Football programs need more recruiters

February 26, 2013 

Changes could be on the way in college athletics. Some are simply bad, while one in particular could really be good, even if some are skeptical right now.

The NCAA has pretty much thrown its hands in the air and admitted it cannot control all of the recruiting shenanigans that go on. It is tired of policing the secondary violations that some have deemed as petty and unimportant.

The NCAA has thrown out part of the rulebook.

One proposal that will probably not stand up is the rule about how much coaches can contact potential student/athletes. Right now, limitations are in place for the times coaches can contact (through phone calls, text messages or social media) kids they are recruiting.

The new rule would allow unlimited contact. That’s ridiculous.

We’ve heard stories of how some programs send hundreds of signed letters to recruits when they can have contact. Could you imagine how out of control it will be once they can do it every single day of the year? There’s just no way these kids, who by the way are trying to finish high school, should be bombarded all day and every day with people trying to get a commitment.

And good luck in convincing college coaches they’re going to have to text top recruits every day of the year. Watch the divorce rate among coaches rise substantially if that goes through.

The new rules also will allow programs to send whatever promotional materials they want to recruits. So they could send media guides, Fathead wall stickers, audios and videos, etc. And they can do it every day if they so choose.

That’s a bit much. Let the amount increase, but unlimited? No. Again, these kids will be bombarded every single day with things sent in the mail.

But the one rule I believe is good is to increase the number of people who can recruit prospects. Right now in football, it’s limited to the head coach and nine assistant coaches. The new rule would allow anyone on staff to contact and recruit athletes.

I’ve always believed college football should be more like baseball when it comes to scouting. Baseball teams have a long list of scouts who travel the world looking for talent. They spend time with prospects and try to get to know if a kid fits into their organization. Talent is one thing. That’s easy to spot. But perhaps the retention of athletes would be higher if recruiters could help recognize players that might fit in their program.

It’s always amazed me how college football coaches have balanced their responsibilities as a coach -- working with their respective units and planning for the next game -- with recruiting. I don’t see how they do it. More people are needed to help those coaches.

Programs need more people that can have conversations with high school coaches, to maintain those important relationships. That’s the benefit right there of having more people on staff.

The proposed changes would allow the new staff members to talk with coaches and recruits, but they would not be able to personally see practice or visit with the kids. That would still be left up to the head coach and his nine assistant coaches.

Alabama got on board quickly with this when it hired Kevin Steele, a former defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa and former head coach at Baylor. Steele has a reputation as a great recruiter. Then Auburn hired Carver-Columbus head coach Dell McGee, who played at Auburn and will have an off-the-field responsibility. So, in other words, he’ll help recruit.

If I was in charge at Georgia or Georgia Tech, I would target several different types of people who could help. What about Ron Zook, who like Steele is a former head coach? Zook was a great recruiter at Florida and Illinois.

What about a retired high school coach? I’d call Robert Davis, who was successful at Warner Robins and Westside, or former Mary Persons coach Rodney Walker, who coached all over Georgia. They have a combined 652 wins in Georgia high school football. They know everybody and would be great to keep in contact with coaches throughout the state.

Heck, I’d hire a recruiting analyst, like Chad Simmons, Jamie Newberg or Jake Rowe. They know these kids already. They talk regularly with high school coaches. They know what’s going on with other schools that can help a school’s strategy in getting talent.

One loud critic in the proposed changes is Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who believes this is bad for college football because it further separates the haves and the have nots. Why should he care? That’s almost like the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner saying he hated to spend all that money on free agents when the Kansas City Royals couldn’t do it.

Georgia has plenty of money to add to its recruiting budget. It is reportedly sitting on $70 million in reserve. So what’s the big deal about adding several million dollars to the recruiting budgets of the different programs if that will, in turn, lead to more success? The more success the programs have, the more money the athletics program will make.

It’ll be interesting to see if these potential changes hold up, as there will be a vote in March to possibly rescind the proposals. But football programs need more people to help scout talent, and it will be a mistake if they override that potential change.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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