Still relatively new to the GD scene, nelsonba25 has enjoyed a great deal of success. Through the technological marvel we call "Site Mail", we recently conducted an exclusive interview with this fascinating young coach.

bhazlewood: I think it's a rule that these things have to start off with those "demographic" questions. So, what's your real name (first name only if you want), age, marital/children stats?
nelsonba25:
Yep, it does seem you're required to start off with the demo question. And I could either be witty in answering it, or play it straight up. And I've chose the latter. My name is Brent Nelson, I'm 29 and I've been married to the most beautiful woman in the world for just over a year.


bhazlewood Where are you from originally, where do you live now, and are there any interesting stories about how you ended up there?
nelsonba25  I was originally born in Nebraska, so of course I have that Husker blood in me. My family moved to Virginia when I was little and then moved again to Minnesota, which is where I currently reside. I've made stops in Ohio and California along the way, but now I don't see myself leaving Minnesota for awhile. I doubt that qualifies as interesting, but I suppose it will have to suffice.


bhazlewood What do you do to pay for your WIS addictions? (At least, before you started living off reward points <grin> ?)
nelsonba25  I work for a small consumer electronics manufacturer called Standard Merit. *shameless promotional plug* Our products are sold by high end retail and catalog companies, but we've signed on a new distributor, Lorest Holdings. If you'd like to view and/or purchase some of our products, they can be found at www.lorest.com *end shameless promotional plug* I have the luxury of working out of my home office, so I can't complain about any sort of commute!


bhazlewood  What else do you play on WIS, and how did you find WIS?
nelsonba25  I don't play anything but GD anymore. I've tried numerous games though. I got started on WIS by a free season of Sim Football through FOXSports Fantasy. That led to a free sim baseball season, where I won a couple championships. I also tried HD and HBD. I might go back and play HBD again when I've built up enough reward points. Everything started with a free season of something...it's like WIS is that drug dealer you were warned about back in 4th grade, who would give you a bit for free, then you have to start paying...


bhazlewood  What (or who) are your favorite sports / teams / athletes ?
nelsonba25  My favorite teams are Nebraska football (as I mentioned earlier), though I don't watch nearly as much as I should to call myself a fan. I go to maybe one game a year with my dad and watch a couple games with him too. I also root for all the Minnesota teams (Twins, Vikes and Wolves) though not the Wild because I don't much care for hockey at all. As far as players, I still catch a lot of flack on my favorite player, but my sports hero is Mark McGwire. I always idolized him growing up and tried to play baseball like he did. I still think he's one of the best players of the late 90's, even with all the after the fact "information".


bhazlewood You're sitting in your favorite restaurant with any four people who ever lived... what's on the menu, and who's at the table?
nelsonba25  Hmmm...who's at the table? Well, since I'm about 2 steps from being a recluse, that's a tough one. Regardless of who's there, I'd probably be like Chris Farley on "The Chris Farley Show" (You.. you.. you remember when you were with The Beatles? That was awesome!) But I'll indulge. I would say Mark McGwire, Brian Regan (fabulous comedian), David Spade and Haystak (he's a rapper). I'd also make Kevin Spacey be the waiter so I can be rude to him like he was to me when I waited on him. And for food, we'd be having ribeyes. I'm not going to lie...we're all not going to have much in common...


bhazlewood  You're stuck on a desert island with your iPod (or its other-branded equivalent) and a solar-powered battery recharger, but somehow you had the feeling something like this was coming. What's on the playlist?
nelsonba25  Mostly stuff most people have not heard of. I basically only listen to music in the car and when I'm lifting, so I don't venture out much from what I listened to when I was in college. My favorite artist is a rapper named Haystak (who would be at the dinner) from Tennessee. I also listen to Guerilla Maab, Z-Ro and Trae. That's about 90% of what would be on there. I guess I'd have Eminem, 50 Cent and other rappers like that.


bhazlewood  You also managed to pack a case of your favorite beverage and some books you always wanted to read but never got around to it. What's in that package?
nelsonba25  Ahhh...such foresight. Excellent. To drink, I'd be having Diet Mountain Dew...that stuff is addictive, so I hope I packed a ton! I do read about a book or so a week, so my list of books I want to read isn't long. I typically read CIA/FBI stuff, like Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. A couple books I haven't gotten around to are The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (loved Moneyball) and A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis (mostly because I always believed I could be a kicker at the collegiate level).


bhazlewood After you are rescued from the island, you're given the opportunity to attend one sporting event, and one non-sporting event of your choice. What are you going to see?
nelsonba25  Well, hopefully I've been on the island a long time, because I'm going to watch game 4 of the Wolves sweeping the Cavs for the NBA Championship. I assume I've been there about a decade? As far as non sporting events, I've always thought it would be fun to go to a movie premiere, so I'll say the premiere of the next Apatow movie, assuming it's as good as Superbad...


bhazlewood Now comes the parts where I lure you into revealing all your secrets. Don't worry, nobody reads these interviews...
bhazlewood  What do you like BEST about GD?
nelsonba25  Well, basically, I'm a nerd so I like the number aspect. I call it fantasy fantasy football, because I love seeing my players ratings and stats. In college, my roommate and I would take a team in NFK2K and NFL2K2 on Dreamcast, sim through the season and then go to the off-season to sign free agents and do the draft. It would let you sim 25 seasons, and we'd do that, just to see how good some players would get (Hank Poteat, Julian Peterson and Mike Peterson were ALWAYS the best). So, GD pretty much brings me back to that; seeing how good my guys can get. I just didn't apply for the Tusculum job in Rockne because I wanted to be coaching RB John Thornton when he was a RS SR because I had to see how awesome he was going to be.


bhazlewood  What would you change about GD if you could?
nelsonba25  At the moment, I don't really know if I'd change anything. I have not been at DI-A yet, so I don't know how the running game is with more evenly matched teams. I'll agree that it is pretty easy to run, but if you have superior talent, it's going to be easier to do most things. If I had to change something, I would bring carryover back, at least at the lower levels. I loved that part of the strategy, where you would have to decide whether to keep a player you could sign right now or go for someone who could, in theory, be better. Now, you don't have much incentive not to go after that other player.


bhazlewood  When you first started playing GD, did you have a mentor (or mentors) ? And if so, who? What did you learn the most from them?
nelsonba25  I didn't have one person I would consider a mentor. I asked questions of numerous great coaches and everyone was very nice and helpful. I think the guy who opened my eyes and made me the coach I am today is canes4life, who coaches Menlo in Bryant. He might not even know it, since part of what I learned from him I stole from their coaches corner, but he was always helpful when I had questions. jschjei1 (who was creating a dynasty at GAC in Rockne at the time) was also very helpful when I was first starting out.


bhazlewood  If you were in the $1,000,000 winner-take-all GD Championship finals, who would you least want to face, and why?
nelsonba25  Man...if that were only true...then I could REALLY justify the amount of time I spend on this game to my wife! I haven't faced all that many of the higher coaches, so I don't know a ton about any of them. I think the person who I've faced who I would least like to face again is mjdato. In Stagg, his Colorado team and my Ferrum team have had some battles and we're somewhere around .500 against each other. I don't like those odds with a million on the line...


bhazlewood  What do you see as your strengths as a GD player, and what would be the area you'd most want to improve?
nelsonba25  I think my biggest strength is recruiting. In this game, you need talent to win. And I've learned how to identify talent that will be good in the future. Probably part of the reason I'm good at that is because that's my favorite part. I think I would most like to improve figuring out how/why things work. I know what I do in regards to aggressiveness settings and I know what they're supposed to do in theory, but I don't really know WHY what I'm doing works or not, and I'd like to know that more to help out my game...


bhazlewood  Let's talk about recruiting for a bit. What are some of the recruiting "tricks" that you're glad very few people know about? It's ok to share, like I said before, no one reads these things. :)
nelsonba25  Well, if it's just between me and you, I suppose I can let you in on my secret. My secret is...Ovaltine. Mmmm. Seriously though, in my mind there's not much of a secret to recruiting. I think there are a couple things you need to remember and then anyone can do it; go in with a plan, stick to that plan, and don't let your ego get in your way. One thing I rarely do is battle at the DIII level. It takes a very special player for me to battle for someone. That's not saying I won't, but there are normally many more options out there later. I think one of the things people do is commit to a player too early and put all their eggs in that basket. I rarely, if ever, send more than an AC scout on the first cycle of recruiting. I'm looking for positive growth ability and if I don't see it, why would I waste money on a guy? It also rarely pays to battle someone with either a distance advantage or a big prestige advantage. I've taken over teams with 0 wins and it's frustrating not being able to get the players you want, but if you have patience, there WILL be other players you'll find that will end up ALMOST as good; and you don't have to worry about AC signings. How's that for a mouthful but not really saying much? Jeez...okay, one last tidbit, balance your WE/Potential/Cores; if they only have one of those that are good, do you really want that player? Probably not...


bhazlewood  You get a sitemail from some guy who says he's a total noob and needs help with recruiting. What advice do you offer to poor sgtpepper08?
nelsonba25  First, I'd have to say very few noobs make it to DI-AA, and sgtpepper08 is in my conference, so I would have to slyly lead him astray. No, I would mention what I mentioned above. If it's his first cycle ever recruiting, I would have him wait until the first cycle or so of the second day before doing anything. I would tell him to scout players. If his team is bad, I would let him know that the freshman start is very powerful. I would not confine him to 360 miles for recruiting...even without carryover, long distance recruiting is viable...
(editor's note:  for the sake of full disclosure, sgtpepper08 is my second id, originally set up for experimenting with different strategies.)


bhazlewood  What's your approach to game planning? How much do you "scout" each opponent?
nelsonba25  Ahh...my approach to gameplanning. Well, I don't know if this will frustrate anyone or not, but I haven't gameplanned in about 20 seasons or so at the DIII level. I have 5 plans that are rotated based on how much I'm winning or losing. When I first started, I used to spend up to an hour gameplanning. Then, I kind of figured out what worked (along with having very good players). Now, I don't put the time in. If it's close at half, I might take a look at what's not working and alternate my typical plans, but that doesn't take more than 5 minutes. I guess since I run 90% of the time, I'm not giving away huge secrets here...


bhazlewood  Sometimes, the "prevailing wisdom" about something is less than completely accurate. Is there anything about GD where you find yourself going "against the tide" ?
nelsonba25  I guess it depends on what you mean "going against the tide". I do not do formation practice (even at my DI-AA team and I won't at DI-A when I get there, but I reserve the right to change my mind on those levels) and I know there's always a big debate on that. I believe you can win either way, you'll just need to change how you recruit based on that philosophy. I guess my biggest thing I do that most people might not do is I don't recruit LB's. I make a position switch from DB with 95% of my LB's. I also rarely, if ever, switch a player to RB. That's mostly because I carry too many and will have a WE drop that is too large. I guess the final thing I see is that it appears I value WE more than a lot of people, but that's not the case. I don't put a minimum on WE or anything like that. I just end up with a lot of high WE guys based on my recruiting formulas I use.


bhazlewood  At the time of this interview, you have 9 National Championships and 21 Conference Championships to your credit. To what do you attribute your success?
nelsonba25  I just have to throw it out there that I also play under the username benyjerry and there are 2 more NC's and 7 more CC's over there :) Seriously though, I think my success mostly comes from my numbers based background. I don't look at this like football and I don't know if I would do as well if I did. I look at players as numbers. I don't look at my RB as John Thornton, I look at him as worth 70.79 on my NEL rating. I think the other big thing that helps me is I try to look at the bigger picture (which I alluded to when we talked about recruiting). I don't much care how good the recruit is now (though I still love the GUESS ratings!), I care how good he is when he's a JR and a SR and will actually be playing...


bhazlewood  When evaluating a recruit, do you put more emphasis on WE or potential? For example, assuming the cores are the same, would you take a "Sky's The Limit" player with a 30 WE, or a "Nothing Special" player with a 50 WE ?
nelsonba25  I don't really have a set emphasis on one or the other. It's kind of a continuum. In the case of the players you mentioned (I'm going to assume there are 3 players; one STL with 30 WE, 1 Above average pot with 50 WE, and one Average potential with 50 WE) I would take them in the following order: Above average with 50 WE, then, it's a toss up. I would actually probably take the Average potential player as I would bet the battle for a STL would be intense. Also, my numbers show the STL would be the lowest rated of the three at the end. I don't know if I believe that, but I do not believe the STL would be significantly better than an average player with 50 WE. The Above Average with 50 WE would be much better than the other two...


bhazlewood  What's been your favorite GD moment?
nelsonba25  My favorite GD moment was winning my first NC. It was in Bryant and I beat and jjmurphy1127 his Otterbein squad 21-20. I was down at halftime and adjusted to a passing gameplan in the 4th quarter. I ended up throwing more that quarter than I had the whole season. I was shocked I won and I just stared at the screen and hit refresh a couple times to make sure I saw it right!


bhazlewood  Of the levels you've coached at - what's been your favorite, and why? And what's been your least favorite (and why?)
nelsonba25  Man, am I the wrong guy to ask this! I've never coached at DI-A, so I can't comment there. I think each level has it's own nuances and things that are fun. I've really liked recruiting at DI-AA, which I know many people don't like. I like how people typically talk in the coaches corner at DIII. I would say my favorite level is DIII at the moment and least favorite is DII. That pretty much changes on a daily basis though, depending on how much success I'm having...


bhazlewood  Anything else we need to cover before we get to the traditional trios?
nelsonba25  Nothing much more I can think of. I notice people normally say where they went to school and somehow I didn't. So, I'll throw out that I went to Miami University and, sometime, in some world, I plan to coach the Red Hawks. But I can't imagine I'd do that for an extended amount of time...


bhazlewood  Ok, continuing the dubs' tradition of trios, here's some quickhits:
bhazlewood   Pizza, Burgers, or Tacos?
nelsonba25  I refuse to answer this question on the basis of deliciousness. Sorry. However, I will answer where has the best of each: Valentino's for pizza, Red Robin for burgers and Mexico for tacos...

bhazlewood  Star Wars, Star Trek, or Dancing with the Stars?
nelsonba25 Wow...wow. I guess Star Wars, only because a guy my friend went to college with had the Star Wars theme played at his wedding as they walked down the aisle after being married. That's pretty sweet in a weird, strange way. However, Cloris Leachman is quite funny...

bhazlewood East Coast, West Coast, or Gangsta? (Not that I have any clue as to the difference in any of them.)
nelsonba25  Ahh...a question I can answer. I have to go with West Coast...I still listen to All Eyez on Me occasionally...I think that's crazy. I rarely listen to my Fat Boys CD's anymore...

bhazlewood Xbox, Playstation, or Wii?
nelsonba25  I'm not much of a video game guy, but I don't vote for the Wii. To me, it ruined Mario Kart, mostly because I can't control it. Made me feel terrible. I'm going to go Playstation, because I assume the Japanese are making a superior product than Microsoft.

bhazlewood  PC, Mac, or Abacus?
nelsonba25  I guess I'm a PC guy. Mostly because I consider a Mac a hippie computer, not that there's anything wrong with that...

bhazlewood  Blackberry, DayMinder, or "What's an Organizer?" ?
nelsonba25  I'm waaaay back in the times here (I just got a phone with a camera on it!). So, I guess I go with "what's an organizer".

bhazlewood Superman, Sherlock Holmes, or Jack Bauer?
nelsonba25  Jack Frackin' Bauer! This season has been awesome. AWESOME! I fell off the 24 bandwagon a couple seasons ago, but I'm the conductor now baby, get off the tracks!

bhazlewood Ginger, Mary Ann, or .. uh, The Professor? (not that there's anything wrong with that.)
nelsonba25  Man, I've never seen Gilligan's Island. I guess the big question is, the Professor today, or the Professor during the show. Hmmm...I guess I take Ginger either way.
(editor's note:  Never seen Gilligan's Island?  Another sign that something is dramatically wrong with the young people of today!)

bhazlewood  Tastes Great, Less Filling, or "As long as there's alcohol in it?" ?
nelsonba25  I'll go with "as long as there's alcohol in it". I rarely drink, but if I do, it's typically whiskey and diet coke.


Fun stuff!  Thanks for tanking the time for talking with us, Brent.