Associated Press

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

3 Comments

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.

Arkansas starting QB Austin Allen could miss another couple weeks

Associated Press
Leave a comment

It appears Arkansas will be without its starting quarterback for a while longer than just one week.

An injury to his right (throwing) shoulder in the Week 6 loss to South Carolina knocked Austin Allen out of the game.  After some initial uncertainty in the week leading up to the Week 7 game against top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Allen was indeed ruled out for what turned into a 41-9 loss.

With No. 21 Auburn up next, Bret Bielema all but ruled the senior out of the Week 7 matchup.  Additionally, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has reported that Allen could miss up to three more weeks after being sidelined last weekend.

“If it came to a point later in the week where he could practice Thursday, I think there’s merit to (Allen returning this week),” Bielema said. “Where he’s at right now, I’d say we’re still a couple of weeks away, but Austin is a guy who surprises a lot of people and if he can go and do things, it’s a positive for us.”

Should the three-week timeline come into play, he would miss the AU game as well as contests against Ole Miss and Coastal Carolina before returning for the road trip to LSU Nov. 11.

If Allen is indeed sidelined, Cole Kelley (pictured) would again take his place.  Making his first career start, the redshirt freshman completed 23-of-42 passes for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception on the road against the vaunted Crimson Tide.

Butch Jones says the most Butch Jones quote of all time

Getty Images
5 Comments

It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.

That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.

I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.

This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.

It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?

Here’s the full quote.

Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.

And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.

Houston Nutt settles lawsuit with Ole Miss

Getty Images
4 Comments

Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.

It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.

Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.

Each side released their own bitter, short statements.

Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.

Washington loses LT Adams, CB Miller for the season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No. 12 Washington’s loss to Arizona State was a disaster on the field — for more reasons than one.

The Huskies not only put their College Football Playoff hopes in danger — they’ll need to sweep their next six games, including a finishing kick that calls for games against No. 22 Stanford, No. 15 Washington State and, presumably, No. 11 USC, two of them away from Seattle. But the road to get there became noticeably more difficult after losing two starters.

Left tackle Trey Adams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and cornerback Jordan Miller sustained a broken ankle. Head coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that both will be lost for the season. Miller is the third Husky this season to suffer a broken ankle.

The Seattle Times noted that Washington is also without another starting corner in Byron Murphy, who is expected to return later this year from a broken foot. The Huskies are expected to replace Miller with either a pair of true freshmen or a converted running back.

But Adams may be the bigger loss for the Huskies. A junior, Adams was widely expected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s the second straight season Washington has lost a key player in the trenches to a season-ending injury; a year ago, it was linebackers Joe Mathis, who finished one sack away from the team lead despite playing in only seven games, and third-leading tackler Azeem Victor.