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Pushback against delaying 10th college football assistant

(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

Two top college football administrators oppose delaying until the end of next season the expansion of FBS coaching staffs to 10 members.

Winter is hiring season for assistant coaches in college football. Programs usually have their staffs in place by the start of spring practice. Most teams are winding down spring practice in April.

The NCAA announced earlier in the week an amendment put forth by the Mid-American Conference to a wide-ranging recruiting reforms proposal that is going to the Division I Council for final approval in mid-April. The new rules were intended to take effect immediately. Now the council will first vote on the amendment to push back just the addition of a 10th full-time coaching position in FBS to January.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chairman of the NCAA's football oversight committee, and Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, acknowledged that 130 teams hiring a coach when staffs are typically set could create an inconvenience for schools that lose assistants.

Still, they say it is not worth waiting.

"(The committee has) talked about it at length. Tell me if you think it's less disruptive if it's Aug. 1, Dec. 1 or Jan. 15?" Bowlsby told The Associated Press on Thursday. "There's going to be disruption no matter when it goes into effect."

Berry said the message he got from FBS head coaches when they met in January was there would not be a lot of poaching assistants from other staffs.

"I think the majority of the FBS guys that I've talked with currently believe that that 10th coach is going to come from within their own organization. Quality control. Graduate assistants. Analysts," said Berry, the former head coach of Army and Louisiana-Monroe. "Or they're planning on hiring somebody that's out of work."

Berry said there was concern among some head coaches outside the Power Five about having to scramble to fill multiple positions if schools with bigger budgets try to lure their assistants.

"I think our group has tried to mitigate some of those problems for the good of everyone else," Berry said.

According to USA Today's assistant coaches' salary data base, the highest-paid assistant in the MAC last season was Kirk Ciarrocca, who made $320,000 as Western Michigan's offensive coordinator. That ranked 274th among assistants listed in the data base and he was the only MAC coach to rank among the top 300.

The Mountain West had three of the 300 highest paid assistant coaches. Conference USA had two and the Sun Belt had none.

MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, also a member of the oversight committee, said hiring another coach at the end of the fiscal year "didn't seem to be wise management."

"To drop this down in the middle of April doesn't seem to sync up," he said.

The council is scheduled to vote on the recruiting reform package by April 14. The proposal, which is expected to pass, creates an additional signing period in December for high school players along with the opportunity for them to make official visits to college campuses in the spring. It also regulates where and when college coaches can participate in summer football camps.

"I don't know if there is ever a good time for a coach to hire a guy or potentially lose a guy on staff," Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. "I get that there's some schools of thought there that they'd like to wait until after the season, basically the next hiring process. My wish is that it would go immediately."

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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More college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org/

Updated February 16, 2017

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