How new college football recruiting rules could change the game

Sam Greenwood

Hope recruits don't lose their phone chargers! And get that unlimited plan.

The rules on college football recruiting could be drastically changing.

According to this report by Mitch Sherman of ESPN, if passed, the new rules would allow for substantially more contact between coaches and recruits.

Let's go through the proposed items and discuss the potential impact of each.

The universal start date would be moved up to July 1 before a prospect's junior year.

Good call. I argued for a similar measure in this feature piece from early August. All sorts of contact was already going on before the NCAA's current start date of Aug. 1 of the player's senior year. This rule pushed it back closer to the old date.

Unregulated phone calls & electronic messages, including texts.

This doesn't seem like a big deal, because all sorts of contact already goes on well before the NCAA's current start date. The rule would simply make it legal.

But it is a very big deal indeed, because of the magnitude of the change. To go from one call per week and no text messages to unlimited calls and text messages? That's a drastic shift.

But remember the stories of Urban Meyer texting recruits as coach of the Florida Gators while he was in church? If approved, coaches can go back to the practice of bombarding recruits with unregulated calls, text messages, Facebook messages and direct messages via Twitter!

The proposed rule will reduce the need for burner phones, as coaches will no longer have to use an anonymous prepaid cell to call recruits when they're not supposed to because, well, the communication is now unregulated.

Recruits complain about getting too many phone calls, and this could become a particular annoyance for them if the ban is indeed lifted.

The elimination of legislation that limits only full-time coaches to communicate with prospects and their families. Support staff and administrative personnel would be allowed to call recruits but not to visit them off campus.

This sounds good in theory, because schools often run into a situation in which a recruit needs information about a subject, but cannot get in contact with a coach, and cannot receive the info from a staffer.

Of course, this also opens up the opportunity for schools to use staffers as recruiters. Some schools, like the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, have enormous support staffs, and in theory, could have attractive staffers constantly flirt with attention-seeking recruits via those unregulated calls and texts.

And it also creates the situation in which "staffers" who are very loosely affiliated with the school are suddenly very involved in a player's recruitment. The further away a recruiter gets from a coaching staff, the greater the opportunity for shady dealings.

The elimination of the "baton rule," which allows only seven of 10 full-time coaches on the road to recruit at once. All 10 coaches could recruit simultaneously.

This is a good change. If a school has 10 good recruiters, it should be able to use all 10. I don't see the downside here. If you do, let me know in the comment section, below.

The elimination of regulations on printed recruiting material mailed or distributed to prospects.

This was always a silly rule. The U.S. Mail system is failing. If some school wants to prop it up by sending hundreds of letters to a prospect every month, or a million-page media guide, let it do so. It could create a greater differential between the financial haves and have-nots, or between schools with serious Photoshop skills and those without, but this is fairly inconsequential.

The only unforeseen impact here that I can think of is that some recruits might have to request a second recycling bin from their municipality.

A change in the time that the NCAA defines the transition from recruit to student-athlete. Currently, recruits cannot receive many of the benefits available to student-athletes until they begin college coursework. The legislation would define a recruit as a student-athlete after he or she signs a letter of intent.

This is a good move. Bravo. Once the player is locked in via the letter of intent, he should begin receiving the benefits he'd be eligible to receive upon enrolling.

Passing the buck

The NCAA says it wants to simplify the rules, like it did in basketball.

But what it is really doing, via proposing these rules, is making a tacit admission that it is unable to enforce its current rules. The proposals mostly placate schools, particularly the heavy hitters of the sport, but some certainly don't seem to consider the student athlete.

Sherman discussed the proposals with coaches at the coaching convention in Nashville being held this week. Make sure to check that out, as it is quite interesting.

While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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