The Road to Signing Day 2007: What’s an Evaluation Period?

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The NCAA football recruiting calendar has entered its “Evaluation
Period,” which means that college coaches, for the next few weeks, can head
out and make off-campus visits to evaluate recruits – hence the name. But what
is meant by “Evaluation Period”? What’s allowed, and what’s not
allowed? The answers, like so many things surrounding football recruiting, are
confusing, amusing, and even a little strange.

There’s been a lot of discussion this spring about whether Virginia Tech gets
a slow start in recruiting relative to other schools. The Hokies don’t really
firm up their recruiting list until late April or early May, and given what I’ve
just learned about the NCAA’s football recruiting calendar and the Evaluation
Period, I understand why the Hokies do it that way. I don’t necessarily approve
mind you, but I understand.

Ever since National Signing Day on February 1st, NCAA football recruiting has
been in a “Quiet Period.” College coaches are allowed to have
in-person visits with recruits, but only on the college campus – in
other words, only if the player makes an unofficial visit to the campus and sees
the coach there. Tech and other schools invite lots of players for the spring
game and are allowed to mingle with those players and talk to them.

But since Signing Day, coaches have not been allowed to make off-campus
visits, until now. From April 15th to May 31st, NCAA football is in its
“Evaluation Period,” allowing coaches to make off-campus visits, to
travel to where the recruits live.

So, coaches can go to the recruits’ homes, meet them and their parents, and
make a recruiting pitch, right? Uh, not exactly. In a strange twist, the college
coaches are not allowed to talk to the recruits. Coaches and recruits can see
each other and be in the same vicinity, but they’re not allowed to have actual
conversations. “Hi” is about as far as it can go, and most college
coaches won’t even say that.

That’s baffling, isn’t it? Then what’s the