaw Valley and then progressed up the ladder to his current role. I just got done telling you that I don’t honestly remember if we started taking care of those tables like Matt was complaining about, but obviously Matt focused on the little things himself. Is he the head coach of the packers because he is good at cleaning up tables? Did Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst hire him because he’s a good janitor? No, they hired him because he can lead men and coach ball, and if they win a super bowl, frankly how messy his cafeteria is will have no bearing on his employment, but to say it’s not connected, and it doesn’t matter is insane. Did Matt catch some breaks along the way? Yes. Did Matt have someone go out on a limb for him in the profession to reach this status? Yes, of course. To think though that he did not have to do a lot of little things along the way is just wrong.  Maybe fundamentally he is the exact person today as the one who complained about us not cleaning up the tables in the Doane, maybe he's not just lucky, but also good. and maybe that was all started by cleaning up the tables.


Now, you may never be a NFL head coach, in fact anyone that reads this, I’d bet my mortgage that you won’t. You may never be a pro athlete, or a CEO or even own your own business, those things just may not happen, it doesn’t work like that for everyone. If you for a second think that skipping the little things will help, and you’ll get there despite the little things, you won’t. Like with Matt, doing the small things set a foundation for when the opportunities were presented to him. It is only 1 story, but it has stuck with me, and I believe it is a precursor for success. What level of success? I can’t say for each individual person, but if you do the little things, and the opportunities come up, it works out, more times than not, in my experiences. The people that skip the little things, when the opportunities come up, it doesn’t work out, more times than not, in my experiences. So, I believe they do matter, I believe it is a value that we cannot underestimate to our young people as they consider what it takes to achieve success, even if their success is not on par with the top 2%.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the soldiers in this country and all over the world who face the proposition of death to defend the rights and privileges of the citizens they are sworn to defend.

2-8-2022


Topic: Then vs Than and why we should take it easy on kids.


Over the past week I had the pleasure to get around to some High Schools and talk a little about the status of recruiting, some things prospects and families need to know and what is important moving forward amongst a lot of other topics. While I am not the worlds best public speaker, I, like so many, have a power point presentation to keep me on track. On the slides are all manner of topics and information and even though I change it to tailor the message to each individual school, I use the same template from school to school. As I was about halfway through my week of presentations, I realized that amongst the slides I may have a word misspelled here and or there. I also caught a misspelled word right at the beginning of my presentation while the head coach was introducing me, that was a touch embarrassing. I would like to think I have been able to catch a bunch of these simple oversights. As the week progressed though I concluded I can not discern the difference of when to use the word then versus when I am supposed to use the word than. This is the conundrum of the English language. I have worked on it, agonized over it, researched it, and studied the differences and I must testify, I am still struggling. I really can’t figure it out, I just can’t come to a perfect reason, I can’t find that connector to help me remember. In time, it will happen, in time that light will come on and it will just be there, here’s the kicker, I’m 38.


When we consider kids, and the changes in recruiting, we seem to be a society that is so quick to destroy these kids when they make decisions and that is really baffling to me. It started with simple hat decisions, then it went to all sorts of fanfare, and now it is the dynamics of the transfer portal and the NIL ramifications that really seem to stir people up. When I look at all that, I am reminded that they are in many cases 17–22-year-old kids, kids that are doing the best they have with all the information they have coming in from multiple directions. Let me also say, I’m not crazy about the path of the transfer portal, but it is what we have, I am not crazy about the NIL and where it is taking us, but it is what we have. More than anything, I think we need to take it a little easy on these kids. Yes, this is mainly Football, it is mainly 1 sport if you really want to dive into it deeper, but the reality is these kids are kids, they don’t have a lifetime of experiences to fall back on, they have a whole whopping 17 years to evaluate and make life changing decisions. I just got done telling you, I go on a nationwide tour of schools I work with, I sell my message I am trying to build a company on my own back, under my work ethic, and I spent a week making mistakes, I’m 38. I have researched, consulted the modern genius, google, and still, I can’t get the lightbulb to click on for the difference of when to use than vs then, but I firmly believe it will. In time, it will make sense to me, and in time it will make sense to these kids, because remember, they’re just kids.


This blog is dedicated to the Police Officers in the country that keep our communities safe.

2-1-2022


Topic: If the coaches can up and leave why can’t the players do the same?


As I have recently renewed my Sirius XM subscription, I have come across a channel on ESPNU and in the mornings I really have taken to listening to coach Rick Neuheisel on a daily show called Full Ride. I enjoy listening to them talk about all that is going on in the world of college athletics and mostly they are talking about NIL (Name Image and Likeness) and a daily update about the transfer portal and what top 2% players are going where. On January 31st I also listened to Mark Packer on his show Off Campus in the afternoon, and it became clear to me that Mark Packer is getting really exhausted with the transfer portal, frankly I think a lot of people are. Instead of complaining about it he takes on callers and they discuss the pros and cons and maybe some solutions. Coach Neuheisel did the exact same thing as well, and the overriding theme from the pro transfer portal crowd is “well the coaches can up and leave, what can’t the kids?” That always seems to be the argument from the pro transfer portal crowd, it is the default fall back. I spent time thinking about it, who is right who is wrong, what do we do? I always come back to that statement, because in a way they are correct, the coaches can up and leave any time, for another job or just for any reason honestly. As I listened to both shows I really wasn’t moved by many of the thoughts or ideas, but finally on the Mark Packer show a caller called in and made it very clear, “These kids are not adults, and we shouldn’t treat them like adults.” Well, it is not exactly state of the art analysis, but it did get me thinking. Should they get all the same that the coaches get? Should they be afforded the same benefits that coaches get? What about the negatives that come with a coach leaving, do we apply those same challenges? That last question is the one I want to discuss.


Should the players be treated exactly like the coaches? Treating the players just like the adults from a payment standpoint, or from a transfer standpoint is usually the pro transfer portal argument. Consider this, this is what I thought of after listening to Full Ride and the Off Campus, should my children be added to my mortgage? The answer, is no, obviously. Me and my Wife have our names on the mortgage, we take on a lot of risk for having that mortgage, and our kids live under that same roof and have the benefit of living in that home. Are we exploiting our children because they don’t have the exact same benefit as us? This is a little extreme, I get it, but I believe there is correlation, our kids do not have the ability to be added to the mortgage, they don’t have their name on the mortgage yet they live under the same roof. In time they will grow up, marry and the opportunity to have their own mortgage will be presented to them, at that point they can use the experiences they learned from living under our roof, and apply it to their own family. When we make decision moving forward for the game, I do not believe it should be about what is fair for the players because “well the coaches can do it.” I just do not believe that is the argument we should be making to guide those decisions. In the case of college athletics, in specific unique cases a transfer is appropriate for everyone, that is fundamentally what I believe. Look at the case, truly engage all the aspects and make a decision that is beneficial for all. In the case of the young man or young woman that just wants a new start, just because “the coaches can do it too” I think we are making a mistake. By adding these student athletes to the mortgage, we take away that ability to be in your youth, we take that away from them and make them adults. As a card-carrying member of the adult group, I am here to tell you it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. If you believe that transferring should be free just because the coaches can do it, I think you really need to re-evaluate why you think transferring would be the best for you. Call me, I will be happy to talk to you about the process, and maybe we can come to the best decision for you. I would never put my kids on the mortgage, because if God takes me away, takes my wife away, now that mortgage is placed solely on my children, that financial the last thing they will think about at that point is the benefit of having the roof over their heads. Instead it turns to, how do we pay for this? Remember, sometimes that which appears to be restriction, is in fact protection. Don’t run away from protection so fast.


Have a great week!

1-29-2022


Topic: Sports are not supposed to be fair, deal with it!


On the second weekend of the NFL divisional playoff round we were all privileged to one of the great games in recent history. If you stayed up to watch the 4th and final game of the weekend you witnessed Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs battle Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. Some small contexts for those that maybe don’t follow football as closely as I do. Patrick Mahomes is considered one of if not the best young Quarterback in the league. He has already won his first Super Bowl and is attempting to go to his 3rd straight, he is quite simply, the best Quarterback in the league, in my opinion. On the other sideline, another young Quarterback Josh Allen has built the Buffalo Bills into a real championship contender, on a level they have not been since the days of Jim Kelly and the 90’s Bills. If you watched Sunday, you saw a final 2 minutes of regulation explode for over 20 points combined and one of the greatest compilations of scoring I can remember. It was back and forth, Josh Allen threw a touchdown pass with 13 seconds to go to take the lead only to have Patrick Mahomes go 60 some yards in about 10 seconds to setup a tying field goal, which then led to overtime. This is where the conversation and maybe even the controversy starts. The NFL rules are setup in a way where if the team which wins the coin flip drives down and scores a touchdown, the game is over. The Chiefs did just that, they won the toss, Patrick Mahomes drove them down to a game winning touchdown, Josh Allen never touched the ball in overtime. People complain that it shouldn’t be determined by the flip of a coin, by chance. Following one of the great games I have ever seen, the next day, the topic turned to how unfair the NFL rules were and whoa is me to Josh Allen for not getting his turn…


I believe in sports, I believe in everything that a sport can provide us. Make no mistake, sports are an entertainment business, and following this game all I could think of was how entertained I had just been. The following day, I was not entertained, I did not enjoy listening to the talking heads on mainstream media or even social media talk about how we “MUST CHANGE THE NFL RULES!!” “JOSH ALLEN DIDN’T GET A CHANCE!!” You know what I say to this… WHAAAAAAAAA, cry me a river! Sports aren’t supposed top be fair, sports aren’t supposed to be even. The essence of sport is to challenge yourself, it is to see if some athlete or some team can take on the machine, to see if in that moment they can overcome all the disadvantages they have, that is the entire point! I don’t want Josh Allen to get another chance in overtime, I want to see Josh Allen battle and grind and work to beat Patrick Mahomes for the next 10 years. I want 10 years of that game of that back and forth over and over and over, and you know what, just like with Jim Kelly and his Bills, maybe they never do win, but I’ll watch every game. Sports are not supposed to be fair, why do we want this? In what capacity of life is anything fair? I always think of my experience in college, as a college football player at Saginaw Valley State University we just couldn’t beat Grand Valley State in the playoffs, we just couldn’t get over the hump. We had some real battles, they were epic games, but Grand Valley and the fighting Brian Kelly’s always came out on top at the end of the playoff games. You know what every one of those losses did to me and my teammates? It motivated us to beat them the next year, and when we ran out of years, we started applying that same drive to our lives and professions. It wasn’t fair, Grand Valley had a bigger University, a bigger budget to recruit better players, a nicer campus, a better location everything, nothing about it was fair. We never relented, we used that motivation, that challenge to drive us to get right back in that game, and for a 6 year span the Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley matchup was a perennial national battle. That challenge is literally everything that is great about sports, that imbalance, and lack of fairness it what creates those epic matchups. So instead of crying that Josh Allen is entitled to another possession, maybe you should be jumping on social media saying “I can’t wait to see Josh Allen overcome the Chiefs next year! I can’t wait!” For those clambering about how unfair the NFL overtime rules are, I’m sorry, but you’re soft.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the families of Police Officers who have bravely defended the law and order in this country and have given their lives to protect society from the evils of the world.

1-20-2022


Topic: D1 or bust and why that’s a good thing!


If you follow social media and more specifically recruiting on social media, first off, I will pray for you, second you will see a narrative out there about how kids should not have a D1 or bust mentality implying this is a bad thing. In many cases it is a reference to the fact that some young athletes appear to have the mindset that they only want to play in the “big time” like Division I football. You will see people making statements like “Having that D1 or bust mentality will keep players out of football.” What they are saying is that you need to have your eyes open to all levels, and that if the D1 opportunity isn’t there then you should be open up to the lower levels and embrace their opportunities. In essence they are trying to just find a spot for kids, because they believe kids should be given opportunities at will. Let me be clear, I am a big fan of the lower levels of sports, as a former Division II athlete, I can’t stress enough the value I took away from that level. However, to say a young student athlete shouldn’t have a D1 or bust mentality is causing more harm to the game then actually embracing D1 or bust, let’s discuss.


As I spent time contemplating this statement, I had to reverse analyze it myself, because as I stated earlier, I am a firm believer in every different level of sport and what it can provide to any student athlete. However, if your mind is set on D1, maybe you in fact should say D1 or bust. In your soul, if in your WHY it is truly about only playing D1, but you settle and take that Division II opportunity, now you take away a spot at Division II or Division III and a chance away from someone who from the jump was fired up for that D2 life. If you are in this for the fame, and the prestige on social media, or for the money that could come from NIL, or to wear the cool gear and have a chance to play on ESPN, if that’s what you’re in it for I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong, you won’t hear me say that, but if that is the case then you absolutely should think D1 or bust, and commit to D1 or bust. If it doesn’t work out, maybe it’s best you don’t go to college, this in fact is one of the biggest messages we need to start spreading, that college does not have to be for everyone. I personally know a friend, who didn’t attend college, they own their own business, have 0 student loan debt, because they went to trade school out of high school. This is a message we should share, one we should embrace and start to emphasize that for some it is D1 or bust, and if that keeps more kids out of the football, maybe for them, that’s not such a bad thing.


I believe very strongly in opportunity, I was given an opportunity, but more then that I believe in education. If we start educating our young people with proper guidance, with the mindset that you don’t have to be like the kid down the street to be successful, at that point we can start to make some real progress, maybe reduce the student debt in this country that is crippling many young people. Do you know where a lot of that debt starts? It starts with the message that you shouldn’t focus on D1 or bust. For me maybe the message should start at, maybe what’s best for you is D1 or bust, and here’s why. I believe that messaging can start an educational direction that can make a massive impact in the future generations. Maybe some player who truly only wants to play D1, doesn’t take away a D2 or D3 opportunity from someone who deserves that opportunity as well. I understand this won’t resonate with all, I get it, it probably sounds like I’m anti player, in fact I’m the complete opposite, maybe this message can keep a young man or young woman out from being under 20-30 thousand dollars of student debt, imagine the possibilities for life they may have without that cloud hanging over their heads? Maybe they are able to take that unpaid internship at Google, or at Microsoft because they can afford to take that chance. Imagine them making it up the ladder at a major tool & die company, to someday owning their own business and employing others, because they had that fresh start out of high school at 18, imagine that. Imagine if that all started because they had the courage to say, It’s D1 or bust!” Imagine that.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard, who risk their lives to save others.

1-18-2022


Topic: Are you a palms up guy?


As a member of the Waukesha Catholic Athletic Board one of my responsibilities is to monitor the basketball games during our current league year, every couple of weeks. It is a relatively low stress job, you stand there and react to any issues that may come up, sweep the floor occasionally things of that nature. I get to watch a lot of 5th-8th grade sports. volleyball in the fall, basketball in winter and track & field in the spring. You get a chance to see young athletes and different athletic developmental levels, it spans all abilities. This past weekend I had a great comparison, something that really stood out to me. During an 8th grade boys game I noticed a pretty talented player get a few fouls, reaching when he tried to block the shot, or going for a steal, simple fouls. It really is nothing new, watch enough basketball and you realize fouls happen, and as usual he turned his palms up to the referee after every foul. Never thought twice about it, everyone does it right? The next game was a 6th grade girls matchup. One player in particular was way above the rest form a talent standpoint, frankly she was probably the most talented player that walked through the doors the entire day. Smooth with the ball, could run, great vision when she did have the ball, and was the tallest one on the floor. She is talented, if the talent of the players were rated from 1-10, she was a 10 and the rest were probably 5’s at best. Nothing negative, just a pure evaluation of talent, all develop at different times. Something struck me however, and it was great to see. For about 10 straight possessions after the other team scored, she would inbound to player B we will call her, player B struggled to dribble, and every time for 10 straight possessions the opposing team would steal it at half-court, dribble down for a layup and the cycle continued.  I realized, not one time, not once did this super talented player complain, throw her palms up in the air and look at the ref, not once. She simply followed her coaching, turned and ran to defend the breakaway and the cycle continued.


It struck me in the moment, because as a society tend to put our palms up in the air at the first sight of discomfort, I do it, seemingly everyone does. This ultra-talented player didn’t, for whatever reason? She has good guidance at home would be my guess. Maybe she understands just how talented she is, and that this day of basketball isn’t going to truly define what she’s all about. Whatever the reason, it was refreshing, just go play, and that’s what she did. I don’t pretend to be the foremost basketball talent evaluator, but unless a massive growth style changes, she will be an excellent basketball player, and will undoubtedly have the chance to move her career forward. I have no idea where, I don’t even remember what school she was attached to, that’s irrelevant. She will be a model for what sports should be though, if she stays on this path, she will be everything we should all strive to be. Not just in sports but in life. At work, do we throw our palms up when our boss tells us we’re late? Be like the girl. Do we throw our palms up when we get pulled over for speeding? Be like the girl. It just goes to show how sports imitates life, maybe in this case, life should imitate sports, and specifically this young athlete.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the soldiers in this country that put their safety aside to protect our freedoms.

1-15-2022


Topic: What if there’s no grass to water?


In this current day and age there seems to be a lot of discussion going on regarding the fact that kids seemingly giving up so easily? If you look at sports, they just simply transfer at the first sign of adversity. If you look at society, people seem to quit their jobs when it gets a little difficult. On and on the discussion goes. I think there is truth to this, in every generation of life people have quit, given up when it gets difficult, this is nothing new to the world, however, if you listen to social media or the national sports media you tend to believe it is all just somehow built into this younger generation. There seems to be some belief that kids come out of the womb with the quitting trait, or maybe a gene that is in them where they are destined to take the easy road. I have spent previous blog’s discussing this, I have spent a few State of Play podcasts discussing this, and my message is generally the same, it comes down to the leadership around the young man or woman. At the end of the day, when it comes to college athletics and the transfer portal, it is much more about who is giving the advice then the actual student athlete. For comparison I had multiple student athletes that reached out to me this off season about if they should enter the transfer portal. I recommended consulting their high school coach, which they did. We talked about pros and cons and ultimately after weighing what was best, not one of those student athletes decided to transfer, they all returned to their current program. It still comes back to guidance. I want to make a quick focus on a statement that gets thrown out, “Don’t think the grass is always greener on the other side, water your own grass to make it grow.” It’s a neat statement, I realize it is just a metaphor, but I heard someone say to me this week “Yeah that’s great, but what if you don’t have grass to water?” I was taken back, and this is what I want to focus on.


We always think there is this fantastic universe where life is even and fair and ultimately you get a chance to control your own destiny. The more I thought of this statement and the response, I applied it a little more and realized, this may have changed my mind a little. What if you don’t have the ability to “water the grass you have?” because, maybe you don't have any grass at all.  Think about that, let it set in and see how that may apply to someone who is not you. For terms of the conversation, I will stay in the athletic realm. What if you need to gain weight to be a better player, but you don’t have the financial support to be able to afford that higher level meal plan, or to be able to go to the grocery store and stock your dorm with $200 a week with supplements and food? What if you don’t have that extra liquid income because all your free money goes to tuition? What if you signed at a school and you’re a solid player, but just not quite fast enough, or a step too slow on your reactions and your coaches are good, and can recruit that talent over you? What if those players possess your work ethic and mindset but also have the talent that always puts them 1 spot above you on the depth chart? We always talk about how kids quit so easy, how they just transfer, and they are soft, or this generation isn’t tough, but is there more to it? Maybe this generation realizes, “I don’t have the grass to water here, and maybe there is grass over there.” For a simpler comparison it’s like living in an apartment and having the chance to buy a home. Are you wrong for leaving the complex that has no yard, nowhere to plant a garden or grow perennials when you can go buy a home and do all those things? Maybe that’s dramatic, I get it, but ultimately it comes down to the uniqueness of each individual person. We are no longer in a cookie cutter world, there is no more 1 size fits all. Each individual player or family has their own grass, each individual player or family may not have any grass to water, and we should start understanding that what is good for one, may not be good for another. True guidance, true education on what it will take to find that grass to water. Maybe in fact the grass is in your front lawn or maybe that grass is in the subdivision in the town down the highway, either way don’t make rash decisions and listen to those that have your best interest at heart.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the paramedics that rush into danger each day, risking their lives to save others first.

1-10-2022


Topic: Maybe we should just listen to Coach Saban


Only a few hours from the College Football Playoff National Championship between Alabama and Georgia, I felt it pertinent to write a quick blog regarding a click bait piece I saw on social media this past week. In what feels like a never-ending saga regarding the changes to college athletics and where people either think they should go or want them to go. This past week I saw a statement from coach Saban about where the current Name Image & Likeness is going and how it has impacted his team. Overall, the article from senior ESPN writer Chris Low was positive about NIL from coach Saban’s perspective. He talked about how it was “positive thing for the players” but went on to talk about how he feels it could create “imbalance relative to who can dominate college football if that’s not regulated is some form or fashion.” This last piece was the one that caught my eye because I agree with coach Saban. I have talked a lot lately about how I believe the gap is only widening in major college athletics, and here is the top coach saying the same. As usual though, social media and society love to spin it in a different direction. Following this release people clambered “Coach Saban knows this will hurt his own current imbalance.” Or “He knows he can’t cheat to win anymore so he will lose his grip on his current dominance” and all sorts of statements of the like. Frankly, I just don’t get it, society I just don’t get it. Why do we always do this? Why can’t we just take a great coach at his word? Usually, I am very critical of coaches and what they say, I dive into their statements too much too, so maybe I am at fault here also. In this instance however, I think coach Saban is thinking about the good of the game, I think he believes this is what’s best for the game, and why can’t that just end there?


Alabama won before coach Saban, Alabama will win after coach Saban is gone, history has taught us that. Why can’t we just take some statements as they are stated and maybe listen? Society and fans alike have lost their way, we find leaders then love to drag them through the mud the first chance we can. Coach Saban, I agree with you, this needs to be regulated if there’s any chance for whatever parity and competitiveness in the game moving forward. Fans, society I encourage you to hear him for what he’s saying, don’t make this one out to anything more then it is, something that is good for the game.


Have a great week!


ESPN Article for reference: ESPN


This blog is dedicated to the Firefighters that risk their lives on a daily to keep the people in their communities safe.

1-5-2022


Topic: This era of Football Player doesn’t love the game, good!


If you followed the New Years 6 Bowl games and the College Football Playoff a big point of topic was the opt outs of some star players. Players like the Quarterback at Pittsburgh, who opted out, others in almost every bowl game opt out to potentially protect their NFL value and choose not play and risk injury. Some top players like Matt Corral made the decision to play and he in fact did suffer an injury, and the debate was on. I however want to focus on the comment Kirk Herbstreit made on College Gameday on New Year’s Day. When discussing the current situation, he made a comment that “this generation of football players, I just don’t think they love Football.” Kirk has a great message; he has been an icon in the game for a long time and in fact I have advocated for him to take over in a College Football Commissioner role. I applauded his message, the only thing I disagreed with was how he felt the need to clarify the comments. I was fine with the comment, it needed to be said and his opinion is valuable to start the discussion, more valuable than some media voices out there that’s for sure. I spent time thinking about this, I thought about if this generation loves Football.


My immediate response to the statement was that players now days just have so much more to love or focus on. I referenced that when I was 18 I didn’t know anything other then Football, that’s all there was, and that was enough. However, today top prospects both in High School and College have Name, Image and Likeness opportunities, I’m not even sure a majority of teachers knew my name back then. Prospects now have fancy signing day events, I signed in my kitchen with my parents beside me, and went to school 20 minutes later. The NFL was alive, and the contracts were starting to get pretty high, but they are nowhere near what they are today and small college kids weren’t as viable at the time, nowadays NFL teams will scour the earth to find the next Todd Herremans or Joe Berger. My point, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and as an 18-year-old kid, if those options were around then, I sure as hell would have taken advantage of them. I would have absolutely had a signing day, why not? If I was a potential top 10 pick, I at least would consider the .com bowl, even though I like to believe I would have played.


Ultimately, I want to talk about 1 word, Love, this is what stuck with me, and I felt compelled to write about it. Does this generation “LOVE FOOTBALL?” The more I thought the more I hope the answer is no. I hope they don’t love Football, I hope they love people, I hope they love their faith, instead of loving football I hope they just play, and see what happens, and save all that love for their potential spouse, or for the love of a God to save their soul and point them in the proper moral and ethical direction. That’s what we need more of, in this world, in this society we need more love of people and faith, not more NFL Draft picks. I used to use the word love when I referenced my football career, then my mother died. When my mother passed Football didn’t walk into that wake, people did. The entire staff I worked with showed up, but Football never walked through that door. At her funeral Football wasn’t giving a homily remembering her life, my sister was, someone who I love with all my heart. I used to say this to players, “Football doesn’t owe you anything.” I was right, it doesn’t, and this generation has it right. Play, don’t play, I’m fine with it. Maybe the players today have other interests, like healing broken communities, like building houses for the homeless, like feeding kids who don’t have anything to eat. Maybe that’s what they love, if it is, then I support you to play or not play, I would LOVE to see that.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the teachers in this country who continually work to mold the youth in a positive way.

1-3-2022


Topic: Never work for free Coach Harbaugh


There may not be a soul on the earth that is more supportive of Coach Harbaugh and the job he is doing with Michigan Football than I am. For years he grew the program, but for years he couldn’t beat his rivals and or win the bowl game to seemingly get the team, to the next step. I even wrote a previous blog talking about coach Harbaugh finding his why, and when he did, they would be one of the top 4, playing in the College Football Playoff (CFP). I was never critical of the way he was building the program and in fact in year 2 there was a noticeable difference and frankly you knew, after enough time this was going to happen, his team playing on New Years Eve, like they did last Friday. He’s a different cat now, he really is not like your normal joe shmo college coach out there, he really beats to his own drum. With that said, as good of a job as coach Harbaugh did, he made a statement that really irks me leading into the CFP. Coach Harbaugh has made one of the classiest moves I can remember in some time by donating his post-season earnings and incentives back to the athletic department to help those that had financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It made news after they beat Ohio State and rightfully so. It appears coach Harbaugh had a strong incentive laden contract and stood to make a hefty payday if he won the Big Ten and played in the CFP, more would follow if he played for and won the National Title, but that’s a topic for another day as they lost in the semi-finals. It’s an honorable move and I applaud him and his family for doing this, he may be a different cat, but this is the kind of cat we need more of. However, with all the generosity he showed in the lead up to the CFP game, he was asked about the paybacks and about coaching in general and made 1 comment that will never sit right with me. He was asked about coaching and the connection to the financial payouts you’re seeing within top tier college football coaches today and he responded that he would “coach for free.” I love everything about the way coach Harbaugh runs the program at Michigan Football, I hope he retires there but this is a comment I could have done without.


Coach, if you did it for free how would you and your family eat? If you did it for free, because you loved it so much how would you pay for the roof over your head? These questions among 100 others are the same ones I as well as 98% of people ask daily, and it is asked because we don’t have a mountain of money earned over the last 10-15 years that we can always fall back on to then work for free. It is so easy to say you’ll do something for free when you have the financial backing of the millions and millions of dollars in the bank that the top 2% of this world have. Let me also be clear, coach Harbaugh you have earned every penny, you deserve every cent you have made to date, but who can work for free? I can’t, so many can’t and to me making that statement as someone in the top 2% is akin to a slap in the face to the rest of us. Do I not love something as much as you because I can’t do it for free? Does the person working at the restaurant making minimum wage not love their job enough because they don’t work for free? This is a narrative I don’t think is one we should be spreading, that coach Harbaugh just loves coaching so much, that he just loves Michigan Football so much that he would do it for free. I think that send’s an awful message to the people that simply can’t work for free, 98% of people out there depend on that daily paycheck for survival, right now I sure do. Coach Harbaugh in fact I want you to make even more money, I want you to get a larger financial contract, I want you to be flushed with so much money you do the same in the future as you did with your bonus this year, give it to others who don’t have what you have. Coach don’t ever work for free, I can’t, many can’t but we can aspire to be like you someday. We can work really hard, and maybe if we catch a break here or there, we can make the kind of money where we are tested to see what we will truly do with that wealth, hopefully we make the same decision you did. Make more money coach, don’t ever work for free, earn as much as you can and continue to show the leadership that I see from many, but not all in the top 2% that give some back just like you.


Have a great week!


This blog is dedicated to the daily workers in this country.

12-24-2021


Topic: AREN year in review


I have always viewed Christmas as the unofficial turn of the year. Maybe it’s the old football coach in me where Christmas break signaled the kids finishing up the semester and leaving for home on a 3- or 4-week break. To me that always signaled the start of the new year. Looking back on the year that was, it may not be as much as what happened in the recruiting world but much more about what didn’t happen. When I consider all the recruiting world went through this year, transfer portal, NIL and the finality of a full cycle recruiting year, it’s more about what didn’t happen. People have not become more aware about the process, because it’s just as cloudy as ever. 3rd party showcases didn’t decrease, in many places I have seen them increase while at the same time offering very little clarity to parents and high school coaches about the value of any event they hold. We didn’t see the NCAA make any adjustments to the COVID eligibility extension, even though I do firmly believe it will correct itself in time. We didn’t see any change in the way social media has impacted recruiting and the people that are benefiting off these young people from that exact arena. No, we haven’t seen any real change in the year that was recruiting, many of the same issues persist and will last long into the new year. We used to have a saying when I was coaching, people all over the world use it, “stay the course.” Pull up any coaching video and you’ll hear some form of it, things that are designed to emphasize not giving up, not deviating from the plan and the like. It’s true, but after a year of helping coaches and families through the process I don’t think it’s about “staying the course” as much as it’s about “staying in the fight.” I have some fundamental disagreements about the process, and I have come to accept that, I have had an open mind and I have come to see the other side more clearly then maybe they see themselves. Frankly I think it is a little about choosing sides, I think there is an element that has viewed this dynamic of young, unguided prospects and families as a catalyst for their own success, and I’m not here to judge them, to each their own. Who am I to say that my way is superior? I won’t say my way is superior and, in many ways, the other side can and will provide some assistance, but I still don’t fully agree. So, I’m here. I’m here to fight for the prospects that don’t have it easy, I’m here for the coaches and administrators who feel like something is being ripped away from them and it just doesn’t feel fair. I’m here for the families who don’t understand, don’t know what it takes or where to go, I’m here for all of it.


No, I look back on that year and say I’m going to “stay in the fight” because even if it’s just 1, if I only help 1 family in their fight it is worth it. College athletics are hard, in many ways it is elite and to stare up at the Mount Everest that is a chance to play at the next level can be daunting. So, I’m here like a Sherpa ready to traverse the mountain, to see which path is the best possible for your journey. I am pretty sure I have never been in a physical fight in my entire life, I’m way too soft for that. However, I do know I like to fight, anyone that knows me will tell you, If I don’t get my way, I tend to fight my way out. So, looking back on a year that had so much, what will next year bring? If history is any great teacher, probably more speed bumps, and potholes, probably more dead-ends and turnarounds in the recruiting process. I’m in, I can’t wait to help people fight through what is a process that has and always been a very dynamic journey.


Have a Merry Christmas!


This blog is dedicated to the Police Officers in this country who risk their lives to keep us safe on a daily basis, who speed into danger without the knowledge of the harm that could come their way when they show up.

12-20-2021


Topic: What to watch for in 2022


For me the story of the week is another ho hum year by the best team in sports. No, I’m not talking about Alabama Football making the College Football Playoff again. I’m not talking about another year where Duke Basketball looks like the dominant force it always is. I’m certainly not talking about the endless years of Tom Brady and his assent to what seems like another Super Bowl run at the age of 44. If you turn on ESPN you will hear these stories at nausea, and a constant influx of opinions surrounding these topics, simply to round up more clicks and comments and talking points. No, for me the topic of the week is North Dakota State Football, the seemingly unstoppable machine that will appear in yet another FCS national title game. The dominance of this program is something no one has seen, not in my lifetime at least. Is this what it was like watching Bill Russell and the Celtics? Is this what it was like watching John Wooden lead Kareem and the UCLA Bruins? If you have never seen the Bison, if you haven’t been to Fargo North Dakota and felt the passion for the teams, all the sports teams, I highly recommend it. To me that’s only half of the story, maybe 33% honestly.


To me the story of NDSU at the FCS National Title is enhanced by their opponent, the Montana State Bobcats. Montana State, Bozeman MT is actually the site of my last win as a coach on the NDSU staff, in what seems like 50 years ago, we walked off the field, the snow-covered freezing field with one of the more memorable wins of my coaching career, top 10 at least. Now the Bobcats are poised to play for the whole shebang, the big kahuna or as some like to call it, the title game. Walking off that field I was next to a young Offensive Coordinator, by the name of Brent Vigen. Brent was a man that I had come to know as a great father, a great family man as someone who truly cared about developing his players. Brent was someone who taught me a lot about the game, he really contained everything I hoped to achieve in my coaching career.  Brent was the offensive coordinator when the Bison went 3-8 and in the finale of the 2009 season we had a really tough loss to a talented Youngstown State team on the last weekend. Walking out to the parking lot Brent said something to me I’ll never forget, “some day hopefully no one will care the difference between going 4-7 vs 3-8.” After 3 National titles at North Dakota State as the Offensive Coordinator, and setting the stage for multiple championships after he took his abilities to Wyoming, I think it’s safe to say Brent’s comment was proved right. Where’s the connection to the Bison and Montana State in the 2022 FCS title game you may ask? Well, I just stated it, Brent is now the head coach at Montana State and he faces his alma mater for the FCS title in January of 2022. The Bison are the class of FCS, and frankly all of College Football, I personally don’t think they get enough coverage. Yes, College Gameday has been there twice, yes even Kirk Herbstreit has claimed it may be one of his top environments they have travelled to. Yes, we hear about Carson Wentz and his play in the NFL, but to me the message is about the Bison and the Bison alum who will stand on the opposing sideline with a chance to unseat the greatest program in college football.


The Bison are the class of College Football, they have sustained coaching changes and still won titles. The only constant that I know of is Jim Kramer, the Strength Coach. They have sustained through player turnover. They have replaced NFL Draft picks with more top NFL Draft picks and yet they have remained. How apropos it is to see the story of the Bobcats, led by the man who had a large hand in starting the dynasty with a chance to unseat the machine. To me, that’s the biggest story out there for the next few weeks, the story of how you build and sustain a program at the highest level. The culture of focusing on you, focusing on your culture and hiring the right PEOPLE to lead your program. Yes the previous coach at Montana State deserves a lot of credit, and I know after the semifinal win Brent deflected the conversation back to his players at Montana State, but he has instilled a culture in his short time there, obviously the right culture for them. I don’t have a rooting interest in the game, I haven’t been to Fargo for close to 6 years now and I haven’t spoken with Coach Vigen in close to 10, but I am rooting for anyone who loves the game to watch this one. Watch 2 programs that play the game the right way, with the right people. Talk about that on social media, talk about that on your ESPN comments pages, this is what the national sports media should all focus on.


Have a great Christmas!


This blog is dedicated to the memory of Jackson Sparks and all those lives lost in the Waukesha Parade Tragedy. You will never be forgotten.

12-12-2021


Topic: The mis-information struggle in the recruiting process.


This past weekend I stumbled across 2 very interesting pieces of information which highlight the challenges in recruiting process. One came from Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney when he was talking about the state of College Football. One sentence in there I believe summarizes one of the most challenging aspects regarding the recruitment of student athletes. The second is a graphic that is starting to circulate on the internet regarding the #’s of the transfer portal from 2021. When it comes to the recruiting process for you as a student athlete or for your child as a parent, it is and can be overwhelming. The questions I receive range from topics like “where do we start?” to “why does my child not have offers when his teammate does?” It is a very dynamic process, and the stress involved only enhances that anxiety. Let’s look at both topics and look at how maybe you can apply some relief into your own process.


1:Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney “We live in a world now where not everybody does much research. You go in the bathroom and hear someone on the phone in the third stall and that’s your source.” (247 Article 247.com , Dec 6 2021)This can sum up the recruiting process for so many. As a family or a high school coach you don’t always know where to turn, so anyone talking will bend your ear. It is something in the process that actually can do more harm then actually having no information at all. What coach Swinney is talking about may be more related to the sport as a whole and what that feeds to ESPN and the media, but this is so true regarding the recruitment of young student athletes. Someone says “go to this camp or showcase” so you go, come to find out there are not the amount of coaches there for live evaluation that you expected. Someone says “enter the portal, everyone is going” come to find out there are not a lot of schools looking at your position. It comes down to the source, who is the source? Is it credible? This is what leads so many to be stressed, anxious about the process and that starts the downhill trend that is truly concerning for not only the game but the future of these young athletes.

Article for reference: 247 Article


2: Transfer Portal #’s

At the top of this blog you will se a graphic that is gaining traction on social media regarding the #’s in the transfer portal during 2021. For reference, I am not anti portal guy, I also am not a huge fan of the portal either. To me, transferring has always been around, it always will be, but the state of transfers has been thrust into the limelight in the last 9 months because of the new transfer rule enacted that allows FBS players 1 free transfer. With that said, social media is seemingly on a warpath to talk about the evils of transferring and the portal, and that can be depicted in the graphic above. You make your own conclusion on the portal and transferring, I’m not talking about that today. What I want to discuss is the credibility of this graphic. What I see here is a PowerPoint screen, I see #’s and nowhere on this graphic do I see a link to any site where these #’s were pulled from. Is there a link to the NCAA who lists these #’s? I don’t see it. Is there a link to a 3rd party independent data company who tracks these #’s in the NCAA? I don’t see it. For all intense and purposes how do we know the credibility of these #’s? Are they just made up off the top of this individuals head? Anyone can type #’s on a PowerPoint, but how do you know any of this is credible? There is the conundrum, the challenge of recruiting. How do you know what or who to believe? This is a great example of the “person in the 3rd stall.”

This mis-information is the biggest hurdle any parent or family has to navigate. If you look into portal information or try to do research on a 3rd party showcase for facts on the front end, you run into the same challenges. Multiple 3rd Party showcase companies this off season have promoted their event with the prospect of live coaches in attendance and in fact, at the event a small fraction of those coaches actually showed. Legacy in Michigan hosted a showcase in December and their pre event graphic promoted 55 programs and 120+ coaches in attendance for live evaluation and at the event there were “almost 70 coaches” per the company promotion. Prep Redzone promotes a graphic on the front end of their December showcase listing many FBS-D3 programs at their Illinois event in December and the majority of the pictures after I found showed 5 programs there for live evaluation. Mis-information is a major issue when it comes to the recruiting process. As a family how do you know if the “person in the 3rd stall” is right or not? How do you know who to believe? I advise you to talk to your High School Coach regarding any serious questions you have. They will have the ability to validate #’s or check on the validity of any questions that come up in the process. After that, I encourage you to try and stay off social media for information, try to keep social media as a “last resort” option when it comes to information about the process.


Have a great week!

12-6-2021


Topic: Thank you to major college sports!


If you were to ever read any of my blog’s, talk to me or just ever listen to any message I have ever shared, you would know by now that I have a deep passion for small college athletics. I played small College Football, I follow it, coached it for the majority of my career and am one of the biggest advocates you can be for this level of sports. However, this week, as major College Football wrapped up Championship Weekend, as Division 1 Volleyball and many other sports enter their conference tournament schedules I want to say a special thank you to all the athletes that have battled and endured during the last year and a half at the highest level of the sport. You really have been the trailblazers; you really have been the level that sets the standard and put sports on the front end of giving us something positive to watch or follow during some challenging times. If it would not have come from this level, the reality is, it never would have happened. Sports like many things in life have a trickledown effect. The highest levels always set the tone, and your ability and willingness to find a way through the last 18 months has given me something to enjoy, amongst a world of endless fear, hopelessness, and negativity.


If you want negativity, uncertainty and fear simply turn on your TV on and flip to any major news outlet, it won’t take long for them to go to a segment that will dash your hopes for the future. Whether it is the fear of protests or riots, the political upheaval in this country, or the never ending COVID pandemic, you’ll find it on the news or social media and you’ll be reminded of the awful thing’s life can throw at you. With that said I can’t stop but to think about how major college sports has had the impact of taking my mind away from those challenging and at times tragic events for a short period, and the ability to help to continue to move forward. This year I took in a Wisconsin Badger Football game, and for 3 hours I wasn’t worried about the effects of the virus, even if only for 3 hours. My family and I went to 2 Badger Women’s Volleyball matches this year, and for a couple hours we cheered and smiled and thought about the prospects of maybe our own children playing the sport, many years from now. This year on Saturday’s I had the thrill of the Michigan-Michigan State game from my living room as well as the passion of the Michigan-Ohio State game seemingly getting closer to a rivalry then it has been for the past 10 years, all the while smiling and laughing at times, if only for a few hours. This past weekend I saw the University of Michigan Football team honor the Myre family by not only wearing a patch to honor all the Oxford High School lives lost, but having the Myre family at the coin toss. I would be an absolute liar if I said that didn’t hit me emotionally. The family faces the greatest tragedy there is, losing a child and for maybe a moment, maybe only a second their minds were distracted from the real sadness they feel, if only for a moment. For that, for only those few moments we all face, for the time we can’t laugh or smile, sports can sometimes bring some small sense of joy amongst a joyless world and I thank you. There’s just nothing like the energy of major college sports, the passion, the buzz of the stadiums, it’s something that can not be faked. Amidst a world of never-ending fear and tragedy and sadness, major college athletic department leaders and athletes have been at the forefront of some kind of happiness, and I thank you for that. You played in empty stadiums for a time, with masks on for a time, in an uncertain future and for some of us, we smiled, maybe only for a few moments, but I will take it.


This blog is dedicated to the lives lost in the Waukesha Christmas Parade and those lives lost and all affected at the Oxford High School tragedy.  

11-28-2021


Topic: The Tony Annese impact on Ferris State University Athletics


​I am an avid fan of College Football, I always was, even before I played for 5 years, still when I coached for 15, and to this day. Small college sports will always carry a special place in my heart as that is where I spent the majority of my life in the sport. I follow the FCS and Division II and Division II Football playoffs closely, as well as Basketball at the appropriate time and all other sports as closely as I can. While I don’t consider myself the foremost expert on the sports, I have good understanding about what these programs go through, what they are all about and I am here to tell you what Ferris State Football and Tony Annese have done to the small college landscape, is nothing short of transformational.

Now if you followed the Football Playoff games this weekend you saw 2 strong programs go at it. As good as they both are, they can’t be more polar opposites. 1 Program spent the week in their beautiful, 95 yard indoor facility, another practiced outside in late November, because they do not have an indoor. 1 program walked into their multi-million dollar facility all week, one of the premier in the Midwest, and 1 program walked into their University Recreation Center, because they don’t have a Football only facility. 1 program took all the flash, the social media buzz, the fancy graphics that attract so many young high school recruits and stepped on that field while 1 program walked on the field with a budget so low they are working every year just to fund the program to keep it afloat. When both teams walked off the field the team with the beautiful indoor, eye candy for any recruit, with the sport specific weight room and meeting rooms and big stadium, scored 20 points, while the team that practiced outside in the snow, in the all sports weight room had 54. The 2 programs couldn’t be polar opposites, and they couldn’t be polar opposite on the scoreboard either.


In 2011 I witnessed Ferris State Football go through a coaching change, never easy. As the position was filled, I recognized a somewhat familiar face, Tony Annese. Coach Annese was a well known High School Football coach in the State of Michigan with success at every stop, most notably taking the Muskegon High School program, one of the most storied programs, and bringing it back to a perennial state championship contender year in and year out, with multiple trips and wins inside Ford Field. Coach Annese was coming from a Grand Rapids Junior College program that had ascended to the ranks of a National Championship caliber NJCAAA program. The reality is though, Coach Annese was considered a “High School Coach” like Art Briles, and the many that were making the jump right to the college ranks, but could he have the same success? I vaguely knew coach Annese because I had recruited his players, had stopped through Muskegon High School to bring players into our program, and was able to get to know him a little that way. In the early stages of Coach Annese at Ferris State it was said that he can’t win with a “High School Offense.” Many in my small, small coaching circle said he comes with “baggage.” The loudest statement one that you may hear is that he runs a “renegade program.” Finally, and the most laughable is that they don’t have a great “culture” a statement that to me lets me know more about the person giving that statement then it does about who they in fact are talking about. As I watched from the inside as a fellow coach in the league, I could see it happening, you could see the program building in a scary way. They, they simply were better then everyone. The players they infused in their program, yes some from transfers, but the High School recruits was where I felt the impact. IN time we started hearing prospects say they were talking to Ferris, and then ultimately commit and sign there. Now in full disclosure, we were 2-0 against coach Annese in his first 2 years against us, we were the only program in the league 2-0 against him at that time, things changed quickly. Very soon I learned “their culture” is dynamic, I learned that everyone that played for him holds him in the highest regard, I learned he can develop Quarterbacks, I learned he has the ability to WORK WITH PLAYERS, not just give up on them when they maybe struggle, or maybe don’t play to their best. I have never seen a program do it better, I have never seen someone take their players they get, the players they get from very little flash, from very little pop in the program to come and collectively dominate the way they do. They are not centered around a large mega city, in fact I bet you won’t be able to find Big Rapids on a map if you’re not from Michigan. There is maybe 1 Hotel in the town, and if the campus was not there, there it would probably be a “1 stop-light town.” Do you think it’s just Football? Their Men’s Basketball team has played for and won a National Title, their Women’s Soccer team won the league title this past fall and almost every team has had their level boosted. The success of Coach Annese has had an impact on every program, it is clear to see.


If you are a high school recruit, this mindset is what I talk about daily, yet it is difficult to understand. It is not about Indoor facilities, it is not about big stadiums, it is not about weight rooms and jersey combinations and social media rankings from people who don’t know anything about sports because they probably never played or coached, it is not about recruiting exposure companies lying to you about the process, it is not about any of that, it is about finding the right fit. Coaches are going to say to you “WE HAVE A GREAT CULTURE!!!” Ask them to define that culture, ask them to tell you exactly what that means. In my experience of watching the Ferris State Football program and Coach Annese both from across the sidelines and from a far, I am here to tell you, they have the culture you want to be a part of. Get to know the people, get to know what makes them tick. In all those years of hearing people critique coach Annese for his personality, or his life, the one thing that was constant came from everyone who has ever worked for him… “He’s unbelievable to work for.” That is all I have ever heard, so instead of walking around the fancy indoors and listening in these beautiful meeting rooms or watching on the jumbotron’s, spend time calling, asking people that worked for them, “What kind of person are they?” You will find your fit if you focus on that.


Have a great week!

11-11-2021-Veterans Day


An opportunity at a service school.


With it being Veterans Day today, I wanted to share something near and dear to my heart that I believe will do justice to all those that have served this great country. I saw an entire day of graphics and posts about Veterans Day and how thankful we are, and I 2nd all those posts. With that said I thought I could go a different route. In full disclosure, as a college football coach for 15 years my dream was to someday coach at a service school. I say dream, because it wasn’t exactly a goal, it wasn’t something I attempted to attain, rather if the opportunity came up to be on Jeff Monken’s staff at West Point, or at the Naval Academy for coach Niumatalolo or at Colorado Springs with coach Calhoun I would have taken it, no questions asked. I don’t think it would have been the end all to be all for my career though, but boy it would have checked off one of the biggest boxes for me. It wasn’t even just one of the “Commander in Chief Trophy” schools, but VMI, The Citadel really any program, where young students also have the chance to compete at the collegiate level and prepare for the Armed Services. However, it never came to fruition, I left coaching in 2020 and like many things in life, it will be “the one that got away.”


Why? Why in this day and age of multi-million-dollar coaches and All State TV sponsorships would anyone have the dream of being at an academy? For me it was the honor, the true essence of something bigger than you and bigger then even the game. It was the belief that seeing those young men on the field and knowing their next phase of life may be to defend this country, to step into the face of danger, to face bullets or missiles or grenades all in the name of service to this country, that to me is honor. We are in an athletic world consumed with “getting to the league” obsessed with the millions of dollars in contracts and the fascination of celebrity, and I am a party to that as well. To stand in that stadium at the Army-Navy game, to see the cadets marching in their respective quad for formation, it is something that would evoke an emotion in me that can only be matched by the passion I feel for my family. I lost a close friend way to early, he served in the United States Navy, on an Aircraft Carrier. When he would talk to me about serving, I was always so proud of him. When I was at one of my games as a coach, and the national anthem played I thought of him, and it reminded me of the people that choose to do something more important than the respective sport.


If you have the chance to compete, in any sport at a service academy, I applaud you to even consider it. I support your decision to invest in something bigger than all of us, bigger then you and me. I believe it takes someone special to be a part of the Armed Services, and to be a student athlete in that environment, I believe you, you are the epitome of what college athletics are about.


Veterans, thank you for all you have done!


Have a great week.

10-18-2021


Reading the tea leaves and predicting the future of college football and the impact on recruiting.


If you are good at reading the tea leaves like I am and if you watch enough college football, or at least follow it like I do it is not difficult to see the direction college football programs and coaches are going in the future, transfers. Look at Michigan State as a great example, they are only in year 2 of Mel Tucker and ultimately because he started after both signing dates, he’s really in his 1st season. His team is undefeated at the time of this article and has his team positioned as a top 10 team in the country, and if you’ve watched them, they look it. Now is it because of a great offensive or defensive scheme? Unfortunately, no, even though Scottie has that defense playing outstanding. Is it because of some culture shift that coach Tucker has instituted? Ultimately no, his kids seem just as committed and focused and disciplined as coach Dantonio’s teams. So, what is it? Is it new jerseys? Is it a new sponsorship with Rocket Mortgage? The answer is no to all of those, it is based on 1 thing, transfers. I hate to be so blunt, and no offense to the staff, but It is about the transfers. They have infused talent into the program, and its simply, and categorically based off the new rule instituted by the NCAA that allows a 1 time transfer, free of any restrictions. So why, why does this matter to you as a recruit or a family or even a high school head coach? Because it begs the question, why recruit high school players? If I were still in college coaching, the #1 question I would ask my staff would be “why do we need to recruit a high school prospect? Can we get this in the transfer portal?” Let’s discuss.


Look at Ed Orgeron, the soon to be “former” head coach at LSU. In January of 2019 he hoisted the National Title trophy in large part due to his ability to hit on a transfer QB in Joe Burrow. In January of 2022 he will no longer be employed by LSU, in large part because he did not hit on another transfer QB. Georgia has a transfer QB, #1 team in the country currently, every major program on any given Saturday you hear Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit name where this or that starter transferred from. We have a real problem brewing, and I want to focus less on the problem and more about what you as a prospect or family or high school head coach should understand about it, so you can make informed decisions.


The NCAA has a 2 prong issue on their hands, the corona virus extension and the transfer portal. I do give some leniency to the corona virus extension because that was unforeseen, something humans for all intense and purposes didn’t put into motion, so I understand the move to extend student athletes eligibility, and frankly I agree with it. However, the transfer portal 1 time penalty free move is 100% man made. Society complained, the powers that be discussed and came to this decision, so this is the aspect I want to focus on. Now in almost everything in life for every action there is a reaction, except with this. The NCAA has made 2 massively decisive actions with no reaction yet, and that is an all time puzzler. It is creating an issue that they have yet to even address, almost like “nothing to see here.” I am mystified as to why there have not been some measures put in place to help ease the burden on both the programs and future recruiting classes, I do hope there will be some direction soon. With that said let’s discuss the transfer portal conundrum and what it means for you.


So, what do I do as a prospect? This sounds concerning, what are my options?


With the state of the recruiting moving forward you need to consider what is truly in your best interests. Just like at LSU I encourage you to be very careful choosing a program for a coach. They will without question recruit a transfer at your position, if they don’t, they are truly holding up a sign saying “fire me!” Look at the school, look at the fit socially and the environment before saying “wow that coach has great energy, I want to play for them.” Financially consider whether you can walk on, at least for some form of time. Finally, if you’re a young prospect, in the 2024 or younger class be patient, because of the portal your “offer” or even your scholarship is not committable more than ever. If you commit as a 2024 prospect, there are 2 classes of transfers to be recruited at your position before your signing date, a lot can happen between now and then. Finally consider what level you’re truly comfortable playing at. This issue at hand is really confined to FBS and FCS levels. There are ample opportunities at Division II and III programs as well at the NAIA level, and maybe because of this there are more scholarships available than ever. If perception and your need to play at the highest level is a real factor for you, that’s ok, I’m not here to tell you your wrong. Understand that you will massively limit your opportunities to play at the next level if this is all about you needing to be at a certain level, because unlike 3 years ago, because of the transfer rules and the extensions, the opportunities just are not there.


What do I do as a parent? How do I know what’s best for my child now, 4 years from now?


I can’t stress to the parents enough, because of the transfer portal environment how valuable academics are now. If you have a young child and your hope is they get a scholarship because that’s the only way to pay for college, you must emphasize to them the academic portion. College programs won’t mess around with a non-qualifier anymore, and why? They have thousands, and some expect the number to be close to 2500 college aged players in the portal this year to choose from. Why would they track down an unproven high school player who may not make it over a ready made college player? It won’t happen, it simply won’t. You need to emphasize more than ever the value of putting yourself in position to use your knowledge to open as many doors as possible, to engrain academics in them, because if you or your child thinks athletics are “the only way out” you are already behind the eight ball. You must start now, you must understand that they won’t sit on a high school prospect with fledgling academics when they can pick and choose from college players now, almost at will. Now a high school prospect that has excellent grades, can be more valuable then a current college player because you have “more tread on the tires.” It is a fact, and will increase your value, yes, even over a current college player. I will also add that if you have the ability, any ability to put money away now for them in an account, it could provide massive return and reduce your financial stress. Any amount, anything that can grow in 5-7 years, could make a massive impact. Please talk to a financial advisor about options to see what can be done now.


What role does the high school coach have now? Why am I even needed in the process?


Coach, you are more valuable than ever, because of the transfer portal. Because of the new tampering rules in place, a college staff can’t reach out to any college player until they have in fact entered the portal. So how does a current college player know if they can land at a spot if they do enter the portal coach? Easy, the connection is the high school coach, you coach are the key to help them land in that spot. You now have communication and context to advise your current high school athletes about what schools will have more money for incoming recruits etc… It’s not rocket science, if a college program calls and says “former player of yours X is in the portal and we’re looking for a transfer running back, and you have current player Y on your team now” I would caution you to advise player Y to sign at that program. You are going to be, if not already, the key piece of communication and advice in the mind of the college transfer prospect and your current high school athletes.


Let me be clear, I am not anti-transfer. If you have read any of my previous blog’s or listened to any of the podcasts I have done, State of Play you will know that transfers have been a part of the game since the dawn of time. I also do believe that in an environment where coaches can up and leave, I do think some flexibility for the players has merit. I am however against prospects and families and high school coaches being in the dark on the recruiting process, and unfortunately, because of the constant changes, it is almost impossible for prospects, families, and coaches alike to really know what is going on and what is fact vs fiction. So, if you have questions, I hope this blog has helped. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] so we can discuss your unique situation.


Have a great week!

10-5-2021


Topic: The constant Urban Meyer moral debate and the overall accountability or lack thereof for major College Football Coaches


Intro: This week former college athlete Christian Babini gives his thoughts on how the latest drama surrounding the morals and ethics of Urban Meyer and what that could mean for you.


Guest Blog: Christian Babini

Unless you live under a rock, you most likely heard about Urban Meyer and his actions this past weekend. After listening to his halfhearted apology this morning, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this situation. First off, I want to preface the rest of this post with acknowledging I understand Urban Meyer has a million wins and a dozen championships at the collegiate level. But what we saw in his apology today was not from a 0-4 coach but rather a 0-4 Man.

Vince Lombardi once said “winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time.” Well the same quote applies with accountability. I believe to be successful in any facet of life, you don’t just hold yourself accountable when it’s convenient for you. You hold yourself accountable all the time. While Urban may be considered one of the most successful coaches of all time, his apology tells you everything you need to know about the guy.

We live in a society where it is becoming easier and easier to dismiss accountability. It’s always someone else’s fault. And we saw it in the apology today from Urban, “They were trying to pull me onto the dance floor”, “They wanted to take pictures with me”, “The Head Coach can’t be a distraction”. Here’s a thought, don’t be a distraction then!

Football can be more than a game, but only if you engrain yourself in the values it teaches. I never won a championship, I only had one offer out of high school, in fact- as an offensive lineman I never recorded a single stat in 17 years of playing the sport. But I learned how to hold myself and others accountable. The type of coach you play for, has huge impact on the person you become. If you are in the process of trying to play at the collegiate level, I encourage you to look past the wins, locker room, uniforms, offers and instead make certain you understand the people you WANT to be playing for.

-Christian Babini


Conclusion: So here we are with yet another moral dilemma surrounding Urban Meyer, and not less than a month ago Brian Kelly on national television makes the “I’m in favor of executing my team” statement after they squeaked out a win against Florida State. Neither of these in digressions are anything approaching breaking the law. If Urban Meyer wants to live his life as these videos show, so be it and Brian Kelly was simply making a statement in jest, nothing more needs to come of that. However, at what point are we going to hold these coaches accountable? At what point are recruits and families going to start saying, “you know Coach Meyer, are you always at bars like this?” Because as we have learned, University Presidents and owners don’t care at all about morals and ethics of these individuals, they only care about if they can help their program win and earn money, period. The only way this gets corrected is if families start saying “my child is not playing for someone like that, period.” Unfortunately, with any epidemic, it is not this simple. The constant grind and demand for the almighty dollar is so strong, I can’t say I see a remedy soon. I side with Christian; I believe who you play for has a big impact on the person you become. For those doing it right, those running their programs with morals and ethics, I salute you. ESPN may not, you may never land that 7-figure job, but I thank you for the way you do it. Do not sell your soul for the money, because I can assure you, and it may be a pebble in the ocean, but my children will never be associated with a program that Urban Meyer is coaching.


Have a great week!

9-27-2021


My interaction with the one and only, Buck Nystrom.


I learned early on this past Sunday that the great Buck Nystrom had passed away. My first thought was sadness for Kyle and the family, but also a little shock. If you got to know Buck you literally asked yourself if he would ever leave this earth. He was tough, he didn’t take anything from anyone and you just thought somehow, someway he will live forever. In 2019 I was hired at Northern Michigan University to be a part of their football staff, I was hired by Kyle Nystrom. Kyle hired me in the late winter and soon after I met his father, Buck Nystrom. Now there may not be a more revered name in the coaching community then Buck Nystrom, I had heard his name for 15 years before, but never met him. My college coach played for him, and every stop I made I heard the name. When I had a chance to meet him I learned very quick that Buck was “old school.” Buck was from a different era of the game. I called plays for a year and while we didn’t win many games, every Sunday he would come into the office, and he was less concerned with whether we won or lost but how many times I tried to “get the ball to the outside.” He was tough, he was quick to tell a story and or give his opinion on what we were doing on offense and or what he thought we should do moving forward. Buck said to me one day, after he lectured us on the principles of outside zone for an hour, he said “Dan, my life is Football, it always has been and always will be.” I respected him, and I will value the short time I had to be around him.


I have 2 memories that resonate with me that I will share in which I believe accurately magnify Buck, not only the football coach, but also the man. I won’t talk about how he would tell me daily that he built his cabin, by hand, every nail (camp as he called it) not only to have Kyle tell me everything was broken. I won’t talk about him telling us how when he was coaching at Oklahoma he used to go to some out-of-town bar to get away from Barry Switzer so they could give him a hard time without him around. Instead I am immediately reminded of the story Buck told me about having an opportunity to coach in the NFL, he received a call from a franchise that wanted him to be the Offensive Line coach for their franchise. He consulted his longtime friend George Perles who told him “Buck, you’ll have to change how you coach, the pro’s won’t take your style all that well.” He said “Thank you George, I value your feedback.” He looks me dead in the eye and says “Dan, I ain’t changing for anyone, so I didn’t take it.” If you got to know Buck you knew that he was being honest, he stayed true to what he was all about, all the way through his life. As much as Buck talked about not changing, he actually adapted and adjusted to people and the game better then anyone I met. He was old, rough, from a different era and he could relate to any 18 year old I saw him come across. Buck may not have chosen to change his style, but what I don’t think he realized was that the kids changed for him, he meant that much to people.


Finally I am reminded of a difficult time in my professional career, a time where I was going through a really rough spot. At a practice one day Buck stares me in the eye, middle of a team session and says “Dan, how you doing?” Now I don’t know what was going through his mind at the time, but I believe he said it because he cared about me as a person and could see I wasn’t in the best place. He had a sixth sense to be able to connect to people and pull their best out of them. In that moment, that was all I needed. Buck will forever live in my eyes as someone who may have lived the game, but truly changed peoples lives for the better.


Buck, I’ll miss you, I’ll miss your stories but I am pretty sure I know your first interaction after entering the gates of Heaven and seeing your bride Joan. I figure it goes a little like this.

God: Buck, welcome to heaven, you earned your way here because of the life you lived.

Buck: Lord, I appreciate it, but let me get this straight. You send Moses through the middle of the Red Sea when there was all that space on the outside, YOU GOTTA GET TO THE OUTSIDE!!! Now let’s go have a seat, I gotta talk to you for a bit. Joan I’ll be in the office.


Buck, rest in peace my friend.

8-29-2021


College athletics tradition and the Amazon effect:


We have entered the doors to a brand-new college athletics year. This past weekend I was able to see the first episode of College Gameday on a Saturday morning, I caught a few football games including a Big Ten matchup to start the season. Student athletes all over the country are wrapping up training camp in anticipation for their season, after what seems like years and years without “real sports”. This upcoming weekend I will be taking my family to Madison Wisconsin to take in a volleyball match between the Badgers and the Dayton Flyers and follow it up with the football game Saturday morning against Penn State. In many ways, all feels right with the world… however we all know that is not true.


We still face the Covid pandemic, there is a massive hurricane attacking the Louisiana coast as I write this, and the mess in Afghanistan has reminded us all just how fragile life is. Amongst all of this, life does move forward, we are reminded with all these situations that life, is in fact intended to move forward. While my thoughts are with all those affected, especially the soldiers and civilians lost in the Middle East I will work to control what I can control.


There is a much less important aspect about sports I would like to discuss this week. College athletics is in the midst of a monumental shift, if you have followed these blog’s, you know I have talked about what the NIL impact has had on the landscape of college athletics. We face an “alliance” between the Big Ten, Pac 12 and the ACC which will have massive implications on the sports world moving forward, both good and bad. With that and so much more going the questions on Fox and ESPN are always, why? Why are these changes being implemented? It comes down to one thing, one thing and one thing only, money. We all love to talk about tradition and the pageantry of sports and while I truly believe that is so valuable, it really is not, it is and will always be about money. It is about money, because we want win's and money will buy wins.  It buys win's by buying the best facilities, the best coaches, the best training programs, and those people and things turn into win's and that is what you want, so college athletic programs have adapted.  I can not wait to be in Madison this weekend to have my daughter see the Volleyball team run out and represent their University with pride. I am very much looking forward to seeing the band and the cheerleaders and the energy on campus that gives you that special feeling on a weekend at a college campus. I hold that so close to my heart, but for all intense and purpose there is no value in that “special feeling”. It is all about money and the tradition and pageantry is an added element. While we all get older and feel like it’s slipping away, and what we love and hold dear to our hearts is changing in front of our eyes I am reminded of Amazon and Menards. Amazon…? A multibillion-dollar corporation that has changed the landscape of the retail world? Menards, dear lord Menards??? If you know me you know that there is no bane of my existence more so then Menards, one of the big box stores that have destroyed the local hardware store? Where’s the connection to college sports and the changes we see? What is this guy talking about is certainly on the top of your mind?


Consider this; as I was strolling through Menards(unfortunately) I was reminded what made them tick, what makes them go? It is money, it is money, that’s all it is. The big box stores focus on getting the product for the cheapest price, which in turn allows them to charge you the lowest possible price. Frankly you don’t care about the customer service, you don’t care if anyone talks to you, asks you for help because you want the low price. I get it, I have a family, I understand, I am not throwing stones, but the fact is that the value of the mom and pop hardware store, and that value of “community” and them knowing you by name doesn’t replace that value of cold hard cash, it just doesn’t. Menards has adapted, Menard’s has grown to what you want. No different then the major program’s realizing what you want out on that football field on a Saturday afternoon, a win. That’s all you want. Playing the game the right way? Playing with pride? Does that really matter to you? Based on most fan’s twitter feeds, I would say it is in fact about winning. It is the same with Amazon, they have perfected the ease and comfort of the retail experience and put many shopping mall’s out of business. The term I hear all the time is “I’d love to shop local and not give my money to Amazon”. It is a dynamic that can really twist your mind in knots if you choose to let it. This isn’t all negative though, like I said there is a connection. Many will not remember a conference called the Southwestern Conference. Back in the day Texas used to line up against teams like Arkansas, Ole Miss and in the mid 90’s the Southwestern Conference broke up and Texas went to the Big 12. The big change in sports now is Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC (Southeastern Conference) where Texas will line up against teams like, wait for it, Arkansas and Ole Miss. It’s all 1 big circle folks, it’s all money driven. If you use Amazon and Menards as a guide, you can look at it as a positive though. Like the NIL and conference realignment, Amazon and Menards have changed their respective landscape. Think about the thousands and thousands of people both of those companies employ? I have seen those Amazon distribution centers or fulfillment centers, you can’t miss them they’re humongous. Think of all the jobs they are creating. The ex-wife of Jeff Bezos is donating almost all of her money awarded her from the divorce to charities across the country. Change is hard, losing what we hold dear like tradition is difficult, but like any element of life, it is natural. It will probably end up enhancing many and many of those impacted right now and putting hem in a favorable situation. The next time you want to say college athletics is doomed, think of the mall and Amazon and know that someday, some kid somewhere will revolutionize the defunct shopping mall and we’ll all sit back and say “boy Amazon is fading, what happened to the good ole days?”


Enjoy the year of sports, enjoy the pageantry and all the while reflecting on those who are in much more challenging positions then us.


Have a great week.

1/9/2021

"What if" in the recruiting process

As we turn the calendar to 2021, we close in on the February signing date, and for many prospects outside of the Power 5 ranks, their decisions are becoming pressure packed and a little more stressful. Football, tennis, basketball any sport out there, there are a plethora of student athletes sifting through partial scholarships, academic grants, and overall financial aid packages in order to make the best decision for their next step in the academic process. College’s are sifting through multiple prospects and trying to navigate the Covid adjustments, look at roster management to make up their best possible program. As if recruiting was stressful enough the current circumstances have only added to the challenges that are present even in a “normal” year. The term I hear the most for the next month is “what if?” What if this? What if that? This is the part of the process where your “why” and your “circle” are the most important. While I believe in preparation, planning and getting your ducks in a row you can only answer so much and so many “what if’s.” If you are spending 75% of your recruiting conversations talking “what if’s” with your children, then you will never get to the right spot. The reality is, “what if’s” will never end, you will be talking about them too long. Also, you can never get enough of the right answers to those “what if’s” anyways, so focus on things that are much more important. So, if you find yourself constantly saying “what if” when you are trying to make a decision, know you need to focus back on your “why”. If you can answer your “why” answering the “what if’s” will not make much difference. If you as a student athlete trust your true circle, worrying about answering the “what if’s” will not make much difference.

Know that the recruiting process is stressful, we all wish we could see the future so this pressure could be alleviated. However, we cannot and trying to answer “what if” to everything will only cloud your vision for remembering why fundamentally you want to play at a higher level and challenge yourself in any given sport. Let me wrap this up with 1 simple “what if” question; What if I do or do not play college athletics? Answer question and then set your course accordingly. Let the “what if’s” end there. Embrace your “why” and trust your circle.

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