Chicago — The world of college football recruiting is a seamy, slimy and often times completely dishonest world. Over the course of the last two days at the Hilton Chicago, its clear that Big Ten coaches don’t like what recruiting has become and most (not all) would love to make some changes to clean the process up.
This discussion may never have happened had Bo Pelini not offered up what some would have considered a radical solution just a few months ago. His solution to changing the game on the recruiting front was making all offers committable on the spot. Gone would be the days of throwing out 300 offers and seeing what sticks if Pelini had his way.
On Monday, Pelini reiterated his desire to do away with a formal signing day and to allow recruits to make coaches put their money where there mouth is when making an offer.
As far as, hey, you come to an agreement, somebody commits to your school, you’ve made a commitment to a young man to come play in your program, why do we have to wait to any certain day? Why don’t we just go ahead and let’s sign on the dotted line, let’s get it over with and move forward.
Change is something that won’t come easy, this we all know. Just look at how long and drawn out the processes are to get simple rules changed to make sense around the NCAA.
However, Pelini believes this particular setup would put a stop to some of the shenanigans and foolishness in a way a simple tweak here and there ever could.
“I think it would change things in a lot of ways. I think it would slow down some of the early offers. I think it would slow down some of the ridiculous things that go on on both ends, on the institution’s side of things and as far as the recruit’s.”
Not all coaches were in agreement with Pelini or on board with changing how things are currently done. One such coach was Purdue’s Darrell Hazell, who believes a recruit can be over-awed by visiting a college campus and end up making a rash decision under Pelini’s plan.
“If a kid knows where he wants to go and there’s a cooling off period — a lot of time a kid gets to campus, gets wowed and has to make a quick decision — for maybe a week, then they could maybe make a decision after that,” said Hazell. “My personal thing is there has to be some dates like signing day.”
Despite some hesitancy amongst some coaches, the majority of them were on board with some form of major reform. The most popular of which seemed to be getting kids on campus with official visits during the summer.
Considering the sometimes brutal nature of fall and early winter in Big Ten country, it shouldn’t be surprising that summer could be advantageous to these programs. However, giving the Big Ten a nearly even playing field with schools down south and out west is probably something that won’t sit well with the Alabama’s or Texas’ of the world.
That being said, the number of unofficial visits happening in June and during the rest of the summer have skyrocketed in recent years. More than anything else, that’s where the Big Ten is at a major disadvantage on the recruiting trail. Getting kids on campus from Florida or Texas or California when parents have to pay the costs makes it prohibitive for many to even consider a Big Ten school a viable option.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill believes getting a kid from major southern metro areas earlier would help alleviate some of the issues the Big Ten has in drawing talent back to the Midwest.
“Then we could really be in the game,” coach Kill stated. “Now we can fly those kids up. Not just us but everybody can. Kids are committing on unofficial visits and we never got the chance to show them. July 1 or late June and the visits have to happen in June. Then they sign, and if not then they’re open. It’d clean a lot that mess up. To me that’s a perfect model.”
Interestingly enough, Kill may have an odd ally in Wisconsin Badgers head coach Gary Andersen, who supports the idea of summer official visits. His only hang up is making sure there is enough time away from football for coaches and players as well.
“I would love it (summer official visits),” said Andersen. “The whole conference would love it. I would like to have that window whether it’s in June or July — but I want a small window. I don’t want to compromise the only chance our staff gets to be with their kids and have a vacation.”
While there appear to be plenty of opinions as to how to get it done, one thing is clear — the Big Ten would like to see changes to how recruiting is done today. Technology, the shady nature of 7-on-7 football and many other dealings all have changed the face of recruiting without much input from those who do the recruiting.
Perhaps its time the NCAA and the new governance model in play begin to listen to the guys on the ground day in, day out.
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