STILLWATER — Back when OSU fullback Kye Staley was Guthrie's do-it-all star and a sought-after recruit in the mid-2000s, his cellphone was already blowing up.
“His phone bill one month was over $300,” Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins recalled last week. “… The coaches might send something as simple as, ‘Hey, just thinking about you. How are things going?' Well right there, that's some minutes.”
That was before the new proposals the NCAA approved last month, many of which could take effect Aug. 1 and make an already fiercely competitive recruiting ground even more chaotic.
In order to simplify the rule book and focus more attention on the bigger issues, rather than ones that are difficult to keep track of or enforce, many of the proposals would deregulate contact between coaches and prospective student-athletes.
That means unlimited phone calls. Ditto for text messages, which were banned in 2007. Unlimited mail. Unlimited coaches recruiting off campus. No dead period.
How will this impact the state schools, and college and high school football as a whole?
“I think it will be circus,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said earlier this month.
The lift on the ban of text messaging is likely to be the biggest burden for recruits. Many high-school athletes are already buried in their cellphones, where coaches can currently contact them through Facebook and Twitter messages. Now add back texting — often the most common form of communication between kids that age — and some phones may never stop buzzing.
“You'll be able to connect with them more,” Stoops said, “but can you imagine the recruit when there's 50 schools trying to get ahold of him and there's 50 schools texting him? It's gonna blow up. His girlfriend is never gonna get to him.”
Not to mention, it's sure to cause staffs to fight even more to balance communicating with prospective student-athletes and actually coaching the ones who are currently in the program.
“It's just going to put more time on all our coaches, keeping up and doing all that type of stuff,” Oklahoma State recruiting coordinator Johnny Barr said.
And in a world of soaring recruiting budgets, these proposals would make it even more costly to try to keep up.
More money will need to be spent on simple things like stationary and envelopes. But some schools will hire more manpower to essentially create a personnel department. Stoops half-joked he'd need to bring back legendary Sooner coach Barry Switzer to help. Other staff members, such as sports information directors, will even be permitted to recruit as long as it's not off campus.
“If they open it up where you can do anything, obviously the schools that have got a lot of money, they're going to go spend it,” Barr said. “They've always talked about a level playing field. Well, they just made it pretty bumpy out on that field.”
These new proposals are not a done deal, however. Earlier this month, the Big Ten coaches and athletic directors met and issued a statement asking the NCAA to take more time to evaluate these changes and possible consequences. Other conferences could follow suit before Aug. 1.
But if all goes through, an already crazy recruiting landscape would get even crazier.
“We can sit here and speculate all we want,” Stoops said. “It's gonna be chaotic and different. I don't know where it all comes from. I don't think we were all that far off with what we've been doing to have this radical change.”