After South Carolina’s Signing Day press conference, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. stuck around for a few minutes and offered some interesting answers to questions about the NCAA changing recruiting rules, among other things.
The NCAA is vastly deregulating recruiting starting on Aug. 1, but some in the college football community feel that the changes are not for the better. In short, the NCAA is eliminating limits on how often coaches can contact recruits (via phone call, text message or social media) – a huge change from what was once the source of many NCAA rules violations cases.
Moreover, coaches can now mail anything they want to a recruit. Previously, promotional materials such as media guides were banned. And support staff members can contact recruits, whereas previously only the nine on-field assistant coaches could. Finally, on-field assistant coaches can be on the road recruiting at the same time. Before, trips had to be staggered.
These are enormous changes, and again, not everybody thinks they are for the best. How much does Spurrier Jr. believe they will alter USC’s recruiting approach?
“It’ll change it a decent bit,” he said. “Whatever they tell us the rules are, that’s what we’re going to get after and do the best we can with. There’s pros and cons to it. This past year, you get one call a week starting Sept. 1, and by the time Sept. 1 rolls around, I recruited seven guys this year. So instead of calling seven, I’ll be calling 30. As a staff, we’ll be calling 400 guys. Definitely it will change the way you recruit.”
“I think there’s going to be some more stuff this summer that the SEC is deciding on (about the rule changes). But you can mail out anything. I’ll start mailing out Fatheads (wall stickers) of our best players. I’m going to mail them to everybody. It’s perfectly legal. You can mail out whatever you want. Because we’ve got to think about what Alabama’s doing, and they will absolutely press the envelope, regardless of calls. You can send out whatever you want. Last year, you couldn’t mail out media guides. You can send out anything now.”
USC already has three men who aren’t on-field assistants whose entire jobs revolve around coordinating recruiting, though not actually recruiting kids.
Robbie Liles is the director of high school relations, and he handles a lot of the nuts and bolts of recruiting, outside of actively recruiting players, though he will be able to do that under the new rules. Liles is USC’s liaison to high school coaches, coordinates official and unofficial visits, and assists with camps and clinics. Liles is in his seventh year in that job. He spent the previous five as a recruiting graduate assistant at USC.
Patrick Shine’s title is administrative coordinator for recruiting, and Scott Morgan is a recruiting assistant. Both men are in their fifth years in those jobs. Shine spent the previous five years as a recruiting intern, assistant and graduate assistant in the recruiting office.
So USC has had these support staff guys for a while. Now, their roles could increase, in terms of making calls (though they won’t be able to make off-campus visits). Something that also could increase? The number of support staffers whose jobs focus on recruiting. But Spurrier Jr. doesn’t want the number of those staffers to increase by that much.
“I hope not exponentially, but it will grow,” he said of the recruiting support office. “Because now you can have guys on staff (who aren’t on-field assistants) that can make phone calls to anybody. That’s never happened. We will probably hire someone that sits in the office and calls recruits.”
When asked if he is worried that things might get out of control in the recruiting arms race now, he said, “I’ve got no comment on that. We sit there and try to interpret the rules and we’ve got a group of people that try to interpret the interpretations and tell us what we can and can’t do.”
So why doesn’t Spurrier Jr. want to see USC double its recruiting support staff office? Wouldn’t that make things easier for him? Not necessarily, he said.
He doesn’t want to see a major increase in those staffers “because I don’t want somebody else recruiting that kid. I want to recruit him. I want one guy that gets in the middle and can do a lot of work (as a support staffer), but then I want to recruit my guys. I don’t want somebody in the office that does our recruiting (as actively involved in recruiting a player as an on-field assistant coach is), although some schools may get like that. I think it’s important as a staff that we know who we’re recruiting. We need to recruit and we need to talk to them. At the end of the day, I’m in charge of this, too.”
Might it also help streamline the recruiting process for the kids when they know they are dealing with only the one point person – the on-field assistant who is recruiting them – as opposed to a bunch of different voices calling them all the time?
“Sure, I can imagine that would help in relationships, too, with those guys,” Spurrier Jr. said.
Of course, kids are going to have to brace themselves to get overloaded with texts now.
“Who knows what it’s going to look like?” Spurrier Jr. said when asked about this potential issue. “But it’s going to be different.”
Some other things Spurrier Jr. said …
** All 21 signees for this class are expected to academically qualify.
** USC has already offered 10 in-state players for 2014. This wasn’t a super strong year for the state of South Carolina’s high school talent. USC got the No. 3, 6 and 8 players in the state. Clemson got No. 2, 4, 7 and 11.
“Recruiting next year is going to be interesting because we don’t have a lot of guys (leaving),” Spurrier Jr. said, adding that USC will have just four seniors, due to attrition and early NFL departures in the Class of 2009. And Jadeveon Clowney also will depart.
So that’s just five spots, though certainly, some guys who are fourth-year juniors in 2012 might not be asked to return for their final seasons of eligibility, as is the case every year. So there will be some more spots cleared. Still, Spurrier Jr. said he’s never seen a team with just four seniors.
He said this year, USC offered about eight to 10 in-state players.
“Something like that,” he said. “What happens is we’ll offer a lot of guys early and guys will commit or guys will go to Clemson, and we get off of them pretty quick. I think we actively recruited about four or five, really, this year and signed three.
“If these guys (2014 in-state guys who USC has offered) start committing (elsewhere), that number will go down (because USC will pull its offer, presumably). But yeah, there’s 10 guys in-state that if they called today and committed, we’d take them all.”
** Because the SEC doesn’t allow over-signing and USC is pinched for numbers anyway in the classes of 2013 and 2014, the fact that NCAA rules violations resulted in USC only being able to bring in 22 players in those classes (rather than the NCAA max of 25) doesn’t have that big of an impact on USC’s recruiting, Spurrier Jr. said.
He said USC wouldn’t have been able to sign 25 guys this year anyway because of the way the scholarship numbers worked out. Ditto for the Class of 2014.
“A little bit, but not a lot,” he said of the sanctions’ impact. “Two, three, four years ago, you could sign 30 guys (before the SEC got rid of over-signing). So we just kept recruiting and signing and offering guys. But you can only mail out so many (letters of intent now), so that definitely changes the way you think.
“You’ve got to recruit a guy that’s going to qualify. If he doesn’t qualify, you can’t count it. In the past, he might or might not qualify. In the past, we’ve signed guys that I didn’t know if they were going to make it (academically to qualify) or not. We’ve had guys with pretty good grades that didn’t make it and guys with worse grades that did make it. There’s a lot that can happen between the time a guy commits in the fall and Signing Day. (Being capped at 22 by the NCAA) won’t affect us at all next year.”