What say you...

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.

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!

 

 

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.

PGStaff posted:

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.

 

Agreed - a lot changes from year to year.  Especially at the higher-tier schools that bring in large classes of JC transfers.  You may have "put in your time" for 2 years on the bench, but there is still the chance that your coach brings in a JC transfer to start over you.

Personally, my choice would be B where I'd have a good shot to play as a freshman.   My son would likely choose A because he'd want to win and he'd want to be challenged for playing time.

 

It depends on the individual personality.   There is not one right or wrong answer

Wow, I am a tad bit shocked to read everyone advocating for the easier route.  I guess what they say about today's society is true, nobody wants to take the hard road.  College athletics is not about just athletics.  Based on what OP put I would and I would want my son to attend program A.  You are going to learn hard work, you are going to learn tradition, you are going to learn perseverance, you are going to learn patience, you are going to learn how to be a team player.  Program B will hand you a life lesson of no competition and a me now approach.  I would be disgusted if a coach told my kid they could start all 4 years, I would automatically cross them off the list.  There is a huge difference between chance to start and start.  I want my kid to earn whatever he gets.  Also, in regards to getting drafted and playing professionally.  Might want to find the thread or google Ben Zorbrist.  Also There is a player name Evan Longoria who nobody wanted out of High School but a Junior College.  You never know!

IEBSBL posted:

Wow, I am a tad bit shocked to read everyone advocating for the easier route.  I guess what they say about today's society is true, nobody wants to take the hard road.  College athletics is not about just athletics.  Based on what OP put I would and I would want my son to attend program A.  You are going to learn hard work, you are going to learn tradition, you are going to learn perseverance, you are going to learn patience, you are going to learn how to be a team player.  Program B will hand you a life lesson of no competition and a me now approach.  I would be disgusted if a coach told my kid they could start all 4 years, I would automatically cross them off the list.  There is a huge difference between chance to start and start.  I want my kid to earn whatever he gets.  Also, in regards to getting drafted and playing professionally.  Might want to find the thread or google Ben Zorbrist.  Also There is a player name Evan Longoria who nobody wanted out of High School but a Junior College.  You never know!

occasionally people get hit by lightening bolts and attached by sharks - pretty safe to assume the boy shouldn't be overly concerned about them.

Every baseball person I spoken with has said roughly to the same to me, if you don't start or play regular Freshman or sophomore year you most likely won't play at all as an upperclassmen. That includes several college coaches.

My son did select option B.  As it turns out his team did win a conference championship his sophomore year....first in program history.  A couple things went into his decision.  First playing time has tremendous value in a very competitive major.  His reasoning is if I'm not good enough to play, I could be doing things more related to my major or other interests.  Second, the school he selected had more academic options (deeper and wider program) related to his major than his other choices.  This was not a hard decision for him.

Good luck!

You just don't know. You can look at every opportunity and try to project where you fit in. You can have a coach tell you "we see you as a starter day one" "we believe you can compete for playing time day one" etc etc. But the fact is you just don't know. You could go to a D1 and play right away. You could choose a D2 and sit. The only thing you can do is go in and compete. You can be the 2nd best catcher in your entire conference and sit behind the best catcher in your conference. And that can be at the least competitive program in that conference.

I have seen so many D1 transfers from power 5 conferences transfer for playing time to D2 programs only to find out that nothing has changed. You have to compete and be the best option. And remember this nothing stays the same. What projects in year one you can throw out the window in year two. Transfers in and transfers out. New class every year. Coaches come and go. Picking a school based on your projection of playing time can be very tricky. It's always been my opinion that a player should aspire to play at the highest level he can for the best program he can. And then go in and compete.

Coaches will say whatever they feel they need to say to get you on campus. After that all bet's are off. Competition and production will win out. If your mindset is I am going to go to the school where I think the competition will be the weakest to ensure my ability to see the field then I wouldn't want you in my program. What happens when you choose that weaker program for playing time and you don't earn a starting role right away? What's the players mindset then?

Which school do you like the most? Which school likes you the most? Are you ready to compete for playing time? Are you a team player? JMO

 

I think a lot may have to do with your son's personality.  My son hated to lose at anything, he hated for his t ball team to lose, he hated to lose at board games, if his favorite pro sports team lost we knew to give him some space. I saw a video of his college baseball team competing against the lacrosse and hockey team in a fitness test, he wasn't going to let his team lose an event.

This winning desire factored in to his decision on where to attend school and play baseball. He didn't want to play for a loser, he wanted to play for a team that was in the championship mix at the end of the season. He knew it might cost him some playing time early but he had the confidence and work ethic to know that eventually he was going to be a difference maker at his school. My son passed on a couple of offers that would have put him on the field as a freshman to go to a school  that posted yearly winning records.

two years ago a player transferred to his team from a d1, led the old team in innings , at bats, BA, but was tired of losing. Being part of a winning team takes a team first commitment. It takes a desire to put in the extra work to excel. It takes players pushing each other for playing time. Being a part of that is oh so special and something to not overlook.

Your program B has been a regular bottom dweller, its tough to turn that around. If they were just a couple of players away from competing with the conference best, maybe I would push my son that way. But to go from the basement to the attic in 4 years is pretty tough. If the new coach does turn it around its likely going to take a few more years. Your son could leave with the satisfaction of being the first .500 team in 20 years? Would that be good enough to satisfy him?

Best of luck.

How many players are on a college roster? At the D1 level 35. At the lower levels many more than that. How many play? Lets take position players. You will have 8 starters who play the vast majority of the innings. One catcher who will rotate from time to time. A DH. And maybe one guy who is a utility player. Let's call it 11 position players who see time. That leaves 24 players. Out of those 24 you will have 3 weekend starters and 2 midweek starters. Then you will have around 6 guys that get the bulk of the relief duty. Lets call that 11. So that's 22 guys who see the vast majority of the time if not all of it. That leaves 13 guys.

Now think about D2 and D3. Many more players on the roster but the same type of breakdown in playing time. So who wants to sit the bench? No one does but someone has to. It's called competition. It's called working for opportunities. How can you run a program with no bench? I would suggest people just go look up random college programs and look at the stats from pervious years. Tell me what you see. It is not unusual for many D2 and D3 programs to carry 40 to 45 players on their roster. That was certainly the case in D1 before the 35 max roster limit.

The FACT is many college baseball players never start. Many college baseball players spend the majority of their time in college on the bench. If you don't love it enough to grind through adversity and are willing to spend your time on the bench working to get off the bench it's not for you.

You are ONLY young once, he obviously loves the game and college will likely be his last chance to play.  With all other things at the school being equal I would tell my son to go have fun playing his final years of baseball on team B, where he would actually PLAY.

old_school posted:
IEBSBL posted:

Wow, I am a tad bit shocked to read everyone advocating for the easier route.  I guess what they say about today's society is true, nobody wants to take the hard road.  College athletics is not about just athletics.  Based on what OP put I would and I would want my son to attend program A.  You are going to learn hard work, you are going to learn tradition, you are going to learn perseverance, you are going to learn patience, you are going to learn how to be a team player.  Program B will hand you a life lesson of no competition and a me now approach.  I would be disgusted if a coach told my kid they could start all 4 years, I would automatically cross them off the list.  There is a huge difference between chance to start and start.  I want my kid to earn whatever he gets.  Also, in regards to getting drafted and playing professionally.  Might want to find the thread or google Ben Zorbrist.  Also There is a player name Evan Longoria who nobody wanted out of High School but a Junior College.  You never know!

occasionally people get hit by lightening bolts and attached by sharks - pretty safe to assume the boy shouldn't be overly concerned about them.

Every baseball person I spoken with has said roughly to the same to me, if you don't start or play regular Freshman or sophomore year you most likely won't play at all as an upperclassmen. That includes several college coaches.

A) You and I know a lot more MLB guys were written off out of HS than Shark Attacks and Lighting.

B) What is the purpose of your statement about "Every Baseball Person"?  I don't remember nor reading anything I wrote stating that is not true.  I don't even remember thinking that, that was not true. 

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