MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers held another scrimmage on Friday night as they move toward their spring game on April 21, but head coach Paul Chryst spent most of his post-practice media availability discussing the NCAA’s latest rule changes, which affect both recruiting and how his team prepares for the 2017 season.
Football gets an early signing day
The biggest change to the recruiting calendar is the approval of an early signing period for college football, which is effective Aug. 1. The Collegiate Commissioners Association will need to approve a new National Letter of Intent Signing period, but that vote is expected to be approved in June.
Chryst said after practice that he’s always been in favor of early signing periods – which makes sense, since a sizeable chunk of Wisconsin’s recruits over the years would probably have been interested in signing earlier if possible. Just this last year the Badgers had six prospects enroll a semester early at Wisconsin to take place in spring practice, and Chryst said that he thinks adding an earlier signing period will make terms like ‘offer’ and ‘commitment’ mean more in the long run.
“I think the early signing is good,” Chryst said. “And I was in favor of the June (period) as well so you’d have three signing periods. One I think it’s when a kid’s ready, his commitment can be real and I think the offers on our part that we give out have to be real, because if he’s committed and you’ve offered then that should be signable. I like that it puts validity to the two terms – offer and commitment. The December (period), I think it’s good but it’s only a month.”
Official visits expanded
The Badgers might also benefit from other legislation that will allow recruits to take official visits to schools earlier in the process. Effective Aug. 1, recruits will be able to officially visit schools starting April 1 of their junior year until the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. The Badgers (and the Big Ten as a whole) will probably be glad to get a chance to bring prospects to campus during the spring and early summer months, instead of having to wait until the fall of their senior year when the weather might not be as ideal.
“I think it’s really good for the prospective student athletes,” Chryst said. “Even this spring we’ve had kids come up and that’s on their dime. And so I think it’s really good for the prospective student athlete. We think it will help us. There’s 56 official visits you can have – we don’t use (all of them) and never have here. And so I think we’ll use more visits. I think it’s really good for the process.”
“There’ll be some where the unofficials will still take place because you’ve got a chance to maybe hit a number of schools if it’s spring break or summer time. I think it’ll be a little bit different for the prospective student athlete to pick those five visits he’s going to take. I don’t know – none of us know – how it’s going to impact it. Maybe kids will take fewer overall visits – really don’t know. I think it’ll take three or four or five years to really figure (it) out.”
No more two-a-days
The NCAA council also voted to eliminate “two-a-day” practices, effective immediately, which will change how teams prepare for the season in the fall. The Badgers and the rest of the Division I teams will still be allowed to practice 29 times before their first game of the season, which means that teams will be allowed to start their fall camps earlier to make room for a more spread out schedule. Chryst said that he thought the Badgers did a good job of balancing their fall camp schedule, but he understood that the decision was made with player safety in mind.
“I love two-a-days, I love practices, but there’s merit to it all,” Chryst said. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job. No one is more concerned about player safety than coaches and the players. I think you do need a certain number of practices to get ready for the season.”
“As long as you give the opportunity to teach and for players to get in to shape and understand what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, then I’m in favor of it.”
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.