Most college baseball programs fall somewhere on the spectrum between perennial winners or regular bottom dwellers.  We are faced with those two extremes, so let's set some basic background first.  You have a player who is not going to be drafted into the professional ranks so lets assume a baseball career is not going to happen.  The player is an excellent student and will likely have a successful financial future associated with what ever academic program they select.  So now for the baseball part.

Two colleges have expressed interest (many more than two but I am curious on your thoughts regarding these two) in both the academic potential and to participate in their sports program.  Both programs are DIII so there is no scholarship issues involved, merit money for academics is comparable from both schools.

Program "A" has excellent academics in the players field, excellent baseball facilities and a winning tradition and a 20+ year coach.  Player will likely ride the pine for 2 years with "some playing time" and perhaps work into a starting position as a junior or senior.  Program "B" has excellent academics in the players field, good to excellent baseball facilities, a losing tradition and a new coach who was hired to turn that tradition around.  Team will be almost exclusively Freshman (2017) and Sophomores (2016) and will likely continue to get their behinds handed to them for the first two years as they mature as a team. Player is a targeted recruit who will likely start all 4 years at their chosen position.

So since developing into baseballs next superstar is not the goal but rather having the college baseball experience, being a part of a team and getting a great degree from a great school what thoughts might you have. 

Their isn't a right or wrong and if you have specific question make the assumption that both schools are absolutely equal (geographically, size, opportunities, student body make-up, diversity, quality of food, resources, career connections, etc. etc.)

Interested to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

 

 

Original Post

Which one does your son want to go to?

I, if 35 years younger, would choose B.  Would probably tell my son that if it was his decision.  My son just last night had the choice of Freshman A basketball deep on the bench, or Freshman B basketball and most likely start.  He took B.  But his baseball decision might be different.

I'll repeat what I learned here. Tell your son to go where he would love to go to school and baseball wasn't in the mix and where they love him back.  

School B..... winning tradition is good, playing time is better,  playing 4 years and maybe starting a winning tradition at school B priceless.  

Pull out a pen and paper & write down ALL the pro's and con's to each option. Analyze & discuss, then ask him to make a decision.

My personal choice would be option B.

Took the B route many years ago.  No regrets.  Knew if I went the A route would certainly be a pitcher only and definitely not be a starter until at least junior year.  By taking the B route was able to be a two way player, near the top of the conference in innings pitched for three years, was part of team that made conference playoffs 3 of 4 years...school had only been once in history of the school before that, and played for a great man. 

My take would be school B, but that choice includes reasons that I was not mature enough to think about as a senior in HS.

In addition to the playing time advantage and starting earlier in his college career, he will also have potential leadership opportunities on the team earlier on.  A mentor once told me that good leadership = competence + character.  The academics helps to get a leg up on the competence part of the equation; the baseball experience, and how he responds with the potential adversity of being part of a rebuilding program, will help with the character part.

If you are being realistic and thinking beyond college, I think there is something to be said for the leadership/character aspect.

I always worry (for my 2017 too) when we hear "guarantees" that you would be a starter or get X playing time NOW, up front.  How can any coach know?

Playing time is earned in my opinion -- and NOT given.  

A coach, whether a winning program or not, should want to put in the line up that he or she thinks gives the team the best chance to win.  My son would plan to make it hard for a coach not to have him in that line up, no matter the preconceived notions.  Any coach that is telling my son right now that he will be a starter as a freshman or that he wouldn't have a chance to start, before he has ever seen the whole recruited team together and knows who can be slotted where and what so and so did over the summer etc, is someone I want to be a little weary of to be honest.    

This part of the description stood out to me: "will likely start all 4 years at their chosen position."

I would never make that assumption at any program, especially at D3. If the new coach is going to turn things around, he's going to do it primarily by finding better players. Sounds like school "A" has a track record of developing guys and playing more juniors and seniors. School "B" has no track record, so there is some risk involved. School "B" may still be the better choice, but understand the risks.

The above responses are all good.  I think I'd encourage my son to carefully consider Option B also because of the opportunity to play more.  But, if his intuition causes him to lean toward one or the other (perhaps because of the coach or the school atmosphere or no reason at all), that should weigh heavily.  Finally, as a praying person, I'd do a lot of that and encourage my son to do that as well.    

Twoboys posted:

I always worry (for my 2017 too) when we hear "guarantees" that you would be a starter or get X playing time NOW, up front.  How can any coach know?

Playing time is earned in my opinion -- and NOT given.  

A coach, whether a winning program or not, should want to put in the line up that he or she thinks gives the team the best chance to win.  My son would plan to make it hard for a coach not to have him in that line up, no matter the preconceived notions.  Any coach that is telling my son right now that he will be a starter as a freshman or that he wouldn't have a chance to start, before he has ever seen the whole recruited team together and knows who can be slotted where and what so and so did over the summer etc, is someone I want to be a little weary of to be honest.    

So I would say go where he will be challenged. That can be choice A or B. Most players want to compete and be challenged. And not just by opposing teams. They want to be challenged by their team mates.

one school came ay my son very hard. One of the coaches selling points was, "I cannot promise you will be a starter, but I know the talent I have, and you have more talent, than my current players." He was a new coach for this program, but not new to coaching. He had been a successful assistant at the D1 level, and a sucessfull head coach at the D2 level. This was a D3. When I heard this, I thought, you just lost my son. He had spent too many seasons being the best player on a bad teams, and that did not interest him for college. He wanted to be on a team, where he would have to compete, and he would be challenged . 

He did not pick this school. The school became very sucessfull at the regional level, but my son beat them every time they met. It was in a different conference but his team played them once or twice a year. 

Everyone says go where you are loved. And I agree, but 8f you have the talent and you are lucky, you will have more than one school that loves you. You don't always need to choose the school that loves you most. My son went to a school that loved him, but not the one that loved him most. And he has no regrets. 

 

A lot of great responses!  We went through this same discussion with my 2016 last year. 

I agree with what MidAtlantic says.  Every coach at every school is looking to bring in better talent every year.  There are zero playing time guarantees anywhere IMHO. 

My boys wanted commitment from the coaching staffs for Spring roster spots in year one.  And (ideally) a four year roster spot commitment to the player if he was working hard on and off the field and there are no disciplinary issues.  Playing time then is 100% on the player outperforming the other guys.  And the roster management become pretty self selecting...guys leave the team who aren't playing and pursue other things (internships, travel abroad, intra-murals, tougher majors, etc.).

Many coaches will not give the above commitment.  My 2016 had a dozen D3's that would.  And he punted from his list any that would not, i.e., those that had annual tryouts, those that would only "guarantee" fall roster spots.

If you have the four year baseball commitment from the coaching staff (presuming they stay around!) then the selection of what college to choose comes down to everything else:  majors and minors, academic support, weather, campus aesthetics, size of the student body, location, dining options, workout facilities, baseball field and facilities, etc. 

Our perceptions of what the coaching staff brings to the table is important too.  Do they develop baseball skills?  How is summer team placement?  Competing for post season play then became one of these factors.  It's important to most players and definitely was to my boys.   

 

My thoughts are to drill deeper.  

I'll start with program B - Many losing programs bring in a new coach who, of course, claims he will turn the program around.  What are the real chances that this is the guy?  It usually doesn't turn out that way.  Playing is great.  Playing for a perennial loser and getting hammered regularly can take the joy out in a hurry.  Do you see indicators with this guy, beyond his required dialog, that lead to believe maybe he can turn it around?  What is his relevant background?  Can he recruit strongly at this level in this region?  Can he win at this level once he does so?  What do the other recruits look like?  Are they clear upgrades, game-changers?  (I'm guessing the answer is no since you say they are likely to continue taking a beating for a while)  Agree with others that the ultimate scenario is to come in and be part of turning a program around.  But, that sounds like it's still a big IF here.  Try to dig deep to figure that out.

Program A - It's always great to be part of a winning tradition.  And, there are many rewarding experiences that come with the process of earning playing time over the course of a year or two before hopefully earning starter status.  But, again, honest assessment has to come into play here.  Many successful D3 programs are good because they are constantly filling the pipelines with good players.  As you pointed out, there is no athletic scholarship and there are no roster limits.  So, it is very common dialog for a successful D3 coach to say a player may get some PT but mostly spend a year or two developing before earning starting time with his coveted program.  There is nothing to lose and no real commitment to put that player in the position to actually do so after a year or two.  In fact, he will be constantly working hard to protect his winning reputation and find better players than your son.  That's his job.  So your player has to do some serious evaluation of what his realistic chances are to get that playing time and, eventually, that starting opportunity.  If he believes he has a real shot, knowing that the HC will continue to bring in good players, I think this is a great option.  

Two good academic choices, among others, is a great problem to have... congratulations to your son!

 

 

Last edited by cabbagedad

Get a read on whether you think the new guy has what it takes to turn around the losing program.

There's a special kind of pride that comes from being part of a successful turnaround.  

My son was part of a group that turned a 10-win team that was perennially in the bottom 10% of D1 RPI into a 35-win team with an RPI almost 150 spots higher than its customary level.  These guys aren't/weren't pro prospects, but they have a lifetime bond and sense of accomplishment nobody can ever take away.

I think I'd lean toward option B - I like the idea of being part of the group that creates a new tradition of winning rather than maintaining the status quo. But I agree with those who say that in either option A or B the player has to go in focused on winning playing time, regardless of any promises and expectations. 

I disagree somewhat with the premise of the question in that you can posit that all other things are equal between the two schools, but in the real world they are not.  Food, girls, academics, dorms, alumni network, weather, recreational opportunities, game attendance,  etc.-- they can't all be equal.  Some of these are better, or at least preferable, at one school over the other. If your son doesn't know which one that is, then he needs to do more research and spend more time on campus.

Probably a tad off topic, but I have heard so many times about players having to sit on the bench for two years before getting in the starting lineup.

While I know this happens at times, what happens more often is the player sitting on the bench his first two years also ends up sitting on the bench his last two years.  Or he no longer plays at that school. Or he no longer plays at all.

Never understood guaranteed playing situations.  Starting lineup as a freshman or becoming a starter after a couple years?  While neither one should ever be guaranteed it might be important in successfully recruiting a talented player by making him feel like he will be playing immediately.  But guaranteeing or even suggesting that someone will be playing when they are a junior is crazy.  There will be all the seniors and juniors that were ahead of him as freshman and sophomores.  More importantly there will be two more full recruiting classes. And how much can you improve while sitting on the bench for two years?  Not many coaches looking for full recruiting classes of kids that won't contribute until their junior year.  Sure, it happens but most juniors didn't sit on the bench their first two years.  There is a better chance that the junior that doesn't play his first two years will not be a big contributor ever.

I do know people can come up with examples that show differently.  I just think it is best to go somewhere where you are likely to be playing ASAP, rather than waiting a couple years to play.  That is just from the baseball part of the equation.  Obviously there are other important reasons for going to college.

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