Calling the NCAA’s recruiting reform, which passed in January, the “biggest of my career”, Texas head coach Mack Brown sounded off during his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
“I think we went a little too far,” said Brown.
A 29-year head coaching veteran with stops at Appalachian State, Tulane and North Carolina prior to arriving at Texas, Brown was elected president of the American Football Coaches Association at the organization’s annual convention in January.
Chief among the NCAA’s changes were the removal of how often coaches could recruit prospects and who on staff could do the recruiting. The limitation on sending of printed materials was also lifted. A proposal to advance the recruiting calendar to July 1 of a prospect’s junior year was tabled for a later date.
“Everybody’s supposed to have something they’re passionate about (when they put you in that position). I think trying to get these rules settled would be the biggest thing that I would want to do as president,” he said. “We need to know how many quality control guys we can have. We need to know how many guys are in the recruiting room, and it should be the same at Texas and East Carolina. Let’s all have a number, and then if you can’t pay for that many that’s fine, but you have a number.”
It’s worth nothing that Brown’s views are in opposition of the NCAA’s, who acknowledged when its reforms passed that it can not legislate a level playing field in recruiting, so it was going to quit trying. It is also worth noting that the NCAA passed its rules changes without approval from the coaching community.
“It sounds good, but here’s the difference between football and basketball: In football, you’re recruiting 25; in basketball, you’re recruiting three or four,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher told ESPN.com’s Mitch Sherman in January. “I’m going to tell you what, for an assistant coach’s life right now, it’s fixing to change dramatically. You’re not going to have a family life. You talk about burnout? I mean, I’m for communication and opening it up, but how are your coaches going to have a life? Because if you’re not spending the time, somebody else is. Your staff, they may need to grow. I don’t know if you have enough people on your staff to do that. That’s a very scary avenue to go down, in my opinion.”
“To me, instead of having a media guide that’s 35,000 pages, let’s put some sense into it,” Brown suggested. “What does that mean? If it’s a 2,000-page book or a 1,000-page book or a 100-page book, we can count those pages. So that has to go by the rules.”
The amendment that has spawned the most ink by far in the weeks since the NCAA’s announcement is the removal of communication restrictions. “As coaches, I think we’re happy where we’re at,” Stanford head coach David Shaw also told ESPN.com. “These kids were texting during class. They need to go to school. That is what’s important. The underclassmen, they can’t do anything for us immediately… I don’t know if it helps our sport.”
“We’re really being a distraction for high school coaches,” Brown noted. “Recruiting is getting bigger, than some cases, than their teams. And that’s what I’m hearing. I would like for all of us to have rules that we can make people follow, I’d like for it to all be the same for every school and then I’d like to see us have to follow them.”
Meanwhile an early signing period, which was reportedly supported by 73 percent of FBS coaches in 2009, remains shelved.
“I’ve always thought an early signing day would be good because then you don’t have so many flip at the end,” he said. “It would keep a whole lot of this flipping back and forth done if (recruiting) was done.”
Brown would go on to support increasing players’ eligibility from four years to five, saying, “We’ve found the ones that play have better grades than the ones that don’t because they’re involved. Redshirting is really, really hard on a lot of kids.”
Like any president, Brown has big ideas to improve college football; but, also like any president, Brown will learn every item, the majority in fact, on his wish list won’t get passed. His short stay in the president’s chair will be best spent zeroing in on a handful of issues that are top of mind for his constituents. If Wednesday’s comments are any indication, he’s already identified four of them.