For more on college athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.
College basketball coaches can do what football coaches can't -- work with their players in the summer. Is that fair? Is it a conspiracy? Does it suggest the end of civilization as we know it?
Let's take look.
This summer, for the first time, college basketball coaches were allowed to work with their players a couple of hours a week. That's in addition to the strength and conditioning sessions players already do, plus pick-up games.
Football coaches have no such luck. They can't work with players. They aren't allowed in weight rooms when players are lifting, or around practice fields when they're conducting drills. They can't be anywhere near players when they train, even if it's just to ask how their summer school classes are coming or what's up in their lives.
Purdue coach Danny Hope, for one, has had enough.
“I think it would be the best thing for football,” he said. “We have 92 players on campus we're responsible for. It's hard to manage 92 guys when you can't get around them. It's hard to be a leader when you're never amongst your troops.
“If we had just a couple of hours a week to work with them, it would help us manage them through the summer. It would be good for the development of the team and the management of the team to have that.”
Added Michigan coach Brady Hoke: “Every coach is itching to be with his kids. The academic year has changed. Most of our kids are in school year round. We need to look at that. Basketball gets hours to work out with their guys, so they're in touch every day. I think that's an important part that we can be in touch with our guys every day.”
The NCAA didn't create this rule on its own. Member institutions voted for it. The idea was that players needed a break from ever-demanding coaches to do things like study, socialize and just be students, which sometimes mean doing something dumb.
But that misses the point, which is no matter how much you might like and respect a coach, you don't always want him around telling you what to do and how hard to go.
Heck, I have a son who is like that, constantly passing on my wonderful words of wisdom and …
Anyway, with all college sports now 12-months-a-year activities, with coaches more responsible than ever before for the behavior of their athletes, the rule seems out-dated.
Still, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson sees an advantage to the current system given the time demands on coaches. They spend the month of June working football camps for pre-college players that serve as effective recruiting and evaluating tools. The first half of July is for family vacations before coaches return for 10 straight months of work, much of it seven days a week.
“It's frustrating not to work with your guys,” Wilson said, “but sometimes it's also set up for coaching burnout. The way our calendar sets up now, the coaches get some breaks. If you're going to do something like this, you're going to wear them down. If you work with players more, you sometimes need more help, and we're not going to increase our staff.”
Still, Wilson prefers some summer sessions with players.
“It is frustrating that you can't watch tape with a kid once in a while. You can't go out, say for 15 minutes, to work on throwing motion. It's not like we'd be putting on the pads.”
The result is teams have captains' practices, where veteran players get everyone together to run drills and work out. IU senior defensive tackle Adam Replogle likes that approach because it forces older players to take charge.
“It's our job as seniors and leaders that we take the coaching role,” Replogle said. “We're in charge of the drills. It's like the coaches are there in the aspect that someone is around who really harps on the fundamentals.”
Football coaches have talked about trying to change the rules to allow summer contact, but nothing is imminent.
“There's a push, there are a lot of things on the table, but I don't know where it's at in the hierarchy,” Hope said.
“To me it seems like it's a no brainer. Take a couple hours a week to check on them to make sure they're eating right and doing the right things. We're responsible for them to help them grow into young men. Just being around the coaches would be good.”
Added Wilson: “I know basketball is excited about it. It will be interesting to see how it impacts their sport. I'm sure it will.
“We need to do what's best for player welfare and development. What's best for the program is to get our kids to develop and get the best experience they can, so when their four years are over, they can say they got an education and developed into the best players they could.”
That's likely as fair as football coaches are going to get.