Coaches want to zap a little-known rule
Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
SANDESTIN - The SEC football and basketball coaches have been made aware of a little-known NCAA rule that has become a major and disconcerting topic of conversation at the league's spring meetings.
Some coaches, including Florida's Urban Meyer, are hoping the SEC uses its considerable clout to have the rule altered or eliminated.
As it stands now, there is a rule in place that allows a player who has earned his degree but has a year or more of athletic eligibility remaining to transfer to another school and play immediately while pursuing a post-graduate degree.
"That's a loophole that we closed up (with conversations in the meetings)," Meyer said. "I'm convinced they'll eventually shut that one down.
"I can see when I was at Bowling Green all of a sudden a young guy hears that rule and he says, 'You know what, I'm having a hell of a career here. I'm going to graduate and go try my take at another university and not have to sit.' I don't think everyone is aware of that rule. It's hidden. I can't see that one sticking around."
Some coaches say the rule probably won't be much of a factor, especially with many of the best players looking toward professional careers and possible early exits to the NFL and NBA.
"I don't see it having any impact at all on basketball," Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton said.
Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville said it could have impacted one of his best players two years ago - tailback Ronnie Brown. Brown graduated before his senior season, but decided to stay at Auburn, where he shared playing time with Carnell Williams. Brown and Williams both went on to be first-round picks in the NFL Draft.
"Technically, he could have gone to any other school he wanted to and played right away," Tuberville said. "But he never considered it."
Hog stayed home
Even though Springdale, Ark., wide receiver Damian Williams stayed committed to Meyer and the Gators from last summer all the way to a few days before signing day, UF could not fend off Arkansas in the 11th hour.
Williams eventually succumbed to the non-stop recruiting of the home state school and signed with the Hogs on signing day.
It was a major victory for Houston Nutt.
"He was probably the best pure athlete in our state and a tremendous playmaker. We couldn't afford to lose a guy like that," Nutt said. "He was really important. I'm really excited we didn't lose him."
Florida did instead.
"We just hung in there with him (after he committed to UF)," Nutt said. "We didn't rush him or push him. We kept telling him we're still recruiting you. You're going to have to tell me to go away. He didn't mind that. He said keep coming. He kept the door open and we hung in there. We had six (members of the coaching staff) in his living room that last weekend. It was constant. We let him know we wanted him."
Nutt said Williams likely will have an immediate impact this fall. His high school teammate, All-American quarterback Mitch Mustain, also should be an early factor.
Nutt said Mustain will have a chance to compete for the starting job.
"He's a pretty cool customer," Nutt said. "It will be interesting to see how he handles things. You have to give Mitch Mustain a look. He's very smart, he has a very strong arm and he knows what we're doing (offensively)."
Nutt said Mustain is the most highly rated quarterback the Hogs have ever signed.
"We've never had a five-star quarterback. We've never had a Parade national player of the year," Nutt said. "He's a guy who's going to get a lot of attention and exposure. We have to keep him grounded and work him in there slowly and let's see what happens."
UF recruits eligible?
Meyer said it appears all the members of the 2006 UF recruiting class have a chance to qualify academically.
"We're waiting on a few," Meyer said. "It's going really well. There's one (we're not sure of yet). I want to say it's right on track to hit them all."
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