This spring, when major recruiting deregulation proposals were defeated at least partially due to the objections of football coaches and BCS conference leaders, there might have been a thought that it could still get done. Maybe not go quite as far and football would be on board, which would possibly get the proposals over the finish line. But after today’s announcement of the proposals offered by a subcommittee of the Leadership Council for football’s recruiting model, that hope is now gone.
Most of the recruiting proposals are more restrictive than the current rules, not less. One proposal would prohibit all in-person recruiting surrounding high school all-star games. Two others would create new dead periods. One would expand and swallow a number of dead periods to create one long dead period from the middle of December until the middle of January. Another creates a brand new 14-day dead period smack in the middle of the only two months football coaches can run camps.
This is the offered rationale for these changes:
By barring recruiting associated with high school all-star games, the subcommittee hopes to minimize the influence of third parties in the recruiting process, such as agents, advisors and runners, as well as keep the focus on scholastic competitions for recruiting. Also, extending the winter dead period and adding a summer dead period will allow coaches and recruits a break from the recruiting process while still ensuring appropriate time for everyone to make informed recruiting decisions.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of basketball recruiting knows that keeping coaches away from events increases the influence of third parties rather than decreasing it. While the two dead periods give recruits a break, they come at very inopportune times in the decision-making process. A prospect who is still undecided in December loses his ability to take visits during his semester break. And taking away two weeks for camps to occur means prospects will be able to attend fewer camps, forcing them to choose some over others. Given the place of camps in football recruiting, that could be the same as forcing more prospects to narrow their options sooner.
Even where recruiting deregulation did happen, as with meals on official visits, it was a tiny tweak. Instead of adopting the men’s basketball rule and allowing institutions to fly parents out, the subcommittee proposed allowing the institution to pay for meals for four family members. That helps with diverse family situations, but it does little to get parents more involved in the recruiting process if they cannot afford to get to campus in the first place.
The subcommittee also proposed a summer access model for football almost identical to men’s and women’s basketball. The only additional step they could have taken would have been to introduce skill instruction, rather than limiting activities to weights, conditioning, and film review. With all the talk about proper tackling technique and the fact that 7-on–7 drills are already occurring during the summer, it would have been a place to start introducing additional skill work into the football practice regimen.
The message though is pretty loud and clear: no deregulation for football. If anything, football recruiting will become even more tightly controlled and heavily monitored. The very least the Board of Directors could do is to try and pass last year’s phone call and printed recruiting materials legislation, just without football this time.