FNF Coaches Talk for Wednesday, Feb. 6

Welcome back, Coaches. Here are three stories we’re talking about in our newsroom.

1. Recruiting’s Biggest Bait-and-Switch: The Uncommittable Scholarship Offer (Sports Illustrated)

High school football coaches: If you’re not aware of this recruiting trend, you need to be. This story shares how college recruiters hold all of the cards when it comes to your high school players. They can offer scholarships, and then change their minds if a better player comes along and is willing to commit to the school.

On Wednesday, hundreds of high school prospects will be left holding dozens of meaningless scholarship offers, signing with a school only after other programs, despite offering them a scholarship, never accepted their commitment. Maybe those schools found a better player at that position, or maybe the spots in the class filled up. Some scholarship offers aren’t ever committable, just fancy invitations to a school’s summer camp, while others are only committable for a certain amount of time.

What can high school coaches do to reverse this trend? In some cases, nothing.

Nick Saban’s Alabama program found itself at the center of this controversy in 2014, when a high school coach in Bossier City, La., barred Crimson Tide staff members from recruiting on his campus. David Feaster revealed during a Baton Rouge radio interview that he had banned Alabama coaches after they did not honor an offer to then Parkway High quarterback Brandon Harris, who eventually played at LSU and then North Carolina. The interview went viral, and Parkway High officials fired Feaster weeks later, citing his decision to shut out the Crimson Tide. Feaster, now offensive coordinator at Glenbrook School, has no regrets. “You have to stand up to it—‘Don’t treat my guys like this,’” Feaster says.

So if losing your job is the penalty for standing up to college coaches, we certainly can’t recommend taking that approach. IMG Academy (Fla.) coach Kevin Wright says high school coaches can educate their players about the current landscape and advocate for them throughout the process.

At IMG, Wright educates his players about the scholarship offer process. He tells them to ask the offering coach three questions: 1) Is it committable now? 2) How many guys have you offered at my position? 3) Where am I in the ranking of them? “You always ask, ‘Can I commit right now?’” Wright says. “If the answer is no, it’s like a Like on social media—they just like you.”

Coaches — How do you help your players prepare for the potential of having a scholarship offer pulled back by a coaching staff?

2. Under Eric DeCosta, Ravens Will Rely More on Analytics in Decision-Making (BaltimoreRavens.com)

The use of analytics is on the rise at all levels of football. We’ve heard from many high school coaches who are using analytics more and more, and software supplied by HUDL’s X&O Labs seems to make that easier for all of us.

The Baltimore Ravens are planning to rely more on analytics to evaluate personnel and make decisions, according to new General Manager Eric DeCosta.

What type of information will the Ravens gather in their analytics department?

How much does a player’s workout speed differ from his game speed? How fast do the best tacklers run when they are closing in on ball carriers? In what situations is it best to go for it on fourth down? How long should teams practice, and how rigorous should those practices be?

DeCosta believes most NFL teams have the same information at their disposal. What separates the analytical teams from the ones that struggle in that area is the way they organize and react to that information.

“Analytics is a way that I see of organizing information,” DeCosta said. “We have all these different pieces of information – bullet points and different things. How do we organize that information effectively? And, how do we use that information to help us make decisions? So, is it a growing field? Yeah, I think it is. Is it something that we’ll just rely on strictly, ever? No, I don’t think that’s the case. Is it something that will help us make decisions? I think it can be. We would be foolish as an organization to not look at that and consider that as a way of helping us be better.”

In what ways do you use analytics to inform your coaching decisions?

3. The Case Against the Hang Power Clean (SimpliFaster Technology and Speed Development)

The headline leads you to believe this article is making the case that the hang power clean should be removed from a high school strength program, but it’s actually doing the opposite.

Football strength coaches typically justify removing the hang power clean from programs because athletes lack the flexibility to do them safely. The article makes the case that the only way to improve flexibility is to put yourself in positions that stretch muscles and tendons.

The first ridiculous argument I’ve heard is that most athletes cannot be expected to perform full squat cleans (and certainly not snatches!) because they lack the flexibility to achieve these positions. Seriously? What they are saying, in effect, is that they have identified flexibility deficiencies in their athletes and their solution is to avoid exercises that can fix them! Let me expand on this point.

Studies show that the clean doesn’t cause injuries. In fact, it helps athletes avoid them.

Since most athletic movements don’t require athletes to drop into a full squat, what is the advantage of doing a full clean? The answer is that part of athletic performance is not just being able to apply force, but to also absorb and redirect force—in effect, training the athlete to be able to bend, but not break.

What exercises are the core tenants of your strength program?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!