How new recruiting rules affect Wazzu, with the early signing period expected to become official in June

THE EARLY SIGNING PERIOD is not official yet, but it’s close. In June, the Collegiate Commissioners Association, which controls the letter-of-intent process, is expected to change the LOI signing dates and add a mid-December signing period. So what does it all mean for the Cougs?

That’s a question with multiple answers, some of which won’t be answered until the process plays out.  But one thing it does means for WSU: the Cougs will almost certainly have to go back to having at least a few official visit weekends during the season.

That could mean the first couple home games only. It could mean they’re sprinkled in here and there depending on player schedules and other factors. (It will also likely mean an even greater premium will be placed by WSU on the two official visit weekends in December, now shoehorned up against new mid-December signing period). 

It’s become clear the past two recruiting cycles WSU coaches have become big fans of being able to focus solely on the game at hand, they felt they didn’t have enough face time with recruits when they visited in-season. That’s a big part of why WSU made the change going away from in-season official visitors in the first place.

For this current class, the 2018 crop, it remains to be seen if Washington State decides to jump in with both feet to try and land a bevy of early signees in mid-December -- or if Mike Leach instead still tries to sign the bulk of his class in February. How that plays out this fall and winter is going to be intriguing to watch unfold.

One key question: Will WSU be able to sign a (somewhat) hidden gem more easily in mid-December? The guess here is yes. But the early signing period isn’t the only rules change.

Earlier official visits: This would first take effect with the 2019 class (and become official with June’s CCA decision on the early signing period). A prospect would be allowed to take official visits starting April 1 of his junior year through nearly the end of June. Previously, official visits were first allowed Sept. 1 of a recruit’s senior year in high school.

Will WSU try to bring in a bunch of prospects during that April-June time frame?  Hard to say. Arguing against it is the way WSU has recruited the past two classes, bringing in prospects later and closer to Signing Day. But it’s expected there would at least be some visitors. After all, Pullman in April-June features beautiful weather and stunning visuals.

Satellite camp limits: This new rule is now in effect. Coaches may now hold such camps for recruits on 10 select days in June and July AND on the campus of an NCAA-member institution. Before, they could be held anywhere and the limit was 30 days. WSU in the past has traveled and worked 9-10 camps in 4-5 states in June, with the bulk of those camps held at high schools and junior colleges, so things change here for the Cougs. O-linemen Christian Haangana and Liam Ryan are among those who WSU discovered at satellite camps.

What seems likely to now happen: WSU would pair up with other NCAA-member school(s) and co-host a camp.  Also, the “mega camp” concept is a possibility, you could even see a number of Pac-12 schools band together to co-host a camp in California.  It’s unknown where WSU will hang its satellite camping hat in June and July but the new rules will require an adjustment.

What’s most intriguing from this chair about the new rule is the distinct lack of outcry.  Satellite camps introduce prospects to more scholarship opportunities, from more schools. The reason for the rules change is a pure and simple power play, with the SEC and Big 12 leading the charge, to prevent other schools from signing recruits in their geographic areas (and making them look bad down the road).

The NCAA and numerous college coaches continue to speak ad nauseam on how they have student-athletes’ best interests at heart. The new satellite camp rule is a direct contradiction of that. It closes doors for the prospect, it doesn’t open them. But it’s not the first asshat decision by the NCAA at the behest of conferences seeking a recruiting advantage, and won’t be the last.

Addition of a 10th assistant coach. FBS programs will be able add one more assistant coach on Jan. 18, 2018, bringing the number of on-field assistant coaches to 10, just in time for the recruiting stretch drive.  Here again, this will be intriguing to watch how WSU goes about this.

On paper, it would seem to make sense to, for example, bring in a corners or safeties coach and lessen DC Alex Grinch’s load.  Or, maybe the Cougs could go out and get an ace recruiting type, with the new assistant coach focused primarily on recruiting. Such a coach could also handle some of the in-season recruiting aspects that in turn free up the other nine assistant coaches to focus more on the game week at hand. We’ll have to wait and see who Mike Leach adds in January.

Restricted hiring of IAWP: That would be Individuals Associated With Prospects. Effective immediately, schools may no longer hire anyone deemed close to a recruit (high school coaches, for example) for a two-year period before and after the recruit’s enrollment. This applies ONLY to administrative roles -- if a school wants to make such a hire it must be for a salaried, full-time assistant coaching job. A similar rule has been in place in college basketball since 2010. This would not appear to affect WSU, whose administrative hires under Leach have come from pools other than those associated with recruits.

Limiting annual scholarships to 25: The aim of this is to reduce oversigning, grayshirt and blueshirt practices. Exception: A walk-on awarded a scholarship after two years on campus would not count against the 25-man limit. Another exception:  If a signee becomes injured and must give up football, he would not count toward the signing class limit of 25. Previously, a program would not be allowed to replace a signee who is unable to continue playing football.

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