NCAA to allow unlimited official visits: 'Stupid.' 'Unbelievable.' 'Dumb.'
College football programs better be prepared to pony up for more luxury hotel rooms, airline tickets, steaks and lobsters.
Inflation hitting every corner of the economy? After the NCAA announced Thursday that effective July 1 there will be unlimited official visits for prospects instead of the five trips that have been commonplace for years, the college coaches and recruiting staffers I talked to were just deflated.
“F***ing crazy,” one source said. “Stupid.”
Another source: “Why? Just don’t get it. What is the reasoning behind it? Unbelievable.”
I almost always side with what’s perceived as best for the prospect over the coach who makes a hefty salary or the school which has oodles of money to spend. But this change by the NCAA seems bone-headed, ham-handed and unnecessary.
Top recruits are taking unofficial visits earlier and earlier. Some take so many trips to particular schools, they’ve met with the head coaches, position coaches, trainers and players on the team more than I met with my wife before marrying her.
And thousands of these kids will end up in the transfer portal anyway.
The point is: A healthy majority of recruits know where they want to go or at least have a good idea by the time official visits come around anyway. This is just another excuse for many of them to get wined and dined – well, dined at least – and live the high life on someone else’s dime as they feign interest at steakhouses across the country.
All the while, the recruiting staffers and the coaches have to love these kids up even more while doling out airline tickets and hotel suites in pursuit of many kids they will be almost certain they’re not going to sign.
But to say no to an elite recruit that wants a free trip – and for you to pay for it? Few coaches will say no. Relationships are everything in recruiting and burning a bridge to save a few thousand dollars won’t be worth it to these coaches who have to keep tapping many of the same elite high school programs for talent year after year.
The rich will get richer – and the middle-class programs will be sitting around their kitchen tables trying to figure out how to pay the catering bills.
Unofficial visits are fine because colleges don’t have to pay for those. But with this NCAA change, those trips will now be turned into officials, so why wouldn’t more kids go around the country for free and live like kings for a weekend – and then almost always pick another school?
Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU, USC and Michigan – all the regulars – will still get the top kids. But this ruling will make it challenging for those second-tier teams looking to break through. What about a lower-level Power Five team that has some momentum but now needs to sustain it? Forget it.
And what program even wanted this?
“It’s dumb,” one source said.
I traded messages with at least six sources, and all were either wildly upset about it or seemed to shrug and say, "Why? Yet another thing to deal with."
There used to be a quiet time in July when coaches and recruiting department people could be husbands and fathers and sons – and normal. Now they’ll be sitting in Ruth’s Chris or back in the football building – yay! – since recruits no longer have to pick and choose where they’re going to visit for free.
One source did make an interesting point, though. This does give coaches the ability to say ‘no’ to an official visitor, especially ones they’re pretty certain they have no chance of getting. It might actually provide a little more clarity in that sense if coaches pick and choose their official visitors even more judiciously now.
Another told me – and this is from a championship-level program – that a prospect’s actions will now be more important than ever. If a recruit is hitting up every school left and right for free trips, this team might be more than happy to turn down hosting him. If actions speak louder than words, prospects should be careful and consider what they’re doing here.
But this is recruiting. We all know more schools than not will bow down and they will host as many prospects as want to come. They roll out professional photo shoots and Lambos and God knows what else on official visits now. No elite team is going to want to look substandard, especially if someone else is doing it. If it means more in the SEC, now it’s going to cost more.
“It’s going to drive everyone out of college football,” one source said. “You will have no life.”
In the pursuit of a natty, to have these kids living that life, is it worth it?