For college football fans, the announcement of new NCAA recruiting rules this past October was barely a blip on the radar. For college football coaches, it was an answered prayer.
South Carolina linebackers coach Kirk Botkin got on the phone as soon as the legislation passed in October and called his brother. Before Botkin became a college football coach, the brothers and their families often vacationed together in the summer. Kirk’s job, chiefly the recruiting responsibilities that come with it, had made that impossible for years.
Now, though, the entire Botkin clan is on its second straight week in Montana thanks to the rule change.
“This is the first time I have made plans for a trip like this,” Botkin said.
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A recruiting “dead period” forbids face-to-face recruiting between coaches and prospects. Under the old rules, coaches couldn’t travel too far from their campus because recruits could, and would, drop by campus for a visit, expecting to be shown around by their potential position coach and/or chief recruiter.
“We can take a little time off and get away and not have to worry about a guy calling you up and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to be on campus Tuesday,’ ” Gamecocks offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said. “I think it’s great, I really do. It’s a chance to spend time with your family without a lot of distractions. You can make plans.”
Summer plans used to be fool’s gold for college assistants, who could be pulled away at a moment’s notice, even on short trips.
“I remember going to the beach and having to come back and show a recruit around, leaving your family and saying, ‘Bye y’all,’ ” Botkin said.
The new dead period lasts 14 days and expires at the end of this week.
“I think everybody needs a little bit of time they can count on,” South Carolina special teams coach Joe Robinson said. “Summer recruiting has become such a huge thing in college football, and it does take a lot of time. You didn’t know what was coming next and at least now you have a little bit of window where you feel like we can breathe and relax.”
Gamecocks defensive line coach Deke Adams was able to see younger son, Jordyn, play a summer baseball tournament with the Diamond Devils in Nashville thanks to the rules change.
“It’s hard when a kid can show up and say, ‘I’m going to be in town tomorrow,’ ” Adams said. “This two-week period is perfect. To be honest, I wish it was longer.”