Value Investing Recruiting
I believe there could be a value slant to recruiting that is going untapped. With many hits and misses in recruiting it is plausible that many heuristics and factors that coaches use to classify prospects may not necessarily be what translates to on-field success. Some parallels to this can be drawn to Ben Graham, Warren Buffett, and the ideas of value investing. The premise of value investing is that efficient market theory, an academic theory that all markets are efficient, makes sense in theory but in practice may not be correct. For reasons such as irrational behavior and short-run to long-run interest’s markets are not efficient. Value investors who have modeled their strategies after Buffett and Graham have attempted to identify and capitalize on situations where markets are behaving irrationally.
Graham was the first to introduce the idea or Mr. Market. Mr. Market is a metaphor for the arbitrary prices that the market assigns for the same things each day. Mr. Market may come one day and try to sell you a vacuum for $200. The next day he may come and try to sell you the same vacuum for $50. He is not rational and to take advantage of his wide-ranging prices you must be able to set a price for what the real-value of the good is. This can be translated to recruiting very easily. In the world of college recruiting very little goes uncovered. We have testing numbers, recruiting service rankings, news on offers in real-time, etc. These, are leading to a culture of irrationality. Kids pick up offers simply because another school has offered him. Offers are made on a 40 time or a 3-cone drill and no one knows for sure if it has any translation to success on the field. Mr. Market stops by at your University and says this kid is a 5-star and offered by 20 other schools and we offer him. We buy irrational exuberance and sell the rest.
I am not naïve in thinking this is an easy problem to fix. There is no exact science yet in taking advantage of undervalued assets or skills in players and what translates the most to success on a field. Data collection and studying is the key. A couple of areas I think interesting to explore are as follows:
A holistic profile created from size, length and athleticism. What Ethan Young is doing for professional football prospects I think is something that could be translated to high school prospects. By evaluating prospects with a given position profile I believe we could identify, to some level, the success of a player and in the long-run with many prospects we would be rewarding players with the highest chance of on-field success.
Better data collection and standardization at the high school level. We have seen some stats are predictive in on-field success. The problems that arise with high school sports is the accuracy of data collection and the large amount of noise in the data as it relates to philosophy of play, wide levels of play and differing rules, classes, and regulations on a state by state basis. To find a way to accurately record and standardize this data would be invaluable to finding and predicting success in college prospects.
Improved data collection at combines and showcases. Very minimal data is collected at showcases possibly a 3-cone or 40-time or bench press reps. I believe this could be improved by the new wearables in the industry. Knowing a kids top-speed and when it came at a combine could be important, how much work a kid exerts at a practice or combine and what type of force is an offensive lineman exerting on a defensive lineman?
All these could provide insight into the future success of a prospect. With years of data this well let recruiters know what statistics could lead to on-field success and which ones are undervalued.