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On Sale at Newsstands Now!
OU Coaches’ Roundtable
Coach Bob Stoops and members of his staff discuss recruiting

Each year, the recruiting process supplies new challenges for college coaches across the country. Athletics departments devote massive amounts of resources to signing the top high school players in the country. With so many advancements in technology, the NCAA is trying to keep up with the times. College staffs are also challenged in keeping up with those advancements.

With the 2005 football season heading into the homestretch and the recruiting season heating up, Oklahoma again finds itself battling to gain the services of many of the top prep football players in the country. As if there’s not enough work to keep Bob Stoops’ staff busy coaching the current Sooners, finding time to help secure the future is a top priority.

Sooner Spectator spoke with Stoops, recruiting coordinator Cale Gundy and defensive ends coach Chris Wilson, concerning the ever-changing landscape of college recruiting, how to improve the current recruiting system and how the top prospects in the country are responding to Oklahoma so far.

Sooner Spectator: How do you think recruiting has changed most over the last 10 years?

Bob Stoops: Definitely, the computers and all the information that’s out there. I think it’s kind of good, because now, whatever you’re telling a guy, everyone else is going to know what you’re telling him. I think it’s good. It makes sure people are working with integrity and you know what you’re saying to the guy will be backed up. You can’t say the same thing to three guys. To me, it’s just computers and all the information that’s out there. Unfortunately, some of it is negative and you have to combat that. But you still have to end up answering to it when you wondered where it came from.

Cale Gundy: It’s just year-round now. Ten years ago, I was just a player so I wasn’t that heavily involved. When I was being recruited in the late 80’s and early 90’s it wasn’t as heavy and full time like it is now. You have to know when they’re juniors and you most likely have everybody offered and writing them letters every week. You have these text messages and it’s really non-stop work for us.

Chris Wilson: The Internet. That’s been the biggest deal. So many things are posted that aren’t directly from us, which they can’t be, so a lot of things get skewed. Players say, ‘This guy isn’t recruiting me anymore,’ and I have to tell them that never came from us. That’s been the biggest deal and that’s how things have changed the most. The early commitment has really been a big deal.

SS: Is the Internet something college staffs can no longer ignore?

Stoops: To some degree. I don’t sit there and pay much attention to it until I’m asked about it. I’m still not going to go look it up, but I’m going to tell (recruits) what I’ve said and what my belief is. (Reporters) can go put it everywhere as soon as I hang up with a recruit. I think people are pretty aware that there are some inaccuracies out there as well.

Gundy: We definitely look at it. There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet that is probably not the truth all the time but there are some things that are helpful. You’ve got to be able to decipher between what is the truth and what’s not. But these kids live on the Internet nowadays and that’s where we get most of our information throughout society. Not only in recruiting but in everything else as well.

Wilson: It’s just a part of the experience now. It’s something that if you use it appropriately, it can be beneficial to you. It allows you to locate a lot more student-athletes than we’ve been able to in the past. It has its pluses and its minuses.

SS: So do you find yourselves benefiting from the Internet?

Gundy: Well, it’s always good to find out if somebody has gone on another visit and how his visit went and what it was like. Did the parents go and enjoy it? Things like that.

Wilson: No question. It’s not a deterrent, it’s the biggest change though. What it does is it gives you a lot more information out there, good and bad. You have to identify a lot more players.

SS: Would you be in favor of an early signing period for football?

Gundy: Definitely. I would be in huge favor of a December 1st signing period. The reason I say Dec. 1 is because you recruit these players as juniors and seniors during the summer and the fall. December 1 is usually when we can go out on the road and start recruiting. Most of us already have ten or fifteen players committed already. What that would help is to save a tremendous amount of money. For example, players I may have committed in Georgia — I have to fly down there, so there’s a flight. I have to get a rental car, I have to get a hotel and they’ve got to pay my food reimbursement. When you add all that stuff up you’re talking about one player costing an extra $4,000 to $5,000 over the course of six weeks. That’s a lot of money.

Stoops: To me the only way that would work — I don’t believe we could change our calendar. You know what I mean? I think as coaches, we all like our calendar. So an early signing day for me would fit right before junior college guys sign in December, right before Christmas. I think December 1 is too early. I think right before Christmas, on December 17-19 or a week before Christmas. My reasoning is that recruits still have time in late November through December to get two or three visits in. It isn’t like they don’t have time to visit and (coaches) get an opportunity to get out of our offices and go see them in a couple of weeks. Now, if you do it before December, you haven’t had time to go see them. They have been limited in being able to go see places. To me, they need December to have that opportunity to be sure of what they wanted to do. That’s why it makes the most sense. Then, when you get it behind you, you would save so much money by not having to go see these guys through January. Even the kids are like, ‘Coach, you don’t need to come see me.’ But you do. You could really focus on the ones who aren’t signed but you could also have more of your staff here in January working with the guys who are currently going to school. You can chase them to class, make sure they’re in study halls and making sure they’re doing what they need to do here instead of being out on the road seeing guys who have been committed for half a year.

Wilson: Let’s get it done and move forward — kind of like they have in basketball. We get them signed and get them going and let’s move on. To me December is fine. At that point a lot of young men have had a chance to be on a campus for three or four schools and that’s usually what happens anyway. That’s usually the best situation.

SS: Has the slow start to the season affected recruiting?

Stoops: They don’t make too much of it. More than anything they understand our long-standing tradition of winning. It isn't like we haven't had a bunch of wins and championships over a good number of years. It isn’t like it is just one or two. They see the bigger picture and also the potential for the future too.

Gundy: I think our recruits have handled it very well. I think our recruits see the big picture. These recruits play football and they know what their seasons are like when you lose some players and you have some injuries and things of that sort. They see the big picture. They see the great recruiting classes we’ve had in the last several years and they see young players playing now. They see that as a chance for exciting things in the future.

Wilson: Football has been a really big part of this state for 100 years. I don’t foresee that changing. I tell people to look at the history and tradition. One year doesn’t make a tradition. Recruits are still favorable and they’re still positive.

SS: What’s harder to land — a wife or one of the top recruits in the country?

Gundy: Well, I would say probably the recruit. The reason I say that is back when you land the wife, you’re a lot younger and you’re in better shape and you look a lot better. If you get the wife later though, it is harder on you.

Wilson: (Laughing) A wife! One, you get for five years and the other you get for a lifetime if you do it right. I put a lot of stock into a wife. That’s one of the biggest choices you’ll ever get to make.