Jul 17, 2013; Hoover, AL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen talks with the media during the 2013 SEC football media days at the Hyatt Regency. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Should College Coaches be Allowed to Comment on Recruiting?


It’s the dead period, but recruiting is about to heat up into a blazing inferno in January. The world of recruiting has gone from a relatively unknown operation to the full blown focus of many fans for a good portion of the year. Despite the changes in coverage and interest, the rules and operation of recruiting has seen very little change, but perhaps it’s overdue for a few.

One thing I’d like to see is an early signing period in the summer. That would help a staff like MSU out tremendously as we are on many players before bigger schools are. But the purpose of this article is to talk about college coaches’ inability to comment on recruits. They aren’t allowed to talk about them at all. In fact, no one who works for the athletic department is allowed to talk about recruits in public. Should it be that way?

Take for example the John Talty story a couple of weeks back regarding Oxford High School’s head coach saying he would never let anyone from MSU’s current staff recruit his players again after Darius Liggins’ scholarship offer was pulled. Many State fans were upset by this story as it painted the program in a bad light. Even though it’s something that happens at every school nearly every year, the comments from Oxford’s coach were harsh, and one-sided. Since MSU isn’t allowed to comment on the story, Talty could not get their side of the story.

The inspiration for this idea is the fact that the Clarion-Ledger has a recruiting writer. If you can’t present two sides of a story are you really doing a complete job of reporting? It’s one thing for Scout, Rivals and 24/7 to have one-sided stories, they are catering to a specific fanbase. But for a newspaper? The fact is, this is news. But it also isn’t a complete report on the topic as Mullen or any assistant coach was unable to give their reasons behind pulling the scholarship. To me, it’s a grey-area in sports journalism. It’s one thing if Talty reports on a commitment, or general news, but for a story like this it just seems incomplete.

The C-L, or any paper, isn’t going to quit reporting on college football recruiting because of this grey-area. It’s only going to get bigger and bigger. So should coaches be allowed to comment?

The span between a player’s commitment and the time they sign continues to grow. MSU already has six guys lined up for the 2015 class….and we’re 13+ months away from National Signing Day for them. If we aren’t going to have an early signing period, that’s an awfully long time for things to happen but the coaches must remain silent.

Here’s what I would like to see (and it would help the recruiting “business” out tremendously): have each school officially assign recruiting regions to each of the three major sites (or whoever they want to). Whichever recruit lives in that region, the school will supply comments to that recruiting service only.

In other words, say 24/7 has south Mississippi and LA, Scout has Jackson and AL, Rivals has north MS and GA. Just something along those lines. This way, the staff can be assured their side of the story is told, and they also don’t have to be hounded with questions from every site/paper/reporter there is. They know if something happens with a recruit, there is only one reporter allowed to cover the story – it will get out and the story will be complete in a timely manner.

Is this opening up another grey area because the school chooses the reporter who will just cater to them? I don’t really think so because in the example used, the C-L would report the initial quotes and Rivals, Scout, etc. would have the rebuttal from MSU. As for why the C-L couldn’t just ask for comment themselves, I just think that would get tiresome for the staff as recruiting is a revolving door and moving target that it just doesn’t seem logical to do that.

As recruiting continues to evolve, the rules have to expand as well. Fans want to know the complete story, and schools deserve to have their side of it told as well since the stakes are so high and everything is viable.

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