New NCAA rule prevents Auburn from signing Opelika (Ala.) football players for two years

(Photo: Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports)

New NCAA rule prevents Auburn from signing Opelika (Ala.) football players for two years

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New NCAA rule prevents Auburn from signing Opelika (Ala.) football players for two years

A new piece of NCAA recruiting legislation has a direct effect on the relationship between the Auburn University football team and a prominent Alabama school.

As AL.com reports, for the next two years Auburn can’t sign any football players from nearby Opelika (Ala.) because it recently hired the school’s former head coach, Brian Blackmon, as an offensive analyst.

Blackmon had been at Opelika for the last 21 years, the first 13 as offensive coordinator and the last eight as head coach and athletic director. The team went 69-25 in his head coaching tenure, including the program’s only two trips to the Class 6A state title game. In February, he left to take the position on head coach Gus Malzahn’s staff at nearby Auburn.

The rule regarding, as AL.com puts it, “individuals associated with prospective student-athletes” prevents schools from hiring those close to a recruit for two years before or after the prospective athlete’s enrollment at the school.

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The NCAA Division I Council put the rule into effect immediately as part of broader recruiting legislation on April 14. It allowed schools to honor contracts signed before Jan. 18, but Blackmon didn’t begin working at Auburn until Feb. 24.

Malzahn confirmed to AL.com that with “the way the rule states right now,” Auburn cannot sign any players from Opelika in 2018 or 2019.

The rule was first instituted in men’s basketball in 2010.

Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey has a close friendship with Blackmon and, according to AL.com, was a factor in Blackmon’s leaving Opelika to join the college ranks. Lindsey’s recruiting area also includes the school less than 10 miles from Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

He does not look fondly upon the new rule.

“Hopefully they’ll do something about that; it’s a dumb rule,” Lindsey  told AL.com. “I don’t get that at all.”

Per AL.com, Auburn currently has one scholarship player, senior safety Stephen Roberts, who played at Opelika.

The distinction to the new restriction is that a college team can hire an individual associated with a prospective athlete to a full-time coaching position. It is the “analyst” in Blackmon’s title that is currently preventing Auburn from bringing in Opelika players until 2020.

“From my standpoint, it kills the chance for high school coaches to get into college football,” Malzahn told AL.com, “and there’s a lot of great high school coaches that are great people, that’ll treat kids right, that’ll have a chance to be very successful in college and that’s important to me.”

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