September 15, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke on the sideline during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

USC's Lane Kiffin, Michigan's Brady Hoke Take Different Approaches With Committed Recruits

In a recent conversation with a committed Michigan player, I asked if he planned on taking any visits this fall. He responded “No visits, I plan on following Coach Hoke’s rules.” Those rules, simply put, declare that if you commit, that’s the end of your recruitment. If a player starts looking around at other schools, Hoke and his staff will start looking around at other players to fill that spot in the class. It’s not as brash as it may sound, but Hoke wants players to be 100% sure before they commit. Granted, that’s not as easy to do when a class, like Michigan’s is filling up nearly 9 months before signing day, but the gesture is still fair.

Yesterday, a couple of players who are currently committed to USC, Chris Hawkins and Max Redfield, were in South Bend for official visits to Notre Dame. Michael Castillo of tells me that USC head coach Lane Kiffin actually urges recruited commits to take other visits. This could be for a number of reasons.

One, it assures that the kids are where they want to be. Another part of it could be that USC has limited scholarships. If a player is going to move on, it’s better that they do it soon to give Kiffin and his staff time to fill that spot. It also could be a cocky statement, as though nowhere is better than USC, and “you’ll come back.” Look at his class-he may be right. Either way, it gives the recruits a chance to see other schools and make a well-rounded, final decision.

While they may be on complete opposite ends of the recruiting spectrum, both styles are effective and fair. Effective because both teams boast current recruiting classes ranked in the top 5. Fair because at the end of the day, these kids don’t sign letters of intent until February, meaning college coaches hold no true power over them up until them.

On the surface, Lane Kiffin’s angle seems like the softer, more gentle way to handle high school seniors. However, I’d imagine the Michigan fans strongly prefer the way Hoke handles them. Fans don’t like decommitments and eliminating the idea of visits is a good way to cut down on the chance of a decommitment.

As a college football fan yourself, which of these two strategies would you prefer your head coach to use?

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  • carolyntodd

    I think that since we’re dealing with 18 year olds we need to cut them a break about de-commitments. I like Lane Kiffin’s approach. Allowing a kid to explore all options is a very smart approach. It makes the student-athlete more committed in the long run.

  • Bob

    I think both approaches are right and we’re probably not hearing enough of Hoke’s side. He probably tells them to look around and when you’re sure that Michigan is the place, stick to it and sign.

    • Tim Tolley

      That’s exactly how I described Hoke’s side. Compounding that is the fact that kids are aware of who else has committed. The problem arises when the class is 95% full in May as it was this year. Kids can’t take official visits until September but commit to make sure their spot is reserved. They can’t sign until February and they can’t look around in the meantime. A lot of kids rely on those school-sponsored official visits to get to father away schools.

  • PSUMatt2005

    Paterno was very much like Kiffin, in that he encouraged kids to take other visits, to enjoy the process, and get as much information as possible before they signed their LOI.