Everything You Need to Know About The NCAA's 6 New Football Rules

In case you spent this weekend seeing friends, drinking and having fun as opposed to closely monitoring the NCAA Division I advisory council, you may have missed some big new rule changes in college football. As Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and others said, it’s a big day for NCAA reform (apparently).

1. Early Signing Day

Going big right out of the gate. For years, the powers that be have debated tweaks and even wholesale change like political pundits discussing the electoral college, but now change is a comin’. Unless the Conference Commissioners Associations pulls a 180, the early signing period will become official in June. What does this mean? Recruits will now have a three-day window to sign Letters of Intent in December around Christmas time. This year, that window will open from December 20-23.
Small schools are in favor of this move while schools that need a little extra time to finalize recruiting have argued against it. New Mexico State coach Doug Martin told SB Nation in January that he’s in favor of an early signing day because his staff could know what they need to get for the second signing day in February and the process would be more streamlined.
Stanford coach David Shaw was not as open to the idea back in 2012.

2. Two-a-Days Be Gone

Every college athlete’s dream just came true.
The NCAA is banning full-contact practices twice in the same day. Most teams were doing away with this practice in recent years anyway, but the new rule makes it official.

For instance, in 2015 Bret Bielema stopped doing them at Arkansas. Georgia Tech nixed them last offseason. And others scaled the practice back, like in 2015, when Georgia only scheduled one day of them, and it was rained out.

The paradigm has shifted to be smarter about how players train in a violent sport. You’ll never take all the contact out of the game, but reducing it is important to player safety.

Teams can still hold an extra session of practice, it just can’t be, you know, actual practice. Film studies and walkthrough are okay, but conditioning and hitting are a no-go.

3. Earlier Official Visits

Via the NCAA:

It adds a period for official visits that begins April 1 of the junior year and ends the Sunday before the last Wednesday in June of that year. Official visits can’t occur in conjunction with a prospect’s participation in a school’s camp or clinic (effective Aug. 1).

This helps the athletes quite a bit. Previously, the rule mandated that high schoolers had to wait until the first day of senior year classes to take their five expenses-paid college visits. Now they can bang ’em out in the summer instead, giving everyone more time to make the right decision.

4. 10th Assistant Rule

Pretty straightforward: college football teams can now employ as many as 10 assistant coaches rather than nine. This rule will officially take effect on January 9, 2018. “Why wait a year,” you ask. If the rule went into immediate effect it would leave schools scrambling to find assistant coaches and make room in their set budgets for another employee. Better to give everyone a year to plan this out.

5. Anti-Nepotism

Schools can no longer hire people close to recruits (i.e. parents, coaches, trainers) for off-field coaching positions in the two-year period before or after the recruit’s enrollment. This rule has been in effect for college basketball for years.
At first glance, this sounds like a great way to root out corruption, but a closer look suggest it could hurt high school coaches in a major way.

You can see how the rule would hamper a distinct advantage a particular former high school would have, and therefore make someone a less desirable hire for a college job.

But the problem is some of these non-coaching positions aren’t shams. There are analyst jobs, quality control posts, and grad assistant roles that are on-ramps to the college coaching profession but will no longer be available to some people.

Some high school coaches aren’t qualified enough yet to be on the field at the college level, and now the NCAA has cut off a simple way for them to work their way into one of those positions.

6. Camp Reform

Two changes are being instituted in regards to summer camps. The first is to deemphasize the physicality. Per the NCAA:

It allows coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics and requires educational sessions at all camps and clinics detailing initial eligibility standards, gambling rules, agent rules and drug regulations (effective immediately).

The second part is to clamp down on satellite camps to at least impose some time limits on them.

It limits the time for Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to participate in camps and clinics to 10 days in June and July and requires that the 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.

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