Negative recruiting is the darkside of recruiting.
Just about every school does it in some form or fashion to convince recruits to sign with them rather than the competition.
Some coaches blatantly call out and put down other schools, while others are subtle and low key with negative recruiting.
One of UGA’s top signees, Davin Bellamy, turned a lot of heads when he tweeted this last month:
“One of my last in-home (visits), a school spent an hour and half telling me why I shouldn’t go to Georgia.”
Bellamy, who picked a baseball cap from UGA over Tennessee on signing day, didn’t identify the anti-Bulldogs school. But he wasn’t alone in his experience with negative recruiting. Other recruits, including Shaq Wiggins (who signed with UGA), also tweeted out similar statements.
After UGA coach Mark Richt heard about Bellamy’s tweet, this is what he had to say about the topic of negative recruiting:
“I hate to hear things like that. You hate the fact that that’s what is going on out there, but you cannot put your hand in the sand either. I think what we try to do from the very beginning is tell them the truth about everything. We don’t hide anything from them. Also, I always tell (recruits) that recruiting is a pretty friendly business until you choose Georgia or another school. Then, all of sudden, whomever you choose, you get attacked.
“If somebody is talking about their school, I think you should listen to what they say. If they are talking to you about Georgia or another school, I think you have to take it with a grain of salt. Just like, if you hear me talking about another school, if I’m you, I’m not going to listen much to what I have to say. But when I tell you about Georgia and the reality of what’s going on at Georgia, then I want you to believe what I’m telling you.
“We try to make sure that we’re going about it a very positive way, and talking about great things at Georgia. I think that is the best policy and the best practice, and I don’t see us changing that any time soon.”
Here’s what other coaches had to say about negative recruiting:
- Tennessee’s Butch Jones: “Well, it’s out there. I think everyone is obviously looking for an advantage. You know, I tell our coaches we’re going to sell the University of Tennessee, and that’s what we do. We’re going to sell what we have. A lot of times, people try to take something that they read on the Internet, or something they don’t really have knowledge about, and they’ll try to turn them into their own circumstances and use it against you. I found that with coming in here. There were a lot of false accusations they (competitors) were using against the University of Tennessee in the recruiting process. All I can speak of is what we’re going to do here at the University of Tennessee, and we’re going to do nothing but sell our football program and present the facts to prospective student-athletes. That’s what we’re going to do.”
- Vanderbilt’s James Franklin: “It’s all over the place. We hear it consistently from a lot of different angles. I think when you have a really good product to sell, you can focus on your product. I don’t necessarily think it’s negative recruiting when people do some research and find some facts. I don’t have any problem with that. There’s no oasis out there. There’s no perfect place. Every place has strengths and weaknesses. I have no problem with people doing research and showing it. But when it’s just negative recruiting without any facts to back it up, that’s the stuff that’s a little frustrating when you’re dealing with 17-year-old and 18-year-old kids that can be easily influenced. Or for a family that really hasn’t been through the recruiting process and they don’t understand, it can be overwhelming. That’s why the trust you have with the young man, his family and his high school coach is very, very important. Because you’re always going to get negative recruiting. Everybody is going to deal with it to a degree. That’s part of the nature of the beast of coaching and competing in the SEC.”
- Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, whose name often comes up whenever there’s a job opening: “It does seem like a lot when jobs come open, my name gets thrown out there. I don’t know who throws it out there. I laugh. To be honest with you, the jobs my name has been associated with, I’ve never been contacted by those schools. The only schools I’ve been contacted by, I’ve never been (publicly) associated with. So I’m not going to get into the specifics of who they are but in the media aspect of things, my name shows up where I never really hear from people. And then the jobs where I’ve actually spoken to people about or they’ve called to inquire, my name never gets in the media. I’m sure negative recruiting is out there whenever my name is rumored somewhere else. We try to combat it and say ‘Hey, here is what our program is. I’ve been here for a while. It doesn’t appear that I’m going anywhere.’ That’s all I can tell kids. If I haven’t left yet, why would I leave now? My wife loves it here. I love living here. We have great kids and brand-new facilities. The university has really helped out the football program. I see no need to leave. I guess that’s the only way I can combat negative recruiting. We spend more time in our program talking about what’s good. I want a young man that wants to be part of our program when they look at what we stand for. Our kids come in and work hard, they are willing to sacrifice and they’re committed to being excellent. I want them to come here for that reason. I want them to call me and say ‘Coach, I want to be part of our program.’ Not because we’ve made another program look bad, or other people make a program look bad. I want them really excited about us.” On the never-ending coaching rumors, Mullen added this: “It’s a pain in the butt. But I will say this. If your name is out there, it’s for two things. I’d rather it be because you’re successful and people think you might move on, rather than people think you’re not succeeding and they’re ready to fire you. If I had to pick one of the two evils, I would pick the one you’re successful rather than they are ready to fire you.”
What are your thoughts on negative recruiting? Please post below.
NOTE: The 2nd annual Julio Jones Elite 100 Middle School Showcase will be held on April 6 at 569 M.L. King Drive in Atlanta. It costs $45 to pre-register at www.i-dareu.net. All attendees will be given a t-shirt, and the top performers will make the Top 100, be ranked and have their picture in a magazine.