Changes are coming to college football and college football recruiting after the NCAA Division 1 Council adopted new legislation that will bring a 10th assistant coach onto the field beginning next year and also furthers the chance that an early signing period will become a reality.
The former is something that has been discussed plenty in the last year and was expected to pass while the latter is certainly a change in direction, but closer to what coaches have hoped for. The 10th assistant coach will not be able to come on board effective Jan. 9, 2018. The early signing period legislation will next go to the College Commissioners Association for final approval as that group is the only one that can change the National Letter of Intent signing periods. That will take place in June.
“Today’s adoption of the football legislation marks the most significant progress in recent years to improve the football environment and culture for current and prospective student-athletes and coaches,” Council chair Jim Phillips, of Northwestern, said. “Importantly, the action of the NCAA Division I Council delivers on the charge of the Division I Board of Directors to comprehensively improve the football recruiting environment. This affirms that the new Division I governance structure can effectively and timely address important issues.”
Early singing period, changes to recruiting
The new legislation will put into motion the final piece of the puzzle for having a second signing period for recruits in addition to the normal one that begins in February. The support from Rich Rodriguez on this topic has been lukewarm because the Arizona head coach believes there shouldn't be a signing period at all. Still, this is closer to what most coaches want and gives recruits a chance to get the process of signing an NLI out of the way sooner.
It also means something that might be even more important and that will be earlier official visits. Under the new legislation recruits will be able to take official visits from April to June of their junior years. The period would run from April 1 through the last Wednesday in June each year. Both the new December signing period and official visits will go into effect Aug. 1 should they be approved by the conference commissioners.
Another part of the legislation will prevent college programs from hiring someone close to a prospective student-athlete for a two-year period before and after his anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. That is rule will be effective immediately, but schools will be allowed to honor contracts that were signed prior to Jan. 18, 2017. If someone close to a recruit is hired by a college program he has to be coming on as one of the nine or soon-to-be 10 coaches on staff and not in another type of role.
One more element of the new legislation is that coaches participating in camps will now be able to have recruiting conversations with prospects. Previously this was not permitted as recruits participating in camps were only allowed to receive instruction from coaches without discussion about recruiting. Since that is too hard to police it will now be allowed and that will also be effective immediately with camp season coming up in a couple months.
“This is a significant move forward for football recruiting,” Football Oversight Committee chair and Big 12 Commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, said. “The entire package of rule changes is friendly for students, their families and their coaches. We will continue to monitor the recruiting environment to make sure the rules work as intended, and we will suggest adjustments when necessary.”
FBS adding a 10th assistant
As part of the changes to recruiting in college football will be the addition of a 10th assistant coach that will not take place immediately, but will happen in January of 2018. Rodriguez was hopeful it would take place as soon as possible but he will have to wait to make further additions to his staff until Jan. 9 of next year.
"I hope it's effective immediately, but I think there's a lot of places that want to wait until after the season," Rodriguez said a few weeks ago. "I think it's another job for another 128, 130 guys so I'd like to make effective immediately. It's needed. The coach-to-player ratio is really low in football."
Two-a-days are a thing of the past
A non-recruiting rule that passed Friday, but flew somewhat under the radar because of all the new recruiting legislation is that two-a-day contact practices will no longer be permitted in college football. Arizona has typically not used two-a-day practices in recent years so it won't mean much change to how it operates, but across the board it will not be allowed.
“The Council’s action reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Phillips said. “We continue to be guided by the recommendations from medical professionals, coaches and administrators and the strong support for discontinuing two contact practices in the same day."