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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee's Butch Jones on Tuesday joined a chorus of coaches that includes Alabama's Nick Saban in criticizing a new NCAA rule that bans high school coaches from working at football camps hosted by Division I college programs.
The rule change was part of a wide-ranging package of alterations to the recruiting process approved by the NCAA Division I Council on Friday in Indianapolis.
"The one thing, obviously, I was extremely disappointed in is the ability of high school coaches to work your camp," Jones said after Tennessee concluded its 13th spring practice Tuesday.
Jones said camps historically have been a good time to develop relationships with high school coaches and a gateway for some of those to break into the collegiate ranks.
"So much good had come of that," Jones said. "That's one thing. But like with any rule changes, we have a plan and we'll adapt and adjust to it."
Friday's vote will bring about a number of other changes, too, including the addition of a 10th assistant coach in 2018, an early signing period for recruits and a period of time in the spring when recruits can make official visits to campus.
Jones called the 10th assistant "a great addition to the coaching profession" and said it was greatly needed.
"The great thing about that is we have time to really research and look into that," he said. "It's something we've been prepared for for a long time. Everything is about the structure of your staff and what's needed, and kind of a balancing act of what's needed from personality- to recruiting- to position-wise. We'll have a plan in place."
Tennessee offensive coordinator Larry Scott, who came to Knoxville before the 2016 season to coach tight ends, is still coaching tight ends, even as he takes on the responsibility of calling the offensive plays this season.
The new rule might allow the Volunteers to hire a new coach to work specifically with tight ends, have a coach dedicated specifically to special teams or help with other position groups.
Coaches around the country already have hinted at what the responsibility of their 10th coach would be, with some, like first-year Texas coach Tom Herman, indicating to reporters that he might hire a dedicated special teams coordinator.
"I tell you what, it's going to be interesting," said Scott, who served a stint as interim head coach at Miami before joining Tennessee's staff. "I think a lot of people are going to assign that position to whatever they feel like their needs are, whether that's special teams, a second defensive line coach or a second secondary coach. You see a lot of people going to inside and outside wide receiver coaches and things like that.
"There are a lot of different things you can do, and I think it's totally just based on the need of the program, how you're built and the direction you're going."
Two other new rules pertaining to recruiting could quickly fill up whatever time Football Bowl Subdivision coaches gain by adding to their staffs. For the first time ever, there will be an early signing period for college football teams this year, allowing prospects from the class of 2018 to sign national letters of intent in December, before the typical February signing period.
"Really, to me, the way you're supposed to recruit, you recruit everybody like there's an early signing period," Scott said. "If they happen to sign a piece of paper, they sign it. If not, let's keep recruiting and keep rolling."
Jones is taking a more measured approach to evaluating the early signing period, saying it's a positive for high school players who have decided where they want to attend college. But he also expressed concerns over how an early signing period could interfere with high school football.
"I think the one thing we have to be cognizant of is everything is about the high school coach and respecting their programs as well," Jones said. "I hope we don't get to a point where high school seniors are taking their visits and putting their high school football team second nature, so to speak.
"I think we have to make sure that, as a profession, we don't allow that to happen."
A period for official visits also has been added. It will begin April 1 of a prospect's junior year and end in late June.
Anderson dies at 80
Bill Anderson, captain of the 1957 Tennessee football team and a longtime color analyst on Vol Network radio broadcasts, died Tuesday. He was 80.
Anderson played wide receiver for the Redskins and Packers in the NFL, but Tennessee followers mostly know him for what followed his playing career. For 30 years, 1968-98, Anderson shared the broadcast booth with John Ward, offering insight and commentary into Tennessee football for listeners.
"It is indeed a sad day for the University of Tennessee and the Vol Network with the passing of Bill Anderson," Tennessee director of broadcasting Bob Kesling said in a school news release. "For three decades, Bill and John Ward painted the picture on the radio for many of the greatest moments in Tennessee football history.
"Bill's great knowledge and understanding of the game and his passion for Tennessee football added so much to each broadcast."
Contact staff writer David Cobb at [email protected]
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