Will Muschamp has thought for a while that the game he loves is under “attack” from outside forces, and now he’s worried that self-inflicted wounds could affect the sport’s health.
“We are under attack in our game a little bit so the worst thing we can do is cut off the feeder programs that we have in the high school programs that are sending players to college,” South Carolina’s head football coach said. “That’s what we’ve done in a sense, and they are not very happy with it.”
Muschamp’s concerns center specifically on three rule changes in college football that could adversely affect high school coaches. The first is a rule that college programs cannot hire “an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete” for two years prior to or the two years immediately following that player’s enrollment at a school for a non-coaching staff position or strength and conditioning position. The second is college football recruiting change that means high school players can now make official visits to college campuses during their high school spring practices and sign college scholarships during the high school playoffs.
Muschamp is particularly close to the issue because his brother Mike is the head coach at Lovett School in Atlanta.
“You have a guy making a huge decision in his life and my brother is getting ready to play a state championship game?” Muschamp said. “I don’t think that’s what we want.”
The rule barring the hiring of high school coaches also will affect the ability of high school coaches to work college camps in the summer.
“I’m totally against not having high school coaches be able to be hired or to be able to work a camp or speak at a clinic,” he said. “We are trying to promote our game and move our game forward, and I think we are really limiting ourselves when we do things like that. I don’t think that’s right.
“I think when you shun high school football coaches, that’s not a good thing to do and I don’t think that’s very smart.”
Muschamp, who started his career as a walk-on and ended it as a captain at Georgia, also pointed to unnamed outside “attacks” against the game while speaking to the media Tuesday on the first day of the SEC’s annual spring meetings.
“I just think there is a lot of negativity about the game of football on all levels on all fronts,” he said. “It’s a great game. It’s a teacher of life and different things that happen, and I think we’ve got to continue to bring it along the right way.”
The game’s links to brain injury have led to changes at the youth level and a decrease in youth enrollment in some areas.
“It’s our society now,” Muschamp said. “(The press), the negativity creates controversy, creates subscribers, creates listeners. That’s part of it. You just have to deal with it and move on.”