Although this is a story about part of the process that Northwestern University undergoes to help in determining their football roster, I have included it to describe the importance for players and their families to understand that there is a whole lot more that goes into the recruiting process than just evaluating athletic skills. In the run of our business activities, and the many conversations that we have with college coaches on a monthly basis, I would say that would be rare that a conversation would not include a discussion that has to do with family life and parents, regardiung our clients and other players, that are being evaluated.
Evaluating parents has become a much bigger part of the recruiting process for Pat Fitzgerald.
You’re not going to see a parent ranking database in recruiting coverage (well, hopefully not), but Fitzgerald says he’s passed on players because of parents. But the flip side is even better.
“An increasingly larger part of the evaluation of the prospect, for us, is evaluating the parents. It’s a big part of the evaluation,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. “We have and probably will more so, and it’s a private deal — I’m not going to share who and where — but when we talk about our fit, we’re evaluating the parents, too. And if the parents don’t fit, then we might punt on the player and not end up offering him a scholarship. That has changed over a decade. Ten years ago, that wasn’t as big of a role. Now it’s a big part of it.
“On the other side, it’s big when it’s a good fit. It’s terrific. Everybody’s a little bit different there, but that’s the way we’ve seen in not only holding commitments, but having very little attrition when guys come into our program.”
Fitzgerald signed 20 players in this year’s class and says all the families fit. Much of the class was committed before the season began, and the camaraderie among the parents has been strong for some time.
“We’re signing 20 new families, and if any indication of their future success is at home, when you look at these families, it’s awesome,” Fitzgerald said. “We had 18 of the young men on campus together, and the parents had a better time than the players. This group has built relationships for a long time. The 19 guys and our 20th, they’ve had a chat group together. They’ve been in constant communication as a group of young men. The parents created a Facebook group for each other. It’s nuts. It’s cool. It’s really neat to see.
“When I got recruited, you got dropped off, and it was the death march to reality. You’d huddle with your family. Now, you show up for an official visit, and the families’ parents are partying, and the guys have great comfort together. That’s really changed a lot.”