NCAA hopes to create healthier recruiting environment with new rules

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The NCAA took measures to provide for what it hopes will be a more healthy recruiting environment Wednesday. Some changes to recruiting rules will increase the number of days in various dead periods and alter the level of access coaches will have with recruits in the offseason. Realizing that recruiting has evolved and in some respects run wild, the NCAA hopes some of the changes to the recruiting process will result in fewer violations.

Every little bit helps, right?

Here is a look at the new rules as outlined by the NCAA

• Allow football student-athletes to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The model is similar to those adopted by men’s and women’s basketball in the last two years. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported this change.

Essentially, this expands on the formalized offseason training within a football program. It also cuts down on the chances any coach or staff member accidentally breaks any offseason training rules.

• Prohibit a school’s staff members from attending an all-star game or activities associated with those games and from having in-person contact with recruits participating in the games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. Both FBS and FCS supported this ban.

High school football all-star games are generally big attractions for coaches, although by the time most of these games are played the recruiting of those players eligible for those games is pretty much over, although this may vary from state to state. But anything that limits the distractions for players taking part in any special activities is a good move.

• Establish a dead period when no in-person recruiting can take place. The dead period, scheduled to coincide with winter holidays and the annual American Football Coaches Association convention, begins the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can begin signing the National Letter of Intent. It ends the Wednesday of the week of the AFCA convention. For 2013-14, Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 is now a dead period. The FBS supported this proposal, but the FCS did not because its coaches need more time to discuss it. Army and Navy may seek a temporary exception from this new rule if the date of this season’s game makes it difficult for them to follow it.

This is a good move to prevent high school players from having the holiday season filled by distractions. It also keeps coaches closer to home rather than traveling during the busy holiday rush. That is time better served doing some holiday shopping anyway, right?

• Establish a 14-day dead period in late June and early July for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

• Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit. Before this change, schools could pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children, but excluded siblings and other family members. This approach provides schools more flexibility to address each recruit’s specific family situation. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported making the rule more flexible.

This just makes sense. Why should a prospect’s little sister have to pay for a lunch when her big brother and parents are getting a free meal?

These changes will not slam the door shut on violations of course, but it should help.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.