Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is at his best evaluating players and nothing takes the place of seeing a player up close and personal while making those assessments.
But according to NCAA rules, Fisher, and all other head coaches, are prohibited from being on the road to watch prospects live during the 45-day spring evaluation period.
Fisher does not agree with the rule and said so Friday during an interview on Sirius/XM College Sports Radio’s The Playbook with Jack Arute and Andy Staples.
“I am still mad over this. … head coaches can’t go out in spring football,” Fisher told Arute and Staples. “I think that is ridiculous, I really do.”
The spring evaluation period (April 15-May 31) allows for seven assistant coaches to go on the road six days a week to evaluate. They must take off Sunday.
They are allowed to visit high schools and talk about the prospect with coaches and administration along with watch practices and team workouts on the field and in the weight room.
Head coaches were allowed to make visits before 2008, which is when a rule change took them off the road. The rule was nicknamed the “Saban Rule” after Alabama coach Nick Saban was questioned for having improper contact with recruits during the period. Saban, and others, furiously hit the road during that time to learn as much as they could about prospects.
Fisher questioned those who championed the cause and is not the only one who wondered if it was borne out of laziness.
“It is the guys who didn’t want to work,” Fisher said. “That is what I truly believe.”
“You have to be able to go see – you want me to recruit these kids, you want me to judge them, you want me to keep them, know about them, and I can’t even go watch them practice or play as a head coach. Unless a guy comes to your camp, you don’t really get to see them play (as a head coach). By the time he comes on an official visit during the season in December or January, most of them are already committed. We talk out of both sides of our mouth in that regard.”
The year the change was made, Saban said:
“I think it’s ridiculous that we’re doing what we’re doing. When you’re talking about developing relationships and knowing players and meeting guidance counselors and talking to principals and all those kind of things, I think we’re put ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of evaluation.
“I think we’ve really limited ourselves by what we’ve done, and I totally disagree with it.”
Fisher added that watching a player on film is not enough.
“Film and eye presence is never closely the same,” he said. “You can judge more in five or ten minutes of watching a guy than three hours of film.
“If you want to see physical talent, watch him move, and see if he is really athletic enough, works hard enough, or his attitude in practice. There is nothing like seeing somebody in-person.”
Fisher is in constant contact with his staff during this time and says he has to trust their ability to evaluate.
“That is where you have to go back and trust your assistants, that the guys that you have as assistants that can evaluate,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can recruit, I won’t always say there are a lot of guys who can evaluate. I think evaluation is the key.”
FSU’s staff, led by recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster, was on the road last week and, as Brewster indicated via Twitter, has a busy week ahead.