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College football coaches share their thoughts with ESPN about tampering

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NCAA Football: Clemson at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

College coaches have lost a lot of control over their players that they previously enjoyed, and to no one’s surprise, they like to complain about this. Which is not to say they don’t have legitimate gripes in some cases—tampering almost certainly is a larger problem now, with the one-time transfer rule in place, and no real disincentive not to do it, save one’s personal ethics, perhaps.

But college football is also a sport where continuing to recruit high school players committed elsewhere is already considered well within the bounds of ethical behavior.

ESPN spoke with coaches across college football, many of whom spoke anonymously, about the state of tampering in recruiting. The article includes some overly-alarmist takes but some of these coaches have good perspectives (see: Luke Fickell). It also outlines how coaches go about tampering:

A prominent high school coach told ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren he has seen it increase to the point that he estimates 60% of college teams are doing it.

“With one player, last season I got four calls from four different conferences,” the high school coach said. “‘Is he happy? They’re not using him like we would use him.’ These are SEC, Big Ten and some big-name schools.”

A Power 5 coach surveyed the current landscape. It looked to him, he said, like the “wild, wild West.”

It’s easy to either use a high school coach or other players as intermediaries in reaching out to kids on other teams, so it’s next to impossible to actually prove tampering is going on, even if a coach is sure that it is. Since there’s nothing that the NCAA can do from an enforcement perspective—hey, what else is new—this whole thing figures to stay a more pronounced fact of life in recruiting.