Ferentz: Concerns for the Sport
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Q: What do you think of the explosion of the 7 on 7 circuit?
Kirk Ferentz: I think it’s dangerous. I am all for 7 on 7, but I know if I were a high school coach, I would want our players with their teammates and focusing on that. If I deemed it important, and I know some don’t, but it’s a nice opportunity for them to be together. Being with each other and the travel, that is good. I think all of us are concerned for the potential to be AAU-ized if that is a word. Which it isn’t, like instamatically. I think we worry about the potential for outside people to come in. I don’t think a high school coach would want that. I do have a kid in high school. It’s not like he is a marquee tight end, but if he were, I wouldn’t allow him to do that. I don’t think it’s what a high school player needs to be doing. I know I am a caveman, but I think they ought to be with their team.
Q: Will it make your job harder if it keeps going that way?
Ferentz: Potentially. I have already had a limited exposure..I am thinking of one individual in mind that was a mentor of a prospect. I can also tell you of a player we had five years ago that also had a mentor who was legitimate. He was a mentor. He was there for all the right reasons and was very close with the family and all of his intentions and actions were what they should be as a mentor. That was an accurate description and that was very positive thing and remains that way as he plays today. I was also exposed recently to a mentor that coincidentally seemed to mentor players that had great size and athleticism. I saw the the list of all the players he mentored. When you start mentoring a select group, that is an interesting circumstance. We had one conversation and that was enough.
Q: This leads to the question about recruiting services. Do you use those?
Ferentz: I think we all have to in college football. It’s evolving now where we can get what we want from X’s and O’s (XOS Digital). They are grabbing the tapes now. But it was typical for us to have someone in Ohio that furnished us with high school video, and Florida and what have you. I can’t say that we have worked any financial arrangements with any trainers per se. If we have, I am not aware of it. Our involvement has been to procure film or get written information and reports, that type of thing. I trust we are paying market prices for those things. This mentoring thing is interesting.
Q: Do Willie Lyle stories surprise you?
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Ferentz: No. No. It concerns me. But it doesn’t not surprise me.
Q: The NCAA has cracked down on every day recruiting services (like Rivals, Scout, 247), ones on the internet that are geared towards fans. They have told schools that they can’t subscribe to those sites, even the $10 per month program. Have you had to change and or educate the staff on how they collect information?
Ferentz: I think when this industry began, the thing that was apparent to me was we are not allowed to call players, but there are no restrictions on outside parties. There was a broad opportunity there for school A to hire such an individual to be the guy. Ask him this, this and this. There is so much gray area out there. I don’t know how we will get our hands around it totally. At the end of the day, it gets down to the integrity of the individuals involved.
Q: Seems to be a blurred line between media and what is a recruiting service…
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Ferentz: That is what i am referring to. If bulldog.com or whatever…if that bulldog.com guy is friends with a coach on the staff, because bulldog.com can call any kid…I was trying to think of general name…what was the team that got their butts kicked by the Globetrotters? TheGenerals.com…I will get in trouble with someone. General.com…the opportunity is there. This stuff is all hard to control, but a lot of things are. It gets back to needing to do things right. We all know what is right and wrong. I would say don’t pay an individual you know $100,000 for something that should cost $5.00. If it’s too good to be true…it’s like the real estate market bubble. If a deal is to good to be true, it’s probably not a good deal.
Q: Your staff has been together for a long time…I imagine you don’t need as many of those introductions, as you have built your network, or does that change all of the time?
Ferentz: Somehow you have to get the tape.
Q: That is still a commodity for people to sell
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Ferentz: I was just talking to Eric (Johnson) about this the other day. X’s and O’s have gotten into recruiting as well as technology. It’s like one stop shopping. They are getting a monopoly, and with that there is a cost increase. But I know they are not training guys or in bed with anyone, or at least I hope they are not
Q: How do you investigate those things?
Ferentz: I am no expert here, it’s just common sense. If someone offers you a deal that is out of the ordinary, you need to ask a few questions about it.
Q: Have you ever found yourself asking those types of questions of these people?
Ferentz: No, the closest thing I had was as conversation with a mentor last winter. It was very polite at his end and nothing was suggested. But I hung up the phone and looked at the list of people he has mentored and where they had gone to school….interesting. (grunt)