Adaptability

Forgive Mountaineer assistant football coach Herb Hand if he isn't fazed by the ever-adapting offensive scheme at West Virginia. For Hand, the pace of change on the field is nothing compared to the fast-changing world of recruiting.

Every year, there seem to be more wrinkles and adjustments in recruiting. As coaches continue to push the envelope to find more ways to get their pitches in front of prospective players, the NCAA, operators of scouting combines and the players themselves also adapt and change to new rules and operating environments. Two of the newest changes and hot items – text messaging and scouting combines – are the latest to undergo scrutiny and rules changes by the NCAA.

Text messaging is still unregulated, but Hand sees at least one of the proposals on the table with the NCAA becoming law soon. Without it, text messaging figures to spiral totally out of control (some would say it has already reached that level).

"I think there has to be something done [with text messaging]," Hand told BlueGoldNews.com recently. "I think the NCAA will step in and try to legislate it a little bit. There are some proposals out there – models, they call them -- on how to limit text messaging. One of the models has it limited during the season, while others might limit it during other times of the year. During the season, I think, would be a benefit to both coaches and kids."

In addition to the obvious time factor (imagine text messaging 100 players each day, or a highly recruited player getting four or five message from each of the fifty schools offering him), there's also a cost concern. Hand said that West Virginia operates in strict guidelines in that regard, despite the fact that it might put WVU at a disadvantage compared to more unscrupulous schools.

"I always talk to the kids I am recruiting. I ask them if they text message, and if it costs them anything," Hand detailed. "I don't want to text message him and all of a sudden he has a $400 phone bill and his parents are upset. It doesn't make any sense to do that. Our policy is that we text message when we have something to say to the player, not to do it just to be doing it. But there's no doubt you can build a relationship through those means of communications. Instant messaging and text messaging are the ways that a lot of guys communicate now, so we have to keep up with that."

Hand is also approving of another recent change in scouting combines. After this year, the NCAA will no longer allow combines to be held on the campus of Division 1 schools, nor allow Division 1A coaches to attend them in person. While that might mean a player that can't afford to come to a school's camp might not be evaluated in person by a coaching staff, it also helps cut down on the frenzied that attending combines all over the country had become.

"I think the new combine rule is to try to help with the quality of life of the assistant coaches," Hand explained. "It's tough when you are traveling all over the place in the spring and doing evaluations. If Penn State has one guy at a combine, then we have to make sure we have one there too, in order to represent West Virginia. It becomes a rat race, almost. I like the current legislation, because there are some positive things that come from it. I know that Nike and Scout may not want to see that, but from the coaching standpoint we would prefer not to have to deal with those."

The best of all possible worlds, in Hand's view, is getting prospects on campus. That way, the coaches can see them in person, and the players can get a look at WVU's facilities at the same time.

"We want guys at our camp. That's never going to change," Hand emphasized. I'd say, sixty, seventy, maybe even seventy-five percent of the guys we have signed have come to at least one of our camps. We will continue to push for that. I understand the benefits of combines for a lot of players, and for some of the lower-division schools. When I was in the WVIAC, at Wesleyan, I'd love combines, because I could see a lot of players at one stop. But out of maybe 400 kids at a combine, only ten of them would be Division 1A prospects, and that doesn't make a lot of sense for D1 schools."


BlueGoldNews Top Stories