Would NCAA Lifting 'No Texting' Rule Change College Football Recruiting?

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystOctober 10, 2013

Nov 5, 2011; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA;  LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles talks with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban before the game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Social media and technological innovation have accelerated the college football recruiting process in practically every facet. A potential looming reversion to uncapped texting could take things to another level when it comes to communication between coaches and prospects.

The NCAA's Rules Working Group proposed Tuesday to remove restrictions on the ways college coaching staffs can electronically reach out to recruits, according to NCAA.org.  There has been a ban on texting recruits in D1 football since 2007.

"The working group members believe the membership is ready to lift restrictions on frequency and modes of communication," the NCAA explained in a statement.

Girlfriends and mothers, be prepared. When trying to get in touch with your favorite young man, you may be waiting in a long line of collegiate coaches.

The NCAA Leadership Council is slated to discuss the proposal during its next meeting, which takes place Oct. 23-24 in Indianapolis. If it survives that deliberation, the proposal would move to the Board of Directors for approval on Oct. 30.

If adopted, coaches and players could pick up correspondence on Halloween.

This would be an absolute game-changer in the college football recruiting spectrum. Think back to 2007, when texting was initially banned.

Cell-phone usage was significantly less prevalent for high school students six years ago. Today, all you need to do is attend a high school football game to see how many kids are tweeting and texting about the action from the bleachers.

It was also more expensive to send and receive texts in 2007, which was part of the problem. Recruiting targets were being charged just to accept texts from coaches.

Now most standard cell-phone plans come equipped with unlimited texting, eliminating the need to tiptoe around messages for fear of surcharges. It's essentially the simplest and most efficient form of communication we have going these days, aside from a face-to-face discussion.

Lifting the ban would wildly transform the way coaches and student-athletes approach the recruiting process. The abundant distribution of information would alter things on both ends of the equation.

While it presents more opportunities to talk, it's ultimately a double-edged sword for each party.

NCAA President Mark Emmert is likely to receive plenty of reaction from both sides of the texting argument.
NCAA President Mark Emmert is likely to receive plenty of reaction from both sides of the texting argument.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

From a coach's standpoint, texting is a great way to show recruits attention without sacrificing time. We routinely hear about prospects feeling "snubbed" by coaching staffs and getting sour about it, but this makes it easier for programs to massage a player's ego.

A coach can simply send a mass text to his current commits and/or top targets wishing them well in their upcoming games, while including in a little encouragement about how excited the college is to have a young man of their caliber on campus in the future. It's quick, easy and effective.

And certainly, it's a bit manipulative.

Based on the way programs fill players' home mailboxes, you have to wonder if some staffs will let the texting get out of hand. It becomes extremely invasive if a high school junior receives 10 texts from one squad during the span of a school day.

Multiply that by 10 teams for a marquee prospect and we're talking about a lot of daily traffic on a teenager's cell phone. Still, those roles can be reversed.

For the past seven years, coaches have been able to use the texting ban as a shield when necessary. They can avoid tough questions and dodge desperate mid-level prospects by saying: "Sorry, the NCAA doesn't allow me to text you back."

That excuse would be thrown out the window if this proposal is adopted. It's an open two-way street and people will realize if you're hiding.

Think former USC coach Lane Kiffin's phone would've been blowing up with texts throughout September if that were the case?

"Hi Coach, it's Ryan. I keep hearing you're going to be fired. Is this true? Hit me up."

"Coach Kiffin, this is Sean. I've been thinking about committing to USC but... a 10-7 loss to WASHINGTON STATE?! AT HOME?! LOL!"

In all seriousness, how will coaches handle this new wrinkle in recruiting? Players will know they're allowed to text back, and high school kids are sensitive.

Enhanced communication is great when it comes to deciding on a collegiate destination, which ultimately lays the foundation for the next 4-5 years of these students' lives. It should help these young men make a more informed decision.

But when you look beyond the pluses, there's a sense the NCAA is opening up Pandora's box because it can no longer figure out a way to contain it.

Once the texts are free to fly, there's no going back. For better or worse.