Which college football recruiting rules should change, plus the transfer portal’s QB webs

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Good morning! Senior writer Ari Wasserman joins us today to discuss college football’s recruiting rules. Here we go …

Recruiting Grievances

What rule would staffers change?

In his story yesterday, Ari detailed what 10 Power 5 staffers would change about the NCAA’s recruiting rules. A couple of quick options that are addressed:

  • Let prospects sign whenever they want
  • Make the early signing period, well, early

While there’s no clear-cut solution to the grievances — one staffer said to “blow up the entire system” — I brought Ari in today to answer a few more questions about what he heard and learned while reporting the story.

You gave three options to amend signing day. Which one do you think is best?

I like the concept of an early signing period in the summer months. If you’re going to have an early signing period, do it more than two months before the regular one. While creating an early signing period in the summer will result in programs trying to coerce committed prospects into signing early, it gives players who made up their minds early a sense of security, and it allows the coaching staffs to take stock of what they have coming in before the crazy transfer portal and regular signing days come.

The recruiting calendar has been heavily criticized, but in your conversations with staffers, did they mention any issues with the rules that you hadn’t heard before?

There isn’t just one rule that stands out. It’s the fact that there are so many outdated rules that don’t make much sense. The entire sport has gone through such a dramatic evolution in the past three years, so it’s time to take a look at the entire rule book and lighten it up a little bit. There should be natural breaks from recruiting for staffers and prospects, but more than that, it’s the ticky-tack rules that don’t make sense that everyone hates.

Can you explain the purpose of the one-mile rule (which allows contact within one mile of campus boundaries) on unofficial visits and staffers’ opinions on it?

When players go on campus unofficially, they are paying their way. Even though people may roll their eyes at that notion in the world of NIL, that’s what differentiates an unofficial and official visit. When a player and his family pay their way, the burden of seeing the coaches and the campus is on them. So to keep everything on campus, the one-mile rule is put in place to prevent coaches from traveling unreasonable distances to see players who are in the area. One mile, however, seems like overkill considering there are restaurants and attractions that may be farther away from campus than that. A recruiting staffer suggested keeping the rule but changing it to the area code, which makes sense.

Read Ari’s full story here as you get ready for national signing day on Wednesday (but does anyone pay attention anymore with the early signing period?).

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Jeremiah Smith signed with Ohio State in December. (Manny Navarro / The Athletic)

QB Shuffle

USC, Holy Cross are closer than you think

In the latest cycle, 148 quarterbacks hit the transfer portal, a slight increase from the 136 who did so in last season’s offseason portal cycle. But even beyond the numbers, this cycle felt more chaotic than ever — especially at QB.

In a story today, portal guru Max Olson dove into the intricate web each transfer move created. I pulled one on “The Valuable Veterans” to analyze here.

The web illustrates each QB move that impacted another QB move this winter. For example, take a look at the thread that starts with Riley Leonard:

  • Leonard → Will Howard: When Kansas State’s Howard entered the portal, it was expected he would land at Notre Dame. But the Irish put all their focus on Duke’s Leonard, which ignited a winding recruitment for Howard.
  • Howard → Malachi Nelson: With Howard on the market, USC started its pursuit, which prompted Nelson, a five-star freshman, to jump to a school with a more secure starting spot in Boise State.
  • Nelson → Jayden Maiava: USC’s interest in Howard cooled, but the Trojans still grabbed Maiava from UNLV.
  • Maiava → Matthew Sluka: With the Mountain West Freshman of the Year off to USC, UNLV signed Sluka from Holy Cross late in the cycle.

That’s right, in this transfer web, USC and Holy Cross are just a thread away. Check out the rest of Max’s analysis here.

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Nearly 150 scholarship QBs entered the transfer portal during the recent window. (Getty Images; USA Today)

In Case You Missed it …

SEC, Big Ten form advisory group

On Friday, the SEC and Big Ten announced the formation of a joint advisory group. Ah yes, welcome to the Power 2.

OK, but actually, there’s no reason to freak out just yet. The group, which will be made up of university presidents and athletic directors, has a goal to “take a leadership role in developing solutions for a sustainable future of college sports,” and it comes on the heels of added tension between the NCAA and member schools, most notably surrounding NIL. The advisory group doesn’t have any authority to act independently and only will serve as a consulting body. In other words, this wasn’t designed to look like the first step of a breakaway from the NCAA.

So, what are the repercussions? As our David Ubben commented on an emergency Until Saturday podcast, one of the biggest takeaways means there will be meeting rooms in which the ACC and the Big 12 are “locked out.” That creates a separation behind closed doors that is bound to have effects in the future.

Quick Snaps

What does a Big Ten program spend on official visits? The Athletic’s Jesse Temple went through receipts and itineraries for an inside look at a recruiting weekend under Wisconsin. These are always a fun read.

Miami should finish with a top-five recruiting class in the 2024 cycle while Florida State and Florida are likely to remain in the top 15. But which freshmen in these classes are most likely to make an immediate impact?

Who is the secret to Georgia’s success? Seth Emerson on sports psychologist Drew Brannon’s impact on the program.

The NCAA’s power continues to dwindle. How did it get here? Stewart Mandel looks back at 10 important dates since 1977.

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(Top photo of Ryan Day: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

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