Michigan's Brady Hoke on recruit flipping: It'll keep happening
ANN ARBOR -- The days of the Big Ten's informal "gentlemen's agreement," when it comes to football recruiting, almost seem as archaic as the role fax machines play in National Signing Day.
With each passing year, more and more schools have gotten into the business of flipping recruits -- almost completely undermining the importance of a verbal commitment.
At Michigan, Brady Hoke's not exempt.
And moving forward, he doesn't see any of that slowing down.
"It'll continue," Hoke said Wednesday. "And it'll probably only get enhanced."
In Michigan's 2013 recruiting class, five players that signed with the Wolverines were, at one time, committed elsewhere.
Four-star corner Ross Douglas was a Penn State pledge until Michigan flipped him in July. Three-star wide receiver Da'Mario Jones abandoned his pledge to Central Michigan and verballed to Hoke in October.
Four-star safety Delano Hill was up next, changing his mind from Iowa to Michigan in December.
From there, Hoke and company were able to sway three-star offensive lineman Dan Samuelson from Nebraska and three-star corner Reon Dawson from Illinois in January.
Last month, Hoke was quoted as saying "they have a signing day for a reason," hinting that he felt no remorse with regard to getting commitments from players who had already offered a college verbal.
On Wednesday, he explained why -- and most of it, he says, has less to do with ethics and more to do with NCAA rules.
Rules that allow players to commit to schools far too early, in his opinion.
"Some time before (August, the NCAA will) do a little more with the (recruiting) calendar and you're going to start being able to contact juniors during their junior year," he said. "Does that mean home visits? I know basketball's gone to some of this stuff. But they have an early signing period."
On Aug. 1, the NCAA will de-regulate its stance on the number of phone calls, text messages and social media interactions college football coaches can have with recruits.
College basketball went through this process last summer, and most coaches seemed to give the rule change a warm reception -- Michigan's John Beilein among them.
Also, last month the NCAA Board of Directors voted to table a proposal that would also allow college football coaches to begin placing those phone calls/texts/social media messages to recruits on July 1 prior to the start of their junior year in high school.
That bylaw will be voted on again in April. Currently, coaches cannot make phone contact with players until July 1 prior to their senior year.
By doing that, Hoke says, coaches will be able to put more pressure on kids to commit early -- which will undoubtedly lead to more decommitments and more flipping.
"If I'm a high school English teacher that's a football coach and I teach four classes a day and I've got good seniors and good juniors, and I'm going to have coaches coming in every day trying to get this guy out of class, that guy out of class," Hoke said. "For the high school coaches, it's a big time mistake (to start committing too early)."
In terms of personal housekeeping, Hoke has established his own personal policy with recruits to avoid ending up on the losing end of recruit flips.
Per Hoke's policy, Michigan asks committed players to refrain from taking visits to other schools before National Signing Day. By Hoke's logic, when Michigan accepts a commitment from a player, the school is then holding that player's spot in the class until it is finalized.
Meaning, they won't look to replace that prospect with someone else before all is said and done. In turn, they ask for the same.
If a player wishes to take other visits, Hoke asks in return that the prospect is open and honest about it with the Michigan coaching staff. Lack of communication in that process has resulted in Hoke dropping players from his classes in the past.
Michigan signee David Dawson decommitted from the school in the fall in order to take other visits, but ultimately re-committed and signed with the Wolverines.
Hoke was asked about that policy Wednesday, and gave a rather vague answer.
"That policy, every situation is a little bit different," said Hoke, who lost defensive back Gareon Conley to Ohio State during this past recruiting cycle. "I'm not going to get into personal things kids go through, but every situation is a little bit different."
In the end, though, Hoke says it's probably likely that Michigan will continue to win and lose from recruit flipping.
But he's not about to blame the coaches.
He'll blame the system instead.
"Philosophy of life: Kids need to be kids," Hoke said. "I don't think the rules are helping that."