Apparently I have to say this: treat recruits with respect

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Brandon posted an article about 2016 recruit Teryn Savage, and this is his takeaway from his experience at MGoBlog:

So congratulations, leftrare, MGoBrewMom, JuggernautRides, and chitownblue2, and the other people in that thread who insulted the kid for no reason. Guess what: people are interested to see what people say about them on the internet, and now a potential recruit doesn't want to talk to Brandon. 

If you think that 2016 is a magic land from which news cannot come, don't read it. We're going to report on kids that are being recruited. 

Going forward, anything that could be interpreted as an insult to a blameless high school kid will result in a no-warning ban. Even if that interpretation is crazy. Any "pedo" references will also result in a ban. 

In conclusion, guh.


Brown Bear

September 24th, 2013 at 7:50 PM ^

The comments in that thread bothered me. Brandon is just doing his job and the kid is a kid and the instant attack mode for the post perpetrated by some is disgusting.


September 24th, 2013 at 10:32 PM ^

Is it? I mean outright personal insults are obviously obvious, but frankly the comments he posted were pretty innocuous. The kid looks young, there didn't seem to be any ill intent behind any of it. At some point we don't have control over how a recruit (or current player for that matter) are going to interpret things. I'd hate to suppress the quality discussion on potential recruits because people fear the ban hammer. I could easily see recruits taking offense at some of the more candid evaluations here, some by the staff no less (Ace's comments on Drake Johnson, for example). The line between fair discussion and "anything that could be interpreted as an insult.... Even if that interpretation is crazy" is pretty damn fuzzy.

EDIT: some of the comments.....leftrare's comment was pretty borderline insulting.

turd ferguson

September 24th, 2013 at 7:56 PM ^

I haven't seen this article or the comments that followed it, but isn't it a fair question whether it's healthy for MGoBlog to be conducting and publishing interviews with kids who are probably 15 years old? I'm definitely glad that I don't have interviews on record from when I was that age - and that I didn't have to deal with media requests for attention.
I get that other sites are running with this kind of info, but that doesn't make it appropriate or good for these kids.


September 24th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

Probably a question for Brandon, but most all successful reporters covering recruiting go through parents or coaches first, especially while establishing contact. Considering how successful Brandon has been since starting the M Block, and isn't he even a teacher?, I would guess that he goes about doing things the 'right' way.

turd ferguson

September 24th, 2013 at 8:30 PM ^

I'd like to know the answer to this.  If that's not Brandon's approach (going through parents or coaches), I think MGoBlog should consider adopting that as its policy.  You guys were doing great before you broke recruiting news yourselves.  It won't break you to lose a few interviews if you're declined by parents or coaches.

Brandon Brown

September 24th, 2013 at 8:46 PM ^

I've made contacts any and every way I can to get information. I've went through coaches, parents, school employees, and, of course, the recruits themselves. Social media has made it pretty easy to get in touch with these guys either directly or indirectly.

I always ask them if they are interested to talk about their recruitment. If they aren't, that's the end of our conversation, no big deal. But almost all the time, they are, they are usually very happy to talk, get their name out there, get more exposure, express their thoughts about something they are very passionate about.

I have a very good relationship with virtually everyone I have contacted. This is why they give me information. I've personally talked with some of the biggest name recruits that don't talk to many media types because I've built relationships with their coaches or parents. Sometimes the recruits tell me to talk to their parents and I do that.

Someone earlier said this and I think it's a big part of why I've been successful with covering recruiting. I am a teacher and a coach of middle school-high school aged kids and I'm good at what I do. Brian and I discussed this at length when he made the decision to bring me aboard. I've been able to form solid relationships with recruits, parents of recruits, and coaches of recruits.

I definitely have not talked with the parent or the coach of every recruit, but to me that's only necessary if the parents or coaches deem it to be. If that's how they want it to be for their child or player, then that's how it is. It's not like the players are doing these interviews or talking about their recruitment behind their parents' backs. If you Google any recruits name, everything they've ever said will come up. The players, parents, and coaches are aware of what is going on and if they want it to be a private affair or cut off the exposure, it can be done.

I can't believe what a simple "Name to Watch" post has turned into and I feel badly about it because there were no ill-intentions. I hope in the future I can just post info and people will read it. That's my goal and that's what I'm supposed to do and what I enjoy doing.

turd ferguson

September 24th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

Thanks for taking the time and writing such a detailed, honest response.  I'm still a little freaked about about all of this - and still think MGoBlog should consider that policy - but at the very least you seem like a good dude who would never deliberately harm anyone.


September 24th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

A parent has to find out you interviewed their kid by googling them? I wouldn't want you talking to my 15 year old without contacting me first. You have no credentials. You could be anyone. The fact that you contact them directly is a much sorrier commentary on the state of the site than any comments in that thread.


September 25th, 2013 at 8:06 AM ^

'Love it or leave it' says the guy with 100 points.  M-Wolverine draws a lot of water around here, and the fact that he disagrees with the approach is something that is shared with a lot of parents, including myself.  I understand this is probably the norm in the world of talking to recruits but that doesn't mean parents should be okay with it.  Lots of us still give a shit about our kids and their interaction and perception in the world at large.


September 24th, 2013 at 9:06 PM ^

Who does have credentials, then? Doesn't working for a well-known blog provide those? Does TomVH have the credentials to talk to recruits because he works for ESPN? Is all of this a greater indictment on MGoBlog or recruiting coverage as a whole? (Or C: None of the above?)

turd ferguson

September 24th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

Definitely recruiting coverage as a whole.  I just kind of liked seeing MGoBlog rise above that (again, something that I think Ace deserves credit for).

I'll make another pitch here... If MGoBlog adopts it as a policy that they'll only talk to high school kids after getting permission from their coaches or parents first, I think that'd be a major site making an interesting statement.  Hopefully some recruits (or coaches) would take notice and start to demand that of the other sites.


September 24th, 2013 at 10:37 PM ^

I'd say recruiting is the Wild West right now. And a couple of months or a year of page hits and you suddenly become a guru. A first step might be anyone who is paid to do it full time. But really that's why you'd contact the school, coach, or parent. Because it's what a responsible organization would do. That lends credence. I don't blame any kid for talking to someone and getting fawned over. That's why adults are there to weed out the legit from the not so legit. Saying "well the kid said his parents were ok with it" is passing the buck. They're not adults. To go around that says to me you're more interested in the scoop than what's best for the kid. A media concept that used to be everything this blog objected to. Just because twitter has made it easy doesn't make it right.


September 24th, 2013 at 10:04 PM ^

I'm not in this to argue or take sides, I have my opinions on these types of issues and I'm not enclosing them here and now.  But something to add/answer to your comment, my parents had to "find out" I was interviewed by the local newspaper sports reporter(s) for State Track accomplishments "by reading about it in the newspaper"; is that any different than simple Google searches these days?


September 24th, 2013 at 11:13 PM ^

Yeah, fair enough.  I do see your point.  I knew the guy (wife was a teacher of mine before highschool).  To add (probably tiresomely at this point after what's gone on) a picture of me hurdling was on the front page as well. I wasn't asked to sign anything--not that I remember.  But I thought it was great!  .., .I've never looked at it in this light before, though, and my very responsible parents I'm sure did not either.  Again, I do see your point and don't necessarily disagree with it.  As with everything else in life, there's much more than meets the eye with issues/occasions like this/these (maybe even moreso in this day in age).


September 24th, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I think the industry is just strange and grimey...but theres a demand for the information.  There's 4 freaking sites raking in millions of this information, and we all want to know who we're getting in our next class and where we rank.  I am guilty of following it, so I cant judge this site, which is a college football-Michigan sports blog...needs to address and report on one of the main topics in college football.  Accept it for what it is.


September 24th, 2013 at 11:46 PM ^

i'm guilty of following recruiting as much as the next guy.  it's one of the main topics i'll read about instead of a review of how we came back in OT to beat the bye week.

i don't think it's enough to just accept the state of recruiting as par for the course though.  not to be that guy yet i would hope a more perfect solution can be sought.  benefits would exist also - we go out to parents/coaches, preach the good word on UM, and they'll only have nice things to say about the program and the people representing it, even those in an unofficial capacity.

still admiteddly gray though; not sure a perfect solution exists that satisfies all stakeholders to the fullest.

Doc Brown

September 24th, 2013 at 10:43 PM ^

I agree with you. I am a teacher as well, I am pretty distubred that is ok to interview a minor without parental permission. Anytime I use a student's product or likeness in a non-academic manner (artifacts and records of teaching practice), I feel I am morally and probably legally obligated to get the student's parents' permission. Even if a student tells me personally it is ok, I still feel it is necessary to contact the parents. 

There is a reason I don't follow recruiting until the month around signing day. There is way too much creepiness in the industry. 

Doc Brown

September 25th, 2013 at 5:56 AM ^

Actually I am not legally obligated. I do so to cover my butt in case a parent freaks out that their kid is on videos I take of my teaching at school. Last thing I want is lawsuit. Secondly, it feels just wrong to take video without permission. 

That said I could never be a recruiting journalist. There is way too much slime in that industry. 


September 25th, 2013 at 1:07 AM ^

Or hey, here's a wild idea, parents and kids could actually speak to one another. Why is it on the interviewer to contact the parents? That's the same rationale that gets stores in trouble for selling video games et al to underaged kids. How about you actually be aware of what your kids are doing and who they're talking to since you're their parents? One would think you'd raise a kid smart enough to understand that maybe they should discuss things with you before they go talking to reporters, especially in the internet age in which we live now. Internet awareness should be something every family talks about.

singler makes …

September 24th, 2013 at 9:37 PM ^

"I definitely have not talked with the parent or the coach of every recruit, but to me that's only necessary if the parents or coaches deem it to be."


How are you supposed to know what the parents/coaches of a recruit deem to be necessary if you never talk to them?



Shop Smart Sho…

September 24th, 2013 at 10:32 PM ^

You've told us you are/were a coach and teacher.  Shouldn't you know better than to believe everything a kid tells you?  Wouldn't you feel safer as an educator/coach after getting permission from an adult to talk to a minor?  I'm also curious where you are getting permission to reprint the conversation and publish the image of a minor.  I know in the realm of education I can't publish anything without consent from the parent and generally the school.  I know that journalism doesn't follow the same standards, but I would assume you have to have permission for the picture at least.  And if you are still teaching, you should probably cover your own butt and get that permission.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 24th, 2013 at 9:50 PM ^

Brandon, as a coach and someone changing careers in his 30's to teaching, I can't possibly disagree with you more.  In every school corporation I've set foot in they have made it clear they do not want teachers interacting with kids on social media.  While this might be different where you live and work, I think it is something to consider.  

I believe reporters who cover recruiting should go through the same channels that coaches do when seeking access to a high school student.  My understanding of that process is that it must go through the school or parent first.  I've told every kid I've coached that if they are interested in a particular school they should let me, our A.D., or the academic advisor at the university they are interested in know first.

But I'm also going to echo what some others in this thread have said.  Just turn off the comments on your articles.  There isn't really a good reason to have comments on them.  If you and Magnus or some of the other football coaches on here want to have a discussion about a recruit, do it over email.  The rest of us won't be able to add anything to the discussion of any great value.


September 24th, 2013 at 10:53 PM ^

You understand that Brandon is contacting them as a reporter and not a teacher right? I was interviewed after basketball games by our local newspaper when I was a junior and senior. Should the reporter have asked my parents before interviewing me?

Overall, as already noted, if you don't want you kid talking to people and learning how to become a human then keep them off social media.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 24th, 2013 at 11:43 PM ^

Reporters at sporting events have generally been vetted by the school they are in.  They are also in full view of the public, and the adult responsible for the child, be it a parent or coach.  That is completely different than tweeting at a kid that doesn't know you.


I've actually asked a local reporter about this.  I know his wife because we coach against each other, so I shot him an email to get some info about it.  His rule is that he won't follow or mention an athlete's twitter handle until after speaking to their parent first.  While he isn't working at a huge paper, he does write for a paper in a B1G city, so it isn't a tiny place.  After he gets permission for that, he'll occasionally tweet at a kid if he knows they've had a contest, but generally just to get scores if their coaches are slow about uploading it.  Even with that level of permission, he won't interview a kid for a piece without again contacting the coach/AD/parent first.  

Now, if he'll go through all of that to put out multiple blog posts a day, plus his columns and game write-ups, shouldn't we expect Brandon to be able to do that when he generally only posts once or twice a week?


September 25th, 2013 at 2:35 AM ^

But there's also a big difference between talking to someone online and actually being in the same physical space as someone. Reporters at schools have to be vetted because they could simply be posing as a reporter. There's no harm in asking a kid questions about where he's going to school, but I still do think it's a good idea that Brandon gets the OK from a parent or guardian before publishing personal interviews on a well-read site from young high school students.


September 24th, 2013 at 10:00 PM ^

ok I hear what you are saying but how are u able to post a picture of a minor without parental consent. See I work with high school age students myself and we could never do that without signed documents saying it was ok. I'm almost certain that at any event these kids go to, they or their parents sign waiver agreements giving permission to use their image and likeness. I would just think that to protect both parties, permission would be sought by a parent or legal guardian of the player so that player and the journalist/bloggers are protected. Not saying you don't do this most of the time but I think it should be an everytime thing.


September 24th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^

If you are taking photographs and plan on using them for the promotion of your own entity you have to get a signed release/waver. I do this in advertising all the time. From what I have seen, MGoBlog has taken photographs either as a news agency at an event (which is legal without parental consent) or pulled an image from the internet which is typically free domain unless otherwise noted. So far everything Brandon has done, according to how he has explained it, is legal. If anyone objects to it morally or ethically, that is their choice, but nothing illegal is happening.