Last month, major college football's governing body approved new proposals “aimed at creating a more flexible manual based on common sense,” according to a news release announcing the changes.
Among the several changes is deregulation of contact between college coaches and prospective student-athletes. This includes lifting the NCAA's 2007 ban of text messaging.
The Oklahoman contacted several Oklahoma high school football coaches for their reaction to the changes, many of which are set to take effect Aug. 1.
How do you think the contact deregulation will impact your programs and players?
Andy Bogert, Heritage Hall: “I'll stop getting calls from coaches, saying, ‘Hey, if you get a chance, could you just have him call me?' It'll probably lessen on my end, but it'll be heavier on the kids.
“With Barry (J. Sanders) and Sterling (Shepard), they'd tell me, ‘Look, I'm not interested in this school.' And I'd tell them, ‘He's already narrowed his choices.'
“Now, you're gonna have kids getting all these texts and can't figure out what they wanna do. It's gonna be an information overload.”
Steve Spavital, Broken Arrow: “It goes past me. I have no clue on half the stuff that's going on with the communication between the colleges and our players anymore.
“If a kid commits, it's hard for me to protect them. My philosophy has been if a kid's committed, I need to protect that commitment. I can't do that stuff anymore. ... This is gonna create even more pressure on these kids.”
Rafe Watkins, Guthrie: “When I started coaching, we knew exactly who all was recruiting you kids. Now, if they get online and register with one of these recruiting services, or go to one of these Nike combines, everybody's got their phone numbers. Which I guess is a good thing, but not a lot goes through the high school coaches anymore.
“I think it could be a financial burden with certain cellphone plans. As far as a distraction? Most of the kids are on their cellphones 24/7 it seems like anyway. And with the Facebook and the Twitter and all that ...”
Do you think these changes were for the best, or will they make things worse?
Lance Manning, Edmond Santa Fe: “I don't understand it. I don't understand why the NCAA felt the need to get back to some of that. I don't understand what made them want to get back to the communication and texting and calls. I liked it the way it was.”
Bogert: “I'd rather have it the old way. The texts could be nonstop. I know they need to try and get their kids, but they also need to give these kids a break. They're still in high school. They don't own them yet.
“I believe less is better. ... It can be relentless. The dead periods are great for these kids, just to stay out of it, and concentrate on school.”
Spavital: “It's overwhelming for the kid and the parents. Allowing that is just gonna escalate it. I don't know what the answers are, but it would be very difficult for a young man just to function every day.”
With communication deregulated, what would happen if a college coach called during a film session or a team meeting? Do you let them take those calls?
Watkins: “I would imagine most coaches would rather them not. But you also have to be careful, because when you're talking about a possible $100-150,000 scholarship, you don't want to make a kid take a chance of losing out on that.”
Manning: “I think they understand we're not gonna be checking our phones while we're in film or meetings or class. We don't allow them for anything else, unless it's an emergency, so I don't know why our guys would believe that just because a coach is texting them, they're gonna have to jump up and miss something to go return it. It can wait until the appropriate time.”
Bogert: “I think that's gonna happen. But realistically, we can make them get rid of cellphones at school, but these kids are coming at 7:30 in the morning. ... There's gonna be a text waiting for them the minute they wake up. Coaches know when to get ahold of kids. They can get them before school, they can get them at lunch, or after school. They're gonna be getting texts all of the time.”