Continuing the posting of my interview with Sam Webb. GoBlueWolverine.com just posted another portion of the interview and you can view that here. The rest will be in the next issue of GBW and will eventually be here on MVictors.
One thing I’ve noticed having interviewed a few folks in the media biz: people, like Sam, who interview a lot of people give excellent interviews themselves.
Here’s a few excerpts for you, first on how Sam got started in recruiting:
MVictors: So how did you get started in the recruiting business?
Sam Webb: It was never planned. I was going to Michigan to get a computer engineering degree, don’t laugh [laughs]. At the time, and I think it was around 1997 and recruiting on the internet was just starting. I remember being in the computer lab over on North Campus and going in there one late night to work on some ungodly program. One night I went in and there was this website that someone had left on a computer called GoBlueWolverine.com. On that site was basically anything you could have possibly wanted to know about Michigan recruiting.
So I started looking at that site incessantly. And not long after that site morphed with what is now The Wolverine, and the guy that was managing it was Tom Beaver. Then I started reading some information about a certain guy on the team and I’m thinking, ‘I know that guy, I don’t think that’s right.’ Or, ‘I think I’ve got some different information about that.’
MVictors: So you had friends on the team.
Webb: Yes, I grew up with Andre Weathers and one of my side hustles was cutting hair, and I cut the hair of some of the guys on the team. So I knew a few things. I would send Tom information from time to time. One day out of the blue, he sends me an email and says he wants to meet with me.
MVictors: And it wasn’t to cut his hair.
Webb: No, it wasn’t to cut his hair [laughs]. So we met and after that I kept him sending more and more information. I was going to school part time and working two jobs. One of them was handling database management for a trucking company, putting that whole Michigan deal to good use. But I wasn’t getting paid for the info I was sending to Tom and the volunteer thing started to eat into my time and that caused some friction in the household of course. And my wife’s first bought with cancer came right about this time. So I approached Tom and said, ‘If somehow we can make a little money at this, that’d work for me because I just can’t spend the time with this.’ So then he started to pay me for my contributions. But then Tom had a split with The Wolverine.
MVictors: What happened?
Webb: Initially GoBlueWolverine dissolved when Tom Beaver went to The Wolverine and he worked there for two or three years or so. I wasn’t an employee of The Wolverine; I was more of a employee of Tom Beaver. While the details are hazy, what I remember is that there was a post on the message board that Tom took offense to. And I think he deleted it and called it questionable by the content. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was the cause of a massive falling out between him and some members of the message board. But, most notably with the guys at The Wolverine. It just could have been a lightning rod for something that was already there.
Next, on Sam’s patented gut feelings including some exclusive content not found on Scout:
MVictors: Your “gut feelings”…
Webb: Ahhh [laughs].
MVictors: In the last year, it’s become quite a big deal on the internet when Sam Webb has a “gut feeling”. To me it means things are looking really, really, really good for a Michigan with respect to a particular recruit who’s hasn’t officially committed.
Webb: I have a tightrope to walk, and it’s all related to our discussion about developing and maintaining trust. You tell people that you aren’t going to reveal something they told you and at the same time you have a job to do. The ‘gut feeling’—that’s me walking that tightrope. What I can tell people about the gut feeling is that is always based, ALWAYS based, on credible information that I’ve been given. It doesn’t mean that things can’t be fluid or change, but rest assured that at the time that I give you a ‘gut feeling’ call, it is certainly, without question, based on extremely credible information at that time.
MVictors: Did you consciously come up with the ‘gut feeling’ phrase to handle these type of situations?
Webb: Yes, because when I give my gut feeling I’m giving you an opinion. I’m not giving you a report. Is that just semantics? In a certain respect, maybe it is. It’s a way to protect the information that I’ve been told while also giving people an extremely informed opinion about where things stand. So I can do my job, while at the same time keeping some information that was given to me in confidence. It’s a tightrope act. I could get on the air tomorrow and tell you every secret I know and never get another secret. Or, I could walk this tightrope and for those people who listen to the show often, or at least frequently enough to get an idea about what a gut feel was all about, and they’re able to follow along and I can clue people into what’s going on.
MVictors: So how did the gut feeling start?
Webb: It was a couple years ago. It was hatched with Andy Evans’ idea about having The Recruiting Round-up [the daily segment each morning on WTKA when Webb provides an update on recruiting]. When Andy suggested it, I was like, ‘Recruiting Round-up? Why the hell would I want to do a Recruiting Round-up for?’ because I had GoBlueWolverine for that. But I’d be on the air for 3-4 hours and we get recruiting calls every single hour. So having the Recruiting Round-up was a way to streamline when we got recruiting calls in. People would ask questions and they want insight. They don’t just want to know that this guy visited or whatever. They wanted insight into what’s going in. So I can’t pinpoint exactly when I came up with the gut feeling, but I remember sitting down and trying to figure out how I could keep people informed while not letting the cat out of the bag as a report that’s going travel all across the web.