More Recruiting Restrictions Coming?

The "Saban rule" that kept head coaches from making visits to schools this spring may be just the beginning, as coaches who aren't as eager to match the pace set by college football's best recruiting staffs are looking to put the brakes on things.

According to a survey done by the American Football Coaches Association, 70 percent would like to create an early signing period for football.

It's not clear exactly when such a period would take place, but the goal for creating one is obvious. The less time kids have before they can make a binding choice, the less time coaches will have to spend recruiting them (and then playing defense to keep the commitments they get). The potential bad news for coaches known for their recruiting zeal (like Florida's Urban Meyer) doesn't stop there.

The Big Ten is trying to create a two week NCAA "dead period" in July where no in-person contact with prospects would be allowed at all. The rationale is to allow for a two week vacation period for coaches before the start of a new season. The entire month of July is already a "quiet period", meaning contact is allowed if a recruit chooses to come to campus.

Big Ten coaches say some staff members currently have to stay around the office during July in case a prospect shows up and they need to greet him. As a result, they'd like to make it illegal to do that so everyone can have the time off. There are ten guys on a coaching staff - it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to spread out staff vacations over the month.

The SEC's coaches considered the concept of an early football signing period at the conference's spring meetings in 2007 and voted 9-3 against supporting the idea. Urban Meyer is vehemently opposed to it, and he's correct in feeling that way. Coaches are being challenged by the APR to do a better job of bringing in student-athletes who will be able to handle their academics, not wind up leaving the school unexpectedly, and not embarrass the program off the field. The pressure to win that's always been there has only increased, with bigger coaching salaries and every move under more scrutiny thanks to sites like this one.

Now seems to be the time to give coaches more access to the kids they're recruiting so they can get the best possible evaluation of an athlete's character and potential for college success. Instead, more restrictions are constantly being added and now there may be a push for prospects to make a binding final decision as early as their junior year.

There's no logical way to square that with the goals of the APR. There's a reason staffs at places like Florida, USC, Alabama and Illinois do as well as they do at landing top talent. They find every possible angle to work and they work them harder than other staffs are willing to do. Rather than rise to meet their challenges, a lot of other coaches would just as soon make being more dedicated to recruiting than they are illegal.


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