One year ago, the NCAA changed recruiting rules to allow unlimited electronic communication between football coaches and high school recruits. Four months later, however, several of the proposed changes were suspended, according to Mitch Sherman of ESPN's RecruitingNation.
There's a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo that you should by all means peruse and ponder for the rest of your day, but the long and short of it revolved around one of the major technologies developed in the last 25 years: text messaging.
"The Board's suspension sends the text messaging proposal (except basketball) back to the Rules Working Group so that all recruiting concepts still under review are examined further as a package," NCAA president Mark Emmert told Sherman.
Regardless of your thoughts on texting and how it might impact the recruiting process, coaches and recruits now need to find other ways to communicate.
Combine that with the ever-growing presence of social media, and the role of assistant coaches in the dog-eat-dog world of recruiting is more important than ever.
Of course, anybody can learn the ins and outs of social media and how to put your best foot forward on Twitter or Facebook, but working the online channels is mainly a young man's game. Graduate assistants and position coaches are more likely than older coaches to have experience using the Internet in recruiting.
At the end of the day, football programs do not survive without successful recruiting.
We're not necessarily talking about landing 4- and 5-star prospects every other week but landing the guys who coaches think will benefit the team moving forward. Sometimes it's the blue-chip players, and other times it's the under-the-radar, undersized kid with a blank offer sheet.
Either way, programs that recruit and land guys they're after generally fare better throughout the season than those who don't do this very well.
Some of the old-fashioned skills of dressing up and visiting with the family, meeting the parents and commanding attention in person are still crucial to the process. In-home visits will always be a part of recruiting, but you won't often see schools visiting their top targets without the head coach in tow.
So the job of assistant coaches is to make sure that those in-home visits aren't the only time a recruit is thinking about their respective program.
This idea sort of takes us back to the reasoning behind not allowing text messaging. Can you imagine being a 5-star recruit and having your phone buzz 24/7?
There are worse problems to have in life, but for recruits it can be annoying and for coaches it's called doing their job. Without the aid of text messaging, coaches often look to Twitter to stay up to date on what recruits are doing. Oftentimes that means talking about a workout, movie or something topical in pop culture.
But, more and more, recruits are making announcements—whether narrowing down a list of schools or making a final commitment—via Twitter.
Sometimes just simply following a recruit can have major implications.
In Mark Wogenrich's article on The Morning Call, he asks why then-Vanderbilt assistant coaches John Donovan (offensive coordinator) and Bob Shoop (defensive coordinator) were following committed Penn State recruits.
By now we know that Penn State hired former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, who ended up taking both Shoop and Donovan with him to help coach the Nittany Lions. The two appeared to be simply getting an early look at some guys who had pledged to play football in State College.
Perhaps the most important asset young assistant coaches have that long-time head coaches do not is the ability to relate to the kids they are recruiting. There are new trends, fads and Internet sensations every day that the younger generation keeps tabs on through sources such as Twitter.
Odds are that the Nick Saban's and George O'Leary's of the world have no idea who "Lil Terio" is. Knowing about the dancing sensation that made the Internet fall in love with him isn't going to help a recruit pick where he wants to play football, but being able to talk with these kids about anything and everything helps build important relationships for the future.
Instead of having a coach call and ask a recruit how much his bench has improved or if he's studied the playbook, how nice would it be for a recruit to have that same coach ask how his formal went or what he thought of Kevin Durant's recent hot streak?
By being more in touch with social media, younger assistant coaches also have a good grasp on what high school kids are talking about on a daily basis.
If you don't follow recruiting very often, you may not realize how crazy it's become.
It's a process that never ends, as the classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 are already being put under a microscope.
Recruiting takes place year-round at every major program in the country.
Simply scheduling official visits or trips to visit recruits at their homes and then calling it a day isn't an option. What occurs in-between those moments can often sway a kid in a particular direction.
With text messaging currently outlawed, the onus is on young assistant coaches more than ever to help with recruiting and continue to move football programs forward in a positive way.
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