The NCAA committee that proposed football recruiting reforms, which include the addition of early signing periods, wants to create more transparency and access for coaches and players in a process that has been accelerated in recent years, said a key member of the group.
Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst told The Associated Press the football oversight committee created an interconnected and comprehensive package of reforms while acknowledging the new realities of recruiting.
“I think you need to think about it in that more broad context,” Eichorst said in a phone interview Monday. “I know people want to pull pieces and talk about the pieces, but really I think to understand and explain the rationale appropriately, you’ve got to understand the whole process.”
The proposal would change when and where summer camps and clinics can be held and limit so-called satellite camps. High school players would be allowed to take official recruiting visits in the summer before their senior years, conceivably creating opportunities for visits to be paired with attending a camp. The proposed changes, which could go into effect next year, would also allow a 10th assistant football coach and set a hard cap of 25 signees per year.
The piece of the proposal that has drawn the most debate is the creation of two early signing periods in June and December. The June period would allow prospects to sign binding national letters of intent before their senior years of high school. The Collegiate Commissioners Association, which administers the NLI, must approve and implement the new signing periods.
“I hear the reasoning is because there’s so many de-commitments,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in September about early signing periods before the Division I Council passed the oversight committee’s proposal in early October. “So because 17-year-olds are de-commiting, let’s give them a legal document so they can’t de-commit. That’s not very smart. Young people have a right to choose where they want to go to school. Period. Let them de-commit 100 times.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he was against early signing because it could put players who take big steps forward in their development as seniors at a disadvantage after early signees scoop up scholarships.
But there is no consensus among coaches. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is in favor of an early signing period. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney liked the idea, but prefers the period be in August. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has endorsed eliminating signing periods altogether, instead allowing schools and prospects to sign whenever both agree.
Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said the proposals make the recruiting process seem rushed.
Eichorst, who was chairman of the subcommittee that worked on the satellite camps issue, said the NCAA’s research indicates the process already is moving faster than ever.
A recent survey showed 30 percent of more than 1,400 football players who signed a national letter of intent gave verbal commitments during their junior years or during the summer before their senior years.
“We wanted to get more transparency there,” Eichorst said. “In order to do that you had to reorder things a little bit because what we know is there are a number of kids who are being identified, evaluated, offered and commit before they start their senior year. And they’re doing that without the benefit of official visits. And they’re doing that without the benefit of permissible off-campus contact.”
De-commitments and flip-flopping by highly touted recruits gets a lot of attention, but it is still relatively uncommon. The survey showed 82 percent of football signees verbally committed prior to signing. Of those, 90 percent signed where they committed.
The NCAA also wants to better regulate so-called third parties, such as seven-on-seven coaches who are often not affiliated with high schools, in the recruiting process and keep the emphasis on high school coaches.
The reforms are also supposed to alleviate what can seem like nonstop recruiting for coaches.
“What we wanted to see was greater balance with our coaches and our current students,” Eichorst said. “And what we constantly hear from our coaches and others is often times I spend more time recruiting my next class than coaching my current.”
Of 55 NCAA sports, football is one of four that does not have an early signing period.
According to the NCAA, 25,316 Division I student-athletes signed a national letter of intent in 2015-16. Of those, 18,103 had the opportunity to sign early and about 66 percent did.
“Why are we treating football players different from all the other students that come to us?” Eichorst said. “There’s no good answer for that.”
Chryst to make 1st start
STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford junior Keller Chryst will make his first collegiate start at quarterback at Arizona on Saturday, coach David Shaw said Tuesday.
He’ll replace senior Ryan Burns, who went 4-3 (2-3 Pac-12) in his seven starts. Burns completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 1,058 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also thrown seven interceptions.
“I hate to get to this point,” Shaw said. “But it’s the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It’s our challenge to support Keller.”
Burns led the Cardinal to wins over Kansas State, Southern California and UCLA to open the season but has struggled ever since, averaging 11 points in Stanford’s last four games, punctuated by Saturday’s 10-5 loss to Colorado.
“It can’t just be about the quarterback,” Shaw said. “We need to help Keller be more effective. We need to be able to score points with this personnel.”
Chryst, the son of former 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, has appeared in 10 games over the past two years, throwing for 122 yards on 12-of-27 passing. He’s thrown for one touchdown and one interception.
“I’ve been working with both all year and they’re both great people,” Cardinal receiver Trent Irwin said. “Sometimes you just need a change. We’ll see where it goes and have fun with it.”
Stanford ranks last in the Pac-12 in scoring (17.0) and total offense (299.1). The offense has scored just 10 touchdowns all year, fewer than Washington’s John Ross and Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage, the conference co-leaders with 11 touchdowns.
“Both quarterbacks are good,” Stanford safety Zach Hoffpauir said. “Maybe it does stimulate the offense a little bit.”
Short week bugs Dykes
BERKELEY, Calif. — Two days before California plays its second game in less than a week against a well-rested USC team, coach Sonny Dykes was still trying to figure out why the Golden Bears were put in this position.
The quick turnaround and short week following Friday’s double-overtime win against Oregon forced Cal to condense its normal schedule, something that wouldn’t bother Dykes so much if there weren’t so many other factors involved.
The Bears already had to trim a day off their regular routine because Thursday night’s game is on the road. On top of that, several Cal players are in the middle of midterm exams, reducing their availability for practice even more.
It’s a topic that Dykes has been simmering over for a few weeks now and one he wasn’t ready to back off of Tuesday.
“When you sit down and look at the schedule, clearly it’s not ideal,” Dykes said “It’s one of those deals where you just go, ‘How in the world did this ever happen? How could somebody let this happen?’”
Cal (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) was coming off a 12-day break when it beat Oregon in Berkeley on Friday night in a game that lasted nearly 4 ½ hours and didn’t end until almost midnight local time. The Bears ran 118 plays offensively against the Ducks, which Dykes said was the equivalent of playing two games.
On the other hand, USC (4-3, 3-2) hasn’t played since thumping Arizona 48-14 on Oct. 15.
While some team would have had to play the Trojans coming off a bye, Dykes can’t understand why the Bears were selected to do it on short rest — and on the road.
“We’ve had to make a lot of schedule changes and do a lot of different things out of the norm,” Dykes said. “It’s one thing to do it on six days’ notice. It’s another to do it on the road. But our guys have handled it well.”
The Bears shortened their work week to try to get everything in.
Players were given Saturday off but were back on the field Sunday afternoon. Cal practiced on its normal day off, Monday, but several players were unable to attend due to academic responsibilities.
“The challenge you always face is making sure that you balance keeping them fresh with getting enough reps and developing your young players,” Dykes said. “Just teaching them all the things you need to teach them about your opponent in a limited amount of time. We’ve got to balance getting some work done but at the same time making sure we’re fresh.”
Gallman to play vs. FSU
CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says Wayne Gallman practiced with the team Monday and will play against No. 12 Florida State on Saturday night.
Gallman was knocked out of the third-ranked Tigers (7-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) game versus North Carolina State on Oct. 15 after a hard hit that appeared to be helmet-to-helmet contact. No penalty was called on the play but the running back believes it was a “dirty” hit and wanted teammates to retaliate during the game. He went through the concussion protocol during Clemson’s bye week.
Swinney said Tuesday Gallman will practice in full pads and be ready for the Seminoles (5-2, 2-2).
Gallman set Clemson’s single-season rushing record with 1,527 yards last season. He leads the team with 489 yards and five TDs this year.