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Badger Bits: Big Ten opposes recruiting deregulation, invites even more scrutiny

An Iowa Gazette report revealed the Big Ten's opposition to proposed NCAA recruiting deregulation proposals and made a messy week even messier for the conference.


There are number of ways to react to the Iowa Gazette report showing the Big Ten lose its collective mind over the NCAA's recruiting deregulation agenda proposed last January.

The first is solidarity. The NCAA proposed 25 revisions, among them changes that would allow schools to send unlimited text messages and printed recruiting material to high schoolers. The biggest point of contention was a revision that would allow non-coach personnel for recruiting; essentially, scouting departments. Soon after signing day, the conference released a statement admonishing the proposed changes. Kirk Ferentz said that college football could become like baseball, where the New York Yankees "start in the inside lane every year. They've got the biggest payroll." Urban Meyer sent a text message to Pat Fitzgerald explaining the issue:

"that there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed. Thought u should be aware if [sic] this nonsense to share with who u feel can assist."

The coaches have a fair point. Recruiting already feels like icky business, and it will only get ickier if the proposed changes (which have been tabled for now) eventually come to pass. Alabama head coach Nick Saban is on the cutting edge of evil, of course. Via

In talking with one source about the subject this weekend, I was told, "Alabama is building an army." He wasn't kidding.

While the Gators and Bulldogs each have directors of player personnel, Saban has hired four people specifically for that department alone. He also has added seven "football analysts," an "athletics relations coordinator" and a "recruiting operations coordinator".

All told, Emperor Saban has built a staff that consists of 28 soldiers for football only duty. All of them can be involved in recruiting at all times.

The other point of view is that Ferentz, Meyer, Delany, and Co. are looking for an excuse not to spend money, which would be rather hypocritical coming from the country's richest athletic conference. In the SEC, you have a set of multi-million dollar coaches who are willing to make full use of the resources available to them. That TV cash flow can't go solely to administrators and vanity building projects if it isn't going to players. In the Big Ten, those multimillion dollar coaches still somehow haven't woken up to the obscene amount of money in their hands.

Or they're just lazy. Cue EDSBS:

Kirk Ferentz, who is 19-19 in his last three years as coach, makes $3.8 million dollars a year, has a titanic buyout, a nasty habit of trying to get family members on the payroll, and gave the assistant of the year award to his strength coach just after he'd sent 13 players to the hospital with rhabdomyolysis. That Kirk Ferentz and his ungodly buyout are pleading poverty in the face of spending more on recruiting.

This is the part where I tell you the issue isn't cut-and-dry. Yes, Big Ten schools have the resources to keep up in an arms race with the SEC (though it helps that Alabama supports 15 teams compared to 23 for Wisconsin). Then again, is there really good reason to ease making the college football machine bigger than it already is? NCAA regulations are convoluted and often nonsensical. They also, on rare occasions, make the process more palatable for coaches, fans, and players.

That said, if you have a problem with recruiting expenses, you probably shouldn't be too happy about your $3.8 million salary.

Quick question: Is Jim Delany's head still somewhere up his butt?

Oh, hell yeah. The Big Ten's argument may be grayish, but there is no defending how the the commissioner handled the press release. Delany emailed NCAA president Mark Emmert three days after the Big Ten went public with its statement apologizing for not giving him any forewarning. Emmert responded by asking Delany why he didn't say anything in the months-long vetting process, during which Rice was the only school to raise any opposition.

"If now the membership doesn't want some of these changes, fine by me," Emmert wrote. "But to be honest, I don't know how the membership wants to make decisions. The process used to make these changes was as open, representative and democratic and I could imagine - other than the old town hall convention model I suppose."

The revisions were also overseen by Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon, who chairs the NCAA executive committee. She was not pleased that the Big Ten decided to oppose deregulation only after the NCAA had announced its agenda, essentially hanging her to dry.

"I find it interesting that I was advised by the conference to vote for these rules being assured that they had been discussed within the conference and we were involved in the committee process."

She adds, "I must admit after all of our integrity and power coach discussions, I found the press release - the tone, the method and lack of conversation with Mark (Emmert) or me prior to release - very disturbing."

Very disturbing indeed.

If only the Big Ten's cracker jack week ended there.


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