New Football Rule Changes Should Benefit All Parties

April 24th, 2017 | by Javier Morales
New Football Rule Changes Should Benefit All Parties
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The latest college football rule changes by the Division-I council should help smooth relationships between administrators and their coaches.

Gone are two-a-day practices, minimizing the chances for player health problems or disenchantment. One more assistant coach can be hired, bringing the total to 10, making their head coaches happy. Recruits can now offer a college coach a Christmas gift by signing before the holiday break instead of waiting until February, again making their coaches more satisfied of the process.

Some coaches, such as the all-powerful Nick Saban, do not care for the rule that does not allow high school coaches to work at a camp on campus. Football Bowl Subdivision schools can’t hire people close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school.

“The kids are still going to come to camp, the prospects, so who’s going to bring them now?” Saban said. “If the high school coach doesn’t bring them, some third-party guy is going to bring them, and that’s what we’re really trying to eliminate.”

Seems frivolous. A high school coach can still bring them, just can’t work at the camp.


College coaches can still have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics. A new rule, again to the administrator’s benefit, requires educational sessions at all camps and clinics detailing initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations (effective immediately). The rule falls in line with the Division I council doing what it can to prevent potential infractions, as is customary.

One intriguing development was a proposal that was not finalized. It would prohibit coaches from making verbal offers of athletics aid to prospects before Sept. 1 of their junior year. The delay allows for a broad review of early recruiting rules.

The silliest practice of recruiting is a college coach scouting an eighth grader or younger. The verbal commitments of young athletes who are early in their development makes the process a farce.

The delay in offering scholarships until a college football athlete is at least a junior in high school is more practical on both ends. It allows the athlete to further develop his skills, making him a more viable prospect without allowing the scholarship offers to cloud his mind. It also prevents the disheartening practice of a coach pulling a scholarship of an athlete the coach may have deemed not worthy after all. That happens. It can shatter an athlete’s confidence all because the coach made the hasty move of offering a scholarship to beat the crowd or to get in line with other coaches.

Recruiting can be such a seedy process and offering a scholarship to a player with no or little varsity experience in high school is part of that. Coaches can always view video of prospects in their freshman and sophomore years and communicate often with high school coaches and specialists who are with the young athlete daily. An athlete’s visibility will not be lost by avoiding scholarship offers until his junior season.

When it comes right down to it: What’s the difference in a player getting a scholarship offer when he is a freshman as opposed to his junior year? He still has two years to complete his career at that level.

Coaches, of course, want all the benefits of new rules. That’s why Saban is up in arms about a high school coach not working at his camp when in reality, it really is not all that significant.

What’s important about the progression of these new rules is that they bring balance to the administrators, especially those in compliance departments, by bringing more sensible practices to the game. The competitive nature of the game makes coaches push the limits.

 

About Javier Morales
Javier Morales has worked as a sports journalist for more than 25 years. He reported for The Arizona Daily Star for 13 years. He was the Star’s beat reporter for the Arizona men’s basketball program when the Wildcats won the national title in 1996-97. A 2010 Arizona Press Club award winner, Morales operates the blog site AllSportsTucson.com.

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