Last April, the NCAA’s Division I Council approved several rule changes for college football’s recruiting game.
Some of those make a difference to players.
Others affect coaches.
Based on reactions from Manatee County coaches, the creation of an early signing period in December and the ban on hiring individuals associated with a recruit are the ones likely to have the biggest effect on high school coaches.
“It’s changed a lot,” Braden River High School head coach Curt Bradley said. “I understand what they’re trying to do as far as not having coaches follow recruits or recruits follow coaches.”
Call it the latest Harbaugh Rule.
University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has continued to use the NCAA rules to his benefit with innovative methods. One such maneuver was bringing his football team to IMG Academy in 2015 for spring football practices over the school’s spring break.
This year, he took the Wolverines to Rome, Italy.
During his time there, though, he secured highly touted prospect Rashan Gary after hiring Gary’s former high school coach, Chris Partridge, for the Wolverines’ staff as their linebackers and special teams coach. That move, though, is no longer legal under the NCAA’s new rules.
I feel that not allowing or hiring coaches, I don't agree with that. Because I feel like you get punished for having a great program.
Manatee High head football coache Yusef Shakir
“For me, I always like to take my kids to camp and have my coaches, my younger coaches, start working camps,” Manatee High School head coach Yusef Shakir said. “So they can, No. 1, they can network with other coaches ... and then they increased the third party even more with that rule. I feel that not allowing or hiring coaches, I don’t agree with that. Because I feel like you get punished for having a great program. ... If you do too (well) or have too many good players, you can’t go to another level? No type of business, ever, says that. Government doesn’t say if you work city government you can’t go to state government, or you work state government you can’t go to federal government. That’s how things usually work. You start off and then you build your way up.”
When it comes to the early signing period, area coaches are concerned players may face potential extra distractions during their seasons. If they are planning to sign in December, then they will be visiting colleges during the fall semesters and high school football season.
“I’d love to have a kid that had the opportunity to take five visits, but it seems to happen less and less,” Saint Stephen’s head coach Tod Creneti said. “You have kids getting on campus for tours or camps early on, and doing a visit that’s an unofficial visit ... so I don’t think it’ll be a huge detractor. It may challenge the kid that does want to take all five visits and sign early.”
While high school coaches locally are OK with the early signing period, most ACC and SEC coaches are against it.
Florida State University head football coach Jimbo Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel that he was “never for that,” in reference to the new early signing period scheduled to start Dec. 20. Fisher has always declared his preference of a late summer period, before the high school and college seasons began.
“I always wanted it earlier to take a lot of pressure off kids and coaches,” Fisher said. “You’re getting ready for a bowl game or playoff game and you’re practicing all day and you’re flying out all night, getting back at 2 a.m. and getting up at 6 a.m. You’re going to be doing that for two-and-a-half or three weeks. You’re going to be drained because it’s a National Signing Day.”
Marino sees it as a benefit for high school players and coaches, because the waiting game doesn’t happen with programs coming in late to offer a player because the targets they had chose bigger schools.
“Everybody’s held hostage until the very end, and now you have a mad scramble,” Marino said. “Like Brian Bembry. That’s where we’re experienced. ... Brian Bembry, in the third week of January has three schools ... all calling, because they didn’t get the guys they wanted. Everyone is, it sort of shuffles down. ... Everybody benefits. We all can move on with our lives and not have to be panicking and not have to be living with that anxiety.”