Life could be a lot different for South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and college football coaches across the country next year.
Among the proposals put forward by the Division I Football Oversight Committee is a rule that would allow recruits to take official visits before the start of their senior season.
The initial recommendation would have permitted recruits to take official visits from June 1 to the Saturday before the last Wednesday in June, to go along with a window between July 25 and 31. Instead, the committee recommended that official visits be allowed from April 1 through the Saturday before the last Wednesday in June.
A final vote on the proposal, along with a few others, will be made in April.
The NCAA’s current official visit rule doesn’t allow recruits to take their allotment of five until the start of football season, during their senior year.
That has to change.
During the last 10 years, everything about the recruiting process has been sped up. Coaches identify and offer some prospects as middle schoolers. Commitments are accepted and rescinded long before National Signing Day is in sight.
But the official visit window has remained the same.
There are major differences between official and unofficial visits. Colleges pick up the tab for official visits, and that includes transportation, room, three meals a day and “reasonable” entertainment expenses. Last year, the NCAA ruled schools can cover the costs for parents, which is fantastic.
Unofficial visits are funded entirely by the recruits and their families, though they are allowed to take as many as they’d like.
If a recruit from South Carolina wants to visit the other USC in Los Angeles, he’ll have to wait until his senior year if his family can’t afford the airfare, hotel and a day or two of meals.
Once the season rolls around, he’s tied up with, well, football season. Logistically, with games on Friday nights, it’s tough to squeeze in a two-day official visit during the season, even if you’re not traveling across the country.
Then, once the season is over, you get a few weekends in December and a few more in January. Good luck squeezing all five official visits into those windows, kid.
For quarterbacks including Adrian Martinez, a 2018 prospect who’s committed to California, there’s pressure to commit early, usually months before official visits can be taken.
“You see guys like me and other quarterbacks commit early,” Martinez said, during an interview with ESPN. “When that happens, you’re pretty much relying on the fact my parents had to pay for trips to go visit these schools, as opposed to taking these official visits that I would like to take or I wish I could take.
“I think because of how the whole recruiting game is played at certain positions, you’re forced to make a decision early, but I couldn’t really afford to take all the visits I’d like to. I think that letting recruits take visits earlier would be a great opportunity.”