Recently the NCAA passed new legislation that deregulated a lot of things that affect the recruiting of high school athletes. This was an attempt by NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Division I Board of Directors to simplify the rule book (which is now 25 pages lighter) and allow themselves some breathing room to regulate and enforce more important matters.
These sweeping changes will change the face of recruiting in all sports, but for our purposes here, my concern and discussion will be about football, and more specifically, Notre Dame football.
Some of the more important things to take away from all these deregulations are:
- There are no more limits on the amount of media (letters, mailers, texts, Facebook messages, tweets, etc) that a school can send a recruit.
- There are no more limits on phone calls.
- There are no more limits on visits that coaches can do, as well as how many coaches go on these visits.
- The Recruiting Coordinator does not have to be a member of the coaching staff.
Most of the former rules, if not all of them, were put into place to help create a "level playing field" among the schools. Mark Emmert explained some of the reasoning for why this theory is being pushed aside:n"There are universities that made investments 100 years ago that, by historical accident in some instances, have set as their role, scope and mission, things that give them competitive advantages in their ability to fund and support athletics. Michigan has been Michigan for a long time."
Basically, why should a school like USC that has the resources and the absolute desire to excel at football be subject to the same restrictions as Indiana merely to create the atmosphere of a level playing field, when clearly history has shown us otherwise?
In effect, the NCAA has changed its philosophy from socialism to capitalism. It has changed its system from being state-run to the free market. The "level playing field" now means that every school has the opportunity to excel as much as it possibly can without restricting those who have historical, geographical, and financial advantages already. Everyone will still be allowed the same number of players, coaches, and administrators, but it will now be up to the schools to decide if they truly want to compete at the highest level. Mark Emmert described it like this:
We're not going to overcome those natural competitive advantages people have, but when student-athletes step onto the field they know the other team has same number of players and scholarships. They may have a fancier stadium, but we have a chance to beat these guys because there's competitive fairness. We heard that again and again from student-athletes. That's what they wanted. They're smart kids. They know who's got the shiny locker room and who doesn't. It's, 'Can I go out there and play against these guys?' I think the students got that faster than the rest of us.
Now, how will this affect Notre Dame? Notre Dame has been "called out" in a few ways this offseason in regards to the money, or lack there of, that it spends on its football program. No one is going to sit there and say Notre Dame doesn't put a lot of money, resources, and effort into the football program, but it has been reported that Brian Kelly was the 23rd highest paid coach and the Notre Dame assistants were being paid more on the level of a Purdue, which barely competes for its conference championship, let alone the national title.
Will Notre Dame be willing to spend the money to compete with the football factories? Dan Wolken of USA Today explained it well:
All three of those things favor schools with major resources. Alabama, if it wanted, could now hire a staff of people to do nothing all day, every day but send mailers and text messages out to recruits -- something the many schools with much smaller athletic budgets probably couldn't afford.
I think we can agree that Notre Dame can afford it, but will they? I contacted Notre Dame via email to ask if they had a plan in place to be as aggressive as possible to compete in recruiting and will they in fact hire a full-time recruiting coordinator outside of the current coaching staff. As of press time, that email has gone unanswered, but an update will be provided should they respond.
Notre Dame has returned to the elite of the college football world thanks in part to excellent coaching, recruiting, and overall player development. Now that the rules have been changed, can they still do all three? Can Notre Dame compete for the rich talent in the South with the immense football factory schools down in that region when those schools can send a coach out to see the recruit almost daily if it wanted to? Will Notre Dame, which has had internal battles in the recent past over the importance of the football team to the school, continue to make the investment both financially and spiritually to compete with the schools that absolutely will?
Notre Dame has come a long ways since the disastrous 3-9 2007 season, and that is evident in the 12-1 2012 season that had the Irish finish with its highest post season ranking (#3) since 1993. However, it was very clear in the game against Alabama that there is still a great amount of work to be done. One of those things that must be improved is in recruiting. With the new rules in place, can and will Notre Dame make that improvement?
As in all things; only time will tell.