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April 9, 2013

Stoops ready to hire more staff when NCAA fixes legislation

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Imagine you are one of the top football recruits in the country just waking up on a summer Saturday morning. As you wake up, you check your phone: 15 missed calls, 50 text messages waiting since 5:30 a.m., another 100 emails unread.

As you walk outside to check the mail, your mailbox is stuffed with hundreds of handwritten letters, 500-page media guides.

As you clumsily carry all your mail back to the house, a scout for Alabama is calling you on the phone, he's just arrived in town with five other scouts from Alabama and they wants to pop over and say hello to the family.

This scenario may not be how things really play out for top recruits, but if the NCAA had their way, it could have been.

Back in January, the NCAA passed controversial legislation which would have removed restrictions on text messages and phone calls to recruits, allowing schools to contact recruits whenever they want.

The changes didn't stop there as the NCAA also was set to allow interaction between recruits and non-coaching university personnel. A move that would allow football programs to hire personnel staffs that could contact recruits, attend their games and practices.

They also lifted restrictions on sending recruits printed recruiting materials.

Although I'm sure the USPS could have used the extra business, it certainly would have made life difficult on Johnny Football's local mail carrier.

All that legislation has been tabled recently as NCAA members voted to override the new rules and send the new proposals back to the drawing board.

No massive personnel departments, no mailbox stuffing, no text message barrages.

Oklahoma and Bob Stoops were one of the 75 member institutions who sent in their votes to override the legislation.

"If you open this up it's a floodgate - deregulating everything," said Stoops. "Where's an end to it? I think it's the right thing to do. What's broke? What are we trying to fix here. I think everything has been pretty decent the way everyone's managed this. Why are we going so far the other way?"

Stoops isn't afraid of the extra work involved, but he does have concerns about what recruiting deregulation could mean for the integrity of the recruiting process.

Football coaches are there to coach, but recruit as well. They stare down their opponents every Saturday on the football field. They shake hands and look each other in the eye after the game is over.

If you open this up it's a floodgate - deregulating everything. Where's an end to it? I think it's the right thing to do. Why are we going so far the other way?"

But what happens when you have an office full of scouts who are out on the road recruiting and calling kids? Who knows what could happen, what promises could be made, what rules could be bent or even broken?

"Now it's back into the '70s of doing whatever the heck you want to do," said Stoops. "That gets hard to - I know right now, whether some people still are doing some things, I still feel it's much cleaner and honest."

A month ago, fans were calling for Stoops to keep up with schools like Alabama, who seemed to be in a hiring frenzy to stay ahead of these personnel departments.

Now Alabama has a full staff of scouts and talent evaluators with no rules to support their hires.

Oklahoma didn't act that quickly, but even with the legislation currently tabled, Stoops won't sit still on bringing in more staff members.

"We've had a player personnel guy. We don't call him that, but we're going to now but he's been here," said Stoops of Reed Case, whose official title is currently On-campus Recruiting Coordinator. "He's been doing that. We'll hire a couple of guys to assist him in different capacities because other people have been doing that, even without the different changes."

Having a bigger support staff for recruiting is something Stoops is behind. He just wants to make sure everyone is playing by the same set of rules, and not the rules that were initially proposed back in January.

"It needs to be defined more so than what they're saying. I'd like to have more people in the staff to be able to do some of that but to me, there needs to be some kind of regulation on it," he said. "Let's get it defined first and then move forward as opposed to have at it and then have to reduce it."



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