Gridiron staff believes

By Jeff Kirik

Recent recruiting cutbacks ordered by the NCAA could give NIU an advantage in the race to land top Chicago-area prep football stars, two members of the football staff said Thursday.

ecruiting coordinator Russ Graham and offensive coordinator Pat Ruel said NIU will benefit from each of the cutbacks. Graham took Sam Sample’s job when he resigned to go into private business.

“I believe all the rules that have come through are going to help us in our recruiting efforts,” Graham said. “Less schools will have the time to recruit in our area now.”

The athletic directors and presidents of the nation’s major universities last week in San Diego voted to shorten the allowable recruiting time from seven to three and a half months. They also cut the number of scholarships available each year from 30 to 25, while keeping the total scholarships allowed at 95. Another football-related change prohibits any recruiting activity by boosters. Similar restrictions were placed on all NCAA basketball programs.

uel said much progress was made with the passage of the rules.

“I think that it’s a positive move anytime we eliminate things on an equal basis,” he said. “I don’t think the cuts will hurt the quality of recruiting.”

Graham and Ruel both said NIU should be helped, in particular, by the shortening of the recruiting season.

“We are right in our main recruiting population. A lot of schools have to drive or fly two or three hours to get to their top recruiting area,” said Ruel.

“It (the cutback) is going to alleviate the big schools’, with the big-time budgets, ability to recruit nationally,” said Graham. “They’ll have to stay in their area to recruit because their time has been cut down. It’s going to make schools strengthen their local recruiting.”

NIU’s proximity to Chicago gives its coaching staff the ability to give attention to each recruit without having to travel a long distance. Other schools with a better reputation or better facilities will no longer be able keep the close contacts with their prospects they would like, the coaches said.

“We can provide personal service to recruits in our area to compete with schools who can give them physical resources,” said Graham. “Nobody does more hands-on recuiting in Chicago than we do.”

uel said elimination of booster’s role in recruiting could also help NIU.

“We don’t have that strong of an alumni group at NIU,” he said. “At other schools with stronger alumni groups, they write and call the player and tend to affect his choice of schools a lot more.”

Graham said eliminating five scholarships will have little impact on the NIU football program.

“They won’t really affect us because we were never to the point where we needed all 30 anyway,” he said.