With spring ball done, what's next?

MARTIN STADIUM AND Rogers Field have fallen quiet after 15 spring practice sessions. So is it now just an interminable wait until August? Hardly. Practices have concluded but this is actually a very busy week in the halls of the Bohler Complex. And next week, things really heat up when the 2009 recruiting campaign kicks into full gear.

Paul Wulff and staff are meeting individually this week with eachplayer, looking to make sure everyone is on the same page as the Cougs head into the offseason's voluntary workouts. The school term comes to a close on May 2, with the first summer school session beginning May 5.

Next week, seven Cougar coaches will hit the recruiting trail as part of the NCAA's annual May Evaluation Period in which college coaches can visit high school campuses.

The "May" evaluation period actually starts today, on April 15. The evaluation period lasts six weeks, and schools are allowed four weeks out of the six, excluding Memorial Day and Sundays, to evaluate prep football prospects.

The NCAA allows a maximum of seven coaches on the road at any one time so the nine WSU assistants will rotate in, and each of the nine will spend about three weeks total on the road. Each WSU coach will visit about 150 schools -- or roughly seven per day.

But a rules change will keep Wulff and every other head coach home this year. And it's one of two rules changes that looks to have a significant impact on college recruiting this year.

AT THE NCAA CONVENTION a couple months back, the SEC proposed a rule precluding head coaches from making any off-campus visits during the May period. The measure passed.

Ostensibly, the SEC introduced the change to decrease the number of not-so-coincidental "bump intos" that happen between a head coach and a recruit. Critics of the new rule, however, grumble that two SEC coaches were the driving force behind the measure -- one didn't want to hit the road as much now that he's 79 years old and the other, apparently, wanted to play more golf.

Regardless of whatever the motive was, Wulff and every other head coach will be sidelined by the change in rules this spring.

The second rules change is that no coach, assistant or otherwise, will this year be able to attend the third party camps and combines -- indeed, coaches cannot attend anything other than an interscholastic type activity on that institution's campus.

Wulff is philosophical about the two changes. No use crying over spilt milk.

"I don't know that it hurts us by any means, and I don't know that it helps us," Wulff told CF.C. "As long as everybody is on the same playing field, I'm okay with it."

Still, for someone who enjoys recruiting as much as he does, Wulff said he'll miss the annual treks to the high schools and visits with the coaches that have been so much a part of his coaching life at this time each year.

"I know personally I would like to be out there at the high schools and talking to as many high school coaches as I could," said Wulff. "And especially being new here at Washington State this year, I think that is a disadvantage for our program right now.

"So I have to make it up another way and really the only time I can do that, primarily, is all through January, and/or any potential clinic or speaking engagement. I really wanted to be out there and able meet more coaches, the fortunate thing is I do know quite a few in the state of Washington so that's good. It's just more California where I would have wanted to spend more time initially."

SCHOOLS ARE ALLOWED one evaluation during four of the next six weeks to assess athletic ability, and another evaluation to assess the prospect's academic qualifications.

Additionally, schools are allowed to place one phone call to a prospect during the evaluation period. Most schools will backload the process in order to be fresher in a prospects's mind than if they were to call at the start, and the importance of that lone phone call has increased.

For a few years, schools used to be able to text message without restriction and ask a prospect to give them a call -- at any time. Now that text messages are no longer allowed, that solitary phone call schools can place during the May Evaluation period, it needs to be a good one.


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