Just last Friday, the NCAA made some changes to recruiting rules that could be significant. Among the changes was a rule that now allows high school juniors to make official visits to schools that are recruiting them without having to pay their own way. Previously, players needed to wait until the fall to schedule and take official recruiting visits. The players will still be limited to a total of five official visits but now have the option of spreading them out between the spring (April through June) and the fall.

So why is this rule change something that schools in the northern part of the country are happy to see? Conversely, why is this change something that coaches for some of the major schools in the Southeast Conference originally opposed when it was recommended?

Well, it really has to do with weather and the perception that players from some of the country’s biggest recruiting areas may have of your environment. It’s no secret that the south provides some of the most fertile recruiting grounds for college coaches. States like Florida, Alabama and Texas provide some of the best young players in the country.

For college coaches from northern schools such as Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska or Pennsylvania, they would previously get recruits on campus in the fall for an official visit. Don’t get me wrong, fall is a terrific time in many areas of the country. The leaves are changing and the views along the great lakes can be great; but it’s also getting colder outside. In fact, depending on the timing of the visit, it could be close to freezing.

But in the spring, the weather is warming, flowers are blooming and college campuses just look a whole lot better to recruits from southern parts of the country. The fact that they can make the trip to your campus as one of their official visits is an advantage these schools didn’t have before, unless it was an unpaid visit.

However, for the players, this rule could have its drawbacks. By using an official visit or two in the spring, the player will be limited come fall in what they have left to use. In addition, if the spring visit was not followed by a firm offer, players may look on it as a wasted visit that now limits them in the fall as they try to schedule other visits.

As it was before, however, players can make visits as they choose, over and above the limit of five, but most do it on their own dime.

One of the other rule changes the NCAA passed is that recruits can now sign a letter of intent in December and not have to wait until February. This allows the player to relax a bit after his decision and also not be hounded by schools trying to flip them approaching the previous February date. But the player also takes the risk of a late coaching change with a change in coaching strategy that may affect them.

Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner, told the Tribune by text that he was pleased with the outcome of the NCAA recruiting changes.

Only time will tell how these most recent changes will affect the college football recruiting landscape in the years to come.