Obviously I'm not going to give away major secrets here, but there are some things that are useful to get new (and old) coaches on the right track. For strategy-related topics, you may wish to view the "Hints" links available from the online league help page.

1. The basics. If you can't figure out how to get a team, follow this procedure. First, add yourself in the first menu (just after the opening screen). Then wait for the season to initialize. After that, in college, you will get a choice of jobs. In pros, you will be told how much money you have to buy a team, and can select any team that costs less than that for purchase.

2. Especially when drafting, trading, or signing free agents, the primary way to rate a player is by looking at his abilities. The stats are nice, but there are so many factors that keep them from meaning the same thing. The quality of the quarterback when rating receivers, for example. When comparing two players on the same team, I would still recommend looking at abilities first and stats second, though the stats are at least somewhat more useful here. PS: make sure you find the "M" key when viewing players in a menu. It shows offensive stats, defensive stats (not in basketball), abilities, and salaries (in pro only).

3. How to rebuild a team, pro. Of course there's no "set way" to do this. But this can work as a start... The first season, cut or trade all of your expensive players and try to build as good a team as possible cheaply. Or better yet, trade your expensive players for cheap prospects or draft picks. It's not as tough as it sounds - you can get good players fairly cheaply. The extremely expensive free agents are generally the top-notch players, and you can get a player 80% as effective for 30% the price. Then you have to coach well. If you take over a bottom 5 team, you should shoot for .500 your first season. The second or third season, once you have a solid team with decent players at every position, you can look to start filling the most key spots on your roster with the expensive guys. If you were thinking ahead and drafted well your first year, you might have some budding stars at this point too. If you can keep up the good coaching, you should easily make the playoffs. The key words in rebuilding are "patience" and "budget". It's not going to happen in one season unless you're lucky, and you'll rarely go wrong by keeping your team on a tight budget.

4. How to rebuild a college team. Building up a college program means getting the feedback system to work for you. In general, solid programs have an easier go of in in recruiting, which allows them to keep their play good. The trick is in the coaching - if you can get your current players to perform well, then you can be more effective recruiting next season to help get better players. In general, you will rarely be offered a good team. A realistic goal is a solid (not stellar) recruiting class your first season, redshirting as many as possible for the future, while getting the team above 0.500. By your third season, your first recruiting class should be mostly starters, with spot recruiting to fill the other positions. You should expect to be at your top level of play by season five, at which point your first recruits will be 5th-year seniors, and your second and third recruiting classes (which presumably were stronger than the first class) will be upperclassmen.

5. What do I do with my minor league team? At first glance, the minor leaguers seem like dead weight on the roster, eating up salary and doing nothing. But at second glance, you get a chance to develop your own future players, instead of taking chances through the draft and free agency. Thus, although careful drafting takes many seasons before you see its effects, you will be rewarded with a steady stream of quality players. There are two significant reasons to put young players in the minors. First is that until they reach 27, they will only ask for $0.04 million per season and you need not worry about their contracts. Thus you have a farm system of players being developed, which costs you almost nothing. (In fact, I will cut any minor leaguers making more than that amount.) Second, a player will get more playing time in the minors than he would sitting on your bench. Thus, I will usually keep a kid in the minors until he is ready to start or until he turns 27. The major league reserve spots I usually leave for journeymen, cheap free agents who have probably never started and never will.

6. What do I do with training squads? Training squads are the basketball and football equivalent of minor leagues. What is said above is equally true here.


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