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One Thing Penn State's New Coach Might Not Be Able to Do

by on December 01, 2011 9:16 PM

Hiring Urban Meyer this past Sunday was an act of strategic brilliance by Ohio State. In most cases coaches are hired and fired at the season's end. The distractions are at a minimum and it keeps the team focused on the upcoming game.

Ohio State took this in to account, but a much bigger and more important event played a role in the date or Meyer's hire: the first day of the Winter Contact Recruiting Period. Ohio State was able to hire the biggest coaching name in college football and send him out recruiting the very same day.

What many college football fans do not realize is that colleges are only able to contact high school recruits in person and off campus during certain times of the year. It allows student athletes to focus on their studies, and keeps the circus of college recruitment from getting anymore out of control. There are various types of recruiting periods, but one of the most important began this past Sunday.

Between Sunday, Nov. 27 to Satirday, Dec. 17 coaches are allowed to visit recruits and prospects in-person. This period will be especially important for Penn State in terms of damage control and recruits' perception of the direction of the program and university.

For Penn State, the future of the program relies almost as heavily on the ability to recruit as it does the X's and O's. If Penn State brings in a head coach from somewhere other than the East Coast, the more time that coach has to see potential players in person the better. The NCAA's definition of a "Contact Period" is as follows.

Contact Period:

  • "Is the time when a college coach may have in-person contact with a prospective student-athlete and the prospect's parents on or off the college's campus. The coach may also watch the prospective student-athlete play or visit his or her high school. The prospect and the parents may visit a college campus, and the coach may write and telephone during this period."

While Penn State will still be able to contact recruits after December 17th via telephone or in writing, Penn State's next coach will only have a brief 3-week window in January from Friday January 13th until Saturday January 28th to visit recruits in person. After that, Penn State will be limited to phone calls until next November.

If Penn State wants to take advantage of this contact period like Ohio State has, they only have 16 days remaining.

Recruiting dates:

  • Sunday, Nov. 27th until Saturday, Dec. 17th: Coaches are allowed to visit prospects in person off campus once a week. Phone calls and letters are allowed.
  • Sunday, Dec. 11th until Tuesday, Jan. 3rd: Coaches are not allowed to contact recruits in any way. Calls and letters allowed. There is then a brief 4-day contact period following.
  • Sunday, Jan 8th until Thursday, Jan.12th: Coaches are not allowed to contact recruits in person. Calls and letter allowed.
  • Friday, Jan. 13th until Saturday, Jan 28th: Coaches are allowed to visit prospects in person off campsu once a week. Phone calls and letters are allowed.
  • Sunday, Jan. 29th until Thursday, Feb. 3rd: Coaches are not allowed to contact recruits. Calls and letters allowed.
  • National Letter of Intent: Wednesday Feb. 2nd. Recruits are allowed to sign their Letters of Intent starting this day forward.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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