Random Thoughts – Volume X

Countdown to Chaos I … On campus visits returning June 1st: “The Levee is about to break”

For generations, Buff fans have heard from CU coaching staffs that recruiting to Colorado is all about getting prospects to Boulder: “If we can get them to campus, we can sign them”.

Well, for the first time in the 15-month old Karl Dorrell era at the University of Colorado, recruits will be on campus. Some two dozen official visits will take place over the next month, including four of CU’s five commitment from the Recruiting Class of 2022. It will be a good chance for the CU coaching staff to pick up additional commitments, as well as for the current members of the Class to do some recruiting of their own.

Colorado is not alone in prepping for an important month.

The reality of hosting hundreds of players at camps, and high-profile recruits on official and unofficial visits on their campuses in a span of only 27 days is a logistical nightmare. Flexibility is a must. Sleep is optional.

“We’ll be hosting camps, traveling to camps, then flying back for the weekends to host official visitors,” a Pac-12 assistant coach told 247Sports. “It’s going to be a long, tiring month but I’m fired up for it”.

Coaches are paid millions to excel against the unexpected, whether on game days when a defense uses a different alignment or in the summer when, well, life happens.

“The levee is about to break,” an ACC coordinator said. “I don’t think we know what to expect, but we are preparing for 27 straight days of recruiting and will adjust from there.”

Many staffs will participate in satellite camps across the country, thrusting hours of travel into an already-full calendar.

Booking plane tickets, traveling to airports and waiting in security lines is not a productive use of time, but coaches are getting creative.

“The biggest thing will be the schmoozing of boosters to use their private jets because working satellite camps during the week and jetting back for the official visits (on campus) will be on repeat,” a Pac-12 assistant coach said. “Our families probably won’t see us at all in June. I’m excited because live evaluations are critical to me, but I’m cautious to what this schedule is going do to my body.”

The quiet period might also be the most important 27 days in the careers of first- and second-year coaches. June is their first chance to prove to players and their families why their school has changed since the departure of their predecessors in 2020 or early 2021.

“We get one shot to make a first impression,” said first-year Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. “Some of these people have been here before but we’re telling them to come visit Auburn again for the first time. It’s a new staff, it’s a different vibe and we’re looking forward to it. It’s crazy because we’ve just haven’t been able to do anything for so long. Coaches are anxious in a good way, players are anxious, families are anxious. It’s just gonna be good to have people here and interact with them face to face.”

If Karl Dorrell is going to get the University of Colorado over the hump, and back into the national conversation, it’s going to come down to recruiting. Dorrell and his staff did a good job in keeping the Class of 2020 together through the pandemic, assembled a decent Class of 2021, and have, arguably, fared well in the Transfer Portal.

But the proof will be in winning over top high school talent year-in and year-out.

It will be interesting to see how June, 2021, unfolds …

Speaking of Recruiting … 

ESPN recently gave some well-deserved props to Tad Boyle for his recruiting … albeit reluctantly.

After showering praise upon UCLA’s coach Mick Cronin for what he has done in Westwood, and upon Oregon’s Dana Altman for buying … er, luring … top transfers each off-season, the ESPN analysts talked about what Tad Boyle is doing in Boulder.

Jeff Borzello: Colorado is the program mentioned most by coaches in the league for recruiting above its weight class. Tad Boyle has consistently been able to find under-the-radar guys, whether it’s Spencer Dinwiddie or Derrick White or McKinley Wright. NCAA tournament star Jabari Walker didn’t even have an ESPN recruiting profile.

It’s not as if Boyle is competing for Pac-12 titles every single season, but the Buffaloes went to four of five NCAA tournaments early in his tenure, would have made it in 2020 and earned a 5-seed this past season. And perhaps that success is translating onto the recruiting trail: Colorado is bringing in the No. 9-ranked recruiting class in the country next fall.

Myron Medcalf: For all the reasons Jeff mentioned, I think it’s Colorado. The Buffaloes are essentially the Pac-12’s Purdue. I think the talent Tad Boyle has identified and developed have been the key to his success. He grabbed George King in Texas. He’s had success with Spencer Dinwiddie and others from the West Coast. McKinley Wright is from Minnesota. That’s what you have to do when you’re up against powerhouse recruiters such as Oregon, Arizona and UCLA in the Pac-12. You have to get creative. And that’s not easy to achieve. Just ask Washington State or Oregon State or Cal or the other programs that have tried to compete for talent within that conference.

Joe Lunardi: I am optimistic about what Craig Smith can achieve at Utah, but he’s yet to coach a Pac-12 game. So add me to the Colorado chorus. Tad Boyle has proven to be outstanding at both building a roster and developing his players long-term. Hopefully that formula can continue for the Buffaloes in this era of the transfer portal and its wandering eyes.

But … what ESPN giveth, ESPN taketh away …

In an article, “Which Pac-12 programs have the most to offer men’s basketball recruits, transfers?“, ESPN put the Pac-12 into tiers:

  • Tier One: UCLA; Arizona
  • Tier Two: Oregon
  • Tier Three: USC; Arizona State; Washington; Stanford
  • Tier Four: Utah; California; Colorado
  • Tier Five: Washington State; Oregon State

Of Colorado, ESPN wrote: Colorado doesn’t have a wealth of inherent recruiting advantages, but every coach polled singled out the Buffaloes as the program that has recruited above its weight class most effectively in recent years. In fact, Tad Boyle’s staff reeled in the No. 9-ranked recruiting class for 2021.

“It’s the main college basketball school in the state,” one coach said. “They do a great job evaluating talent. Spencer Dinwiddie, McKinley Wright, those kinds of guys. Jabari Walker. He was a great eval. They got him out of a prep school in Phoenix. It doesn’t matter where he was ranked, he was one of the best freshmen in our league. They can dip into the Midwest and get a really good Nebraska kid, a west Kansas kid. Minnesota. And because of the Pac-12 footprint, they can recruit the West Coast. Then they mix in overseas guys.”

As one coach put it, though, much of the recruiting success Colorado has had comes from its ability to unearth under-the-radar guys or develop players within the program. Between Chauncey Billups in 1997 and a recent run of NBA players starting with Alec Burks a decade ago, there wasn’t overwhelming talent coming through Boulder.

I guess we’ll have to hope that Tad Boyle keeps recruiting above CU’s “weight class” … until the Buffs are recognized as a good program.

Countdown to Chaos II – Name, Image and Likeness deadline looms

In September 2019, the state of California passed what was then known as the “Fair Pay to Play” act, which would allow college athletes in the state to profit off their NIL beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The law also prohibits universities from revoking an athlete’s scholarship for accepting money earned through such means.

The move put direct pressure on the NCAA to enact its own NIL legislation and kicked off a race for other states to introduce their own laws.

Since then, the deadline to act has been pushed up, with five states – Alabama; Florida; Georgia; Mississippi; and New Mexico – have NIL laws going into effect on July 1st (Arizona’s law kicks in July 23rd, the earliest date in the Pac-12, with Colorado’s NIL law not going into effect until 2023).

So, what has the NCAA done to head off chaos on July 1st?

Nothing … yet.

What will happen?

Under the NIL legislation passed to this point, college athletes would be able to earn money in a variety of different ways (including but not limited to):

  • Social media (sponsored posts or advertisements)
  • Autograph sales
  • YouTube channels
  • Private training lessons
  • Merchandise
  • Endorsement deals

Not a problem? Here are some of the “unintended consequences” which NIL will bring about:

  • Added recruiting advantages and an increased potential for cheating
  • Opportunity for third parties or agent-types to scam college athletes
  • Complicated tax ramifications and college athlete unfamiliarity with managing finances
  • The slippery slope from the amateur model to NIL compensation to schools paying college athletes directly
  • Deterioration of what makes college sports different from professional sports

Will the NCAA – or Congress – get their acts together and get some national rules in place over the next 30 days, when states with SEC schools (see list of states with July 1st enactment dates, above) jump ahead of the rest of the nation, and implement their own NIL rules?

We’ll see …


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