Every NFL Draft season, schools latch onto the spotlight. After all, if you have a player headed to the league that you can even tangentially claim, you do just that.
These claims are targeted to fans, yes. But this is college football, so anything posted online is ultimately aimed at recruits.
Take Texas A&M for instance.
This is a graphic posted by A&M tight ends coach Tim Brewster to brag about the earnings supposedly produced by head coach Jimbo Fisher. It uses eight former FSU defensive players — a side of the ball Fisher doesn’t coach — and one who didn’t even play for him, but rather for defensive coordinator Mike Elko at Wake Forest. And it got the Aggies in trouble with former Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey.
Know I have nothing but respect for you Coach Brew but don’t use me on a poster for a school I didn’t go to & for a coach who didn’t teach me how to be a DB.— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 27, 2018
But it is only one example of draft graphics that college teams make to squeeze all the braggadocious juice they can out of a player going pro.
1. Coaches often have to claim players from previous schools.
Like Fisher, when a coach changes schools, he’s got to have something to market in recruiting, and falling back on pro alumni is typically the move to convey to the high school player, “you can be just like these guys.”
Here’s South Carolina doing that with Will Muschamp’s former players, many of whom played for him at Florida or Texas.
This means Earl Thomas and Aaron Williams have been claimed by both South Carolina and Texas in official recruiting graphics. We’ll see if former Texas DB coach Duane Akina’s Stanford joins the club.
This (now-deleted) instagram post by Kentucky boasts first round players who played for Mark Stoops elsewhere.
But you’ll notice a trend. Of the group of 11 players, nine played for Stoops at recruiting powerhouses Miami or Florida State. Another played for him at Arizona.
This P.J. Fleck tweet just lists accolades Corey Davis earned at Fleck’s previous school, with Minnesota’s branding slapped at the bottom.
Sometimes when you coach at one school — Ohio State for instance — and switch jobs to a rival, that rival gets put in an interesting position. All five of these players at the bottom of a graphic produced by Michigan played at Ohio State:
And this is Lane Kiffin bragging about players he coached at Alabama five months after he left the Tide for FAU. Of the 10 Tide players drafted in 2017, only three played for Kiffin on offense.
2. There’s impressive numeric finagling
Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t; isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, numbers can certainly exaggerate.
Take this stat from Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma tenure:
In the 18-year Bob Stoops era, a total of 83 Sooners have been selected. That’s 21 more than the next closest Big 12 program during the time period (Texas, 62) and 40 more than the second-closest (Kansas State, 43).
That includes players like Stockar McDougle, William Bartee, Torrance Marshall from Stoops’ first two seasons. They were on the team when he got there, and you could argue that they would have made the pros without Stoops, which brings up an argument about who really is to credit for a player’s NFL future.
You’ll also something like this when it comes to boasting begin about the future earnings a player will make too. Jim McElwain coaches all these players, but didn’t recruit any of them, and only one of them played on his side of the ball.
(Also note this tweet is still up, now with a Michigan avi.)
Alabama has a nice shtick here about the process literally paying off.
There’s nothing in the graphic about whether the process paid off while the Tide players were actually in school — it didn’t, because amateurism! — and of course the process has not directly paid off for hundreds of Alabama players who weren’t NFL caliber but still suited up under Saban.
Tennessee used this graphic to hype up the 2017 draft. It reads: “Tennessee’s 337 all-time draft picks are the most in the SEC and rank in a tie for eighth among all FBS schools. The Vols also boast 44 first-round picks, including 14 top-10 selections.” Tennessee didn’t have a pick in the previous two drafts, so they leaned on their history instead.
Don’t worry about how ESPN quantified “overperformers,” just know that UCF has a lot of overperforming players.
Technically, all statistics are in some way arbitrary, but when bragging about specific time spans, teams get creative. Like Baylor did with this graphic:
Recruiting is certainly a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and Baylor noting it didn’t have any offensive linemen drafted between 1999 and 2009 probably wouldn’t be great for a graphic.
3. This one isn’t always awkward, but it’s still funny: sometimes a player can be claimed by multiple schools at the same time
EMCC, the Last Chance U school, is an interesting case. The JUCO gets players who have lost their way back to the highest level of FBS, after a year’s stopover in Scooba, Mississippi.
Jarran Reed, Za’Darius Smith, Quinton Dial, Chad Kelly, and D.J. Jones are all draftees that EMCC essentially rented while they played their way back to FBS rosters.
Kelly played for three college programs in his career: Clemson, EMCC, and Ole Miss. He was booted from the Tigers’ program after character issues, but Ole Miss was just as happy as EMCC to claim him. Both had valid claims here.
4. Direct shade at other schools
The [Position Group] U debate is one of the preeminent made-up online debates. Texas resumed the fray while using its draft exploits to assert its supremacy as DBU. LSU, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, FSU, as well as many others can (and have) made the claim. The Longhorns just did it in graphical form, and found a way to blast multiple schools directly in the same draft graphic.
This graphic, posted on a since-deleted Twitter account for Pitt’s football staff, doesn’t even hide the regional shade by using a writer’s words, the Panthers just cut right to the chase:
And the Panthers caught similar fire from one of those rivals:
In especially competitive recruiting states, teams might try to use the draft as a way to claim area ownership:
And finally, there was that time Ohio State seemed to claim Tim Tebow, who once beat Ohio State in a national title game.
Whether it’s to take shots at direct opponents or find some way to take credit for a previous regime’s recruiting exploits, college football programs will always look for inventive ways to entice high school athletes to come play for them, no matter what it takes.