Work never ends, even during dead period

InsideTennessee keeps you updated on all the latest Tennessee football news. Scroll down to read what Tennessee coaches think about the new recruiting rules.

"Dead period" – the term sounds like golf courses, beach vacations, late afternoon naps and much-needed off time for college football coaches across the country.

There's just one problem.

"Off time" – Tennessee coaches laugh at its mere mention.

Football coaches everywhere currently find themselves wading through a newly-extended winter dead period from Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 when no in-person recruiting can take place, as established by the NCAA's adoption of five new football recruiting rules in October.

In addition, the new rules prohibit staff members from attending any all-star games.

Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian said the recruiting workload is certainly lightened because of the new rules, but that doesn't mean recruiting work stops.

In his eyes, it never stops.

"There's a lot of benefits to having that dead period and, sure, more family time is one of those benefits," Bajakian told InsideTennessee. "But from a recruiting standpoint, you're still building a relationship all the time – connecting with them through social media and on the phone and whatnot. So the recruiting process does not end. You just have to find ways to keep the communication process open. In that sense, it's more difficult."

In the words of Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie, the current recruiting dead period is both a "gift and curse."

With Tennessee not making a bowl game this season, the old recruiting rules would give the Vols' staff an advantage over those who were focusing on its upcoming game.

Gillespie said he respects the NCAA for trying to create an even playing field, but fears battles to land top-ranked prospects will drag on even longer now.

"It hurts because you lose those recruiting weekends you're used to in the early parts of January and a lot of these kids are waiting till the end of the season to take their visits. So now recruiting is going to run on a little bit longer," Gillespie told IT. "It's built for a reason to help those guys for a bowl game. Like I said, I think it's just something we'll have to work with. You always wish you could get out there and get to work."

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones will tell you that chomping-at-the-bit to work attitude is simply apart of a coaches' makeup, and for that reason he embraces the new rules – which also call for a 14-day dead period in late June and early July.

"I think it's critical for the overall health of our profession. Coaches are wired different. If you tell them you need a competitive edge and you have to work 365 days a year, you'll do it," Jones said. "That's just the way we're wired. I think it gives you an opportunity to relax knowing it's a dead period, you know. No one else is working. You can shut it down and reward your staff and spend some time with your family. This is a great profession, but you can never forget it's a balancing act with your family."

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