Critical Coaches: The rule that needs to be changed immediately

From 35 to 24? What about even to 30? Isn't college basketball due for a time change? (Getty Images)'s college basketball quartet of Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander spent the July recruiting period hobnobbing with nearly 100 coaches, brain-picking them on some of the sport's current issues. From the best players to their comrades in coaching; from the AAU programs to the agents' involvement; from the rule changes to the NCAA as a whole. We had to promise them anonymity, and in exchange, they gave us honest answers. Through Aug. 24, we'll be putting out one question per weekday and giving you the array of results, straight from the coaches' mouths.

We're approaching the halfway point in our series, so it's time to expand the conversation. In terms of subjects, this series is not just about the players and the coaches. We wanted to go beyond opinion of those matters and get to things bigger than the people: the rules.

On the record, coaches are plenty critical about the rules. Off? Hey, if you ever catch a coach burned by something via the rulebook, he'll viciously hold court for 30 minutes over it. Some of these guys can be more passionate about college basketball law than they are about their marriage.

There are some rules that can -- and are -- broken. And others that aren't, like what happens within in an actual game. So we went with a broad-yet-specific question, curious to see how the coaches would interpret it. They could apply their answer to something strategic, something within the actual rulebook of NCAA basketball. Or they could look beyond game play and offer up a change to the sport as a whole. Here's what they said.

The question: If you could change one rule in college basketball, what would it be?

  • Shortened/24-second shot clock: 19 percent
  • No transfer waivers required for players: 11 percent
  • More offseason workouts with players: 8 percent
  • No postseason ban for APR: 8 percent
  • Four coaches recruiting on the road (instead of three): 8 percent
  • Pay players: 8 percent
  • More enforcement against agents/runners: 6 percent
  • Enhance July contact with prospects/more access to them: 6 percent

A selection of answers with less than five percent:

-- Eliminate one-and-done (note: this is an NBA, not an NCAA rule)
-- Death penalty: harsher punishments for big-time cheaters
-- Cut down on official visits
-- NBA 3-point line
-- Freshman need just six hours of class time
-- Hire people associated with prospects

Quotes that stuck:

On official visits: "It's just a waste of time and money. We don't need five. The kids don't need five. For most, it's just taking a little vacation anyway. Half the kids know where they're going before they take their first visit."

On more coaches on the road: "Not allowing operation director to coach on the floor makes no sense. With assistant coaches being on the road recruiting, why not let ops guys get on the floor and coach. All we are doing is hurting our student-athletes."
On paying players: "I think you should pay players $2,500 a year. I think we need to help student-athletes. In doing so, we cut the runners and street agents out. Kids take money from people because they need it."
On further adjustments to recruiting/phone calls/texts: "I would allow outgoing unlimited phone calls -- but no text messages -- to rising sophomores and their parents after june 15 of their freshman year." 

On people related to prospects: "We can't hire anybody connected to a prospect. So how do you even break into the business anymore? I'd hate to be a young coach today."

Takeaway (by Matt Norlander):

Of all the questions we assembled for this series, I don't think any other's answers come as varied as this one. If we expanded the question to 500 college basketball coaches, I think we'd get, minimum, 100 different styles of answers -- and that is not hyperbole. The reason? Coaches are in different spots, whether it be their team of employment, the conference they reside in, their standing in the coaching tree (head coach, assistant), etc. So with so many experiences, a difference of opinion is natural. One answer we received that I didn't list in the less-than-five percent, because in fact, it only got one vote, was this.

More Critical Coaches

"The cost of packets at AAU events. Every certified packet should be $50."

OK. You feel me now? That answer is hilarious because it's probably about the 1,473rd most important issue in college basketball -- and I might be overshooting that. Still, coaches find priorities in so many different things with these rules. I didn't obtain that quote, so I don't know who provided it, but I'd be shocked if it wasn't from someone at a small-time school. Budgets mean a lot to programs who squeeze out as much as possible during the offseason to recruit and basically keep up with the level of school just above them. And so on it goes until you reach the top of the mountain, lorded over by Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and UNC. For that coach, splitting the bread in the summer is high priority. And $400 AAU tournament coaches packets are a drain.

And for all the good that comes with college basketball, I think this here is why we see a lot of sludge mixed in as part of the rule-changing process. The issues that called for sweeping change were either put into place long ago because the precedents were obvious, or contemporary times called for obvious overhauls. Like the recent amendment to the text/call rule. That bylaw was practically outdated the week after it was voted into legislation, when phone companies began offering unlimited texting and social media became part of the phone-use experience.

As for our No. 1 vote-getter, I do think the change in shot clock is something that needs a good examination, though. I've long rallied for an even, 30-second clock. If it's not the same squeeze as the NBA, that's OK. In fact, I think it's good to have distinct changes between college and the pros. Thirty-five isn't a detriment, but I think we'd get a bit more urgency to the game and a noticeable twist in play if we snipped off even five seconds from the current shot clock. By the way, notice how the shot clock was the only rule coaches wanted to change that was a part of game play. What, nothing on the charge circle? What about timeouts or technicals or expanding the lane?

For transparency's sake, before giving a serious answer, about five or six coaches joked with me about traveling getting worse and worse.

As for the rest, the transfer waiver is an issue that will never go away until it's voted out of the book. I agree -- eliminate waivers. And as for the APR/no postseason ban, it's surprising more coaches didn't speak out on it. But something tells me when, a few years from, as more and more schools are threatened with missing the postseason over grades, coaches will en masse will feel a bit more passionate on the issue.

Coming Wednesday: What percentage of major AAU programs do coaches believe have ties to agents?

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