New rules force coaches to protect’ potential recruits

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2001

[04/27/01] Coaches at two-year colleges have long had to recruit against senior colleges, but starting next year, they’ll have to compete against each other as well.

State community college presidents have voted to let coaches “protect” a certain number 40 percent of each sport’s squad size of the players they intend to recruit, leaving the rest as fair game for opposing coaches from other districts. For example, a football coach can protect 22 players from his district.

The problem, Hinds football coach Gene Murphy said, is that the list will be due in the fall, months before signing day.

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That means coaches will have to decide if they’re wasting a pick by protecting the most talented players, who are often being recruited by Division I-A schools.

“That’s the dilemma we’ll be put in,” said Murphy, whose team won the state title last year. “It will be a gamble on who to protect.”

Presidents also decided to cut back on out-of-state recruits for all major sports, limiting football teams to five scholarships to divide among eight players instead of six scholarships to divide among 10 players.

The changes are intended to help distribute the talent for less populated districts.

In another cost-cutting measure, schedules for major sports will be reduced by 10 percent, cutting football back to a nine-game regular season. The door was, however, opened again for the possibility of postseason bowl games again.

“With the state budget the way it is, I doubt anyone will go bowling this year,” Murphy said.

The out-of-state cutbacks were most troubling to Murphy.

“It’s going to have a negative effect,” he said. “The quality of the league will not be as good.”

Mississippi jucos have relied on Alabama and Louisiana, which don’t offer juco football, for a steady supply of talent over the years.

But in-state players will also suffer, Murphy said.

“If you have a high-profile player from out of state on your team, coaches that come to see him are seeing every other player on your team, too,” he said. “It means big-time exposure.”

Murphy said that Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was at the Raymond school in November to sign Andrew Williams, a defensive lineman from Tampa, Fla. While Bowden was there, he was “watching film and he could have discovered someone else in the process,” Murphy said.

HCC graduate Tyrone Robertson, a Virginia native, was drafted by Buffalo on Sunday. He was the only player out of 246 drafted who played his last collegiate ball at a two-year school.

With Hinds’ national reputation, Murphy seemed confident that he could keep players from Hinds, Rankin, Warren and Claiborne counties in their district while schools from more sparsely populated districts like Itawamba and Northeast travel to recruit more football-rich areas.

“I think it’s going to make it more expensive,” Murphy said.

“The interstate is going to be wore out with them coming to Jackson.”