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Should Coaches Take the Bird?

So after reading the piece in last week's Richmond Times-Dispatch, I was curious. Do college coaches regularly ride around in helicopters as they search for recruits? Is their time really that valuable?

A spokesman for Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said that it was unusual for Friedgen to take the whirlybird. The Times-Dispatch reported that Friedgen took a chopper to Christchurch, Va., to recruit wide receiver Deion Walker. Brooke Point linebacker Donovan Miles earlier this week told me that Friedgen got to his Stafford County school via a helicopter.

Meantime, a spokesman for Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano - who also took a helicopter to Christchurch - said that method of transportation has been somewhat regular for him as coaches try to fit as much recruiting as possible into a short time window.

"He uses it during certain time periods during the year when his schedule becomes overwhelming and he needs to be in several places at once," said Jason Baum, who, ironically, once worked in Maryland's sports information department. "It really allows him to utilize his schedule better."

Of course, showing up on the helicopter can impress recruits. "I asked them how it was, taking the helicopter," Miles said of his meeting with Friedgen and assistant coach Tom Brattan. "They said it was a fun ride."

Baum said that Schiano has taken helicopter trips to Pittsburgh, Long Island and Connecticut recently. The trips were so worthwhile, Baum said, that the Rutgers athletic department negotiated a trade-out deal with Liberty Helicopters, where Schiano receives access to a helicopter when he needs it in exchange for advertising and signage at games on the Internet and on radio broadcasts.

What does everyone think? Is this excessive for coaches? Or is a helicopter ride in the thousands of dollars simply the price of doing business?

By Josh Barr  | June 13, 2007; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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