Recruiting deregulation is already one of the hot-button topics of the offseason, and battle lines have already been drawn.
Programs like Auburn and Alabama have already begun hiring high-profile college and high school coaches into "front office" positions. The intention is to hit the ground running when the new rules take effect in the summer, which will allow unlimited contact for coaches and support staff.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen lands somewhere in the middle in the fight over recruiting deregulation and has his own thoughts on how to limit the impact.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mullen thinks that adding a four-week "dead period" in the summer with no contact would be a good way to minimize the impact of the unlimited contact rule.
I don’t want to want to sound like a non-worker, but everybody worries about these new rules, and how you will be working 24 hours per day. They want to know where is your down time? If they want a time for where coaches have to shut it down, then you designate four weeks in the summer where you’re completely off. You can do no recruiting during those four weeks, and you’ve eliminated the problem for all coaches.
Mullen went on to add some specifics to his proposal, which would allow teams to designate which four weeks they'd use as their "dead period."
Currently, we have eight weeks where we’re not allowed to do anything with our (current) players. You can do that for coaches with recruiting, too. You would let the schools pick their four weeks because schools get out earlier in the South than they do up North. Schools up North, they would need later recruiting times to do camps and summer visits. You can pick your four weeks, and move from there. So for four weeks, you can’t do anything during the summer.
Four weeks is a long time, especially in the summer when players are attending camps across the country. The length of time may need to be tweaked, but Mullen's goal is something that I can absolutely hop on board with.
The new recruiting rules will certainly separate the "haves" from the "have nots," not only from across the country, but within each individual conference—including the SEC.
In theory, allowing for unlimited contact will go a long way toward paring down the NCAA's rule book. However, it also runs the risk of creating a "Wild, Wild West" atmosphere, which is something that can't be sustained.
That's what makes Mullen's idea so intriguing.
He says that he loves the unlimited contact rule, but cutting down on the time periods in which it is allowed would limit that atmosphere and the gap between the programs with differing recruiting budgets.
It's also clear that he's concerned about the perception that comes along with opposing the new legislation.
I love how NCAA deregulated recruiting. College coaches complaining are scared of getting outworked or out-spent— Michael Carvell (@RecruitingAJC) February 25, 2013
Mullen doesn't fall into that category.
Sure, Mississippi State isn't going to be able to compete with the big boys in the SEC on the bottom line; but Mullen's idea suggests that he's interested in tweaking the rules to make them better, and not concerned about being outworked.
I like that.
The idea could use a little adjustment, because four weeks may be two too many. However, while the NCAA is interested in deregulating its recruiting rules, some structure needs to remain in place.
A summer "dead period" for unlimited contact may be an interesting method to provide that structure.