When is the best time to host an official visit? Some Pac-12 schools may have a different idea
They think differently out West.
While the majority of college football programs center their official visit weekends around a game and wouldn't think of doing otherwise, some Pac-12 schools have started doing everything they can to convince recruits they're better off visiting after the season - or they just ban in-season official visits altogether.
At Arizona, official visits are built around getting recruits as much time as possible with coaches, and that's obviously not possible on a game day.
"You want to be able to spend the whole 48 hours with them," director of on-campus recruiting and player perssonal Matt Dudek told ESPN.com. "You don't want to be worrying about a football game and you don't want to waste it, because we believe that you'll fall in love with our coaches when you get some extended time hanging out with them. That's our No. 1 selling point."
Pushing a visit from fall into January also allows for a more relaxed schedule. Running five minutes late to a visit in a coaches' office isn't a fatal mistake when there isn't a game starting in exactly 93 minutes, for example.
In-season official visits are outright denied at Stanford. That's partly because the Cardinal needs more time than the average school to ensure a prospect can qualify academically, and mostly because attending Stanford official visit as much about academics as it is about football.
Every Stanford visit has to take place in January because it begins on a Friday morning so recruits can spend a day experiencing the academic life on campus. That simply isn't possible in the fall.
"To have somebody come here and not see a class is really shortchanging a good look at what Stanford should be," assistant athletic director and director of football administration Mike Eubanks said. "If it's just Saturday and Sunday, you've not done anything to address the academic question, which is maybe one of the biggest questions in the mind of these young scholar-athletes. That's pretty important for us."
That's not to say there isn't risk inherent with this philosophy, however. As writer Erik McKinney details, El Cerrito, Calif., defensive back Adarius Pickett visited UCLA during the first week of this season and expressed desire to visit USC during the season as well. Lane Kiffin told him to wait until after the season.
Pickett committed to UCLA.
Of course, Stanford is aware of that risk and is fine with it, because anything else wouldn't be the Stanford way.
"By the time we get far enough into the process and building relationships, if somebody has this interest in Stanford and we're still with them because they've met all the academic challenges we've given them, then the recruit who has met us that far along in the journey tends to have the perspective and values that wants their official visit to be the same thing we want their official visit to be," Eubanks said.