Diebold: Give recruits room to breathe

Diebold: Give recruits room to breathe

Joseph Diebold, Web Editor

If you are a member of the high school class of 2014 with even a modicum of football skill, I would recommend investing in an unlimited cell phone data plan.

With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror and all 120 FBS coaches declaring themselves the winners of February (no seriously, that two-star from Colorado is a great fit for our program and has an incredible motor), attention is quickly turning to next year’s crop of official visits, solid verbals, decommitments and national television hat shenanigans from a crop of kids who already make me feel old (Matt Alviti, the prize of Northwestern’s 2013 class, was born 26 days after my second birthday. When in three years he wins Rose Bowl MVP and I’m unemployed, I will cry tears of purple).

But those kids may be in for an unexpected storm — and not just the ones that will be on the East Coast this weekend. Thanks to rule changes passed recently by the NCAA, coaches will now be permitted, beginning Aug. 1, to engage in unlimited communication with recruits: That means phone calls, text messages, Facebook chats, Twitter DMs, Tumblr reblogs, Myspace messages, suggestive G-chats of GIFs and excessive Pinning of that player’s highlight videos will all be fair game.

For my money, Urban Meyer and Pat Fitzgerald are the two most intense coaches in the Big Ten. Fitz’s grit is well documented among NU faithful. Meyer won two national championships at the University of Florida and then had to quit because he stressed so much about his job that he was giving himself chest pains, taking a year off before taking the same job at Ohio State. And yet the two Big Ten coaches who would seem to benefit most from a rule rewarding tenacity and 24/7/365 work have each had sharp words against the rule changes.

“That’s stuff that we’re going to have to talk (about),” Meyer said at a news conference Wednesday. “The Big Ten Conference is going to meet, and I’m putting together a personal letter to all the coaches in America that I disagree with most of it. I would imagine not many people who have recruited wrote those (rules).”

Fitzgerald offered a similar sentiment.

“I’m going to do everything I can to override a lot of these NCAA rules that have been passed,” Fitzgerald said at his own news conference. “Those rules were not made with the student-athlete in mind, with the quality of life of our assistant coaches in mind.”

Lord knows the NCAA has more issues with recruiting than Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has free time, but I fail to see how this is solving any of them. Instead of stepping up enforcement on the current rules, the NCAA has simply removed the rules altogether. And, as usual, they have failed to consider how the changes will affect the people who bring all that cash into the NCAA’s war chest: the prodigiously talented teenagers who have to balance football, class and a social life their senior years, and that’s without considering the stress of hearing from potential coaches 24/7.

My entire football experience consists of Thanksgiving pick-up games and many, many years of Madden. But if I had gotten a Snapchat my senior year from “gocatsfitz51,” I would not have been happy.