Dick Harmon: Rookies selling Y. brand just fine

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4 2012 7:09 p.m. MST

Joe Dupaix is one year into his BYU gig as football recruiting coordinator and this past week he invoiced the goods and responded to inquiries about how one-third of his sales staff was rookies.

DuPaix, a rookie recruiting coordinator, had nine recruiters, counting himself. And three of the nine (30 percent) had never recruited before.

Receiver coach Ben Cahoon, outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga and secondary coach Nick Howell are all first-time Division I coaches. Howell and Poppinga came from the graduate assistant ranks. Cahoon came straight from the CFL.

I asked DuPaix to explain his rookies.

Having rookies was not an issue, he said.

"I'd love to tell you about our rookie recruiters," said DuPaix. "I don't have any funny stories or anecdotes about our rookie recruiters, but what I will tell you is they are awesome and they are working their tails off to find the best kids possible, to build relationships with coaches, and get to know their areas."

DuPaix said it is passion, selling the product and delivering the message that far outweighed stripes and resume.

He claimed the trio scored just fine.

Cahoon: "Ben is the guy who walks into every single school, briefcase on his shoulder and comes away with a boatload of notes. He's very detailed and great with people and has a great understanding of what we're looking for. He's a great asset to the staff.

Poppinga: "He's like a hungry dog. He just works a million miles an hour to get into every school he can get into. He builds great relationships with coaches and his work ethic is impressive. He doesn't go on the road to waste time or money. He's about being efficient in finding the right guys."

Howell: "He's very much like Kelly. He's going to go out and give everything he has to find the right players. He's on the phone non-stop. All three love football, love the players they work with and they love BYU."

All three are assigned parts of California, but Howell has Florida, Poppinga has Oregon and Cahoon has Idaho, Colorado and Canada. "They've done a great job."

They'll need to.

What the former Navy coach found at BYU is a remarkable 40 percent turnover in roster bodies due to LDS mission comings and goings, graduation and regular attrition with academics and other issues.

Who reoutfits 40 percent of a college football team each year?

Name somebody.

It is career suicide. Unthinkable. Sign 25 athletes, let 12 to 16 immediately go away for two years; welcome back another dozen annually from all corners of the world and hand out around 20 senior blankets at your final home game?

The actual numbers? BYU signed 17 high school and mid-year transfers and expect 12 returning missionaries to join the team before fall 2012. That signing last Wednesday came two months after saying goodbye to 19 seniors.

That is initiation/transformation/postponement/departure of 48 bodies on an 85-scholarship roster in one year.

"Nobody does this," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

No wonder the BYU coach loves to give a PowerPoint presentation to boosters every signing day to highlight a myriad of tidbits like this one: BYU is only 1 of 9 college teams to be ranked in the Top 25 in the USA Today Coaches poll at the end of the season five of the last six seasons. In a word, "consistency," said Mendenhall.

Well, he's got a point.

For DuPaix, a rookie at his BYU job in Provo, he sells the BYU line with authority. He approaches it as an outsider that is now inside the gate and grateful somebody gave him a key.

He always wanted to play at BYU and follow in the footsteps of his father.

It was his first choice. It never happened. He played at Snow College then Southern Utah.

"There is no place like this anywhere in the world. It is unique," he said.

Well, he might as well say it.

Even rookies can sell it.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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