Nebraska Football Coach Scott Frost Talking to Player
Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Recruiting Impact of Big Ten Going Conference-Only for Fall Sports

August 18, 2020

Big waves were made in the college football world this week. The Big Ten announced that it will play a conference only schedule for all fall sports in 2020. There is plenty to dive into from that announcement, as it will continue to have consequences for many schools across the country.

My mind immediately went to recruiting. What are some of the key questions to ponder right now as it relates to recruiting? Let’s take a look.

When is the earliest we could get official visits?

When the Big Ten announced the move to a conference-only slate, the conference did not announce a new official schedule. Commissioner Kevin Warren said that we’d get more information on that in coming weeks. There will be lots of proposals on how to best move forward, which includes starting in September or delaying the start of the season to November. It’s tough to imagine the season starting as planned on Sept. 5. It seems like the most likely situation is the dead period being extended through September. The dead period is currently set to expire at the end of August.

Will on-campus visits even return in 2020?

I think this is the most critical question facing college football recruiting currently. There is plenty going on without even trying to have games right now. Recruiting departments around the country have been preparing for months about the possibility of no official visits this year. If that ends up being the case, they will be prepared but it will be a major change to recruiting for this cycle. We tend to just think about the official visits. There will also be plenty of 2022 prospects affected by not having the chance to visit colleges early. That procees helps them start narrowing their choices.

Will the NCAA have to get creative?

Creativity and the NCAA typically don’t go hand-in-hand. The committees have had to think about this situation and it might be a good time to get creative. Could the NCAA allow official visitors only during a visit weekend? What about a limit of three visitors per weekend? Could colleges get creative? How about using virtual reality tools to help prospects experiences a game day? Everything should be on the table so they can do right by the potential student-athletes.

Are there prospects this hurts or helps Nebraska with?

This is one of the most popular questions specific to Nebraska recruiting. The longer the dead period goes on, there are a couple top of board targets that it helps Nebraska with. As things stand right now, the two big ones are 4-star tight end Thomas Fidone and 3-star outside linebacker Chrisitian Burkhalter. It’s well known that Fidone wants to visit LSU and Michigan (at least) before deciding. He’s visited Iowa and Nebraska plenty of times and is familiar with what they have to offer.

Burkhalter has not visited Nebraska. He also hasn’t visited any of the other many schools offering him either. He has a great relationship with the Huskers so he could just shut things down by choosing Nebraska if this dead period continues to drag out.

On the flip side, a guy like 4-star linebacker Wynden Ho’ohuli from Hawaii might be someone that the extended dead period hurts Nebraska with. It’s going to be hard to get a player from Hawaii to commit to Nebraska without ever seeing the campus in person. The other thing to consider is flip targets. Nebraska does a good job of keeping in contact with players even when they commit to other schools then hosting them for visits to hopefully change their minds. If there are no visits, those efforts will be dampened.

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