Recruiting for basketball and football heating up for Gophers


Mar 11, 2013; Hot Springs, AR, USA; Florida International Panthers head coach Richard Pitino reacts during the championship game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Summit Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

As the temperature continues to rise outside, the same can be said for some major recruiting on-campus this week for the University of Minnesota football and men’s basketball programs. Athletic recruiting is big business and the stakes are high for a football coach trying  to continue his program turn-around and a first-year head coach try to make a splash with his first crack at Big Ten basketball recruiting.

Jerry Kill and Richard Pitino may only had just met after Pitino was hired as the new head coach of the Gophers men’s basketball team in April, but the two head coaches both are battling the same demon right now in trying to take a No. 8 ranked Big Ten team and move them up the ladder.

Coach Kill’s football camp has been getting a lot of attention of late, due to the arrival of campers to TCF Bank Stadium. It is the first chance for the coaches to get to work with many of their recruits that did not enroll early in the spring. There also is a portion where possible future Gophers get to work with coaches from elementary school all the way to upcoming high school seniors.

Getting uncommitted recruits into the building for those high school camps is a big deal. It is legal under NCAA rules for coaches to work with recruits one-on-one and talk to them about their recruitment. It constitutes as an unofficial visit for the potential student athlete as the camp fee is paid for by the player or their family and not the university like on an official visit.

The summer months are generally classified as quiet periods or dead periods depending on the sport. This limits the evaluation process between coaches and players as well as in-person contact between parties. The are numerous rules limiting all of this for all sports at the university; not just football and basketball. If you want a specific look at the rules for each sport, check out this breakdown from Recruit Look.

The evaluation process for coach Pitino and his staff is underway with a coaching camp of their own. A combination of individual and team camps have made for a busy week for the basketball program. Saturday also marked the first day in which basketball coaches could begin calling potential 2015 recruits. Combine that with the very stressful recruitment of the Class of 2014 and coach Pitino and friends are hopefully finding some time to relax.

Major collegiate recruiting has become a 365 day a year job. Not a day goes by where some coach making contact with a player could change the outcome of a game, season or career. With all the joys of summer in Minnesota and the trips to the lakes, remember that there are athletic coaches all over the world using their summer vacation to scour the globe for the next superstar All-American.

They may not be getting off buses or planes evaluating talent everyday, but they are constantly trying to make their team better. At Minnesota, the hard work seems to be there, but the payoff has yet to be seen. Game 1 of the 2013-14 football season is just over two months away and fans will get a chance to see the results of the 245 days between the Gophers loss in the Meineke Car Care Bowl and their season opener versus UNLV.

Fans are hopeful that Kill and Pitino can move their teams into the upper-half of the Big Ten standings. Just remember that after this year the conference expands by two and there are even more coaches trying to recruit Big Ten talent.