July 1, 2004

Special Bonus Post

You get two posts today, you lucky skunks.

I also was thinking about recruiting for a Division III college. How do you know who to target, and how do you convince someone to drop between 15 and 25 grand per year on a college education when you can't offer a cent of a scholarship? This brought my thinking to the bestselling book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. He wrote this book about the Oakland A's and the challenge of competing with the NY Yankees of the world (I've heard it said that rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in a casino, but alas, that's another post). The goal is to change your evaluation techniques to figure out what is undervalued by everyone else. That way, you can get it on the cheap. In baseball, on base percentage has been historically undervalued, while batting average has been overvalued. The general thinking is changing, but that's not the point here. If you'll remember, the point is trying to recruit for a Division III wrestling team. I came up with at least one solution. This solution is to look for guys with high ceilings that haven't realized most of their potential yet. Basically, you want guys that are going to get a lot better than they are when they first get to your team. To me, this means guys who don't have a lot of experience, but have had more success than most people with similar experience. You're looking for state qualifiers who maybe didn't start wrestling until high school as well as state placewinners who maybe didn't start until junior high. Of course, this only counts for big wrestling states like Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. For places like Massachusetts, you aim for top four and up. As an example of what we're looking for, consider the following three examples, Harry, Mike, and Andy. Harry has been wrestling since he was 9 years old, he won four state titles in Ohio, and threw in a Junior National championship to go along with it. Division III coaches don't go after these guys. It's just a waste of time when every Big X and Big XII school out there is ready to give them a free ride. Andy started wrestling at an early age, and did finally win that state title his senior year. He didn't get the scholarship offers, so a small school looks ok to him. Every coach needs to have a few guys like Andy on the radar. These are more long shots than other guys, but worth the effort. Most of the high placewinners in DIII are guys like Andy. Then there's Mike. Mike didn't have a lot of experience, but he was able to qualify for the tough NY state tournament. There's obviously some potential, but he's still raw. If Andy and Mike wrestled before college, Andy would stomp all over him. However, Mike's ceiling is high, and he just started to climb the ladder. Through hard work and more hard work and good coaching, he develops himself into a Division III national champion. Not everyone like Mike will have that much success, but you want to try to find guys like him as much as possible, since, in their minds, your school is about the level they're at. Essentially, it comes down to the Andys and Mikes of wrestling. That's where you want to have your focus. You still have to fill a team, however, so you can't be focusing on just the Mikes and Andys because there frankly aren't as many of them as there are of the guys who have wrestled for a while and had good, but not great, success, or the newer wrestlers without the potential of a Mike. It's a delicate balance, since only a few schools sport stars at every weight class, so you have to use your recruiting resources wisely.

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