So after a tumultuous journey this past recruiting season, we have witnessed some pretty crazy stuff. What has really proven interesting is the impact of social media and how it can sway or heavily influence a recruit's decision making process.
Some things that have stayed the same include: the ages of the recruits, the weapons race (facility upgrades, promotions, etc.) between programs and the social/physical environment (parties, getting to know the players and coaches, campus visits) and most tactics employed by each program.
Some things that have changed over the last few years include: the bump/Saban rule, VOIP conferencing, The Nutt rule, media attention and recruiting services with their own rating systems.
If you had to compare what has happened since 2008 (I use this as a benchmark merely because this was Saban's first full year of recruiting) to now, there's been unprecedented access and communications between prospects, those covering the stories and how quickly word/information can spread. Now, throw in Facebook and Twitter and it's become open season on coveted prospects.
Truth be told, much of this is on the prospect as they accept friend requests as some sort of competition (speculation) to see who the most popular recruit is - or maybe something else, but the end result of this is influence.
Let's take the Cyrus circus as exhibit A. According to Scout's article Cyrus was actually influenced by fans on his Facebook page. As quoted in the article "He turned to Facebook. He had about 3,500 messages in two days. So it was overwhelming. He told me today you know what, 'even though I wasn't sure, I got my fans to help me make my choice. The decision of people who want me to go to Alabama is overwhelming.' "
Now I don't know about you, but that's what we call in certain circles an "external environmental factor" that a coach or program would have little control over. While I'm giddy over the outcomeof Cyrus' choice to Roll with the Tide, it's downright scary that a social network like Facebook (or Twitter, blogs, etc.) could so easily sway a decision.
What does this mean for the future? How about a program's GAs adding tons of facebook requests through a grassroots campaign or insert whatever unscrupulous tactic here as the Web can be as anonymous or intimate as you want it to be. The sky is the limit.
Now we have a testimonial of how Facebook swayed his choice, get ready to see a Whole Notha Level when it comes to recruiting. Tactics will change as a result of this. Question is where does it go from here?
What are your thoughts?