It’s a busy life for a director of football operations (DFO) in major college football. With the calendar offering the rarest of breathers, when the pace of the job slows from a sprint to a job, DFOs take the opportunity to gather for one of their annual summit. It’s one of two times in a year (January’s AFCA Convention being the other) where like-minded professionals from Pullman to Tampa, San Diego to Chestnut Hill can gather and discuss issues affecting their livelihoods.
More than 125 operations and recruiting directors from across the college football spectrum gathered in Dallas’ Omni Park West on Monday and Tuesday and, as the only media permitted inside closed doors, FootballScoop reports on the nine hot button topics discussed among those in attendance:
– Cost of attendance. No one had any real answers, but there was a general awareness of the movement across the NCAA and the possible effects it would have on college football programs.
– The possibility of playing players to work summer camps. A show of hands revealed that around 40 percent of the room had discussed paying current players a fee to work summer camps (a rule that was enacted last year and that we at FootballScoop have discussed with several coaches and DFOs around the country). Scott had a conversation with two of the more respected names in the room on this very issue. One wondered what would happen if a current player shredded his knee while teaching second-graders how to backpedal. Another said that employing players as camp counselors wouldn’t be feasible since players are in summer school classes during camps.
– Guest speakers. Chris Herren gave a highly-recommended talk on the loss of his promising basketball career lost due to drugs and alcohol. “He doesn’t talk like a suit. He speaks their language,” one DFO said. Adam Ritz gave a similar talk on sexual assault. Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett also tells an impressive cautionary tale at a more budget-conscious price than Herren. One school had Mothers Against Drunk Drivers speak to its team. Tim Elmore was also praised as an enlightening social media educator for both players and coaches.
– Securing proper insurance for camps and clinics. Schools host thousands of guests in their facilities every summer between summer campers and their parents and women’s clinic participants. You don’t want your school embroiled in a lengthy lawsuit if someone turns an ankle walking up your bleachers, so proper liability protection is paramount.
– The existence of a rule proposal that would ban DFOs from the sideline during games. A very, very small number of schools use their DFO role as a de facto 10th on-the-field coach. Most do not. Needless to say, this proposal was universally ill-received.
– A rule proposal that would outlaw hiring high school coaches to work camps. Some in the NCAA believe football should move to the basketball model where anyone that wields influence over high school prospects would not be permitted to work as a coach during camps.
– Bidding out contracts. From charter flights and busses to technology to hotels, DFOs are commonly placed in charge of bidding out contracts, which often puts them at odds with the procurement office across campus. Bean counters pressure DFOs to accept the lowest bid; however DFOs discussed that many times and for various reasons, the head coach or the DFO believe that the lowest bid won’t be the most effective for their program. Many techniques for negotiating this tricky process were discussed, but the most common suggestion was to educate the procurement office why the university is best served by not just simply accepting the lowest offer.
– The NCAA’s entire rules process. There was a general frustration with the overall movement of the NCAA’s rule process. Their concern is shared outside that room.
– A head coach’s liability in the NCAA enforcement process. An NCAA enforcement director provided an update of the overall governing process, and discussion stopped down at a bylaw that could find a head coach suspended for a violation committed by anyone that reports “directly or indirectly” to him. Essentially, an academic advisor GA could commit a violation that, depending on a whistle-blower’s interpretation, could wind up with a head coach facing a one or more game suspension. The enforcement director assured those in attendance that this would happen only on the rarest of occasions; but DFOs like to operate in a world of black and white clarity and that doesn’t seem to be coming with this rule. Prepare thyselves accordingly.
We will follow up on many of these over the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.