The recruiting landscape is changing as the NCAA pushes for deregulation on multiple fronts. More freedom for coaches to contact prospects, send mail, text, call and employ recruiting specialists. A change that cleans up some of the rulebook and allows coaches to do their own juggling in the process.
One conference is openly against these changes: The Big Ten.
For a league that's been proactive in expansion, and revolutionary in their television deal, the Big Ten has been far less than progressive where recruiting is concerned. The "recruit them until they get on campus, sell your positives and the other guys' negatives" approach to recruiting somehow got lost upon Jim Delany's league.
Most recently that was clear when Bret Bielema, former Wisconsin and current Arkansas head coach, accused newcomer Urban Meyer of "illegal" recruiting tactics. Bielema merely added fuel to a fire stoked pre-2012 signing day by Michigan State's defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Stealing recruits and recruiting committed players were, apparently, something the Big Ten did not want to have happen.
Now, the coaches have a new target of their recruiting disdain, the NCAA as a whole. The statement, issued by the Big Ten's coaches and athletic directors, as reported by the Big Ten Network, shows their complaints:
We are specifically concerned with the following three proposals and ask that they be tabled along with Proposal 13-2:
Proposal 11-2: Athletics Personnel: Limitations on the Number and Duties of Coaches – Elimination of Recruiting Coordination Functions
Proposal 13-3: Recruiting: Deregulation of Modes and Numerical Limitations on Communication
Proposal 13-5-A: Recruiting: Elimination of Printed Recruiting Materials and Video/Audio Legislation
We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches. We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.
It must be noted that while the athletic directors and coaches voice opinions, as Bryan Fischer of the Pac-12 Network points out, only presidents can submit a formal complaint.
This statement comes on the heels of the ESPN report in which both Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke complained about the freedom that the new rules afforded recruiters. All of the rhetoric is, of course, couched on the premise that it might not be the best thing for high school athletes.
Certainly, there is a gang of folks who will buy what Meyer, Hoke and the rest of the Big Ten is selling. The idea that these high school kids will be bombarded with posters, letters, calls and texts to no end as they get recruiting and they have no recourse.
Do not count us, here at Your Best 11, as one of those people. The last thing you want to do as a recruiter is annoy prospects and seem desperate. That does not sell your school, and ultimately gets you taken off a kid's list.
No, the real issue comes in the amount of work coaches and recruiters are going to have to do to beat people out. Instead of everyone getting one call, only standard letters and such, coaches now have to adjust their game based upon who knows what. Who knows how often the other guy talks to the kid? Who knows how often or what exactly that rival school is sending him?
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Especially for the volumes in which football operates. As Brady Hoke explains from the same ESPN article about how they aren't sure this is right for the high schoolers:
"I know basketball has gone to some of this stuff, but they have an early-signing period," Hoke said. "I think the other part of it is you can't compare basketball and football. It's not even close. They're going to recruit three or five guys a year, so maybe their pool is 25. ... For us, we're going to start with probably 1,500 [prospects in the 2014 class] and we're going to sign 16."
In other words, "NCAA, we have a lot of kids to recruit and it was easier when contact was limited to stay on a kid's radar than now when people can stay on a kid's mind more readily. We'd like for you to go back to the old way because this just seems like we're going to have to do a lot more."
Ultimately, the complaint likely falls on deaf ears as the presidents let the measure pass without challenge. Michigan and Ohio State will continue to rule the conference in recruiting while the rest of the league stares up to them.
A nice presentation of a united front, but once Mark Dantonio's recruits start getting Fatheads from Urban Meyer at the end of January, folks will be back to hating each other again.