Yesterday, Jeff Schultz posted an AJC article outlining needed recruiting reforms.
• 1.) A coach can’t sign more players than he has slots available. If a committed player then fails to qualify academically, gets arrested or the like, that’s on the coach. Go sign somebody else. Every coach would be on equal ground.
• 2.) Scholarships are guaranteed for four or five years. Currently, it’s a series of one-year renewables.
• 3.) Football should have an early signing period, like basketball. If Taylor had signed his national letter of intent in February, it would be a binding agreement. Neither he nor Saban could pull a U-turn.
• 4.) The NCAA should form an impartial panel to oversee any athlete-coach disputes where there’s even the remote possibility of a player being coerced into leaving or becoming a medical hardship. Currently, disputes are settled by committees on the individual campuses.
There is no doubt that the recruiting process needs reform but I have some doubt about the AJC proposal along with most other reforms. The problem is that they are exactly that - reforms. The system needs fundamental change.
The biggest issue in CFB recruiting is the 85 scholarship limit. The NCAA, I assume, limited total scholarship as a leveling measure. That is, it is an attempt to place schools on a more equal footing competitively but it is directly responsible for the practice of oversigning. By giving rise to oversigning, the 85 scholarship rule has hurt the cause of competitive equality.
Let's just throw out the 85 grant limit and replace it with an annual signing limit. I like 30 as a nice round number for the signing limit. The catch for schools is that they will have to manage attrition within the 30 players per year limit. A athlete who is kicked-out, flunks-out or just decides to go home and hang-out with his fat little girlfriend, is lost forever, at least, the scholarship is lost.
Coaches, who make millions for there ability to nurture and train student-athletes, would be rewarded for doing just that. If a coaching staff can recruit, retain, train and motivate more successfully than its opponents then it gets a numerical advantage. Currently the coach who operates a try-out and cut system accrues additional numbers.
AJC also proposes forming a committee to arbitrate disputes. A committee? I have never met an efficient committee, have you? Instead of The Recruiting Commisarate and People's Committee for Athletic Justice, how about a little recruiting capitalism. Let's take the extraordinary step of treating recruits as free American citizens and allow them to sign a letter of intent anytime within 10 days of receipt of an offer. Of course, recruits should have access to professional and/or legal advice. The schools have lawyers.
If offers were immediately (within 10 days) capable of becoming contracts then schools would have to offer carefully and make considered decisions about prospects in advance of the offer. Yes, the recruiting process would be dramatically changed - for the better in my opinion.
Finally, the scholarship should have a term of 5 years and the ridiculous practice of redshirting should be eliminated. Schools now routinely pay for five years if a kid takes a redshirt year and does not leave early for the NFL. Since no additional cost is involved why penalize an athlete who may grow into an on-field role sometime during freshman year but be held out due to redshirt rules? Suppose a starter get hurt in the 7th game, why should a true freshman lose a year if he steps into a backup or starting role?
Revolution, Comrade - not reform!