I caught up earlier today with Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who has some very interesting thoughts on recruiting reform as well as how to better assist athletes during their playing careers.
Edsall's biggest initiative is to slow down the scholarship offer process. He wants to see no offers, written or verbal, extended to recruits before Sept. 1 of their senior year in high school. He also wants all offers of scholarships or financial aid to come from the institutions, not from football coaches. Written offers currently can't be sent out until Aug. 1 before a prospect's senior year, but there are no regulations on verbal offers.
The setup, in which Edsall admits he participates, but hates, has coaches extending verbal scholarship offers to prospects in eighth or ninth grade. They're doing so primarily because others already have. There are major questions about academic development, athletic development and where they fit in on rosters, questions that can't be answered when prospects are barely in high school or, in some cases, still in middle school.
"I have my iPad right here and this is crazy: I’ve got a board of 2015, 2016 and 2017, guys that we’ve offered in 2017," Edsall said. "I don't even know what my own roster will be like in 2017. The day and age of developing players is going by the wayside. Because now a kid comes in and if he isn't what somebody thinks they are in a year or two, 'You've got to transfer. Time for you to get out of here.'
"The number of decommitments, the number of transfers we have, that have skyrocketed in the last five to eight years. We have an issue, so let’s sit down and take care of the issue."
Edsall recently discussed his ideas with NCAA president Mark Emmert, specifically the need to have full-time national oversight devoted to football issues like this one.
"You can't let the institutions try to decide this," he said. "You've got to have people talking about these issues and make sure you get out ahead of these things. What's happened is you didn’t have anybody and that's why we're where we're at today."
Edsall also weighed in on the athlete experience, in light of the Northwestern unionization ruling earlier this week.
"Look what’s happening with Northwestern," Edsall said. "The kid [former quarterback Kain Colter] said they wanted to bring me here for athletic reasons, not academic reasons. Well, yeah, there's validity to that when we’re out here offering kids when they’re eighth, ninth and 10th graders. It's based on their athletic ability. It's not based on who they are as students because you don't have enough information."
The basic parameters of an athletic scholarship haven't changed since Edsall played quarterback at Syracuse in 1976. But back then, seasons were 10 games and players went home in the summer.
"It's still room, board, books, tuition and fees," he said "We've increased the games, we've increased their time commitment, all those things, but we have not done anything for the student-athlete. I can see how they ruled in the student-athlete's favor to unionize."
Edsall would like to see money going toward player personnel departments, of which more college teams are establishing, instead go toward increasing the value of athletic scholarships.
"You have a pro model at the college level," he said. "Eliminate that stuff and put the money back into your student-athletes you have on campus. Make the scholarship cost of attendance with all the extra things that have been added to their plate."
Edsall makes a lot sense here. What do you think? Let me know.