College recruiting is HUGE business! Schools pay big money for access to databases of athletes and their information/film.
Going into my senior year, I didn’t have a high school football highlight tape. It wasn’t for a lack of school video equipment or being unable to find someone crazy enough to film/freeze on top of press box during the cold and windy games (I grew up in the Midwest). I guess technically I was on the film, but I think the video guys were instructed to zoom in and not worry about including the guys on the bench in the shot.
Anyway, I needed a scholarship. Not like, “Son, you’re a great athlete, and you’re going to get a scholarship someday.” It was more like, “Coby, you need to get a scholarship. We don’t have the money to pay for school.” College loans and a junior college was the alternative. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with going to a junior college. The amount of debt carried by students finishing college is outrageous.
So how do you get a scholarship to college if nobody really wants you to play for their basketball program, and you haven’t played varsity football?
First, I learned from my cousin’s recruitment (he ended up going to Notre Dame, then transferring to Northwestern) that schools might be more inclined to show interest if their rivals or direct competition were showing interest. Well, that’s great… except when nobody is really showing interest. So what did I do? I fibbed… ok, I outright lied (temporarily) on any questionnaires I could get my hands on. Colleges often send blank questionnaires to high school programs for top players to fill out. I asked my coach for any he had and quickly filled them out. “Oh, Iowa wants to know who else is recruiting me… Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa State.” Technically they did… to a certain degree… long after I filled out the questions. I would also add a few pounds to my weight, but I’m pretty sure every recruit does that. Some schools weigh you if you come for a visit… oh man was I nervous for those.
One day, a questionnaire mentioned a recruiting website used by the school to collect their questionnaire information online. I noticed that the URL read something like: www.recruitingwebsite.com/questionnaire/oklahoma-fball/… Hmm… This made me wonder what woud happen if someone were to try to visit www.recruitingwebsite.com/questionnaire/missouri-fball/… and voila! It worked! Suddenly I found myself looking up a list of the main Division 1a conferences and their member schools to try to plug into the URL. Today, some schools have theirs readily available through the school athletic site, and I filled my fair share of those out too, but that wasn’t always the case.
Somehow I started to receive recruiting letters from all over. Now, receiving the same letter that was also sent to 2,000 recruits from a school doesn’t exactly precede a scholarship offer, so I had to pique some interest outside of my primary tactics. Usually other high school kids were sending their football highlight tapes (complete with their favorite stupid rap song in the background), which consisted of some of their best plays spliced together on a DVD. Since I had yet to see the field, I sent out
breakdancing basketball tape, hoping I could convince someone that I was tall, athletic, and could jump.
It turned out that I ended up having some decent football film to send out, so rather then send it to the schools I was interested in, I sent it to every school I could (to create competition). Then I quickly sent it out to the local branches of the various websites that showcased recruits (scout.com, rivals.com) in an attempt to bump my rankings on their site. (Side Note: Sometimes I think those sites change their rankings after kids get offers from specific schools, without seeing any new tape… cough*USC*cough).
I can’t rule out the possibility that my tactics didn’t have a small impact somewhere along the line in my recruitment, but least I ended up telling the truth on the questionnaires, sort of…
(Side Note: My Dad hired a guy who said he could help get me a scholarship. I’m pretty sure that is/was a scam. You would be better served sending tape yourself or contacting the school to learn where to send your information than pay someone to say they are doing it.)
After School Reading
1. Becoming a Pop Star with Zero Experience. Another loophole finder… good work.
2. Why Bitcoin Rise is Nothing to Celebrate. “Imagine a sucker who took out a loan in bitcoins a few weeks ago — she’d never be able to pay it back today.”
3. Patents. I think I have a great idea. “Ideas are worthless. Execution is priceless.”