Reported on Twitter today, a guy you may never heard of, Sherman Morris, is leaving his alma mater for a similar post at Arizona State University:
Sources: Sherman Morris has left job as Director of Player Personnel at LSU to replace Bo Graham as ASU's on campus recruiting coordinator.
Sources: Sherman Morris has left job as Director of Player Personnel at LSU to replace Bo Graham as ASU's on campus recruiting coordinator.— ASUDevils.com (@ASUDevilscom) March 18, 2013
Recruiting is a much larger enterprise than you likely imagine. Not that you all are stupid, but I'm not sure many of us really realize how big of an endeavor putting together a single signing class truly is. The new rule changes likely only increase the spectrum tenfold.
A single signing class is a multi-year endeavor, with contact beginning as early as 8th grade. There is no time wasted if you have the goods. The longer you continue to impress, the more your contact increases. It's simply unfeasible that a 10-man coaching staff could handle all of this contact, scouting, visiting PLUS coaching, gameplanning, practicing, and organizing the players already on the team.
That is where the Sherman Morris' of the world come into play.
Morris' title is Director of Player Personnel. I can't be absolutely sure of his day-to-day duties, but I imagine I can take a pretty good stab at it.
It's likely the job entails all manner of administrative responsibilities. This could range from anything like booking team travel to coordinating coaches' recruiting visits. Yet, Morris' role is larger than that. He's not merely an administrative assistant to the coaching staff. You don't ascend to the level of director booking hotel rooms and making a couple of phone calls. Football Scoop chimed in on the move:
LSU will reload; but Arizona State hiring Sherman Morris away is a strong move by Todd Graham. Sherman was an important part of LSU's run
LSU will reload; but Arizona State hiring Sherman Morris away is a strong move by Todd Graham. Sherman was an important part of LSU's run— FootballScoop Staff (@footballscoop) March 18, 2013
See, it's tough to quantify the value of someone like Morris. He's a background guy. He's a glorified grunt worker with a ton of responsibility. It's entirely likely he may be the actual first point of contact to nearly every recruit LSU lands. If not the first, one of the most consistent. It's likely he's doing a lot of the checking in and checking up. If shit seems awry, then does it get pushed to Frank Wilson or Les Miles. Then when everything goes smoothly, Frank Wilson gets nice articles written about him as well as gobs of message board praise.
Now, there's nothing wrong with Frank getting praise. Frank is well deserving. But this notion that LSU Recruiting = Frank Wilson is a bit overblown. Again, I'm guessing here, but what I imagine is that Frank oversees the larger strategic plan (we need x amount of players at y position), but Morris executes the plan. To think that Frank or Les have time to comb over every single prospect's tape, much less make contact with them all is ill conceived. Guys like Sherman Morris coordinate this type of activity.
Morris, with his own staff, likely vets tape. He figures out what the coaches want, looks for it on tape, then sifts through it all before passing along guys he thinks are good fits. From there coaches watch the tape and make their own evaluations.
Morris likely calls a guy like Tashawn Bower and gets a feel for it. Is there any chance? Is it really even worth Frank's time to call this kid up? Is it worth the time and money to take it a step further and fly out there?
It's likely that these are just some of the responsibilities that fall under his purview. Once players hit campus, he's probably got duties there as well. What do they need? What can I do to make this transition as seamless as possible? Who needs what to be happy?
Running a program as successful as LSU (at any level) is a massive, massive endeavor. There's a lot of hands at play, a lot of details to be worked through, a lot of questions to be answered... frankly, too many for a single head coach or a even a 10-man coaching staff to answer. That's where guys like Sherman Morris come into play.
Sherman Morris doesn't get a ton of print (or any, really). But he's held the position for six years. It's likely he's doing something right in there. Hell, even on the talent evaluation alone, clearly Morris' offers some impact.
So, why then, does an LSU grad with a measure of success leave?
Only Morris can answer that, but perhaps Arizona State offered him larger responsibilities. Morris is filling a role vacated by a guy who actually moved onto the coaching staff as a positional coach. Based on Morris' bio, he may have a desire to get back into that game. Perhaps Morris is just trying to broaden his resume. Perhaps they offered more money. Perhaps Les intends on putting Kragthorpe in this role and politely asked Morris to look around. Justin Vincent is currently Assistant Director of Player Personnel.. maybe he's in line for the promotion. It could be any number of things.
At any rate, Morris is a loss to the program. I hate to be so speculative of his responsibilities, but it's hard to be anything else. In all likelihood, Sherman Morris' job was much larger and more important than we all realized. That doesn't mean his irreplaceable or that we're headed the way of Ole Miss. It doesn't mean the 2014 recruiting class is going to fall apart. It doesn't mean our recruiting is going to take a nose dive. But it does mean we lost a good person, and you can ask any smart businessman: you always want to be in the business of keeping your good people.