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Examining the ‘no visit’ policy in recruiting, and why it’s wrong

Signing Day Alabama Football AP

Recruiting has blossomed into a 365-day-a-year event, just like college football, the parent that spawned it. There’s more attention on 17 and 18-year-old high school kids now — and, sometimes, younger than that — than there’s ever been. To be a recruit, especially a blue-chip, in 2013 is filled with higher highs and lower lows. Rarely is there middle ground.

But it can be an exciting time for recruits. As our guy Michael Felder has pointed out on several occasions, it’s not until players reach the NFL — if they reach the pros at all — that they’ll have this much control again over their future.

Some coaches don’t believe a recruit should have that much control.

Mitch Sherman of ESPN’s RecrutingNation writes an intriguing and well-done piece about no-visit policies, which you can read HERE, where coaches tell recruits up front that if they’re committed to the program, the program is committed to them.

If they’re not, the school drops them.

The piece specifically mentions Texas, Michigan, Oregon and Georgia Tech as programs with no-visit policies. Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson has gained a certain level of notoriety for it.

The hypocrisy is astounding. Sure, a coach may be up front with a recruit about not visiting other programs, but the idea that commitment is a two-way street is a myth.

For one, a verbal commitment is non-binding by nature. To treat it as anything else is misguided, and frankly, kind of stupid. The word of a 17-year-old kid really doesn’t mean anything of significance. That’s not an indictment against Joe Recruit as much as it is a statement  about verbal commitments.

Secondly, and more obviously, coaches can do pretty much whatever the hell they want. Chip Kelly flirted with the NFL for the second year in a row and eventually left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly had a better offer than Oregon, so he took it. Can you blame him? You shouldn’t. Likewise, a recruit has every right to explore another opportunity that he feels may be better for him without having to lose another opportunity.

Who knows, maybe the coach(es) that told the recruit he’s not allowed to visit other schools won’t be there when he steps foot on to campus. Notice the coaching carousel picked up again post-Signing Day?

Not every program does this obviously, and more often than not, you’re likely talking about a school that can get just about any player it wants every year. It’s also wise for a recruit not to “lock in” on a school or a coach and shut down their recruitment.

That still doesn’t make the no-visit policy right.

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14 Responses to “Examining the ‘no visit’ policy in recruiting, and why it’s wrong”
  1. guinsrule says: Feb 13, 2013 2:56 PM

    Perhaps the coaches should stop recruiting a kid after he commits to another school…

  2. woebegong says: Feb 13, 2013 3:03 PM

    It is a two way street for both the athlete and the school. It does make it hard for the school’s coaches however to plan for the future when kids keep changing their minds all of the time. That is why most coaches are now, at least for the most part, recruiting for the position and trying to get a backup option ready whenever possible. This of course is difficult to do with class limits, but it is the best system in place right now. Some coaches get a little creative, but for the most part, most stay within the rules. I do believe however, that if evidence points to a player receiving money, both the school and the kid should be punished. The school more harshly, but the athlete, even if he is a youngster, because he should know right from wrong.

  3. joshuavkidd says: Feb 13, 2013 3:20 PM

    Your argument makes zero sense…the kid still has all the control and if he wants to look around before he makes up his mind his is completely free to do so and take a much time as he wants. That’s has nothing to do with a coach wanting to make sure he knows who’s actually committed to the school as soon as possible otherwise he could be wasting the chance to offer the spot to another recruit.

  4. jsmayer181 says: Feb 13, 2013 4:07 PM

    I’m fine with Paul Johnson’s policy as long as it’s truly a two-way street. If he wants to pull an offer from a verbal who visits another school, that’s fine so long as he never pulls an offer from a verbal. Last time I checked, Johnson never had an issue with oversigning or grayshirting.

  5. 6superbowls says: Feb 13, 2013 4:29 PM

    Texas, Michigan, Oregon and Georgia Tech? Of these schools, only Oregon has shown any sign of relevance in the past five years in college football. Now that Chip’s is gone, I doubt they’ll rule the PAC12 anymore.

    As for Brady Hoke? More like Brady Joke. A hypocrite. That’s why the Big 10′s a joke and no one cares or respects them anymore.

  6. joshuavkidd says: Feb 13, 2013 4:36 PM

    You do realize Brady Hoke has had back to back top 10 recruiting classes and gone 20-7 in the two years he’s been at Michigan..? He’s also the guy who allowed David Dawson to recommit to the University after he dropped from the class to visit Florida. Also the same guy who just said on camera on ESPN that he didn’t think kids should be forced to commit or enroll early.

  7. tampabayirish says: Feb 13, 2013 4:46 PM

    Perhaps college football should have an early signing period much the same way that college basketball does? I would also like to see athletic scholarships become full 4 or 5 year scholarships instead of a 1 year renewable scholarship at the discretion of the coach. Players should also be able to transfer once in their college careers and be immediately eligible to play the next football season. Coaches jump arround. Why shouldn’t players have the same right?

  8. lottsmissingfinger says: Feb 13, 2013 5:47 PM

    Maybe the writer of this article should have done a bit more fact checking than Mitch Sherman.

    From Solomon Thomas, one of the top DEs in the country, after Texas Junior Day: “”I think as an athlete, as a prospect, you should not commit until you think you have taken all the visits you need to, to be 100 percent sure,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to commit until I take all of my official visits. I want to be 100 percent sure because the decommit process for some of these athletes is ridiculous.”

    From Texas FB commit Daniel Gresham: “”He told us that if you commit to Texas then be committed,” Longhorns running back commit Daniel Gresham said. “Once you’re offered by Texas, you’re offered. They won’t pull your scholarship, but they’ll start recruiting other players at your position.”

  9. lottsmissingfinger says: Feb 13, 2013 5:49 PM

    By the way, both of these quotes can be easily found on the website of the company that employs Sherman: ESPN.

  10. tmb333 says: Feb 13, 2013 6:41 PM

    There should be no signing period….let them sign anytime they want. If a school will give them a LOI, let the kid sign it in the 9th grade. There is no need to verbal….sign on the dotted line anytime you want.

  11. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 7:57 PM

    The policy seems to make sense on the surface. After all, college programs need to guard against the recruit who simply wants to reserve his spot in case nothing better develops.Thats when recruits start jumping ship about signing say,this happens all the time.

  12. tjromanello says: Feb 13, 2013 8:23 PM

    As a coach, I think this is a great “rule” for colleges. The coach has every right to offer or not to offer a LOI to any recruit that the staff is interested in. BUT the recruit shouldn’t make the commitment if he a) isn’t sure just yet, or b) wants to make other visits. You make the commitment, then apparently you know what you want to do. Stick to it. That’s all us coaches want.

  13. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 10:04 PM

    Very true tjro,imo a coach sees a soft verbal it should set off an alarm.Coach should tell the player sign or quit taking up space where another recruit would be offered the chance.At end of signing day teams can come up short of how many recruits they can actually sign.

  14. mogogo1 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:58 AM

    “Recruiting has blossomed into a 365-day-a-year event, just like college football, the parent that spawned it.”
    ______________

    Okay… Is the recruiting itself the “event” he’s talking about? Because there are wide swaths of the calendar year when nothing at all is going on with college football by rule.

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