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.