Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN posted an interesting article this past week about a little-discussed and probably-overlooked amendment to a college football recruiting overhaul being proposed and voted-on in April. In the piece, Crabtree extrapolates that this amendment, which would create dead periods in face-to-face contact with recruits during the summer, would allow for better work-life balance for busy staffs. The dead periods would prohibit face-to-face contact with recruits for most of July and all the month of August.
In theory, this downtime would permit coaches and staffs to leave the facilities to which they otherwise feel bound by the possibility of surprise recruit pop-ins and unofficial visits. Quoted in the article are multiple assistant coaches and ADs positing the benefits of dead periods and how they would free-up staffs for vacations and team-centric activities without the concern of juggling recruiting events.
Personally, I love the idea of slowing the pace at which recruiting occurs around college football, and this amendment would certainly help with that. However, I think it is naïve to think that suddenly coaches will be using these “free times” for vacations and time with family as discussed in the article. If the past couple decades have taught us anything about college football, it is that as the stakes continue to grow and revenue increases, teams are looking for any opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over their peers. Considering the facilities arms race occurring nationwide, the growth of satellite camps, or the explosion of coach salaries, there is no question that schools are investing more rather than less in their football programs.
So, if envelope-pushing is the norm around college football, I find it hard to imagine that simply removing the potential physical presence of recruits on campus will significantly affect the work-life balance for big-time coaching staffs. The notion that suddenly hours at the facility will be slashed and vacations planned and encouraged due to a face-to-face recruiting moratorium seems remote. Rutgers head football coach Chris Ash (above) said as much, stating, “You get to the end of July, recruiting will still be there, but you want your focus to be on your players on your team. Being home more with your family is great, but what’s most important in August is that you get to focus on your players.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think the amendment on dead periods should be included and hope it will be approved as I generally support anything that slows the churning machine of big college football. Furthermore, I agree it could help high school recruits focus on their upcoming senior seasons and allow their head coaches to get more done during crucial summer workouts, all points made in Crabtree’s article. But the notion that Nick Saban and his staff will take more time off because there are no recruits walking through the door for a few weeks seems dubious. While the amendment strikes me as positive, only a cultural change and a differing approach to how our nation interacts with college football will lead to a significant shift in the work-life balance of major coaching staffs; anything else, this amendment included, simply gives them a chance to work hard in a different facet of the program.