“Students need to go into this with their eyes open.”

You gotta love the advice Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher gives recruits faced with the risk of signing early and having the coach they expect to play for depart before they ever make it to campus.

“Certainly there are some changes after that, and we certainly know that assistant coaches can change at virtually any time. Students have to contemplate all of that and take that into consideration when they make a determination on whether they want to sign early or not.”

Hell, schools have lawyers out the wazoo, not to mention contract buyout clauses, and they can’t keep a handle on coaches jumping ship on a moment’s notice, but a seventeen-year old without a legal advisor, who gets told who knows what on the recruiting trail — don’t forget the always comforting “you sign with a school, not a coach” wisdom that’s particularly meaningful to a kid who faces a complete regime change when an athletic director replaces a Chan Gailey-type with a Paul Johnson-type — is supposed to have all this under control?

Sure.  After all, Steinbrecher is quick to point out it works for basketball.

“The (NLI) is administered by the (CCA) and I know that’s an issue that continues to be studied and discussed, but I’d also note we have early signing periods in other sports with the same sort of requirements that we have in football,” Steinbrecher said.

One little difference, though.

The one fundamental difference between basketball and football is that the average football recruiting class is significantly bigger than basketball. Managing 20-25 players looking for a release after a football coaching change would be considerably more challenging than two or three basketball recruits.

Yeah, we can’t inconvenience the schools.  After all, that’s what the recruits commit to, right?

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41 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

41 responses to ““Students need to go into this with their eyes open.”

  1. Macallanlover

    Early signees should be released if the HC changes between the December signing period and the first week in February. Levels the playing field, and takes away the only legit complaint I can see to the new rule.

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    • Puffdawg

      What about coordinators or position coaches?

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      • Macallanlover

        Goes too far, imo, where do you draw the line? Athletes should commit to the school anyway, but I get that a change at the very top could mean every thing is put up in the air, often a whole new staff and philosophy. But a Tracy Rocker leaving, or a change in Chaney’s responsibilities, is part of what often changes within the 4-5 years of the program at most schools. Plus, no one is forcing them to sign early, their choice and should be factored into the decision.

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        • DawgPhan

          Coaches will certainly be applying pressure for students to sign early.

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          • Macallanlover

            That pressure has been applied for two years anyway, might as well relieve the suffering. It is a Fram deal, pay me now, or pay me later. The decision made at this date will be less rushed. or pressured, than the one in February to me. If they aren’t sure, don’t sign; it is not as much a forced issue as it will be in February.

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            • DawgPhan

              You are wrong if you think that coaches arent going to use this new date like a hammer on recruits.

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      • I think they should be able to choose 1 coach, HC or position coach so if they choose HC and he leaves they can transfer or if they choose position coach and the HC leaves, not able to transfer freely

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    • Mayor

      Agreed. This problem has been going on for years. My best friend in HS signed with GA Tech because he wanted to play for Bobby Dodd (I know, I know–he wouldn’t listen to me). After he signed with Tech, Dodd retired. I am confident he would have opted out and signed elsewhere if that was allowed but because it wasn’t he enrolled at Tech. Also, his family needed the scholarship in order for him to attend college. So he got stuck playing for Bud Carson the entire time he was there.

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  2. I think the out-clause discussed in the article is something totally inevitable but they will wait until there’s enough outcry/pressure from the media and fans before doing it. In other words, business as usual.

    I floated this idea a while back, but if I were making the decision, I’d put in the out-clause, but with one caveat. There would be some sort of time period after the new coach was announced, maybe 2 weeks or something like that, before anyone could request to be released. That would at least give the new coach a chance to come in and sell his vision to the current signees. However, once that time period lapsed, if a signee requested out, then it is automatically granted.

    There’d have to be some kind of exceptions made if the new coach wasn’t announced until really close to the February signing date, but that’s a rare occurrence.

    Also, with an out-clause, you do start treading into the waters of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the signee can opt-out, shouldn’t the new coach be able to opt out of keeping a current signee as well? I know that’s not what the public wants, but I guarantee it will come up in the context of that discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gaskilldawg

      The rules already permit a coach from “opting out” of keeping a current signee. The national letter of intent is a one sided agreement. It binds the kid to the school; he or she cannot take a scholarship to another school. The LOI does not compel the school to give a scholarship.
      If the kid and the school sign a Financial Aid Agreement the obligation is reversed. The school is bound to give a scholarship but the kid can sign a FAA with more than one school.

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    • Macallanlover

      I like the time period cutoff Rev, one of the purposes is to reduce the last minutes flips for both sides. Under your thought, the status would be known with weeks left before the February signing date.

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      • If a kid would not be released from his LOI until 2 weeks after a new coach was hired–wouldn’t schools with a pretty good incoming class start firing and hiring on or less than 2 weeks before signing day?

        Who am I kidding? The schools would never pull a shenanigan like that–you know because it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the players/students.

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        • I would say no, because you’re shorting yourself in the foot on any uncommitted recruits that you’re trying to land if you wait until the last minute with hiring/firing coaches.

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  3. Huntindawg

    The common thread with all of these posts about the NCAA and its perceived hypocrisy toward college athletes seems to be rooted in the belief that these P5- D1 football players should be treated like any other student. Obviously that is the tension – should they be treated wholly like professional athletes, or held to the same standards as students*? These are primarily professional athletes – or aspiring professional athletes – with little if any of the “student” as part of their makeup.

    Certainly the schools have an interest in the money generated by big-time college football. The real question seems to be whether the schools should just cut the cord of the “student” part out of the P5 D1 football player and form their own professional teams. Absent football, most of these “students” would never be admitted to these schools based upon any of their other qualifications anyway.

    I think if you want to look at true student athletes you have to look at other college sports. The non-revenue ones. Your typical lacrosse, golf, tennis, etc. player has no professional aspirations. They are at school to be students and get ready for a career. The P5D1 football/basketball player not so much.

    So if I am reading this blog correctly, all of these “the NCAA is a big fat moneygrubbing hypocrite**” posts come down to that push/pull of how to treat these 5% student/95% football players. And it seems like the ultimate push of all of these posts is towards “forget it, just make it a pro sport.”

    *Yes, they can’t make a profit like other students. But there is a big difference between the P5 D1 college football player and the guy in his dorm room making money from his invention/music/etc. The football player has that opportunity because of the existence of the institution of college football.

    **Not necessarily disputing that here.

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    • Not sure how well your analysis works, given that someone who isn’t a student-athlete doesn’t sign a binding NLI. By definition, in this specific context, football players are being treated differently.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Huntindawg

        Who was t that said “I’m sorry I didn’t write a shorter letter but I didn’t have time?”

        Synopsis: they aren’t “student” athletes. Give up and don’t try to treat them like one.

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    • AusDawg85

      These are primarily professional athletes – or aspiring professional athletes – with little if any of the “student” as part of their makeup.

      I think that’s an exaggeration. Most D1 and certainly smaller schools scholarship football athletes know that a professional football career is very remote. Just look at the overall numbers…the kids know that. They need to be treated fairly while in school, and provided a top flight education while also playing sports as most know that is the real ticket to their future. We can’t develop a system that treats “all” football players as professionals in waiting. They “all” are not.

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  4. ASEF

    A coach at a small private school here in WNC brought in a huge freshmen class to the basketball team. 6 kids. Fired at end of season. New coach ran them all off because they didn’t fit his system. A year of college wasted.

    Same school sent a neighbor’s kid packing after he broke his leg playing football.

    I understand the big schools are a means to publicize these sorts of situations, but the abuses are far worse downstream.

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    • Good point, ASEF. Your examples aren’t high profile. The scholarship should be a 5 year commitment, period. If you and your parent sign that paper and remain in good academic and behavioral standing with the college or university, you keep your scholarship. If you get injured, you keep your scholarship but don’t count against the numbers.

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      • This.

        Keep the scholarship but it doesn’t count against the numbers. Injury/Roster management is already happening. Only this way the kid isn’t left in the lurch. Excellent.

        Just for huntingdawg’s sake–if the injured have to be students that don’t play football, can we at least take away their free tutors?

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  5. Former Fan

    I am amazed that at this point in history, a school can have all the representation, while they forbid students from having the same and the courts not strike it down.

    How schools can treat coaches one way and students another, legally, is beyond me.

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  6. PTCDAWG

    Easy, if a kid is worried about a coaching change, don’t sign early.

    Or don’t sign ever of the thought of a coaching change bothers you. Nobody is forcing to take the free education…pay for it like most do.

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    • AusDawg85

      Yeah…f* ’em. Just because a few worked their tails off in HS to be able to get a scholly since it was there only chance at getting a college education and out of their lower income surroundings doesn’t mean they should get a fair deal when signing a contract….at the age of 17 and no legal guidance.

      “…pay for it like most do.” LOL. Check out the crisis in student loan debt.

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      • JCDAWG83

        If their goal is a college education, they should pick a school with the degree they want, be grateful to have that paid for education and not worry about the coach. If they have “worked their tails off in HS to be able to get a scholly…” to have a chance at the NFL, maybe they should be sure to sign at some big time program with lots of exposure. Either way, it seems like they are getting a pretty fair deal to me. I really don’t see the downside to either path, even if the coach and all his staff leave before the kid arrives on campus.

        Most would be better served to work their tails off in HS on academics if they really want that college degree and to get out of their surroundings. Education is a much safer bet for bettering one’s life than athletics. Colleges are awash in academic scholarship money, especially for lower income students.

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      • “Crisis in student loan debt.” Give me a break. My dad used to say: ” If you can’t pay cash for something, you can’t afford it.” The only exception was his house, which he paid off in 15 years. He made a very modest income but we never had money problems. Wonder why? Full disclosure; I have not always followed that advice. I guess I’m just a lot smarter than the ol man.

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        • 92 grad

          I’m raising my kids similarly to you. Cash is priority but a low percentage rate on house or cars is cheap money. These 1.9-2.9 rate deals on cars is just cheap money and it’s fine to free up monthly discretionary on such low rates.

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  7. JCDAWG83

    The non revenue sport coaches recruiting pitch is very different than the football and basketball pitch. The non rev sports really focus on the graduation rates and grades of the team. Many non rev sports will cut scholarships if the student’s gpa drops below 3.0. The revenue sports paint the picture of future pro sports riches and how the athletic program will provide lots of extra academic help to make sure the kid can stay in school and continue to audition for the NFL or NBA.

    I’ve said for years, do away with the lower entrance requirements for football and basketball players and 90+% of college athletics issues go away. How many university presidents would be willing to lower entrance requirements to 700 on the SAT and a 2.0 in high school in order to field championship teams?

    If a kid is concerned about the coach being there, don’t sign early. There is no rule that says the door closes on signing day and they can’t sign after that. If a kid has always dreamed of playing for Georgia and he has a scholarship offer, he can sign early and be happy. If he is playing the “I’ve narrowed it down to these 5 schools” game, he can roll the dice and hope all 5 don’t fill up their classes before he has his stupid hat ceremony.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      JC, that is good advice for the 5 star kid. A lot of schools will hold a spot for a Herschell Walker. The advice is not so good for the 3 star guy. His dilemma is that the school can sign other 3 star kids in his place, and if he holds out beyond signing day the schools are going to guarantee that they sign a kid for that slot and there will not be a scholarship available for him at a later date.

      I would make the LOO binding on the school, so if it accepts a LOI in December the school must honor the scholarship for that August.

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    • DawgPhan

      You could drop the requirements for UGA to a 1.0 GPA and a 200 SAT score and not make a lick of difference. Kids arent getting into UGA with the minimum test or GPA. Kids who are really good at something get into UGA.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I don’t really follow your reasoning there. Football players are getting in with MUCH lower grades and scores than regular students. Regular students who happen to be good at art or music or writing or something other than football or basketball are not getting into Georgia unless they have the grades and test scores to be admitted.

        Raising entrance requirements for football and basketball players would do away with the sham of the “student” athlete in football and especially basketball.

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        • DawgPhan

          Why are you raising the entrance requirement for just football and basketball. I mean I know why, it’s your sports hot take dog whistle, but it doesnt change anything.

          Schools take students that improve the overall quality of the school.

          Those minimum requirements are almost meaningless.

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          • JCDAWG83

            Football and basketball are the only sports with special entrance requirements now, that’s why I’m only talking about them. The non revenue athletes have to be admitted like all other students. If you think students with unacceptable grades and test scores are being admitted to Georgia now because of some “special talent”, you are very mistaken. Colleges that are competitive to get into are not taking any regular students who do not meet their grade and test score entrance requirements. Some have marginally lower requirements but none are letting in kids because they have some talent the college thinks is so unique they can’t find another kid with that talent AND acceptable entrance grades and scores.

            Smaller, less competitive and private schools will accept marginal students if they have some sort of talent the school values but it doesn’t happen in schools like Georgia.

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            • DawgPhan

              I would consider being able to play Division 1 football a special talent. A special talent that the University leverages to generate millions in revenue and marketing.

              I know that UGA loves making everything tougher on itself, but why would a school deny themselves the opportunity to bring in a special student, especially one that they thought could bring lots of attention and revenue to the school.

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              • Puffdawg

                Isn’t there evidence that a better football program generally results in an increase in applications, which ultimately bring up the academic profile side of things? Alabama would be the perfect current example. Another example was the explosion of applicants to UGA from Dallas when Stafford first came here. Point is I do think there is something behind what Dawgphan is arguing.

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  8. southernlawyer11

    There really is no way to try and make the system “better” for student athletes without a slew of unintended consequences, from IRS rules, non-profits and their financial obligations, Title IXs, etc etc. The older I get the less sympathy I have for the argument that the schools are icons of injustice and these kids are exploited monetarily and contractually at every turn.

    If a regular student gets an offer from an industry titan in, say, Accounting or Law, he/she takes on a risk when choosing to sit on that offer and play the pick-a hat-game down the road…….or guess what ? His classmate might end up taking that offer. Especially if he is a middle of the pack student (i.e. like a 3 star). Welcome to the real world…..which is what this is all about, right ?

    Would Georgia’s 2012-2014 revenue have been substantially lower if Todd Gurley had enrolled at Alabama ? (doubt it). Does his left tackle deserve any less than him ? What about the backup left tackle ? Nobody forces a kid or coach to do anything–if a great Coach jumps ship, he owes the school a dump truck of cash (which is picked up by the new school obviously). A kid can go to any school he wants, attempt to play or not play any sport he wants. It’s not the end of life if he waits too late to accept his Alabama offer and has to settle for a $40,000 per year quid-pro-quo at the University of South Carolina for merely showing up with a high school diploma and an ability to play a game.

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    • Would Georgia’s 2012-2014 revenue have been substantially lower if Todd Gurley had enrolled at Alabama ?

      Why does that have any bearing on TG’s market value?

      Does his left tackle deserve any less than him ? What about the backup left tackle ?

      If it were up to the market, what do you think the answers to those questions would be?

      Some of you make this a lot harder than it has to be.

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