Interview with a recruiting director on the effects of the NCAA rules changes
Over the weekend, the NCAA passed comprehensive and potentially game-changing recruiting rules. To fully wrap our arms around what will change, and how much, we talked to a guy who will be on the front lines of the NCAA's new recruiting world when the rules come into effect on Aug. 1.
Matt Dudek has been the director of on-campus recruiting and player personnel at Arizona since December 2011. Like many in his position, he took a circuitous route to get where he is today. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Dudek worked for a Fortune 500 company for two years until, burnt out on the corporate world, he contacted then-Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt to inquire if there was any way he could help the program. Wannstedt responded with a job offer, and Dudek worked his way up the Panthers' football administration ladder while earning a M. Ed. in Instruction and Learning, eventually becoming the assistant director of football operations.
After Wannstedt's departure, Dudek worked for a year as the director of football branding and events at Rutgers before getting a call from Rich Rodriguez soon after he was hired at Arizona.
FootballScoop: You have a job that didn't really exist when you graduated from college. Did most of the guys in your job at other places take similar routes to their current positions as you did to yours?
Dudek: I know a lot of the guys that have similar positions as me. I think everybody started off somewhere, whether it was equipment manager, an operations GA, something like that, I think most people started off like that in the business. Ten or 15 years ago it was maybe an older coach that you wanted to keep around the program, or maybe it was a coach trying to get in the program but now I think it's less about someone looking to be a coach and more about someone looking to be an administration role.
FS: You tweeted on Saturday that your job changed "significantly" with the rules changes. How so?
Dudek: The big thing for me personally is going to be the ability to evaluate talent as well as be able to communicate (with recruits). I'll be able to make phone calls, I'll be able to text, whereas before I was allowed to accept phone calls and send emails and Facebook messages but I was never allowed to initiate the call. I was never allowed to evaluate the talent of a guy and then say, 'Hey coach, he's a great player, let's get him.' It was more of gathering of film and putting it in the system for the coaches to evaluate. It was logging what film was coming in, keeping an eye on guys and giving stats to the coaches and things like that, but the evaluation side of it had to be done by the assistant coaches and Coach Rodriguez.
FS: Does that mean you'll get to make recommendations to coaches on who to offer?
Dudek: Yeah. I think it's going to streamline the process, especially during the season, for everybody. (Coaches) don't get the recruiting film the week you play your rival or as often as you'd like in the season. Now you'll have guys like me, where my job is 24/7 recruiting. I don't have to worry about what happens on Saturday because I don't really have an impact in what happens in that game. I'm going to watching film, getting video of the first six games of a guy instead of giving that to a coach and he gets to it when he gets to it. It's going to me watching and saying, 'Hey coach, you've got to watch this.' It's going to really help the process for everybody from that aspect.
FS: Did the recruiting calendar get moved up at all in terms of how early in a recruit's career a school can contact him?
Dudek: That part of it got tabled until April. They did nothing with the recruiting calendar yet. If they take away the restrictions, I don't think it will go all the way back to freshmen, but in the contact period you'll be able to do home visits with juniors. You'll be able call and text them unlimited. It will definitely push that up. In the past, home visits wouldn't happen until December of your senior year, now you maybe getting them in December of your junior year, so that would move it up a whole year.
FS: Are these changes going to lighten the load for coaches in recruiting, or will it do the opposite?
Dudek: I think it will alleviate some of the short-term things but if you're going to have to call and do home visits and do all these things with juniors and text messaging now, maybe the evaluation and communication side of me being able to do things will lighten that load, I think all the other stuff will make it significantly more competitive. Now you're going to have to work every day. It's not just sending a 'Good morning' text message to 100 guys, you're going to have to follow up. If they say 'Thanks coach, how are you?', you're going to have to respond to that text message. While certain aspects will be lightened, I would think everyone's (work loads) are going to be significantly heavier.
FS: Do you think we'll see schools beefing up their recruiting staffs moving forward?
Dudek: I definitely think so, especially after these rules go into effect and you see how it all works. I certainly think it's going to be a lot like the NFL. You're going to have your coaches side and then you're going to have a front office to do this work.
FS: How many other schools employ a full-time player personnel/recruiting director?
Dudek: I think in the BCS level, I think almost all of them have it. Some call it assistant director of football operations, some call it director of recruiting, some call it director of player personnel, high school relations, I think everyone has a different name for it but at the end of the day I would almost venture to say everyone in the BCS has a position like mine, plus an assistant to that position as well.
FS: A decade from now, do you think we'll look at player personnel staffs as indispensable as we do full-time strength & conditioning and football operations staffs today?
Dudek: I definitely think it's going to be. I really do. This opens up a big door for guys like me. If someone's going to have three guys, then someone's going to say 'Hey, that guy got four guys' and then all of a sudden you're going to have the NFL-type staffs.
FS: What other rules changes passed by the NCAA this weekend caught your eye?
Dudek: Now you don't have to worry about the Baton Rule, it's going to be all 10 coaches going out. It's not a matter of figuring out, Okay I have to give this guy three days, this guy five days, give this guy two days. It's going to be, 'Sunday through Friday, you guys are on it.' There's no more of that, which is going to help out drastically in how you're seeing guys and how you're scheduling yourself. I think the mailing of printed materials, too. Now it's fair game to mail whatever you want. I think that some some people are going to be over the top with it and really get after it from that aspect.