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Holliday seeks rule change

MU football
Jul. 31, 2013 @ 12:25 AM

HUNTINGTON -- With Marshall University football's opening practice for the 2013 season just five days away, nearly all eyes are looking ahead.

That didn't keep Marshall head coach Doc Holliday from speaking freely Monday about what he feels is one major issue in college football -- NCAA legislation preventing full-time coaches from interacting with their players during the summer.

For years, football coaches have lobbied the NCAA to change what is widely considered as dated legislation that prohibits "sport-specific instruction" from the end of spring practice until the official start of fall camp, which is Sunday when players at Marshall report.

In Holliday's eyes, it isn't about practice time in the summer. It's simply about being able to keep an eye over the program as a whole.

"I don't think we need to go out and be able to practice three days a week in the summer, but I think we need to get involved with our kids and get around them because, as a head coach, I'm sure accountable for them," Holliday said. "The more I'm around them, the better shot I've got to make sure they're doing a great job academically and make sure they are making great decisions off the field.

"When they take away all that time that you can spend with them, the job as a head coach and all your coaches, it becomes harder."

The dynamic is interesting considering that in January 2012, the NCAA approved regulations for Division I basketball coaches to take part in eight hours per week in the summer of staff-supervised workouts with no more than two of those hours based on skill instruction.

Now, Holliday and the Division I college football coaching fraternity are largely in agreement that a similar measure needs to be adopted for their sport.

Holliday said there has been talk about a setup similar to the spring when football coaches have eight hours a week to spend with players -- a similar scenario that was adopted in basketball.

As of now, Marshall's football players are basically in the hands of strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair from the Monday following spring practice until Sunday when players report for fall camp.

That leaves a three-month gap of little interaction, other than speaking about academics, between coaches and the players.

"We can't even watch them work out," Holliday said. "It's crazy."

Crazy might seem like a strong word, but given Holliday's examples, it almost fits the tune.

For example, football coaching staffs spend up to 18 months recruiting a high school player to their program.

If a high school kid who signed in February enrolls in the summer period, that player often doesn't get a chance to interact at length with those coaches who recruited them for his first three months on a campus.

Perhaps Holliday's strongest argument and words centered around off-field issues for players, which has risen over the last few years.

Holliday thinks more involvement of a coaching staff and having even eight hours a week with his team -- like what is done in spring -- would decrease the number of off-field issues and negative circumstances facing college football teams.

"If an hour of it is watching tape or just sitting down with a kid, give us the opportunity to interact and get around them because it scares me to death," Holliday said. "Every time I pick up a paper, somebody's got an issue.

"There's nothing you worry about more as a head football coach than the decisions your players are making day in and day out. When you're isolated from them and can't spend as much time with them, that creates even more problems and we sure don't need that."

On Sunday, Holliday's focus shifts back to the fall camp as the Thundering Herd gets ready for a 2013 season in which expectations are higher than they have been in a decade.

However, the topic of summer is one that burns deep inside Holliday, who has made his name throughout his career on recruiting and building relationships with players.

For Holliday, the NCAA's legislation forces a lack of ability for coaches to communicate, which he feels is sending the wrong message.

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