Sorry, high school coaches. Apparently players just don't need your help anymore.
The expansion of social media and text messaging has rendered your guidance and understanding of college recruitment obsolete.
Sure, you guys do a great job of preparing your players for the next level athletically, but when it comes to finding the right college, the players and their families can do it themselves.
That's what we're being told, at least.
In a story by Mitch Sherman that ran on ESPN.com last week ("Changing of the Guard," Jan. 30), we are told that offseason events such as camps and direct lines of communication between recruiters and recruits have made the coaches' roles in the process less important.
"The same men who once filled the most important role in the game regularly now find themselves on the outside," the story said.
It makes sense to an extent. College coaches and scouts without question have more lines of communication at their disposal.Text messaging and phone calls are the norm and social media gives an often clear view into the minds of prospects. Scouts meet players at camps and make the connection on their own.
I was interested, though, in whether local high school coaches felt the same way, whether they felt left out of the recruiting process.
While they agreed things may be different than they used to be, they actually felt quite the opposite.
"I think you have to be involved in the recruiting process," Carver football coach Dell McGee said. "We have a structure in what we're doing to acclimate our kids to the recruiting process. We have a plan of action, and it's been successful."
Harris County's Tommy Parks said that it depends on the player, but coaches are still very much involved in different facets of the process.
"As a coach, if you have a closer relationship, he's going to value what your thoughts are," Parks said. "Every athlete I've had will ask me what I think. Ultimately, it's their decision, but it's nice to know they value what I think.
"Right now, I think coaches are involved more in academics, making sure students do what they need to do to qualify for to play at the next level. But I've always felt involved. The top-end programs always involve the high school coaches."
In other words: Yes, the game has changed.
It is faster, it is broader and it is less about what you've done on a high school field than the potential you might have at the next level.
But are coaches and their opinions obsolete? Not at all. Nobody knows a player's ability and work ethic better than those who watched them in practice every day, and college coaches know that.
Perhaps they can discover the players on their own, but they aren't going to invest thousands of dollars into a scholarship for a player without references.
David Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-571-8571