Book Review: Meat Market by Bruce Feldman

As the summer ends, i wanted to add some notes on books on my summer reading list. The book Meat Market by Bruce Feldman followed Ed Orgeron's college footballl recruiting and attempt to rebuild Ole Miss a few years back. Considering how quickly it ended it doesn't appear to be a success story for whatever reason and the book ended with the end of the recruiting season well before the end of his road. It was interesting to see how fragile the footing of a head position is and how intense the hot seat got in a hurry.

A couple of items of note:

First, Orgeron, who is considered one of the best recruiters in all of football, was an extremist on the recruiting front. He had dreamers on his staff that were not afraid to wrestle with the powerhouses and their belief in what they were doing sold several recruits. People thought they were crazy but they had an extreme enthusiasm.

It was interesting to see Orgeron's road through the profession. He's a classic case of you-just-never-know. He had been let go, beat himself down, screwed up, survived a staff change, got a few players, won games and rose to the top.

The reliance on video in college football recruiting is much more intense than college basketball. In general i think college footbal requires perhaps the most work of any of the major sports at either the pro or college level. Football by nature requires so much more personnel management. Throw in recruiting which is so
competitive, it is a multi-faceted 365 day job.

Orgeron would challenge his assistants and wanted guys that would not fear the big schools in working for a kid.

Unlike basketball which requires much less player mapping, Ole Miss had huge boards dividing players into in-state offense and defense and out-of-state offense and defense.

All broken down into positions, orange names meant they were committed, blue meant there was an offer, green means the kid is a prospect requiring more evaluations.

Per unit, they had a clear priority.

The coaches had large recruiting room and while on calls occasionally a coach would hold a phone up and the entire staff give their go rebels yell.

The dynamic of picking and choosing when to try to sell the boss on their kid of choice was something of a political lobbying session.

Often brought up in the book is the battle with their own compliance department for getting kids in. The average fan doesn't realize how crucial the support and flexibiliy of being able to get kids into school is. Many schools pool of candidates is much bigger than others. The playing field is absolutely not level. Some schools are set up to win. Those are the jobs to find.

I think there is lessons to be learned by basketball teams in the way camps are a tool for recruiting. Now with elite camps, many teams have figured it out but
the ability to get kids on campus and their non-diverted attention for a span is worth 50 phone calls, 1000 letters, a flashy website and media guide, and watching every other game.

It was amazing how much weight the 40 yard dash holds. Blows my mind that it matters that much. Cannot figure out why it is weighted so highly when kids have no pads on and rarely run a straight forty ever in the game.

The philosophy toward work and recruiting was always have a great attitude. Be organized and rock and roll. He also had several key points:

Be Choosey- they were 4-8 but dont recruit like they were 4-8
Get Transcripts-always be correct on their academic standing
Do Not Break Rules
Know your juniors - they wanted to get in their first thing
Show the Ole Miss Flag - wear Ole Miss everything
Make Friends- use first names
Be Thorough - "best compliment you can get is for the recruit to tell coach 'your assistant already covered that'"

At the end of their shoot for the stars campaign to reel in players, their recruiting class had some misses and ended with 2 open spots to fill. In a twist of irony, the book ends with the master recruiter considering a former walk on for challenging for his QB spot.