The NCAA's major recruiting announcement Wednesday was hit with mix reviews. While many in the sport are split on the concept of an early signing period -- much less two -- the proposal of adding a 10th full-time assistant coach was universally hailed as a positive for college football. And with good reason. It's 128 extra jobs for coaches, it's extra help for the existing full-time coaches and it's extra attention for players.
“There was unanimity around the table on the addition of a 10th assistant coach being allowed (in FBS),” NCAA Football Oversight Committee chairman Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We feel it is appropriate from a student-athlete welfare standpoint. The ratio of coaches to student-athlete is much higher in football than other sports, and this helps address that.”
In conversations over the past few months with coaches across FBS, we suspect that most staffs would use an extra assistant in a similar, singular fashion: recruiting.
As it stands presently, the NCAA permits 14 staff members to conduct hands on coaching -- a head coach, his nine assistants, plus four graduate assistants -- and an unlimited number of extra eyes off the field in the forms of quality control assistants and loosely-defined analyst roles. But in a staff room that has quickly grown from a boardroom to an auditorium, only 10 coaches are allowed to go on the road recruiting, and one of them -- the head coach -- is heavily restricted on the type of visits he can make and when he can make them.
In short, the typical FBS coaching staff isn't hurting for bodies on the field, but they are in recruiting.
A 10th assistant focused primarily on recruiting would be especially crucial during the season, when the existing nine assistants are focused on game-planning, practice, film study and winning games on Saturdays. An extra assistant could spend more focused, quality time on the road during the season, and generally treat the fall recruiting period like the rest of the staff does the winter and spring.
That's how we think most would use a 10th assistant if and when the new legislation becomes official.
But, just as there are different ways to win on the field, there are also many different ways to construct a staff. Some staffs may opt to devote a full-time assistant to handle nothing but special teams. Others may hire two defensive line, secondary or offensive line coaches. If your staff has an idea how it would use a 10th assistant, hit me up @zach_barnett on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regardless, a 10th assistant will be good for the profession in a number of ways. Programs will either be able to promote a young, talented GA torn between his love for coaching and his need to make actual money, or to pull in an accomplished, veteran coach without a place to work.