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Hot Reads: Big Recruiting Changes Are Here

April 19, 2018

It's rule-change season in the college ranks. On the football front, there was nothing in Wednesday's announcement from the NCAA Division I Council with as drastic an impact on game play as last week's kickoff change. In fact, the biggest change on the football front was maybe not changing as the Council tabled a proposal that would allow players to appear in four games and still maintain a redshirt.

That is a rule change coaches like of course, including Scott Frost, and there's a chance the proposal could still be approved before the 2018 season after a review by the Football Oversight Committee and the Student-Athlete Experience Committee.

You're likely not going to notice the other two changes affecting football. The Council banned the practice of allowing former players to practice with their school. I don't recall Nebraska taking advantage of that rule in my time covering the team, but others did, perhaps most famously Alabama. (I assume if Frost wants to run the option at pratice at Nebraska to help the Huskers prepare to play, say, Georgia Tech, that falls under a difference classification.)

Also, a restriction on FBS and FCS programs hiring individuals associated with recruits––family members, coaches, etc.––to work camps has been rolled back for FCS schools. The FBS schools elected to keep the restriction in place.

The real big news, however, had nothing to do with football (or basketball). The Council adopted recruiting reform that will (1) allow recruits in all other sports to take official visits (those paid for by the school) starting Sept. 1 of their junior year, and (2) prevent schools from offering scholarships to recruits in those sports prior to the start of their junior year.

Previously, recruits couldn't take an official visit until the start of their senior year and in some sports, particularly women's volleyball and softball, the recruiting process was long since over at that point. The official visit was just a free trip for a lot of prospects who were offered as middle schoolers and committed long before they started their final years of high school. This rule change is designed to slow that process down and prevents coaches from having recruiting conversations prior to that junior year (even if a prospect is on campus for a camp or clinic).

Football and basketball will continue to play by their own rules when it comes to recruiting. Why? The official release doesn't offer much in the way of an answer other than noting those sports "have their own rules." It's not hard to see the real reason, however. The "revenue-producing" sports have always have been held up as different. They are different.

But it's still an odd exemption if you think about it. The recruiting reform is billed as a benefit for young athletes, an attempt to rein things in and hew closer to the NCAA's mission. Just not in the sports that make most of the money at most schools. Those players were already allowed to take visits as juniors, but I guess we're not that concerned about them being offered as 15-year-olds as all the other 15-year-olds.

Or maybe it's just a matter of practicality. Football and basketball continue to move towards a more professional model, not less, so why pretend? It isn't actually professional, of course, it just looks more and more like it with every year.

The Grab Bag

  • Bill Snyder isn't afraid to run his quarterback. In fact, you could say he's afraid not to, what Ian Boyd calls a "high-risk, high-reward" philosophy.
  • Solid read from Adam Kramer on Nebraska's Damian Jackson
  • This is pretty handy, actually: A "complete timeline" of UCF's national-championship claim. 
  • ICYMI: Who is the greatest receiver in Husker history? We hit that question int he mailbag. Also, Cody Nagel's story on why female student athletes' graduation rates tend to outpace everyone else's is worth sinking your teeth into.

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