Jul 26, 2017

The Must-See Part of a Facility? The Place that Shows off a Program’s Strengths

College recruiting isn’t a science. No school is the same. Teenagers are fickle, and some will say they base their college decisions based on feel rather than cold, hard data.

Trying to steer prospective student-athletes to discover those abstract notions on their own, then, becomes a key focus in recruiting and designing the environments where recruits will learn about a school, a program or coach.

“We make a living highlighting our strengths and hiding our weaknesses,” one Conference USA coach told us.

Advent recently spoke to a number of college football head coaches and assistants when the AFCA Convention was in Nashville earlier this year. We spoke to both clients and non-clients in general terms about their facilities.

While most told us that player-oriented spaces like locker rooms and weight rooms were the key areas — mainly because that became their priority in recent upgrades — others go out of their way to show off part of the facility while hiding others. This is why organizing a walkpath is a key component of a recruiting visit.

“Right now our locker room is a showpiece, our weight room is a showpiece, our team meeting room is a showpiece. Our dorms are a showpiece,” said one head coach who works for an Advent client. “If you’ve got a phenomenal team meeting room and you’ve got a crappy locker room, you’ve got to get them into the team meeting room.

“I’ve had places where I have to sell the training room and I’ve had places where I have to bring the trainer into the team meeting room to talk to everybody.”

At the start of any upgrade process, programs must ask themselves about their core strengths and differentiators — and be honest about weaknesses in drawing prospects. From there, drill that message at every turn.

“I’d probably say our locker room because it’s the most recent thing we’ve updated,” one Big Ten coach told us. “I would probably say your lobby, that first impression when they walk into your place. That’s really important because it sets the tone for everything. After that, it depends on where you’re at in your facility.”

This is the third in a series of posts featuring feedback on facilities from FBS coaches and assistants at the AFCA convention.