Bronco Beat

Early signing period, extra assistants: how new NCAA rules affect Boise State football

It wasn’t as exciting as the Last Jedi trailer dropping, but Friday brought some intriguing news that will cause a big ripple in college football.

The NCAA Division I Council approved big changes to recruiting and how coaching staffs are built. Later this month, the board of directors will make most the changes official. They will alter all programs, but here’s a look at how they might affect Boise State.

Early signing period in December: Currently, summer graduates can only sign in a period that begins the first Wednesday of February. Though this change still must be formally approved in June, it would have a big impact for a school like Boise State. Now, recruits can sign two months earlier, which would help Boise State not have bigger schools swoop in late on committed prospects.

A negative to the change is that coaches often leave in December and January, which may hurt those early signees. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said in October he imagines there might be ways for those signees to get out of it, and it may not massively change recruiting. Previous coach Chris Petersen was very supportive of the idea when he was with the Broncos.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, either way it’s going to cause some issues ... when things change,” Harsin said.

Addition of 10th assistant coach: The change won’t go into effect until January 2018, so it won’t create immediate chaos with coaching staffs being poached this summer. This proposal was accepted by nearly every staff, as the athlete-to-coach ratio in football is lower than most sports. Many have assumed that schools will use the new position to hire a full-time special teams coach, but Harsin said that is not a guarantee at Boise State. A second offensive line coach or an outside linebackers coach, along those lines, are also possibilities.

Restrictions on hiring recruit-associated coaches: Though it isn’t something Boise State has done much, it does have a coach on staff, and a former one, that fall into this category. If schools hire coaches associated with prospects, such as a high school coach, for an off-field role, it may not have added a player associated with them two years prior or two years after their hiring. However, that restriction does not apply if the coach is hired as an on-field assistant.

Under the new rule, Boise State would not have been able to hire Chris Ross, its director of program development. Ross coached running back Robert Mahone at Prosper (Texas) High, and joined the staff three months after Mahone signed last year. Former offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz also got his start in college coaching in a similar fashion. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said it would, “in essence be a death sentence to any high school coach wanting to coach college.”

Earlier official visits for recruits: Starting next year, recruits can take official visits beginning in April of their junior year through the last Wednesday in June. The previous rule allowed only for official visits to begin in September of the recruit’s senior year of high school. Coming to Boise in the summer probably won’t hurt, plus recruits that have come previously on unofficial visits can make it an official visit and not have them pay their own way.