While the NCAA is trying to streamline the rulebook and shoehorn in a new penalty structure that would cripple schools, there is also some other interesting legislation. Unlimited text messaging, lifting of restrictions on social media are among the things being done to keep up with the times. However, the most interesting rule, from a future of football sense, comes in the possible decision to allow non-coaches to contact players in recruiting.
From Athletics Scholarship, here is the proposal for the new change:
To start, here is the intent of Proposal 11–2:
To eliminate legislation related to recruiting coordination functions that must be performed by head or assistant coaches.
While that’s short and sweet, it is also completely meaningless unless you know what the recruiting coordination functions are. They are in Bylaw 126.96.36.199, whose time now seems to be very limited:
- Activities involving athletics evaluations and/or selection of prospective student-athletes; and
- Making telephone calls to prospective student-athletes (or prospective student-athletes’ parents, legal guardians or coaches).
In other words, they want to allow non-coaching staff members to make phone calls, evaluate players and the like during the recruiting process. In theory, it would free up coaches to coach and allow for the staffers to grab more responsibility, ultimately evaluating talent and helping build the team, without ever coaching a player.
As the Athletic Scholarship article proposes this could lead to a split in staff roles, where coaches merely coach and a college football version of the "General Manager" steps in to find the talent for a roster:
This happened long ago in professional sports and it lead to the development of two separate tracks: coaching and player personnel. One side of the business (lead by the general manager) scouts and acquires talent. The other side of the business (lead by the head coach) works with that talent. The two sides work together on important decisions but in most successful organizations they tend to stay out of each others way in day-to-day operations.
Good point, but not so fast folks. Obviously, the idea that head coaches, whose futures are tied will want to take the Bill Parcells route of, "They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?" And, if that's where you're leaning, you've got some merit. College football coaches are notorious control freaks when it comes to recruiting and getting the players who fit what they want and the system they employ.
However, the bigger road block to this mode of thinking is not the controlling nature of the coaches, it is the fact that the NFL and college football differ on one incredibly massive level. In the NFL, you pick your players. In college football, those players pick you. Certainly in the NFL there are free agents who pick a destination themselves, and we did see Eli Manning force his way to a destination; but the bulk of players end up being selected in the draft or scooped up through trades, waiver transfers and in free agency guys just hoping for a job somewhere.
In college football, it's a bit different. While it feels like Nick Saban or Lane Kiffin or Brady Hoke are doing the picking; it cannot be forgotten that ultimately they are merely getting players to pick them.
So, while the idea of personnel track and coaching track splitting in college football to streamline the process sounds like a possible idea; don't expect it anytime soon. The most critical part of recruiting is the relationship that is built between a player and his position coach, coordinator and/or recruiting coordinator. That's what recruiting is tied to.
Players want to get to know the guy that will coach them. They want to hear his voice on the phone. They want to hear his plans for them once they get on the roster. They want to hear how he watched their latest tape and thinks they can slide right into the scheme quite well. You lose that with a GM and when college staffs don't have that personal relationship with their recruits; they often lose out.
It will be interesting to watch, provided the measure passes. College football has already emulated the NFL in so many other facets of the game. It would make sense to see some personnel principles followed. We'll see just how far down that rabbit hole the collegiate game goes; I doubt they'll pull coaches off the phones anytime soon.