The fact that we won’t see this guy doing that in 2017 is significant for reasons outside of how a game unfurls and the capacities West Virginia coach has for timeouts, fourth-down decisions and overall management. Dana Holgorsen’s free time … and a new team hotel? … might also help recruiting.
From a broad view, we know Holgorsen’s new offensive coordinator, Jake Spavital, can recruit. That’s helpful in itself. Spavital is calling plays now, and Holgorsen will have some free time the night before a game, time he figures to put to use next fall.
You see, we also know the NCAA gave the green light to a bundle of new rules aimed at streamlining recruiting, and we’ve mentioned the obstacles the solutions nevertheless place, if only temporarily, on the recruiting trail. In summary, allowing official visits in April, May and June will let recruits make up their minds sooner, and some or even many of those same recruits might want to sign during the new signing period in December — and the December signing window is smart. There’s virtually no resistance there. (Aside: If we know nothing else about the recruiting landscape it is that some kids are going to build a circus wherever they find real estate, so get ready for hat ceremonies, surprises, delays and all the other pompous circumstances you find in February.)
But recruits can now make official visits — when schools pick up the tab — in April, May and June, and this is a little wonky. April and May aren’t exactly conducive to recruiting visits, June is a busy month … and, oh yeah, a lot of colleges don’t even see the players they target until April and May. That’s what coaches are doing now.
Anyhow, we have a group of players who may visit in April, May or June and want to sign in December, and we also have a group of kids who might make unofficial visits to campus or travel here for a camp and still want to sign in December. That means taking their official visits during the regular season.
Ryan Dorchester, WVU football’s director of player personnel, explains the issues there.
“We’ve quit doing that,” Dorchester said. “It’s something we won’t do. We may make an exception for a kid who graduates in December and is making his decision soon and has been here before. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a bad visit.”
There isn’t a lot of time for the player and his family to meet with WVU’s coaches and players, and the visit is at the mercy of the schedule and other variables that are hard to combat — variables that aren’t present after the regular season ends.
“People say wins and losses don’t affect recruits, but they’re down here all weekend and they’re subjected to the mood of the town and the team and the coaching staff, and it you take a bad beat, it’s hard,” Dorchester said. “It’s just human nature, and it can present some issues that have a huge impact on their decision that you don’t have any control over.”
I don’t think a lot of people understand that, and I’m sure there are people who don’t agree, but that’s the M.O. What now? Do more in April, May and June? The beginning of April isn’t too bad, and spring football is a nice feature, but right now, coaches are out recruiting, and they often stay out for a long time at once because of how much territory a WVU assistant has to cover. It’s not ideal to shuttle back and forth to campus, and yet that might be the reality now with official visits. In May, players are taking final exams, and then they leave campus for a while for a rare break. Hard to make an impression there. So June it is, but recruits go to camps in June, and there will be competition for official visits.
So, June makes sense for WVU, and there are four weekends there. There will be two or three weekends in December for official visits, too. Combine those two, and there are just as many weekends available for home games in the regular season. Thanks to the new rules and limited alternatives, as well as its liberated head coach and the aforementioned change, WVU will begrudgingly offer some more in-season official visits.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen will be more available now than before since he’s not the offensive coordinator and isn’t doing the detailed preparation for calling plays. WVU will also use the Marriott at Waterfront Place as the team hotel the night before games, ending a longstanding relationship with Lakeview Golf Resort & Spa. The idea is the new digs are nicer and recruits will be more impressed by staying there than at Lakeview.
There’s still not much the Mountaineers can do about when games start, about how the opponent plays, about recruits sitting in the cold for four hours, about giving kids the attention they feel they deserve after trekking all the way to campus.
Then again, there are no regular-season games in April, May and June. WVU can pay for official visits then, and recruits won’t have to pay to see campus as part of a summer camp or an unofficial visit in the regular season. It should help schools in remote locations that are difficult to get to, but it also comes with limitations, beginning with but in no way limited to the absence of games and the impression 60,000 people can make.
“The April and May time line is going to be interesting, because that’s when we’re in an evaluation period and our coaches are out recruiting and our players have final exams, and then they’re actually gone before the summer sessions start,” Dorchester said.
“I get June. It makes sense to me, because we’re here, we’re in camps, the players are here. That’s good. But April and May is just a strange time.”