“I’ll probably get in trouble for this,” Rocky Long began, and the reporters assembled in front of him made sure to listen more closely.
The San Diego State coach went on to blast the new NCAA recruiting and practice rules, with the latter most greatly impacting the Aztecs and other teams this month as they prepare for the upcoming football season.
The NCAA eliminated two-a-days in the name of player safety, but is allowing schools an extra five practice days to make up the difference. Coaches said doing away with double sessions was unnecessary and the extra practices defeated the NCAA’s intended purpose.
“We had a total of three days of two-a-days (last year) and because of the ways the rules work, one practice (each day) was in helmets,” Long said. “You can’t wear any pads in one of the two-a-day practices. So, basically, we were already at the point where nobody was having two-a-days. We were already there, and I have confidence in 99 percent of the college coaches they’re not going to beat their kids up because all those kids have to play on Saturday.
“Coaches, we’re not real smart, but we’re not complete dummies. So they make all those rules for the non-Power Five guys. It’s going to cost a lot more money. If you go for an extra week of practice, that means you bring (players) in, you pay for their dorms, you feed them for a whole extra week. That’s a couple hundred grand. Power Five guys, they’ve got millions, they’ve got billions. It doesn’t bother them.”
Long has good company among his coaching brethren. The NCAA’s new practice rules are less popular among his colleagues than pay parking garages on the Strip.
UNLV opens training camp at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday at Rebel Park. Its practices are closed to the public.
“I think it’s another thing that the NCAA makes an uninformed decision,” Rebels coach Tony Sanchez said. “So they decide to eliminate two-a-days for the protection of kids, right? Well, we did four two-a-days last year, pretty much like anybody else.
“So what do they do? They give us an extra week of football. You’re going an extra week with shoulder pads and helmets and banging. So they added an extra week of wear and tear to the kids’ bodies.”
Adjusting to the rules
Coaches are adjusting to the new practice landscape. New Mexico coach Bob Davie opened camp last Thursday, but decided to give his team a bye from Aug. 16 to Aug. 20. The idea also was to work around the school’s summer and fall academic calendars so that players could get true time off.
“I’ve never done it before, but these kids didn’t get a chance to go home,” Davie said. “We’re starting the first day that compliance has told us we can start. We’re going to go hard until the 16th of August. I’m going to give those kids a chunk of time where there’s no school and there’s no football, and that’s what I have to do.
“I’d rather say, ‘Let’s get our heavy work done, and I’m going to shut it down.’ Then we come back, and we’re ready to go.”
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin also looked at the calendar and determined his team wouldn’t hit the practice field until August, though they take won’t nearly a week off during camp, either.
He had some flexibility since the Broncos open Sept. 2 rather than a week earlier like a handful of teams. Three Mountain West schools play their first game on Aug. 26.
“If we played the early week, we would start early,” Harsin said. “We’re not going to play the early week. We’re going to fight like hell not to do that. But if you’re getting into July and you’re starting football, for your coaches, I think it’s crazy. It’s important to me that our coaches have a quality of life, too. Otherwise, you’re not going to have coaches. They’re going to go coach in the NFL. They’re going to get the heck out because you give them five weekends off a year to be with their families. That’s crazy.”
Coaches said the intent of the new rules wasn’t the issue.
It was what they believed was a lack of understanding by the NCAA of the situation on the ground.
“I think we all realized a long time ago you can’t go 2½ hours twice a day for two weeks and tackle every day,” Sanchez said. “Those days are long gone. But I don’t know how much they talked to coaches about that before they made the decision.”
(Times & dates are subject to change. Practices, which are closed to the public, are at Rebel Park unless otherwise noted.)
Wednesday, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (helmets only)
Thursday, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (helmets only)
Friday, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Saturday, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Sunday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. (full pads) at Sam Boyd Stadium
Tuesday, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Aug. 9, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (full pads)
Aug. 10, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Aug. 11, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (helmets only)
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (scrimmage) at Sam Boyd Stadium
Aug. 14, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Aug. 15, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (full pads)
Aug. 16, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (half pads)
Aug. 18, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Aug. 19, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (scrimmage)
Aug. 20, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. (helmets only)
Aug. 22, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Aug. 23, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (full pads)
Aug. 24, 8:10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (half pads)
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.