Alabama's head coach Nick Saban mentioned less than an hour after winning college football's highest prize last night that he employs a 48 hour rule. You're allowed to enjoy achievement and accomplishment for 48 hours and then, effectively, it's time to move on to the next one. The sport of college football won't even get that as ripples from its 2013 American Football Coaches Association convention suggest a somewhat radical sea change could be in the sports not too distant future.
A report by ESPN Recruiting Nation's Mitch Sherman breaks out all the details with great specifics, but effectively the gist of the pending change are as follows:
The proposals outlined Tuesday during a seminar by NCAA officials on recruiting issues at the American Football Coaches Association convention feature a universal start date, subject to the recruiting calendar, of July 1 before a prospect's junior year for off-campus contact -- including home visits by football coaches, unregulated phone calls and electronic communication.
It would reverse the text-messaging ban, in place since 2007, from football coaches to recruits and impose no limitations on private messaging or communication via social media. Coaches would still be prohibited from sending public messages to recruits over Facebook and Twitter.
At present, it's not until a high school football prospect's senior year that assistant coaches and head coaches are able to reach out and speak with potential student's athletes at their school and homes. Under the new proposal, more in line with changes recently enacted for college basketball recruiting, assistant coaches would be able to visit a prospect six times during their junior season and another six times during their senior season. A program's head coach would be able to make one visit per each of these years for the prospects as well.
Perhaps the most jarring, however, is a proposal that would also get things in line with new college basketball legislation, that would effective undo the restrictions which pegged former Oklahoma head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. Coaches would be allowed unlimited phone calls and texts to recruits after July 1st following those prospects' sophomore years (e.g. before their junior) as opposed to current restrictions which limit coaches to one call per week an no texting whatsoever.
The new legislation also expands who exactly contact prospective students athletes. Currently, only full-time coaches are able to communicate with prospects and/or their families. Under a new proposal, support staff and administrative personnel would be able to call recruits as well (though still unable to visit them outside of campus). This would allow wealthier programs of the ilk of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and yes, Ohio State, to hypothetically build super staffs that would be able to get on the radar of a lot more kids a lot more often. As one coach, Kansas o-line coach Tim Grunhard, expressed trepidations about the proposal, "You've got to keep up with the Joneses. If the University of Kansas isn't calling a guy every day and K-State is calling every day, then he thinks we don't like him as much."
College football's cold war could be about to get a whole lot colder.
Another change of note would be the striking down of the current "baton rule", which allows only seven of 10 full-time coaches to be on the road recruiting at once. Under the new guise, all 10 of the coaches would be able to be out recruiting concurrently.
Two of the final proposals included eliminating regulations on printed recruiting material mailed or given to prospects as well as allowing students to receive student athletes benefits from the moment they sign a letter of intent, not the moment they begin classes.
Of course, it's worth remembering that these are just proposals and they'd still have to be voted on and enacted by the NCAA before they become the law of the land. But if the NCAA would go to the trouble of outlining these to all of their coaches at their annual professional get together, it's probably safe to assume that there's at least legs to some of them.
Perhaps the biggest take away from them all (besides NCAA President Mark Emmert's clear overwhelming agenda to try and streamline things to cut down on the self-policing load currently required by member programs) is the potential inequality generated by some of these. With the NCAA already weighing rule changes which could shift the climate of things to further minimize so-called "Group of 5" schools into de facto farm schools for the sports' heavyweights, rewarding schools who have the resources and abilities to create gaudier and gaudier pitches, to hire the most seasoned full times salesmen, and to build super staffs which could be oversaw by make shift "General Managers" who would run these efforts almost like a major league organization.
And then of course there's the escalating arms race silliness aspect of it all. One great example of such from the very same report:
One BCS-level assistant coach lamented that he would have to create a 9-foot Fathead of a recruit's likeness for the coaching office, because if rules didn't prohibit it, some other coach would beat him to the punch.
Don't think for a second the opposing schools wouldn't.
While the entirety of these changes would likely streamline both the NCAA's governing efforts as well as schools' own abilities to police their own, it's not immediately self evident that many (if any) of these proposals create change for the better. While "competitive equality" is mentioned directly in the report as guiding forces in these regulations, while certainly beneficial to a program of Ohio State's vast resources, the further you step away, the more ambiguous the net benefits become.