Associated Press

NCAA council proposes two early signing periods, satellite camp changes, 10th assistant

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Significant change could be coming to major college football, and a couple of Big Ten coaches may not exactly be excited about the direction the sport’s headed.

One proposed change, though, will likely be greeted with open arms.

The Division I Football Oversight Committee is considering proposing legislation that would allow teams to add an additional on-field assistant.  Currently, teams are permitted nine such assistants; the proposal would push that number to 10 across the FBS board.

The committee plans to examine this issue during the upcoming year, and could make a recommendation to the Div. 1 Council next year.

“There was unanimity around the table on the addition of a 10th assistant coach being allowed (in FBS),” oversight committee chair and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We feel it is appropriate from a student-athlete welfare standpoint. The ratio of coaches to student-athlete is much higher in football than other sports, and this helps address that.”

That’s arguably one of the smartest decisions the NCAA has made in years, doing something that actually can benefit players and not just programs.  Now, though, the twin issues that will make the most noise and have arguably the biggest impact in the coming months — and years.

First and foremost, the Council is proposing two, 72-hour early signing periods, one that would begin the last Wednesday in June and the other in mid-December during the initial time junior college players can sign National Letters of Intent. Currently, the only signing period for high school football prospects begins the first Wednesday in February, otherwise known as National Signing Day.

The Council will ask the Division I Collegiate Commissioners Association to approve the measures, which would then go into effect for the 2017-18 signing year if okayed.

Urban Meyer‘s been one of the most vocal critics of any type of early signing period. While a June signing period would help the recruit focus on and enjoy his senior season of high school, it would also, for example, tie him down to a school that will make a coaching change just a few months down the road. Critics such as Meyer argue that “[y]ou’re going to see more transfers and more mistakes made in recruiting than ever” if early signing periods are implemented.

Bowlsby, though, feels the committee “hit a sweet spot” with “a proposal [that] is both student-athlete-friendly and coach- and staff-friendly.” Left unsaid in the NCAA’s release is if a transfer clause involving coaching changes and the like would be a part of the legislation, although, if it’s as “student-athlete-friendly” as claimed, it already should be.

The biggest fight in the coming months will likely be over the early signing period, but Jim Harbaugh may have some words regarding satellite camp legislation being proposed.

If adopted, the Council’s legislation would reduce from two periods of 15 consecutive days for participating in football camps and clinics — i.e. satellite camps — to a total of no more than 10 days. Those days can be used non-consecutively, with the NCAA noting the proposal would provide “greater flexibility to attend more events and visit with more students at various locations.”

There’s also no specific limitation on the number of camps that can be attended over the course of those 10 days, meaning staffs could go to more than one per day, although again they’re not permitted more than 10 total days of such camps.

While the two-third reduction is certainly significant, it’s not the most significant portion of the proposed legislation:

With a refinement in the purpose of the camps to one focused primarily on recruiting rather than instruction, which traditionally has been done in the scholastic environment, the camps must be owned, operated and conducted by NCAA member schools and occur on the school’s campus or in facilities the school primarily uses for practice or competition. Keeping camps and clinics at known facilities will better protect the health and safety of participating students, members said.

Translation: say goodbye to the Harbaugh-led camps at high schools and junior colleges across the nation.

One positive tweak to the camp is that the proposal “would allow all coaches participating in the camps or clinics to have recruiting conversations with participating prospective student-athletes during the event.” Under the current bylaws, such talk is prohibited even as the camps had swung from being instructional to a recruiting tool in many a coaching staff’s arsenal.

“We needed to limit the number of days (for camps and clinics) and do things differently than we did before,” Bowlsby said. “But the best chance for us to manage this is to acknowledge that the summer is about recruiting, not skill development, and to manage it in ways that reflect best on our universities and the process.”

The Council will vote on the camp legislation next April, and, if approved, it would go into effect immediately.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.