A number of years ago I had the opportunity to coach at the small college level. At the Division III and NAIA level especially, recruiting can be just as much (if not more) of an admissions-driven process as an athletics-driven one. That's not the case everywhere, but it certainly hold true a lot of places.
Talk to any coach who has pride in the program they're building and campus they're a part of and you'll hear them share that, "if we can just simply get kids to visit campus, or around the game atmosphere during a home game, they'll love this place. The product sells itself."
The problem can be that after countless texts, direct messages, interaction on social media, and hours compiled on the phone, getting a 17 or 18-year old kid to commit to giving up a Saturday to come to visit campus and catch a game can be harder that it really should be. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that's reality for a number of coaches trying to recruit kids the past few decades.
But there has to be an easier, more efficient way to connect with today's technology-driven generation, right?
That's what went through my head when I saw this tweet from Coastal Carolina football, the program led by CEO-turned football coach Joe Moglia, who are entering their first season of Sun Belt competition. Now, Coastal Carolina surely isn't the first, or only, program to do this, but they are the one that caught my eye most recently.
The link takes recruits to a simple, efficient questionnaire starting with the basics like name, email address, and graduation year to make sure there's no Uncle Rico's signing up.
Part 2 of the questionnaire gets into some more pertinent details beyond just personal information, like a link to their HUDL video, their Twitter handle, and the names of the two additional guests being provided tickets, and their relationship to the recruit.
Then comes the questionnaire portion, where recruits select a home game they're interested in landing tickets to and some more information, and all that gets sorted out by Coastal Carolina staff.
I've reached out to a few college programs who do something similar, and they've each had to work through some issues unique to each of them, but after making some necessary tweaks, they seem to feel like the similar system they came up with using an online sign up worked well for them.
Granted, regardless of what level you're at, if you decide to use this approach you'll probably have to sort through guys that can play for your program and those who can't and follow up with them somehow, and that's why getting prospects to share their social media accounts and a link to their film is such a good idea.
Getting fans into seats for game day has become a huge hurdle at a lot of places, and it's probably time programs start to look at, and embrace, new ways to get prospective players on campus to experience their games.