What Does “Commitment” Mean To College Coaches?
At Signing Day Sports, we fight for athletes. We want what’s best for them. We side with them. And we educate, inform, and empower athletes every day. In regard to recruiting, student-athletes can and should use their power by being proactive and taking advantage of the opportunities that they are allowed.
But there is a give and take.
Because of the constant ebbs and flows in recruiting, and the power-grabs that come along with it, it leaves room for uninvited drama – as some may call it.
“Committing” to a school sounds like a done deal. But as many have come to learn, for better or worse, it’s often not. Student-athletes have every right to decommit, enter back into the recruitment stage, or even continue their recruitment while “committed” to another school.
All of this has made for a relatively contentious recruiting landscape where some college coaches have been forced to take a harder stance when it comes to their committed athletes entertaining offers from other schools. And recently, Ari Wasserman sat down with one of the more notable figures in college football who is spearheading this stance: Brett Venables, head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Brett Venables’ Stance
In a nutshell, Venable believes that if a prospect commits to his team, they should cease any and all communication with other programs. In fact, his beliefs go as far as removing committed players from his depth chart if they so much as visit another school.
People of Venables’ stature are obviously entitled to their own beliefs. And no matter how unfair certain people may consider this hard stance, there will still be recruits lining up to commit to Oklahoma.
But this stance begs the question of why so many other college coaches feel the same way. And finding the answer to this question can help young student-athletes understand why they get treated or viewed in certain ways during recruitment.
Getting in Venables’ Head
Venables discussed the phrase “commitment” in-depth with Wasserman on a number of occasions throughout their recent interview. Essentially, a commitment is just that – in every sense of the word. A commitment.
If an athlete is committed to Oklahoma, Texas, a JUCO, an NAIA school, or anything in between, they no longer should have any reason to entertain other schools. It’s fair on the surface. However, athletes are not restricted from engaging in this practice (entertaining other offers). Many do, in fact. And this discrepancy is where it’s easy to question Venables’, and many others opinions. But he is steadfast in his beliefs.
“Let me ask you this: How does it typically work out with guys who have drama?” asked Venables. “Here’s what I learned a long time ago: Guys who have drama in recruiting are always guys who bring drama in the locker room. It’s a 100 percent hit rate, 100 percent. I’ve been doing this for 28 years. Drama in recruiting, drama in the locker room.”
With this response, it would seem that Venables’ view on commitment is aimed at restricting any drama in his locker room – meaning he doesn’t want the drama to bleed into the actual football season. The correlation between recruiting drama and locker room drama shouldn’t be surprising.
“Drama. Drama. Drama,” exclaimed Venables. “Prima donnas stand out quickly. Look for them and run the other way.”
In this case, Venables considers “locker room drama” to be someone who only ever has one foot in on all the different areas that they should have both feet – school, social life, weight room, locker room, game days, etc. Fully focusing on all these areas, and more, is what constitutes a successful collegiate athlete. And according to Venables, if they can’t show full commitment during their first “test,” it is highly suggestive of how the rest of their time will go on campus.
“It takes a lot of toughness, maturity, and belief to focus on being great. The best of the best are so busy chasing greatness that they don’t have time for distractions,” said Venables.
Again, athletes in the recruitment process should be encouraged to take advantage of their power. This blog is not intended to show otherwise. However, it is important to be mindful of how certain actions come across to the schools who are offering you. One slip up, and you could lose the offer that you worked so hard to obtain in the first place.
“So find your school, find the best spot for you and put your name on it when you know. And until you know, take as much time as you need,” reiterates Venables.