The NCAA has given Maryland and Texas a one-year reprieve from a new recruiting rule that prevents head coaches-in-waiting from hitting the road during the critical spring evaluation period.
This is a big break for Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin, who has been designated successor to coach Ralph Friedgen. At least for the next year, he'll be allowed to fully participate in the spring evaluation period during April and May. Under the new rule, head coaches-in-waiting (HCIW) must follow the same rules as head coaches, which means they can only take one off-campus visit, and it can't be during the spring evaluation period.
This is particularly important for Maryland because recruiting has been its biggest issue, and Franklin is the Terps' top recruiter. He's one of the main reasons Maryland was able to lure in a respectable recruiting class this year despite its 2-10 record. And yes, having these HCIW on the road recruiting makes a difference. Look at Florida State, where coach Jimbo Fisher has been laying the groundwork for a few years. Had he not been allowed on the road, odds are it would've been a lot more difficult to lay the foundation for when he took over.
Friedgen's current contract expires Jan. 2, 2012, but there will be more pressure on him this season to turn things around and get the program back to a bowl game. If not, it's possible Franklin could take his seat sooner than later. Meanwhile, Maryland will have the option of looking into a more permanent solution to getting around the new rule. According to The Associated Press, the Terps could revise their current contracts, ask the NCAA for a permanent exemption to the rule, or seek to have it changed.
The HCIW plan locks schools in and doesn't work for everyone (like Virginia Tech). This rule is yet another reason to avoid it. If Maryland doesn't start winning quickly, though, it could be a moot point in College Park.