The Texas Longhorns have come under recent criticism for failing to leverage their resources on the personnel side and have taken the first step in addressing those deficiencies with the Thursday addition of Patrick Suddes as the new Director of Player Personnel for the 'Horns.
Suddes worked with Nick Saban at Alabama for the last eight years, most recently serving as the associate director of football operations on the behemoth staff in Tuscaloose. Prior to that the Alabama graduate worked with Saban with the Dolphins and also used as a recruiting intern at LSU. In addition to his experience working with the logistics of recruiting, he also has a background in quality control on both sides of the football.
Since Saban has been setting the standard across college football in these areas, it makes a tremendous amount of sense to start out the work of catching up with the Crimson Tide by poaching one of their own. Suddes credits Saban for a great deal of his knowledge and acumen:
I worked for Coach (Nick) Saban for years and learned everything I know from him. I can't thank him enough for all of the great opportunities he gave me. Everyone at Alabama was great to work with, and I appreciate all of them so much. But, when this came up, I was really interested in using what I learned and taking it somewhere else and trying to help out in whatever way I can.
With that being said, Suddes added that he wasn't exactly looking to leave Tuscaloosa before he was presented with this opportunity:
When I was growing up, The University of Texas was always one of the programs that I thought about as a great place to be because of its tradition and history as a winning program," Suddes said. "This is the only job I would have left the Alabama program for. I think being able to grow within a system and building something new here is an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
The official MB-TF Twitter feed laid out some of Suddes' responsibilities at Texas:
Suddes will serve as point on all recruiting efforts, as well as coordinate the Texas Football camps and High School Coaches Clinic.— MBTexasFootball (@MBTexasFootball) March 7, 2013
When the Longhorns hire their two quality control assistants, Suddes may also be in charge of leading their efforts in self-scouting and breaking down the film of opponents, as well as high school prospects, potentially.
As befitting a Sabanite, Suddes sounds driven to succeed at a game that is changing by the day and will face even larger changes as recruiting becomes increasingly deregulated, assuming that most of the original ideas remain in place when they do take effect in a matter of months:
I'm really passionate about not just helping to find and recruit the best prospects, but getting to know the kids. I think it's key in this day and age because there are a lot of good players out there, but I really like being able to sit down and see what a player's makeup is.
The latter element is particularly important at a school like Texas when compared to his previous stop at Alabama since Texas doesn't cut scholarships or force players to take medical redshirts. Or oversign. As a result, his task will be more difficult in terms of assessing which players will be a fit in the program in an effort to avoid the type of major attrition that hurt the 2009 class so much -- Texas simply can't afford to have that many misses due to poor decision making off the field.
The more malleable nature of high school prospects set to make the transition to college is something that Suddes appreciates in comparison to the NFL:
I think that's an exciting part for me. Having been in the pros and coming back to college, that's why I like college so much, you have such an impact on a player going from high school to college and hopefully going to the NFL. When they get to the NFL, they're pretty much set in their ways, but in college, you can really make an impact in a kid's life, especially coming to a place like this with so much pride and tradition. It's a big selling point.
When the process first started, it seemed like the choice was between someone with high school, college, or NFL experience. In Suddes, the Longhorns were able to find someone who has had success in college and in the NFL, according to head coach Mack Brown:
We are so excited to have Patrick joining our staff. He's a guy that is very passionate about recruiting and building a team. He has a great deal of experience in recruiting and player personnel both at the college and pro levels. Everyone we talked to said he's the guy you need, and then Patrick knocked us out in his interview. He's a very personable guy, but he's also aggressive and competitive in his approach. I know he's a guy that will come right in and hit the ground running, which is exactly what we need. I think he's the perfect fit to build and lead our player personnel department.
For once, that doesn't sound like coachspeak, because the Longhorns needed to make an impact hire at this position and appear to have done just that.
To catch up with Alabama on the personnel side, Texas decided to become more like Alabama. In this day and age, that's about the best move out there.