A few days before what would prove to be a very successful Big Red Weekend for the Nebraska football program, I asked recruiting coordinator Ross Els for one thing he'd change on the recruiting calendar if he were emperor of the rules.
Some of you probably already read his answer in the full piece here, but I'll highlight it again in this blog:
Els: "I think it would be to allow official visits in the month of June. A majority of the kids in the Big Ten will have made their decisions about where they're going before schools are allowed to do official visits. So therefore, you need to get kids on campus before the school can pay for it. And for schools that don't have a great population like us, it's a little bit of a disadvantage.
"So if there was one rule, it's to let us bring kids in in June. Let us bring at least one parent or one adult with him so we can get a more mature person helping on the decision, and not just an 18-year-old kid deciding the biggest decision of his life.
"It would also take away a lot of the pressure from the high school football programs. I grew up with my dad coaching at Northeast, and even though the recruiting wasn't as big back then, I understand what his thought would be. If one of his best players had to get up early Saturday morning after playing a late Friday night game, get on a plane, fly halfway around the country, go spend a weekend with the team, get back Sunday evening, then get up Monday and go to school, when's a kid going to do homework? When's a kid going to recover from that game? So I think the high schools would be definitely in favor of it also."
I nodded my head as Els was saying this. And it it has nothing to do with whether it helps or hurts or is of no consequence at all to Nebraska in the recruiting game. I consider myself an impartial observer to the whole thing. But I think what Els is saying on this issue is just plain common sense.
With the accelerated pace of recruiting in recent years, and with kids feeling the heat more and more to commit before their senior year -- in some cases because their scholarship spot at their school of interest might be taken by someone else if they don't -- I honestly find it a bit boggling to the mind why the rules still force recruits pay out of pocket for recruiting trips during the summer months before their senior year.
As Els points out, official visits in the fall aren't exactly the most convenient thing for all parties. Above all, they can be especially difficult for a recruit playing a football game on Friday night with a history exam waiting him Monday morning.
Now obviously some recruits are going to want to save their official visit for the gameday experience in the fall. Understandable. And if a recruit wants to wait to use his official at a school so he can witness the fall Saturday scene on a campus like Lincoln or Ann Arbor or wherever, by all means do so.
But some recruits can't afford to wait that long the way the process is now playing out. And June is about as good a month as any for these recruits to get away and see schools without it impacting their own team or their academics.
The way it is, we're asking a lot of families like those of Matthew Jordan, the quarterback from Jackson, Ala., who paid the airfare and lodging to visit Lincoln for BRW this past weekend, and Tony James, the running back from Gainesville, Fla., who was among a handful or prospects who was pondering a visit but ultimately did not make the trip.
From all accounts, James is planning to visit Lincoln in the fall at some point when it counts as an official. But he should have had the option on the table to use his official to Nebraska this last weekend if he so desired. He shouldn't have to wait until the fall, as recruiting classes around him start to fill up in the summer, to have a trip so significant to his future paid for.
You might say a change to making official visits acceptable in June would benefit Nebraska. It probably would. Els seemed to think it might. But, most important to me, it's just the right thing to do by recruits.