College Football Recruiting: What Is The 'Dead Period'?

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches his team during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

What is a "dead period" in college football, and how can schools use it to their benefit?

If you've been following SB Nation's recruiting coverage, you've probably seen some mention of the NCAA's "dead period," which takes place from December 19th to January 3rd. 

What recruiting may not take place during the dead period?

In-person contact, be it in-person meetings or in-person evaluations, or in-person anything. Location, here, is irrelevant. Teams cannot allow official visits to take place, and cannot contact a recruit if he visits a campus unofficially. 

Perhaps it would be easier to state what is allowed during a dead period: one phone call per week. That's it. No other contact with recruits is allowed by NCAA rule. 

There are certain exceptions to this, but the NCAA enforces this rule strictly, as it says it is serious about kids having time to be with family over the holidays.

Coaches can sometimes use a dead period to their advantage, as Nick Saban is thought to have done recently with running back T.J. Yeldon:

Travis Reier makes a great point on Twitter: Yeldon flips to Alabama the day before the dead period begins and the dead period extends through the start of spring classes. Highly unlikely that is just a random coincidence, and that probably eliminates any chance Auburn would have otherwise had of re-flipping Yeldon.

Here is how this is thought to have gone down. Allegedly:

Saban had Yeldon convinced to switch from Auburn to Alabama. But he cleverly had Yeldon wait until right before the dead period began, so that Auburn staff and supporters could not contact Yeldon to get him to undo the switch. All Auburn can do is call Yeldon once per week. It's tough to get a kid to switch his commitment over the phone, particularly with just one call every seven days, as is limited by NCAA rule. 

*It should be noted that this is not against NCAA rules.

And even more fortuitous for the Tide is that Yeldon plans to enroll early. That means he'll already have his enrollment papers submitted to the Crimson Tide before Auburn coaches ever have a shot to talk to him face-to-face. 

Of course, the key to getting this strategy to work is to have the recruit convinced to switch early enough to allow for this sort of planning. 

After the dead period is lifted, recruiting will resume with a flurry. We'll discuss "contact periods" and "dead periods" at that point.

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