Why You Should (Or Shouldn't) Subscribe To A Recruiting Service

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2015 at 12:26 PM

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SO MANY CLICKY CLICKS

Hello. At MGoBlog, we link all kind of things. Some of these things are behind paywalls. We've always tried to leave something useful behind those paywalls, whether that's by only quoting a few sentences or leaving it alone for days or months before we get around to our post on Player X. (With few exceptions, this site goes for thoroughness over immediacy.) But occasionally what we do raises hackles.

Sometimes we get yelled at for quoting people. Sometimes we get yelled at for not quoting people. Usually when people get mad I say "if you want we can stop using your stuff" and they say "well…," because a link with a ($) is also an ad for them. Comments here will occasionally say "I dropped my subscription to X because of MGoBlog" and while that's accurate for that guy it's clearly not accurate for everybody.

Here's the lay of the land when it comes to Michigan recruiting sites.

What we do

We have twice-weekly roundups of whatever's out there, from the three major recruiting services (Rivals, 247, and Scout) or newspapers or blogs with original reporting.

When a player commits we do a Hello post that summarizes the player's rankings, offers, stats, and scouting. We'll revisit them after Signing Day in the recruiting profiles.

What they do

Daily updates with indications as to where recruits are leaning—not gospel, broadly accurate. More in depth scouting. Some video, though these days Hudl has all the highlights you care to watch.

They also have program stuff—every site had extensive coverage of the coaching search. While that doesn't differentiate them much from this space, they have insider stuff on practices, players to watch, coaching moves, the works. The recent shoe contract negotiations are a better example. Most of them were publishing stuff about it more frequently than we did.

In general, they publish more, and more frequently, and are better-connected to the program. We will use a subsection of their posts later—often months later—in order to give you an overview of the recruiting situation or a particular player.

Why to subscribe

If you go into withdrawal between Monday and Thursday recruiting roundups; if you would like to have a very good feel for where player X is leaning; if you want their scouting more completely and (sometimes) much more quickly; if you want the comprehensive inside chatter now and not later.

Each also has a message board community. We have a message board community, but it's not for everybody. It can be harsh around here for people who don't fit; it is possible that certain MGoBlog readers will find a community of like-minded fans on a premium site elsewhere. That alone can be worth more than the cost of admission.

[After THE JUMP: an overview of your options.]

Which one?

This will be a matter of personal preference. Full disclosure: I do radio with Sam weekly, Tim Sullivan and Brandon Brown of Rivals used to work for MGoBlog, Tom Van Haaren of ESPN used to work for MGoBlog, and I tried to hire Steve Lorenz of 24/7 just before 24/7 started a Michigan site. Oh, and Isaiah Hole, who is shooting for 24/7, also works with us.

ESPN

Pros:

  • Cheap.
  • You also get John Gasaway columns.
  • Tom's a good dude.

Cons:

  • They send you a magazine like it's 1950 or something.
  • They've moved away from day-to-day recruiting coverage. Tom is now regional and doesn't talk about Michigan too much any more. You get the scouting reports with your insider subscription and not much else.

If you get Insider it's probably not for the recruiting content. It is cheaper than everywhere else and gives you access to other useful content, however.

SCOUT

Pros:

  • In my e-pinion, Sam is the most plugged in guy. There is no question he is for basketball. He was ahead of the curve when he said Michigan had a very legit shot for Jaylen Brown and has been on point on just about every recruiting event there. Sam gets a lot of stuff direct from coaches, and there's a big difference between that and getting stuff from people who were at practice.
  • He's also the most plugged in for football, though that's a closer competition. Remember when Michigan brought in Tyrone Wheatley for an interview and Sam couldn't report on it because he knew Wheatley too well? Yeah.
  • National or regional Scout guys are pretty responsive on their message boards. They seem to do the best job in that department; posts from Brian Snow and Allen Trieu are frequent.

Cons:

  • The software is broke-ass. They've put some effort into it lately, but I'm still using their old board code to read the board because the new stuff broke my back button.
  • Now there's auto-playing video everywhere. A number of their articles are video interviews with recruits with no transcription, or two guys talking about recruits with no transcription.
  • Not that this is going to come up much, but their SEO is horrendous. Google a recruit and the front page will have 24/7, Rivals, and ESPN pages for the kid. Scout will be way down the list. I don't have much confidence in the Scout management, since they appear to be chasing metrics instead of thinking about how to serve their customers.

Scout's message board has recently undergone a makeover with the departure of Tom Beaver. For reasons inexplicable to me, this incensed a number of people who left. On the other hand, this allowed Sam to bring back a few posters that Beaver had run off. One who now goes by "SqdScoops" dumps big posts with links to everything about Michigan just about every day. If UV is not frequent or catholic enough for you that would be an asset. DOTMAN is also now a mod there, and he's providing a series of interesting interviews that are unlike any other content out there.

Scout is the middle porridge in message boards these days. 24/7 feels like it skews young and Rivals old; Scout's in the middle.

24/7

Pros:

  • Lorenz is very good and also very good at not embroidering his information so it seems like it's more important than it is. You go there, you get the information, and then you have it. I appreciate the directness. I have things to do.
  • They're the newest network and the software is the best. I am constantly hitting up player pages for information and these days I go to 24/7 first.
  • Can be super cheap if you catch them at the right time.
  • If you subscribe to 24/7 they let you read all their premium message boards, not just Michigan's. I may or may not have scoured Kentucky and Kansas boards during the Jaylen Brown recruitment.

Cons:

  • They don't have a particularly complete network right now. 24/7 is weak for basketball in general, and a lot of schools don't have much in terms of a community. This makes the "you can read everything" aspect a little less powerful.
  • Neither do they have a lot of depth past Steve at the Michigan site. Some guys come and go but other than Isaiah I couldn't tell you their names at the moment.

24/7's message board is hyperactive and seems to skew young. Most of it is accessible to non-subscribers, as they don't split into premium and regular halves. They have running threads in which they assemble most things of interest.

RIVALS

Pros:

  • They have some excellent in-depth content. Tim Sullivan will often go to games and come back with a relatively unvarnished take on a particular recruit. Brandon's started doing this as well. They regularly ping opposing coaches for their take on players for informative posts. Other sites will have live scouting from time to time, but when I do the recruiting profile posts I find those the most helpful. Recruits within a reasonable drive of Michigan who commit before their senior years will get a ton of scouting.
  • Mike Spath is the most plugged in guy for hockey. If you care about hockey, he is basically the only choice.
  • Spath also does those posts from Media Day in which he exchanges anonymity for real talk. Those are amongst the most interesting content you'll see from a premium site all year.
  • Rivals has its own camp series that only they scout.

Cons:

  • Mike Farrell, their national guy, can be highly annoying. For example, after Zach Gentry switched to Michigan there were three or four articles questioning the wisdom of that decision since Michigan had Alex Malzone.
  • I'm torn about the utility of their "Inside The Fort" posts. Often when I read them I wonder if I actually learned anything afterwards. This is the opposite of what Lorenz is good at: he gets in and out with things that are clearly information. Sometimes an ITF will have some people saying things may or may not happen, or they'll repeat coachspeak from anonymous sources.
  • Basketball coverage is clearly one or two steps removed from the coaches. A lot of it boils down to "I don't believe this will happen because this guy is getting paid."
  • I find a lot of their insider practice content to be at odds with reality. A recent example: 6'4" Jeremy Clark apparently moved to corner and was getting a lot of run. That makes me nervous; Rivals played it up like this was a great thing.

Rivals's message board can be fusty—it's the most likely place to host complaints about kids getting paid by the $EC and O$U lol. It's also the last place on the internet to have Brandon defenders. They do a good job of responding to questions and have a couple of insider posters who have been accurate in the past. Interactions with national analysts can get testy.

Comments

ypsituckyboy

August 19th, 2015 at 12:41 PM ^

Almost all of the premium boards leave something to be desired on the basketball front, which is a much bigger gripe for those of us who like basketball more than football. We are few in numbers, to be sure.

Also, in fairness to Balas on the basketball players involved in funny business talk, his references to that more recently have probably been accurate given that they've been related to top-25 players who had recruitments that seemed...off. And I'm pretty sure that there's a consensus that top-25 basketball recruiting is the dirtiest in all of NCAA sports.

oriental andrew

August 19th, 2015 at 1:50 PM ^

The Apostle's Creed also has a line (in some versions) that goes, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church..."

Not Catholic like the Pope and Vatican, but "catholic" as described above, i.e. the universal church or body of Christ. We say this version in our Presbyterian church. Some have substituted in "Christian" in place of "catholic" to avoid confusion with "Catholic" (we're Baptist or non-denominational or whatever, so why do we believe in the "Holy Catholic church?")

NOTE: Not a "religion" post per se, but taking a contextual example with which many posters here may be familiar, but may have never wondered too much about. 

SAMgO

August 19th, 2015 at 12:44 PM ^

Michigan football and hoops coverage ultimately comes to a head with Sam Webb, so if you want his opinion first you need to go to scout. He easily has the best recruiting leads. This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because scout's management is terrible and their platform is terrible. Losing Beaver and adding DOTMAN, however has been a nice change. Beaver was so obviously unconnected. He lived in rural Oregon and spent much more time bickering with commenters on the message board than providing any new content. DOTMAN is bringing something new to the table and he seems reasonably well connected.

snarling wolverine

August 19th, 2015 at 1:18 PM ^

Dotman is plugged in but I find his posting style tiresome.  This pattern happens far too often:

1.  Dotman will make a cryptic prediction and/or commentary.

2.  Other posters, uncertain as to what he's trying to say, ask for clarfication.

3.  Dotman will refuse to elaborate.

4.  The posters will then get upset with Dotman.

5.  A long message-board argument will break out between Dotman's fans (who "totally understand what he's saying") and opponents.  

 6.  Eventually, after everyone is tired of arguing, either some new information comes out or Dotman finally clarifies what he was saying, and everyone kisses and makes up.  Then the cycle repeats itself.

 

 

Kalamablue

August 19th, 2015 at 12:50 PM ^

MGOBLOG

Pros:

  • Brian is the Jim Jones of Michigan football faithful.  On a weekly basis he serves up batches of content koolaid that tastes delicious going down, even if if it kills us in the end (i.e. see last year football season).  MGoBlog is more than a sports blog, it's a way of life.  
  • Outstanding analysis for football and basketball that cannot be matched anywhere else.  
  • Mgopodcast
  • Message board on the front page - while a presentational item, I believe it drives the Blog message board as you can immediately see it on your first click. 

Cons:

  • Football season is only 3 months long
  • When football team plays bad, Brian becomes sad, and I become sad. 
  • Not a site to break any gossip regarding recruiting which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Someone like Steve Lorenz would be perfect for this site.  
  • Michigan football is on it's 3rd head coach in 6 years. 

Kalamablue

August 19th, 2015 at 1:10 PM ^

and I actually thought about putting that up there.  Some of my favorite posts are from the RR era.  HOWEVA, I also really like the posts where Brian is excited about something on the team (i.e. see 2011 football season, or 2013 defense d-line preview, or 2013 CMU game)

 

 

Bando Calrissian

August 19th, 2015 at 12:46 PM ^

Option C: Not following recruiting, letting high school kids make their college choices without an extra set of peering eyes fixed firmly upon their shirtless abs, and having a lot more free time to watch cat videos on YouTube. Which seems a win for everyone. Though maybe not the cats.

Your mileage may vary.

Ron Utah

August 19th, 2015 at 12:55 PM ^

Brian nailed it.  If you are a sports junkie, ESPN insider is super cheap and has loads of content.  If you are a U-M football junkie, any of these are worth a subscription.  If you are a U-M basketball junkie, Scout is the choice.  If you are a college football recruiting junkie, 24/7 is probably your best bet.  And if you want in-depth recruiting content (and, I believe, the most accurate ratings that are NOT the 24/7 composite) then Rivals.

And always, always MGoBlog.  And for goodness sakes, people, at least by HTTV.  This site has the best (not necessarily the most or most in-depth) content, and they have earned your business.  Or buy a t-shirt.  Just pay for something you want anyway, even if it's not much.

ST3

August 19th, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

I bought a "Taco Pants" t-shirt a few years ago. I still haven't worn it, because where does one wear a Taco Pants t-shirt in southern california, or anywhere outside of Michigan Stadium, for that matter, but hey, it was my contribution to the Blog.

Cranky Dave

August 19th, 2015 at 1:33 PM ^

Quit Drinking and Go to Bed shirt and wear it at least once a week.  I've gotten  4 positive comments from strangers who clearly have no idea of the origin.  I'm still eagerly awaiting my first encounter with another MGoBlogger while wearing the shirt.   

MGoBrewMom

August 19th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

because of Sam Webb. But the others Brian mentioned are pretty solid too.

I saw that Tom Beaver meltdown, and didn't get it, but figured there was some sort of history that I didn't understand. But didn't know there was a thing between different posters (Sqd, et al) and him. So, that's interesting. I honestly don't care..I just fall into the category of being a junkie for info. But Sam is so solid and balanced, that's what I like. I loved TVH but when thngs changed at ESPN, I switched over to Scout, and I personally like it much better. If I had to give up that or MGoBlog, I'd keep MGoBlog though--for the information, and entertainment value.

Also, I advocate for throwing a donation at MGoBlog occassionally if you can. Its free, but the best site for what I like.

Thanks Brian!

BlueinOK

August 19th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

This post is right on. I'm part of 24/7 and love how Lorenz is staight forward with what he knows. He doesn't try to be generic to just create content. I also have Rivals and because they have more resources with Tim, Brandon, Spath, CB and others they provide the most information. I agree sometimes I feel like ITF adds nothing. There's other times where it's great to read. Sometimes I read an article on a guy and feel like I get nothing. That never happens on 24/7, however, Rivals produces much more stuff so it makes sense. If I had to pick one, I'd go with 24/7 because Steve tells you how it is and the player profiles seem to have more. Also the Crystal ball predictions were a cool idea to include. 

mGrowOld

August 19th, 2015 at 12:56 PM ^

Thank you for this Brian.  I have never subscribed to any of the services and wondered what exactly they provided.

One thing I have to disagree with you on however.  I don't believe that  "We have a message board community, but it's not for everybody. It can be harsh around here for people who don't fit" is true.

We have a community that is harsh for people who cant or wont follow the community's rules.  There are a ton of different ages (I'm 56 and a post just went up from a 17 year old kid in high school), backgrounds (almuns & those that arent), race, religion, politics, gender ( a little anyways) and income.  And the only time I see the group being harsh isnt when an unpopular opinion is posted - it's when people refuse to adhere to basic board concepts (use of O$U, Spartina, personal attacks on players, etc).  That's usually when the board is seen as "harsh" IMO - not because somebody doesnt fit in.

sLideshowBob

August 19th, 2015 at 1:09 PM ^

What you say is true, but I think that is Brian's point. Our rules aren't for everybody. I am on all three of the other sites ( I have a problem, I know this) and some dudes are really into the baseless meatheaded shit talking. Some people like to rant totally unchecked. Some people like to witness these rants. This is not the place for these people. Mainly because you are expected to substantiate claims and be somewhat cordial. If you don't you will be treated rather harshly. So this is indeed not the place for everybody. Also the word police.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

bronxblue

August 19th, 2015 at 4:10 PM ^

Yeah, I've virtually never seen someone get bombed here unprovoked.  What does happen is someone wanders over from MLive or the like, calls a player a lazy a-hole, then is surprised people call him/her out on it.  So yeah, I know there are lots of places on the internet where that flies but it doesn't here.  

For a long time I was an RR defender when everyone wanted him canned, and I rarely got a negative, irrational response.  Same with Brandon - I thought the concussion situation was poorly handled but not some terrible travesty, and even had mostly-sane responses.

kingrichardx

August 19th, 2015 at 12:58 PM ^

I guess Brian didn't value the observations of Tom's 'coaching buddy' who was either a random high school coach in Oregon who had never seen the team play or was the mannequin Tom would talk to after his nightly shot of mescaline. Either way, a real loss.

Tate

August 19th, 2015 at 12:59 PM ^

The thread on 247 where people post links to threads on Bucknuts and RCMB alone makes ithat site worth the money.

And Sam makes Scout worth every penny as well.

Seth

August 19th, 2015 at 3:04 PM ^

Not to mention all the marvelous things you can do with newspaper. It's terrible how much the paper has shrunk in recent years, not because I ever read a word of 4/5ths of its sections, but because a parent with a subscription was a limitless supply of wrapping paper, project floor protectors, scarecrow stuffing, and firestarter.

I wonder if they have subscriptions to just plain paper? Or I guess I could sign up for all the advertising broadsheets, but they get glossy and that's just not the right texture for all these projects. I want something you can wet then wrap around things to make papier mache, you know?

MGoSteelers

August 19th, 2015 at 1:06 PM ^

The software is broke-ass. They've put some effort into it lately, but I'm still using their old board code to read the board because the new stuff broke my back button.

 

This is hilarious considering MGoBlog has a really outdated infrastructure.  Locked into Drupal for the next century. Board sorting limited to "old" vs. "new", no collapsible comments, 404s and 403s and 402s in the middle of the day, login service that occasionally has to be turned off on the homepage, etc.

 

I understand a lot of it is just legacy code, but every off season seems like a great time to revisit these things and consider making some updates. 

rambouhh

August 19th, 2015 at 3:04 PM ^

i have a ton of problems here on Mgoblog. I love this site and visit daily, but anytime I try to go click the next page button on the Mgobard it just shows me the diary post. I literally can't see any posts that are not on the front page of the board. I have tried it in Internet Explorer, Chrome, and on 3 different computers and two IP addresses. It can be very frustrating.