"The Saban Rule" Changes the Landscape of the Spring Evaluation Period

Nic GulasSenior Analyst IApril 17, 2008

April 15 was the beginning of the spring evaluation period in college football, giving coaches until the end of May to evaluate the upcoming high school seniors.

However, this off-season, for the first time ever, head coaches will be staying on campus and away from the potential recruits. 

This is due to a new rule passed by the NCAA and originally brought to light by coaches of the SEC. 

The new rule states that head coach can no longer go evaluate recruits on the road during the spring. The idea is to prevent “bump-ins” between coaches and recruits when the coaches are out talking to the high school coaches. 

Not only can coaches no longer hit the road, but they are now restricted to only one phone call to prospects during this time period and only one evaluation of athletic ability.

The rule also prevents coaches from checking up on the player’s character and personality with teachers, coaches, and counselors, something that each coach is roasted about when a player is arrested or gets suspended. 

This rule is believed to have been put in place to prevent two SEC coaches, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, who have both had No. 1 recruiting class in the past, from “gaining an advantage” on the recruiting trail. Both coaches used to travel furiously during the spring to go to as many schools as possible to evaluate as many kids as possible. 

The rule rewards coaches who did not want to put forth the effort to get recruits and hurts those who put in all the time and effort to gain recruits. 

There is no definite answer as to whether or not coaches gained an advantage through this aspect of recruiting, but many coaches are not happy about this new rule.

“I don’t want to sound like a jerk,” USC head coach Pete Carroll said, “but other coaches…are just lazy."

Nick Saban wasn’t as brief as Carroll this morning when asked about how the rule will affect him this off-season.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing,” Saban said. “When you're talking about developing relationships and knowing players and meeting guidance counselors and talking to principals and all those kind of things, I think we're put ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of evaluation.


“I think we’ve really limited ourselves by what we’ve done, and I totally disagree with it.”


There is no doubt that Saban, Meyer, and Carroll will have to change their recruiting methods.


But the other coaches will now reap the benefits of being able to stay at home like they always have in the past and not worry about losing any ground. 


Rest assured, though, the above three will still continue their dominance on the road, and opposing coaches will find the next excuse to pursue and get the NCAA make a rule against it.