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Palm Beach Post (Florida)


College football's offseason will look different going forward.

The NCAA's Division I Council, which Miami Athletic Director Blake James chairs, approved changes Friday that included an early signing day in December and the addition of a 10th assistant coach.

Additionally, the NCAA took steps to let recruits take official visits as juniors and keep colleges from luring recruits by hiring their prep coaches. Two-a-days are no longer, and the satellite camp era appears to be over.

"I think what we did was a great step forward for the future of college football," said James, who was among those who passed the package in a 14-1 vote.

Going over the changes:

Early signing period

When: effective Aug. 1

What it means: Essentially adds a December "signing day" to the familiar, frenzied version on the first Wednesday in February. In a three-day period before Christmas, players can end the recruiting process early. Colleges can lock in players and focus elsewhere.

It's something recruits "wanted and will take advantage of," James said. "I would be surprised if it's not in December. I think that's at least that's where we'll start. "

Recruits can and do make "verbal commitments" to schools all the time, but they are not binding for either player or program. A pledge becomes official when they sign a letter of intent.

10th assistant coach

When: Jan. 9, 2018, the day after the national championship game

What it means: The NCAA allows 14 staff members to do hands-on coaching: the head coach, nine assistants and four graduate assistants. They can spend a limited amount of time with players, too. Programs can have other staff members, but they can't go on the road to recruit. Only a head coach and his assistants can. Thus, the addition of a 10th assistant coach helps with teaching, but even more so, recruiting.

How might Miami use a 10th assistant? UM's current staff includes three coaches pulling double duty: Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Manny Diaz and tight ends and special teams coach Todd Hartley. Head coach Mark Richt calls plays and oversees quarterbacks, though his son, Jon, holds the title of quarterbacks coach.

Junior official visits

When: Aug. 1

What it means: From April 1 to the last Wednesday in June of their junior year, a prospect can take official visits -- as in, paid by the school . The limit of five still exists; James said the junior-spring visits will count against the limit of five in the period beginning Aug. 1 of their senior year. Official visits can't happen in conjunction with a recruit's participation in an on-campus camp.

'Too close' rule

When: immediately

What it means: Adopted by men's basketball in 2010, this rule prevents FBS schools from hiring "people close to a prospective student-athlete" for a two-year period "before and after the student's anticipated and actual enrollment at the school." Some college coaches publicly opposed the rule, which would deter them from hiring high school coaches as support staff.

Two-a-days banned

When: immediately

What it means: After passing a rule that allowed football to begin its preseason a week earlier, the NCAA said schools may no longer have two contact practices on the same day. The reason: player safety.

No satellite camps

When: immediately

What it means: A limitation of time for FBS coaches to participate in summer camps -- 10 days in June and July -- but essentially a ban on satellite camps, since it requires said camps take place on a school's campus or in facilities regularly used by the school for practice or competition. Staff members with football-specific responsibilities are subject to the same restrictions. FCS schools can have all of June and July to run their camps.

Hard cap on signees

When: effective for recruits who sign after Aug. 1

What it means: FBS schools can sign no more than 25 players per year. Exceptions include walk-ons added on scholarship after being enrolled for at least two years. Also, if a school wants to give a scholarship to a current or incoming player who "suffer(s) an incapacitating injury," it won't be penalized. This is a measure to end "oversigning." Twitter: @mattyports

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April 15, 2017


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