“I’ll be majoring in Legos.”

With all due respect to the number of exceptional professionals in Recruiting, many of whom I consider friends and colleagues, you have officially been trumped by the University of Alabama.

You see, while the rest of you are scouring the professional world for A-list talent, the Crimson Tide made a detour to visit the middle schools of Baton Rouge, LA, seeking the next “big thing.” It was reported yesterday by ESPN, that Dylan Moses, an 8th-grade student in Baton Rouge, has received a football scholarship offer from the Alabama coaching staff. As remarkable as that may seem, it may surprise you more to know that Alabama was second in line ~ hometown recruiters from Louisiana State University actually beat them to the punch. That’s some serious succession planning.

Like many of you, my first reaction (after picking my jaw up off the floor) is to scoff at the ridiculous thought of a college football program committing a scholarship to a 14-year old boy with 5 years of school (and 3 years of acne) before college is even a consideration. But then, Alabama has also won 3 of the last 4 NCAA Championships in football, so I have to defer to Nick Saban on the wisdom of the move.

I’m no fan of Nick Saban…or Alabama…or LSU, for that matter. But let’s be blunt – their business is college football, and the lifeblood of college football is locking down the best talent for your team. If Stanford was offering a scholarship to some 13-year old Doogie Howser, no one would bat an eye. Putting aside my personal bias, I’m left with the begrudging realization that these schools continue to seek a competitive edge, even on the heels of tremendous success (did I mention I’m no fan of these yahoos?) In the heavily regulated “industry” of college athletics, it seems that some organizations come out on top consistently – surely that’s more than coincidence?

What ideas are you putting forth to those in charge? How are you making the case for something outside of the normal SOP’s? There’s no shortage of research centering on the decline of corporate success coinciding with the intolerance of innovation and risk. Maybe of more relevance is this question – what ideas are being brought forth to you? Are you listening? You can rest assured Nick Saban is listening, just hope he doesn’t join your conference.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ movement. If you want a seat at the table, make sure you have a point!

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