SEC Football News on Saturday Down South

New NCAA recruiting rule might be a can of worms

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The NCAA meant well when it approved a new rule allowing high school football players to sign early, but there are already minor examples of how it might get out of control.

On Monday, Tennessee and Clemson showed they’re going to take full advantage of the new rule, which allows them more access than usual to certain recruits.

In late October, the NCAA enacted a rule that allowed any high school football player planning to enroll early to sign a scholarship agreement with any–or as many–school/schools as he wanted to so he could lock in his scholarship. Once signed, schools are allowed to more openly communicate with their recruits, but recruits are not bound to a school like with the national letter of intent signed in February.

The first players to use the new rule were several LSU commits who were already solidly committed to the Tigers. No harm no foul. But then highly coveted wide receiver Josh Malone became the first uncommitted prospect to sign an agreement with multiple schools–his top three of Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson. On Monday at Malone’s Mr. Football ceremony, Tennessee and Clemson’s coaching staffs were represented (Georgia reportedly did not send a coach). In the past, this would have sent up all kinds of red flags, but now, they can be on hand because of Malone’s agreement–which obviously has opened up the playing field for both schools.

Malone may have been fine with this, but the TSSAA–the high school governing body in Tennessee–wasn’t thrilled.

In fact, the executive director wasn’t 100 percent sure how they got in, though he admitted that the sponsors–the NFL’s Tennessee Titans–may have arranged to have the Volunteers’ coach Tommy Thigpen as a guest. Clemson’s staff was represented by former Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell, who obviously would have past ties too.

“We just think this is a special time for kids, and not a place for recruiting,” executive director Bernard Childress told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. “Clemson called our office at least twice last week requesting to come. We told them, ‘No, we don’t give tickets to college coaches.’ If they were here, we have no idea how they got the tickets. We don’t sell them.”

Since the tickets are not for sale (schools with award finalists are allotted 10 tickets per finalist), they are designated for finalists’ family members, coaches and administrators–and some finalists bring teammates if there is extra room.

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Comments 3

  1. If the players don’t mind, neither do I.