There is something about the fall months that feel different for me than the spring. Maybe it is the the start of a new academic year, cooler temperatures, or all things pumpkin spice hitting restaurants and stores. To say that it is my favorite time of year would be an understatement. To be honest, the real reason I love fall is because of college football.

Raised a Penn State fan and a graduate of Florida State University, football has always been the highlight of the fall and winter months. Whether it is bundling up to cheer on the Nittany Lions or lathering on sunscreen to sit in Doak Campbell Stadium, the energy around the game never ceased. Would each team have the appropriate coaches in place to make the right calls at the right time? Would the veteran players combined with the newest recruits help take us to a bowl game? Each season is a roller coaster of emotions and I love it!

When it comes to college football, I can’t help but think about the strategy that goes into creating a winning team. A National Championship formula isn’t produced overnight, but rather it can take years of effort, endless hours of practice, and the right leadership driving the team. A great example of a team who does this very well is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Here are a few tips that fraternities and sororities can take from Coach Saban and his team to create a successful chapter.

  1. 365 Recruitment: Do you think Coach Saban only recruits new players prior to the season beginning? Do you think he stops recruiting once the season has begun? Coach Saban and his coaching staff are recruiting 365 days a year. They are constantly scouting young men who are sophomores and juniors in high school, diligently watching them grow and develop their skills as they get closer to their senior year.  While we don’t expect you to be researching men and women who are sophomores and juniors in high school, we do know that chapters who are focused on recruiting year-round are those who are the most successful. This doesn’t mean that your chapter is hosting events weekly, all year long; it means that you are focused on developing good relationships with the people you know, and their friends, so that when it comes time to extend a bid, you have a list of men or women who you know want to join your organization.
  2. Knowing Your Ideal Member: When Saban and his coaches are out scouting for potential players, they are going into conversations knowing what they are looking for in each recruit from their height and weight to their connection to the University of Alabama. The same understanding of what you are looking for in a potential member should be said for fraternities and sororities. Who is your ideal member? What characteristics do they possess? What do they value? Are they leaders? Scholars? Interested in service? By knowing what you are looking for in a potential member, you are more likely to find the RIGHT individuals that align with your organizational values.
  3. Sticking to the Standards: Height, weight, and speed are obvious standards that Saban and his team of coaches are looking for when recruiting but they are also looking for men of good character, strong academics, and a focused work ethic. Each young man is also thoroughly scouted on his conduct, both on and off the field. Rarely does Coach Saban make exceptions because he knows if he does, it could cost him another title.

If you have eligibility standards, stick to them. If you don’t have them, make them. Examples of eligibility standards include GPA, leadership and service experience, ambition, integrity, and other characteristics that your chapter deems important to being a great member in your organization. You need to determine if a potential member meets these standards prior to extending him or her a bid to membership. By asking strong questions and getting to know your potential members, you are able to identify if they meet your eligibility standards. However, the minute you make an exception for a new member with a lower GPA than your requirement, it becomes a slippery slope to a lower chapter GPA. Additionally, your chapter is doing a disservice to that individual by allowing membership to take precedent over why they are really in college: to get a degree. By sticking to your standards, everybody wins.

As we “roll” into game week, think about how your organization can be more strategic when it comes to your recruiting plan. Take a tip from Coach Saban and his championship winning strategies: By knowing and recruiting your ideal member on a year-round basis and sticking to your determined standards, you, too, can achieve success.