Schmidbauer: Beckman fueling hopes for Rocket footballWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you were to ask any college football coach what the toughest part of his job is, most would probably say that it is recruiting.
Having been around college football on a personal level for more than 10 years, I can tell you that recruiting can seem like an endless odyssey at times. Tapes for tomorrow’s college football stars are always pouring in to football offices throughout the country. Coaches are constantly in contact with coveted talent during the season and when the winter rolls around, college coaches live out of a suitcase during the week and then have students making official visits on the weekends. The process repeats itself for the better part of two months until signing day. Then it is time to get started on the next year’s crop of talent.
Coaches never get a break.
Recruiting can be even tougher when you are the head coach at a school like UT. Competing with two big nearby schools, who also just happen to be two of the most storied programs in college football, can make the task of recruiting that much harder.
It is easy to see why many don’t envy Rockets head coach Tim Beckman one bit, at least as far as recruiting is concerned. But the second-year coach and his rebuilding program have continued to work hard during these summer months.
Beckman and his Rocket staff have been criss-crossing Ohio these past few weeks hosting incoming high school seniors from across the Buckeye state at one-day football camps.
UT has already hosted camps in Cleveland, Youngstown, Columbus, Cincinnati and Detroit, as well as a few at the Glass Bowl. The camps on the road aren’t necessarily a novel idea. I’m sure many other coaches have employed similar tactics, but the camps speak to a deeper understanding that Beckman appears to have about college football.
It’s no secret UT is in the business of winning and that is exactly what Beckman was brought in to do. But along the way it appears that the coach is trying to turn UT into a brand that stretches far beyond the boundaries of Northwest Ohio.
I’m sure the Rocket staff would love to be able to recruit in and around Toledo for its team, but unfortunately that notion is not realistic. Sure, the Glass City always boasts a few talented warriors on the gridiron, but there is plenty of talent to be found elsewhere, too.
The state of Ohio is always bursting at the seams with some of the best football talent in the country, and while the top 5 percent will more than likely head to a powerhouse football program, there is still 95 percent that will select a place to continue their playing careers.
That is where the Rockets come in, and what is even more important is that Beckman recognizes that. Many of the students who attended the Rocket’s one-day camps probably did not know very much about the UT football program or the university in general.
Some may not have even heard of UT prior to attending to the camps.
What’s for certain is that they didn’t leave the camp without knowing about the school and its football team after.
The other bonus, of course, is that Beckman and his staff got a chance to see talented high school athletes who they had on their radar for the 2011 recruiting class and some that may not have been, too.
It paints a bigger portrait of what college football is these days.
Beckman and his staff understand that a football program isn’t just whether you win or lose on Saturdays in the fall and whether you win a championship or not. Sure those are the most important things, but in the cutthroat business of college football, it is all about what you are going to do for an encore as well.
The successful programs have a visible presence statewide and nationwide to attract talent year in and year out, and the only way a program can do that is by being present in those areas.
Beckman’s strategy paid dividends this year, when his first full recruiting class was ranked No. 1 out of all the MAC schools by several recruiting services. While a high ranking doesn’t ensure on-the-field success, it is a major step in the right direction.
While fans expect better than the 5-7 record the Rockets posted last season, the midnight blue and gold will still have question marks heading into the 2010 season. But Beckman and his staff are doing all they can to make sure that no coaching staff in college football will outwork them.
Chris Schmidbauer is sports editor for Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com. He also can be heard every Tuesday at 11 a.m. on the Odd Couple Sports Show on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA.