Using Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi As A Recruiting Tool Isn’t Smart Recruiting

A college football coach has decided to use Inter Miami’s signing of Lionel Messi as a pitch to bring potential college athletes to the school.
He's a great addition to Inter Miami and South Florida, but don't use him in your recruiting pitch.
He's a great addition to Inter Miami and South Florida, but don't use him in your recruiting pitch. / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Look, I get it.

Inter Miami signing a player the caliber of Lionel Messi is a huge deal. It’s big for the team, for Major League Soccer, and it's big for South Florida.

But one college football coach may have taken it a bit too far… at least in my opinion.

Here’s what happened and why it might not be a great idea.

Come to South Florida… Home Of Lionel Messi

University of Miami head football coach Mario Cristobal hasn’t been on the job for very long.

In his first year at the helm of the Hurricanes, Cristobal went a lackluster 5-7 — certainly underperforming by UM fan standards.

So, he’s elected to leverage Inter Miami’s signing of Lionel Messi to bring prospects to South Florida to play the other football.

In an interview with the ACC Network during the ACC Football Kickoff, Cristobal suggested that if South Florida was good enough for Messi, it should be good enough for 5-star college football athletes.

"If Mr. Messi takes the chance to come to Miami to continue to grow his brand, why wouldn’t any player in the country not come to Miami?"

Mario Cristobal, UM head coach

Yeah, that just happened.

Well, That’s Not A Good Idea

First, let me state the obvious… if you are leveraging a player coming to Miami to grow their brand as a way to get college student-athletes, you’re doing it wrong.

I may be a little old school, but the priority for any student-athlete should be to get a quality education, not grow their brand.

Going to college isn’t about branding, it’s about bettering yourself as a person, professionally and academically.

The fact that academically, UM isn’t all that bad (no, I didn’t go there), should be a selling point.

Second, shouldn’t Cristobal be touting what UM has rather than what a professional team in the same region has?

Facilities, fan support, strong academic performance, etc. These should be the marketing tools Cristobal uses to lure prospects to Coral Gables, not Messi.

Let’s not forget that it’s South Florida.

Cruz Azul v Inter Miami CF - Leagues Cup 2023
South Florida has a great atmosphere. Use that to recruit college football players, not Lionel Messi. / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Why not use the fact that you are minutes from a beach and it never snows here?

Oh, and UM plays in the ACC — one of the most competitive college football conferences in the country… there’s another selling point.

The point I’m trying to make here is that Cristobal has other factors he can leverage to attract top talent to UM. Messi shouldn’t even be in the conversation.

And while I get the idea that top talent attracts top talent, how many college football prospects know or care about Lionel Messi?

Sure, they know who he is, but do we really think a high school senior is going to make one of the most important decisions he will make in life based on someone he will likely never meet?

Now, I don’t know if Cristobal actually plans to use Messi in his recruiting pitches to athletes… I can only hope he doesn’t.

Just let Messi enjoy his time here and don’t use him as a prop for your college football program.

There… rant over.