Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star got an interview with Bo Pelini on recruiting. One of the more interesting idea was bringing in outside research professionals to evaluate his staff. I personally had never heard of that, and it sounds like a good idea in theory. Of course, sometimes these "market research" people come back with wrong conclusions ("Legends and Leaders", "Heroes Game", etc.) due to faulty, incomplete research. This might be different because I can't believe that Bo wants a whitewashed truth, but rather an honest evaluation. It doesn't do Pelini any good to be told that his staff is doing well when they are not. The end results will speak for themselves in the end, and there's no hiding from it.
What I found refreshing is how Pelini wants to evaluate "toughness" in recruits. One of the things Pelini hopes to learn is how to better talk to potential recruits and evaluate the mental character of each potential player. Things like that seem to never be brought up when recruits are being evaluated in the public eye. But deep down, if you listen, you can get a good idea of the mental makeup of a player. I remember listening to some interviews with Harrison Beck back in 2004 when he committed to Nebraska. Recruitniks were celebrating his verbal, while I was dismayed with what I was hearing him say. I saw immaturity then...and then we all saw it during his brief Nebraska career.
Of these experts, Pelini told Sipple
"They're working to help us to not only ask the right questions, but teach us what to listen for when we ask the questions and get more insight in the limited amount of time we're with recruits.
"The most important part of it is knowing what key words and what reactions to assess as you're asking the questions."
That's an eye-opener, and it stands in contrast to what many self-proclaimed recruiting "experts" want Pelini to do. Pelini knows he wants to make the most of his time with recruits. Yet the "experts" frequently criticize Pelini for not maximizing recruiting visits on game days. There's merit to both ideas, but there is a really good reason why Nebraska shouldn't put all their eggs into the game day recruiting visits.
Pelini (and his staff) are kind of busy on game days.
Stop and think about it. Games last over three hours, and game preparation adds more time to it. That's time that Pelini and his staff can't spend with recruits on an individual basis. Sure, the atmosphere is a great thing...but if Pelini can't spend enough time with the recruit, he doesn't get the benefit of interviewing the recruit.
It's not an either-or situation. I think there are situations that call for certain recruits to be shown the pomp and circumstance of Nebraska football. There are other situations that call for a more deliberative and substantive discussion. And sometimes it's a matter of trying to do both, understanding the constraints of gameday.
Recruiting at Nebraska has some inherent issues, such as a lack of non-stop direct flights to get players to Nebraska. A lot of the blue-chip recruits that Nebraska needs need to come from some distance away. Unlike Texas, Florida, or yes, Michigan..they frequently aren't in driving distance. It's easy to get caught up in what other coaches are doing, and think that Nebraska's being outdone. Just because Brady Hoke has nearly a dozen commits for 2013 from juniors, is that a good thing for him? Maybe other players will emerge who are even better in their senior year. Just because Nick Saban is sending 105 letters a day to recruits, is that a good thing? Some people may not like that much junk mail. Maybe it's ok now...but after a while, doesn't Saban come off as a stalker and make families uncomfortable about him?
Certainly it's refreshing to see Pelini looking to improve his coaching style. I know a lot of people don't think Pelini will change, but it's a sign to me that this coach is evolving and trying to improve.