When Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson left his job in April, he was searching for the right combination of work and family. And the next opportunity happened to come outside of football.
Johnson is the Iowa staff member who left to open his own Culver's in Tennessee. He told ESPN he simply had grown tired of the demands of the job and being on-call as much as he needed to be tracking down recruits.
"It all ties together," Johnson said. "You can never get away from it. If you are at dinner and the phone rings, you have to get it. Vacation is the same way. When you are on vacation, you are worried you are missing an opportunity with a prospect. This all takes away from the family. Weekends are nonexistent because of visits. It is just nonstop 365 days of year, and I needed to get off of that train and get a healthy balance in my life.
"Our profession has gone so much off the deep end with everything that's going on with recruiting, and it's not even funny anymore. There are a lot of other coaches all over the country that feel the same exact way and don't like the direction things are going. There's so much BS out there. We want you to be a part of 'our can of swag' or whatever. It got to the point where I just couldn't be a part of it anymore."
Johnson's candor is refreshing. While recruiting has always been a bit of an inhuman process – and social media and the internet have helped accelerate that attribute – his statement reflects the grind the process can take on the people doing the recruiting too. While a recruit may feel overwhelmed with attention from schools, there are hundreds of recruits to overwhelm for each school. And there aren't hundreds of people in university recruiting departments.
While you may be incredibly worried as a fan about your school getting that five-star in-state prospect, imagine the stress it puts on members of the staff and the tactics involved in the full-court recruiting press. However, the grind is something that's also part of the nature of being a staff member for a major football program. And because these are grown adults chasing after teenagers, words like "swag" can have their desired effect.
For now, anyway, Johnson is still in a university setting. He's in ButterBurger University, a 16-week training course for future Culver's franchisees. When it's complete, his restaurant will be open in the fall. And while he'll have to advertise and sell his restaurant to potential customers, not unlike selling Iowa on potential recruits, he won't have to worry about competitors photoshopping customers on fictional magazine covers.
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