Geoff Collins often wakes up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea in his head. He’ll grab his phone and text his coaching staff.
Sometimes it’s a new hashtag he wants them to start tweeting. Other times, it’s a motivational tactic he wants to use at practice the next day.
It doesn’t matter that it’s 3 a.m.
Collins, who spent the last four seasons as a defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference, is learning that’s the type of thing you can do when you’re the head coach.
“You go from being somebody that’s suggesting and having good ideas, now you go from somebody that has ideas and then people go and do it,” Collins said.
When he took over as Temple’s head football coach in place of Matt Rhule on Dec. 14, Collins had one month to assemble a staff before he was allowed to visit recruits on Jan. 12. He then had two and a half weeks to secure commitments from recruits before National Signing Day on Wednesday.
So how did he try to fit a year’s worth of recruiting into that short time frame?
“The use of social media, the use of text messaging, phone calls, being relentless,” Collins said.
Collins signed 16 recruits for his first class at Temple. The Owls’ recruiting class was ranked near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision by recruiting sites like Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247sports.com — not quite expected for a team coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons.
Maryland defensive lineman Malik Burns, who was ranked a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, was one of Collins’ top signings.
“The way he treats his players and the way he wants people to contribute to the program,” Burns said were his first impressions of Temple’s new head coach.
Though he didn’t sign any five-star recruits or flip any prospects from rival schools, Collins made sure his first recruiting period at Temple was entertaining. What else would you expect from a guy nicknamed the Minister of Mayhem?
Unorthodox recruiting tactics are the usual for Collins. When he was defensive coordinator at Mississippi State University, Collins became a sort of recruiting legend when recruits tweeted out pictures of handwritten notes and drawings Collins had sent them. They included a note that said, “You’re a baller,” and the drawing of a soda can labeled “SWAG.”
Collins and the football staff started the recruiting period on Jan. 12 by flying a helicopter offered by a university donor around the area to visit recruits. It was an idea he got from his time in the SEC.
It was a successful recruiting tool; Collins said all six recruits he visited in the chopper committed to Temple. It also got the Temple football program notoriety in a pro-sports town.
“For us to get our name, to get mentioned with some of these great sports teams, you gotta do those kinds of things,” Collins said.
With only a short-window to look at, it’s unclear how Collins’ recruiting methods will translate at Temple and the impression they will have on recruits.
Although he didn’t ride in it, Maryland defensive lineman Arnold Ebiketie was impressed by Collins’ helicopter.
“That was the first time I’d seen something like that,” Ebiketie said.
“That’s fun,” he added. “That actually was awesome.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.