Do You Really Know What You’re Getting?

Oct 24


Al Woods

Al Woods

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Congratulations! You have been successfully recruited by a good college program! You are happy and your parents are happy and relieved that you have f...


Congratulations! You have been successfully recruited by a good college program! You are happy and your parents are happy and relieved that you have found a college program that you are excited about. You have spent many hours in the process of trying to get recruited and you’ve spent a lot of money over the last few years. You went to all the events,Do You Really Know What You’re Getting? Articles the camps and you did all the workouts. You did it all and it all paid off!

When you’re being recruited by a college program, do you really know what you’re getting? Think about that. All high school student athletes who are the chosen few who do make it to the next level are special. You are the best athlete at your school and in your home state. When you are going through the recruiting process you receive a lot of attention from many college programs and the college recruiters are your best friends. They are very nice to you and are glad to talk with and your parents. But sometimes this is not all it seems to be.

How many times have you heard of a high school student athlete who is now with a college program but for a great many reasons wants to leave that college program? This happens on all levels of college programs, large and small ones. Why does this happen? Why do high school athletes who, just a few months ago, fell in love with that college program and now can’t wait to get the hell out of there?

I think that part of the reason is, and I am going by what I’ve heard form college players, coaches, parents and my own personal experience, is that a lot of college coaches will tell high school players and their families anything just to get those players excited  about their college program.

Many college coaches will tell players that they will play right away or they will be given a scholarship the next season. Many college coaches will make ridiculous promises to high school student athletes and parents all the time in an effort to get that kid in their program. Some of the things college coaches have said that were told to me by many parents over the years is that we are going to have the best workout facility. Now, that could be a problem at many smaller programs like on the Division-2 level.

Coaches have said things like: ‘you will play’, ‘you’re going to be a major part of our program’, ‘we treat everyone fairly and all the same’, ‘we care about you’, ‘you’re going to be the best player’, ‘we will help you with your academics and studying’. This is what college coaches say to players and it’s all a part of the college recruiting process that goes on every day.

These college recruiters know what to say to parents and student athletes. They know which buttons to push when recruiting. These coaches know the rules and know how to play the game and in some ways, they can. Parents and student athletes are often at a disadvantage because the playing field of college recruiting is not level.

Another thing you hear coaches say is “just keep working hard and you’ll play”, or “you are going to play” but only to get jerked around by the coaches in the end. These things and many more are why players, once placed in college, feel that they want to leave and transfer to another program.

Right now, there is a football player who is at a Division-2 program in West Virginia. This young man was recruited by a huge number of college programs but ended up at a small D-2 program. Now this young man and his father are ready to leave that program because number one, it’s very small and they feel he could be playing at a higher level. The problem is he’s good but he’s not that good.

They really did not know what they were getting into with this smaller program. Many families feel that they can transfer to another college program like changing jobs or moving to a new house or buying a new car. College programs don’t work like that. If you’re there at a program that recruited you then there’s a reason for that. Many parents feel “well after a year he can just transfer to some place else”.  Parents, it don’t work like that and you’re just giving your kid false hope.

As a college basketball player back in the 1980’s, I played at a small college program in West Virginia. The head coach lied to all the players on that team. It was mostly done to get us in that college program. That coach had everyone fooled into believing that he was a great recruiter and a good basketball coach. No, he was a great liar! When he recruited most of the players, he told me that it was about getting an education and building a great basketball program. This man said all the right things and more just to get us on that campus and in that basketball program.

There were no rules. It was the wild, Wild West at that college! Some of the players, though not all, were using drugs and the head coach knew about this but let it go on. This coach only cared about winning ball games and would do anything to win. Cheating at that school was rampant, paying players money every day! It was like playing college basketball was a part-time paying job!  Players would come and go and this coach did not care as long as you could help the team win!

I felt this coach was using all of us for something bigger. You know when you win a lot of games and bring in a lot of talented basketball players from all over the country, people take notice.

 This coach did not know how to coach. Like most college coaches, they are students of the game. They know the X’s O’s of basketball strategy. Most college coaches study the game, write about the game, and attend camps to learn about the game. Most college coaches were assistant coaches at other programs so that they can get the coaching experience that you must have in order to build a college program. Coaching is more than game strategy; it’s about people and families’ lives. This coach cared about none of it and when he did, it was to make himself look good. What a fake! And he’s still a fake to this day!

This man and I can’t really call him coach, gained major attention from Dale Brown, the head coach of the LSU basketball program. In the late 1980’s, Coach Brown was impressed with how that coach was able to build a big-time program at the small college level with no real recruiting budget.  Coach Dale Brown wanted my coach to join his staff at LSU as his top assistant. This man did just that- join the men’s basketball program at LSU.

To make a long story short, within 7 years this man has gotten himself fired from the Head Assistant Basketball coaching job. Come to find out he really could not coach basketball at all! What he did at LSU was much of the same thing at West Virginia State-got on all the players’ nerves, caused radical tension, lied to everyone and tried to overtake the basketball program at LSU! This man was not fit to coach basketball or to oversee young men’s lives.

This coach tried to ruin that basketball program. He went on to say that he got Shaquille O'Neal to come to LSU! I heard him say that on T.V., “I got Shaquille”. That statement, along with many other things, got that man kicked out of that major college program. When a coach is at a major college program and gets fired, what do you think his chances are of getting a coaching job anywhere else is? Zero!

Now he’s coaching at some D-2 program way, way out in Montana somewhere. This man can never get a good coaching job anywhere because of his horrible reputation.

This coach is blackballed. He can’t get a better coaching job because of his horrible reputation in the college coaching community. Had I known more about the recruiting process back then, had more facts and information about this coach and his program.

I would have never gone there and I’m sure most of my teammates feel the same way!

Most young men want to do the right thing. They want to go to a college program where they are playing by the rules, where it’s fair and it’s a good environment.  I point this out because it happened to me and it still goes on. Parents, make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Parents, when you are looking for a college program for the student athlete in the family make sure you do your research thoroughly. Check out everything Find out if they graduate players that are in their program. Have the coaches been in any trouble? What are the players like on that team? What is the campus like? When you do go on a recruiting visit, talk to the other players on the team and find out what the program is like for them. Talk to more than 1 or 2 players and try to get a feel for the program.

Make sure that if your student athlete does get in that program that you know what they’re getting. Make sure that he or she will be given a fair shot of playing. Make sure of the scholarship that you are getting. Many times families and student athletes jump at the first college program that makes an offer. If you are lucky enough to get multiple offers look at all the programs make sure you understand what you’re getting.

I would think the worse thing would be to be apart of a program and that everything that was promised to you turned out to be wrong.

Many high school student athletes who are being recruited sometimes lose site over the big picture instead of doing some research on the college programs that are recruiting you. You just don’t take the word of that coach. Many times in the Woods Recruiting college recruiting service there have been athletes who will call me to say that they are unhappy, they are not playing, they are being treated unfairly and they want to leave. This happens all the time. Sometimes there is good reason for this and most of the time there’s not and the student athlete wants to leave that college program.

We all make mistakes but if you make a mistake with choosing a college program it could cost you. Remember, you are being recruited. They want you so in some ways, you have some power. Don’t make the mistake of not checking out the college programs that are recruiting you, you’ll be glad you did!

© 2007 Al Woods