We’re all well aware of the movement in the coaching profession after national signing day, which always seems to happen as the ink dries on a recruit’s letter of intent.
Some of the higher profile job changes last week included Stan Drayton leaving the running backs job at Ohio State for the same position with the Chicago Bears and UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich taking the linebackers job with the Atlanta Falcons – you get the point, the list goes on and on.
The media outcry over the past week has been louder than ever, and the message has been pretty clear; players are the victims in this situation. While coaches are able to leave for better opportunities for them and their families after the faxes stop coming in on signing day, players have a legally binding agreement tying them to the school and program.
But a recent unconventional decision from a four-star linebacker may be able to tilt the scales of power a bit, and forever change recruiting for coaches.
Last Wednesday, Roquan Smith announced on ESPN that he’d be attending UCLA in the fall, however, as rumors started to swirl that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich would be joining the Atlanta Falcons staff, Smith decided to take a week or so to re-evaluate his choice. Yesterday, Smith’s head coach at Macon County HS (GA), Larry Harold told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Smith doesn’t plan on signing a letter of intent after making his decision.
That’s where things get interesting.
“He’s not going to sign a letter of intent,” Harold told the AJC. “The reason why is because what he went through last week. This just gives us flexibility in case something else unexpectedly happens again.”
So instead of signing his LOI, he’ll just enroll at the school he picks over the summer. While it’s definitely strange and certainly unconventional, it does provide Smith an opportunity to keep his options open if the coaching carousel continues to turn…as long as those schools play along and keep the scholarship offer on the table for him.
Harold noted that while the school still pursuing him were okay with the unconventional approach, they admitted that they were entering unfamiliar territory as far as what that means for each of their respective programs.
“Again, we’re doing it this way after what happened last week. I don’t know where this is all going to go. I guess God put Roquan in this position for a reason. Maybe it was meant to help educate other kids about these types of situations.” Harold added.
While it’s worth pointing out that only a small number of recruits would actually have the leverage and position to do something like this in the years to come, it is something that we feel the coaching profession should be made aware of.
A number of area coaches weighed in on the implications that this may have on recruiting moving forward in a separate article by Michael Carvell, and Arabia Mountain HS (GA) head coach Stanley Pritchett summed it up best by saying, “I think this will affect the recruiting for the higher-ranked kids because they will hold the leverage over schools. But for the majority of kids, I don’t think this will affect them because there’s a possibility that it could backfire if they try the same thing.”
While it may not be a hurdle for some schools, before the 2016 signing day arrives, this is definitely an issue that you should talk about with your compliance department, and athletic administrators. And don’t be surprised to see this very issue on an NCAA docket up for discussion in the near future.