19.Apr.2011 The Cost of a Missed Prospect Evaluation
At Oregon State University, the annual cost for an out-of-state student is now $35,169.
For interested persons, the following is a categorical breakdown, directly from the OSU admissions department, of 2011-2012 tuition and fees:
2011-2012 Additional Expenses (Estimates Only)
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees
Books and Supplies $1,854
Room and Board $9,444
Miscellaneous and Personal $2,577
Loan Fee Allowance $48
Estimated Undergraduate Totals
Resident: $21,393 Non-resident: $35,169
A cursory glance at the football roster shows approximately 20 student-athletes from Oregon. That leaves 65 scholarship players from other states. Therefore, the cost for out of state recruits is approximately $2,285,985 ($35,169 x 65), while the cost of in-state players is $427,860.
Am I suggesting the staff only recruit Oregon players? Certainly not. While good values, the pool is thin.
What I'd like to point out is the cost of a missed recruit.
Let's examine Rory Ross, who quit the football team last week. Before doing so, let me iterate that 2011 dollars and tuition are not exactly equal to 2007 dollars, but 2007 tuition data is unavailable. For the purpose of this article the figures should be sufficient to make the point.
Ross was signed in 2007 and grey-shirted. He was a lanky–one might say "gangly"–227lbs, and OSU projected him as an offensive lineman. He had no other D1 offers, and Rivals ranked him a 2-star prospect. At the time, he was a clear miss in my opinion. Ross never played a down for OSU, yet was on scholarship for 3 years, costing OSU approximately $105,507. Keep in mind that the figure does not include plane fares, rental cars, hotels, phone calls, and other expenses involved in recruiting a player.
If you look at the 2007 class, it is littered with misses. David Ross, Michael Cole, and Kevin Pankey, to name a few. Also approximately 50% of the players from that class either never qualified, never contributed, or are no longer on the roster. That is a tremendous financial loss.
Something else that should be considered is the opportunity cost, or, the "next best option" to the signed player. By this, I mean instead of signing someone like Keith Pankey, the staff could have signed an equally rated 3-star recruit who was actually a 3-star talent. A perfect example is someone like Spencer Paysinger of Oregon. He was actually a 2-star recruit in 2006. Or Casey Mathews, a legit 3-star. These two guys were clear football players who led Oregon's defense to BCS games. They were not projects or hidden gems who needed two years (i.e. ~$70,000) of coaching before playing in meaningful games. Keep that in mind. Even if a player is productive by his senior year, the school has still invested 3 years @ $35,000 to get to that point. If you want to claim that OSU goes after such players, but they simply don't want to come to OSU, I'll bring up Kellen Moore, who was dying for an OSU offer, ready to sign, and yet the offer never came. Would OSU have gone to BCS games with Moore behind center? That will never be known. What we know is Moore went to a BSC game with BSU, and that Lyle Moevao was OSU's opportunity cost, or next best option.
Mike Riley says, "the stars of a guy coming in don't matter, it's how many stars they have going out."
This is simply not true, and the reason is obvious: a recruit who is ready to play right away represents a much lower cost, opportunity cost, and return on investment. Every year of beefing up, coaching up, etc costs $35,000.
Our AD cries poverty, yet our head coach outwardly admits he enjoys recruiting projects, or as he calls them, "good stories." There is a disconnect there, fellows, and I want you to see and understand it.
I know a counter argument will be that every school has misses. Granted, they do, and nobody can be right 100% of the time, but being wrong 50% of the time is unacceptable given our University's finances. Also, I am not interested in other schools, nor are you. We are not blessed with their financial resources; the value of an OSU dollar is more than an Oregon, USC, Stanford, or Washington dollar.
The bottom line is that the AD and head coach need to first understand how much money their mistakes cost the university, and then come up with a way to fix the problem. Instead of investing 4 years @ $35,000 in a recruit who might play by his red-shirt senior season, invest that money in technology and staff so they can target recruits who will contribute by their first or second year. When I plead with the administration to model themselves after savvy teams like the Minnesota Twins, this is the kind of efficiency about which I am talking.