I had the chance to sit down with Gerry DiNardo, the former Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana Coach as well as current Big Ten Network broadcaster, to dicsuss recruiting.
You were involved with rebuilding a number of programs, what was the recruiting experience like when you came to a new school?
Recruiting is pretty much the same, it’s about building relationships as much as possible and playing to your school’s strengths. Relationships and the uniqueness of your campus. At Vanderbilt I focused on the academics. At LSU I focused on the campus and the tradition. At Indiana I focused on the campus life and the ability to play early.
At Vanderbilt my pitch was there enough kids that are admissible to win the SEC. At LSU it was there are so many athletes within a 500 mile radius that we have to keep.
At Indiana I did two unique things. First, I made my offensive, defensive and recruiting coordinators all at the same level. Their pay was the same and I held them to the same level of accountability. The second was my last two years there I made myself the recruiting coordinator. Most schools make their youngest assistant the recruiting coordinator. I thought it should be the opposite.
Do you have any instances where a recruit not on your board rose out of nowhere to catch your eye?
There is nothing outside of the realm of possibility with recruiting. You are dealing with human beings so that means there are no limitations. Sometimes can’t miss guys miss. Other times players we thought a player who would never contribute turned out be one of our best players. Recruiting is as unpredictable as life.
How has the internet changed recruiting?
It’s allowed us to become more time efficient. It allows Pete Carroll to recruit players in Louisiana.
It’s also allowed outside influences. It has accentuated the fact that fans of schools and teams are as passionate about recruiting, and perhaps more so, than the game itself. The passion of the college football fan is evident.
What are the other big changes in recruiting that have taken place over the last few years?
Camps have become more important. There is now talk of an early signing period. Schools are now filling their scholarship slots prior to the season beginning.
What sort of role did grades play in the athletes you recruited?
It runs the gamete. For some unfortunately grades were something that allowed them to play football. For others it was a vehicle to have the complete college experience. And then there was everything in between.
What sort of advice would you give to current potential recruits out there?
Go to a place that will challenge you to be the best you can be. Go to a place where you can walk across that championship stage and go to a place where you can find out about your passion in life.