Munson's thoughts: New recruiting rules

After a little time to digest, BRR's Bryan Munson breaks down the NCAA's new football recruiting rules.

The NCAA announced five new football recruiting rules at the end of October. If you missed them then you probably aren't the only one. At face value some of the changes don't seem to have much value at all. I had to read them a couple of times myself.

If you missed the new rules then here they are:

• Allow football student-athletes to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The model is similar to those adopted by men's and women's basketball in the last two years. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported this change.

• Prohibit a school's staff members from attending an all-star game or activities associated with those games and from having in-person contact with recruits participating in the games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. Both FBS and FCS supported this ban.

• Establish a dead period when no in-person recruiting can take place. The dead period, scheduled to coincide with winter holidays and the annual American Football Coaches Association convention, begins the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can begin signing the National Letter of Intent. It ends the Wednesday of the week of the AFCA convention. For 2013-14, Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 is now a dead period. The FBS supported this proposal, but the FCS did not because its coaches need more time to discuss it. Army and Navy may seek a temporary exception from this new rule if the date of this season's game makes it difficult for them to follow it.

• Establish a 14-day dead period in late June and early July for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

• Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit. Before this change, schools could pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children, but excluded siblings and other family members. This approach provides schools more flexibility to address each recruit's specific family situation. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported making the rule more flexible.

From a recruiting perspective clearly there is an emphasis being made by the NCAA keeping schools out of the picture when it comes to player's all-star games. This will allow for recruits to fully participate in the event, step away from the craziness that is recruiting, and enjoy what they have earned. It's definitely the right thing to do.

Let me just say, I love this rule. I have been to San Antonio and covered the U.S. Army All-American Game and those kids enjoy that week with all of the other players. There is already a theme of recruiting running all the way through it with all of the interviews, the stories, the videos, etc.

That week is about the recognition of being one of the nation's best players regardless of which all-star game the player is participating in. Let the kids have their week and this rule makes complete sense.

The other part of the rule changes that focuses on recruiting centers around dead periods; the creation of one and the extension of another. The extension of the existing dead period definitely seems to carry with it the most impact when it comes to Nebraska.

The dead period now runs from December 23rd to January 3rd. That window will be extended now to the week before and the two weeks after the current dead period. Nebraska's recruiting coordinator weighed in on the new time-fram after the rules were passed.

"I think overall it's a good rule," recruiting coordinator Ross Els said. "The recruits need to get away from it a little bit. I know that selfishly, as a coach, we lose a few days playing on a January 1 bowl game. We always say as soon as that bowl game is over we have to get out and recruit."

And Nebraska has been in those situations under Bo Pelini. The past two years, the Huskers have found themselves in bowl games on or after January 1, and also played on December 1 in the Big Ten Championship game last season.

In total, since Pelini became the head coach Nebraska has effectively lost a weekend of recruiting because of either participating in a conference championship game or in a later bowl game six times in the past five years, including twice last season.

According to Els, playing those weekends and in those games are good situations for the team, and they are, but imagine not being in those situations. In fact, imagine the opposite? Imagine being part of a new staff hired as a coach was on their way out and losing two weeks to recruit and two weekends to host official visitors before signing day the first Wednesday in the month of February?

Then consider Nebraska's approach to recruiting and a parallel to the new staff scenario. Yes, maybe Nebraska has had weeks and months to scout, offer and build relationships with recruits, but they fill up their class in in the last months of the recruiting calendar. Nebraska is nothing like Texas with "No Vacancy" by Memorial Day.

The Huskers last year hosted 17 players in in December through February. Two of those 17 were already committed to Nebraska prior to visiting in that time frame, but out of the remaining 15 the Huskers landed 10 of them as part of the 2013 class. That's huge.

Yet, people have criticized the approach. I think that the complaint is what if you miss that late on a recruit. Then what? I get it, but until that happens this is a successful model. It's risky, but it definitely has upside. Just look at who was in those 10 players that Nebraska landed last year in the last weeks before signing day.

A few of those final 10 to join the 2013 class include Maliek Collins, Cethan Carter and Kevin Maurice who have all seen time as true freshmen, as well as Matt Finnin who has seen time as a junior college transfer. There are others that could have seen the film this year like Chongo Kondolo and D.J. Singleton just to name a couple.

When you have results like that you will be affected by eliminating two recruiting weekends when Nebraska is having success. Els knows they will. He sees the benefit in the time off for the recruits and getting a chance to get away from the process. As a program that has thrived on those weekends you will have to shift those players to other weekends.

"The majority of the kids will have visited by then," said Els. " January has been a big month for us to bring in visitors we will just have to bring them in the other weekends."

While Nebraska has got commitments from players that visited those weekends, the numbers have been light through those weekends in terms of visitor totals, averaging just three uncommitted prospects per weekend last year. In those lost weekends to the expanded dead period were important, productive weekends closing two of the three uncommitted recruits to visit those weekends last year.

The fishbowl that is recruiting is filled with chaos. Kids are preoccupied enough at this time in their lives with school, athletics, work and the social scene. Now throw recruiting in on top of it. Time off for both the recruits and the coaches is well-deserved in many different ways.

The Huskers have been losing some weekends for the past five years when it comes to conference championships and better bowl games to recruiting which in addition to the extended dead period puts them in a deeper hole. Those later games in the season are a byproduct of success. That success is something that Nebraska is certainly selling to recruits breeding additional success.

The extension of the dead period is a bit of a blow to deal with if you are Nebraska. They will deal with it though, just as all programs will, and they will gladly do it if they continue to lose the other weekends playing in December and early January along with it.


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