The NCAA tried to deregulate football recruiting. The Big Ten, despite voting for the new regulations and helping to draft them, flipped out and forced the organization to reconsider. How this played out, as revealed in emails obtained by The Gazette, went about as one would expect.
Opposition stemmed from Big Ten coaches, including Urban Meyer. Coaches worried about the professionalization of recruiting and having to hire NFL scouts and designated recruiters, understandably since the Big Ten has just come around (sort of) to paying for assistant coaches.
Other Big Ten coaches shared similar concerns. In mid-February, Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer sent a text message to Northwestern counterpart Pat Fitzgerald, writing “that there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if [sic] this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist.”
Why did the Big Ten approve the proposals if coaches had problems? Well, apparently, no one consulted them. The new regulations, according to Jim Delany, “did not get vetted on campus during football season.”
Delany responded 33 minutes later, saying proposals were vetted among campus officials. But, “These issues somehow did not get vetted on campus during football season or if they did minds were other places. With respect to tone I think the tone was quite responsible and the concerns were narrowly drawn.”
It’s easy to tuck this into the wimpy, uncompetitive Big Ten narrative. Though, to be fair, it was not just Big Ten coaches who were against this. Even the Great Saban, who would have built a fearsome recruiting army, was not a fan of the reforms.
Coaches not wanting to devote even more time, resources and effort to luring 17-year-olds is reasonable. The eventual compromise should get rid of arcane recruiting regulations without creating a burdensome, uncontrolled free market. Ideally, that would have happened before the NCAA improved and announced the changes. But few would accuse major college athletics administrators of being competent.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]