Different approaches for different coaches

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With the recruiting process seemingly a year-round undertaking, early commitments can be fickle.
That has forced
coaches to develop strategies to deal with prospects who make a pledge, but then look around.
Some coaches have firm stances -- the rule being if a player commits, no other
official visits are allowed.
Others, such as USC coach
Lane Kiffin, have a more accommodating
approach. Kiffin said he sees it as an
opportunity for recruits to experience new things, probably confident that the
Trojans offer enough for them to not change their minds.
"I don't discourage it at all," Kiffin said. "I have a rare stance on it. I just
think some of these kids never have an opportunity like that. To fly around the
country and visit different places and meet new people whether it's other
recruits or other coaches.
"I let our kids go visit all over the place, our commits. I know that's rare
nowadays. I don't think it's my job, I don't think I'm in a position to be
limiting kids' abilities to take free trips around the country and see different
parts of the country and meet new people."
That is a particularly curious position in light of recent news surrounding USC
commits. Four-star safety
Max Redfield recently visited Notre Dame and is now seriously considering the Irish.
Four-star cornerback Chris Hawkins was on the same trip to South Bend
and took a close look at Notre Dame before deciding to stay 100 percent
committed to USC.
Many other USC commits are
expected to take visits before signing day.
If Kiffin put the kibosh on commits taking visits, though, that could end any
speculation or significant worry that the recruiting class USC boasts today --
the top-rated one according to Rivals.com -- could see some defections. For
Kiffin, it's the price of doing business.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly doesn't seem to have such a lenient
Highly regarded running back and longtime Oregon commit
Thomas Tyner recently de-committed from the Ducks because he wanted to take other
visits -- UCLA seemed of particular interest -- but then re-committed
about two days later without going on any trips.
Kelly is certainly not alone in if not dissuading, definitely not encouraging,
his commitments to consider other options.
Clemson has a pretty tight no-visit policy. Texas commit
A'Shawn Robinson has visited Florida State and plans to see
USC and Alabama but the Longhorns' staff frowns upon such actions.
Michigan is no-nonsense when it comes to commits taking trips.
Oklahoma is the same way. Georgia Tech, too.
Many other
coaches have a zero tolerance policy, or something close
to it, for prospects who claim they're committed but take visits, often to rival programs.
"We talk to our guys about what a commitment is," Kelly said. "We're going to
make a commitment to you it's the same thing as us not pulling a scholarship
when you make a commitment to us. There's got to be a two-way street. I think
our players understand what being committed means here."
Arizona coach
Rich Rodriguez said his stance on allowing
committed players to take visits has adapted over time and that's it's taken a
"harder line" recently.
One reason could be because players commit earlier,
get curious and want to see other places.
But that could cause disruptions in the formation of the recruiting class and
after all that hard work a coach could end up with nothing to show for it. All
because a player was wooed on another trip or made a snap decision.
"When a guy wants to commit to us we make sure that he understands what that
means," Rodriguez said. "If you have a guy who's committed to you but he's
making a bunch of visits to other places you wonder if he's truly committed or
just interested. That's the key for us.
"If a guy is taking it to have fun and he tells you that up front that's one
thing but if they're taking the visit they must have some kind of interest in
another school and that puts you in a tough situation because you may have
dropped some other guys or moved off some other guys and then all of a sudden
you lose this guy in the end."
If Rodriguez had his druthers, Arizona's commits would not visit anyplace else.
That might not be possible since Rodriguez has 25 pledges this recruiting class,
many are still being recruited by other schools and there is a lot of juggling
involved there.
Being on the inside helps, too. From the head coach, to the assistant coaches
recruiting specific players, to recruiting coordinators on down, there is a lot
of communication about recruits, what they might be thinking and where
everything stands.
A de-commitment might be surprising to outsiders, but within the program it's
something that might be sensed a little earlier.
Since coaches talk with
prospects often, or their coaches, or those close to them, there is a little
better sense of what's really going on.
"Most of the time, you know as a coach there aren't as many surprises when guys
de-commit as people think," Rodriguez said.
"If a guy is committed to you and he's visiting other places and all of a sudden
he changes his commitment or something like that, I don't know why a coach would
be surprised because he's visiting other schools so there aren't as many
surprises as you'd think."
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