The doldrums of college football received some fresh air Thursday afternoon, thanks to an NCAA announcement of sanctions on Texas A&M football.
According to the sport’s governing body, here’s what happened.
The university, head coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the head coach and an assistant coach had impermissible recruiting contact with a prospect at his high school. The conversation was impermissible because it occurred before the completion of the prospect’s junior year in high school.
Here’s the link in case anyone is interested.
The head coach part obviously refers to Jimbo Fisher. It has since been revealed that the assistant coach in question was, in fact, current Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham. Graham was hired away from Texas A&M after two years on Fisher’s first staff.
The decision includes a lot of punishments that have already been served. Here is the part that applies directly to Graham:
A six-month show-cause order for the assistant coach. The terms of the show-cause order include a previously served nine-day ban on phone calls, emails or texts with prospects in January 2020; a reduction in off-campus recruiting contact days by three for the December 2019 through January 2020 contact period; a ban on all off-campus recruiting activities for the fall 2020 contact period; and additional one-on-one rules education.
Besides the show-cause, only one of those is currently in place: The ban on off-campus recruiting activities in fall 2020.
There’s a few different ways to view this.
The first is that it won’t matter much because off-campus recruiting activities might not be allowed by the time fall rolls around. Even the most optimistic person has to admit there’s a chance the college football season is either severely altered or outright cancelled due to the coronavirus. If that’s the case, off-campus recruiting activities are pretty far down the list of essential activities.
The more negative view for Tennessee occurs if there is off-campus recruiting during the allotted time period. In that case, Graham having to stay back might limit his ability to form relationships with kids on their board. Tennessee’s staff is still very effective and proven on the trail, but Graham is regarded as a top recruiter. Certain players already have a difficult time making it to campus, and having a guy that might be their primary recruiter be stuck on campus could damper Tennessee’s chances.
Overall it shouldn’t affect Tennessee football all that much. Down the road it could impact a recruitment here or there, but the punishment itself is not on the level where fans should get overly concerned. For now, Graham can focus on the 2020 season (should it happen) and the recruits already in the boat.