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Wholesale changes in juco recruiting

Change is in the air.

    In fact, there are major changes in the recruitment of Mississippihigh school athletes, now being installed by the MississippiAssociation of Community/Junior Colleges. MACJC presidents voted13-1 last week to permit wide-open recruitment of athletes amongthe 14 member institutions, effective immediately.

    Howls of disagreement were voiced by many football coaches. Infact, some of them were angry enough to bite a chunk out of theiroffice desks.

    For example, no longer will there be a so-called Co-Lin district,composed of Adams, Copiah, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lincolnand Simpson Counties. No longer will there be a “protected list” of14 district athletes that are off limits to other MACJC memberschools.

    For years, neighboring Southwest at Summit had Pike, Walthall,Wilkinson and Amite Counties, plus the Tangipahoa Parish, for itspersonal recruiting territory. No longer are those areasrestricted.

    In other words, it’s open season on high school athletes. Inanother major move, presidents voted to reduce out-of-statescholarships by 50 percent. That’s from eight to four on a55-member football roster. That means more opportunities forin-state athletes.

    Basketball was reduced from four out-of-staters to two. In thepast, basketball coaches could protect seven in-district players.They still are allowed to recruit statewide.

    For the unknowing reader, recruiting is an art form at the seniorcollege level. Recruiting coordinators are hired to scrutinizepotential scholarship signees. Money, lots of it, is spent onrecruiting.

    For sure, a prospective athlete should have an opportunity toattend the college of his/her choice. If Hakeem, who lives inNatchez, prefers playing basketball for Hinds instead of Co-Lin,that’s his  privilege.

    Buried somewhere in the recruiting process is the academic futureof these young men and women. Do the schools offer the necessarycourses for their career goals?

    Co-Lin athletic director and women’s basketball coach Gwyn Younghas been in the business for 35 years, winning numerous state andregional championships. His Lady Wolves placed sixth in lastseason’s NJCAA National Tournament. They battled against teams thatwere loaded with international players from all corners of theworld.

    Young usually started three players from Louisiana last season andanother worked as a key reserve. That situation has changeddramatically, due to the new rules.

    For example, Young could have a prized prospect playing forBrookhaven High. However, on a particular night, Young needs to bein Hattiesburg or Pascagoula, recruiting another prospect. Buffiehas a great game that night at BHS and coaches from three otherMACJC schools are watching her play. Buffie has a lot of options onher plate.

    Scholarship offers are supposed to be equal across the league.Meridian Community College, currently an independent, can offermore scholarship money than the MACJC members. Meridian doesn’thave  a football program,so the emphasis is on basketball, baseball and softball.

    “The presidents want to eliminate football in our league,” growledone coach. “Just wait and see.”

    Co-Lin head football coach Glenn Davis expressed his concern aboutthe time and cost of recruiting players statewide. There arehotels, food allowances and gasoline for recruiting trips to beconsidered. How about a fleet of recruiting cars provided by alocal auto dealer who supports Co-Lin?

    Davis said the fan base is critical. District players draw fans toStone Stadium. Players from the other end of the state don’t butyou still need them to survive in the league.

    A strong Co-Lin athletic booster club could help defray recruitingexpenses. Imagine the potential financial strength of booster clubsat schools like Hinds and Gulf Coast.

    However, the presidents consider the changes a better, overallopportunity for Mississippi athletes in general, no matter whatsport is considered. More on that later.

    Only time will tell.

    

    Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S., said it was time to submit hisweekly list of football game predictions. The grizzledprognosticator sparkled last weekend as he predicted the winners of23 games and got 20 correct.

    Hoopla plans to start with three Thursday night specials.

    Co-Lin at Pearl River: Footballs fill the air as the Wildcatsshowcase their explosive passing attack in Poplarville. Pearl River28-20.

    Northwest at Southwest: The Bears haven’t come down to earth sincebeating Co-Lin last week. Rangers get their attention in a hurry.Southwest 17-14.

    Arkansas-Monticello at Delta State: Statesmen are on the big screenin prime time on GSC-TV as they squash the Boll Weevils. DeltaState 33-21.

    Brookhaven at West Jones: Panthers must play their best to win onthe road in Soso. Brookhaven 17-14.

    Bowling Green at Brookhaven Academy: Homecoming is a special eventand the Cougars know how to party. Brookhaven Academy 43-23.

    Loyd Star at Wesson: Hornets are hobbled by injuries and defectionsbut they’ll play hard against the Cobras. Wesson 34-14.

    Richton at West Lincoln: Win-starved Rebels find happiness on PerryMiller Field. Richton 26-12.

    Enterprise at Amite County: Trojans are steadily improving andthat’s bad news for the downtrodden Yellow Jackets. Amite County42-8.

    Tylertown at Lawrence County: Speedy Chiefs can fly high inMonticello. Tylertown 36-16.

    Hazlehurst at Franklin County: Indians are being to look like Class3A state championship material. Hazlehurst 29-12.

    In other area games, Copiah Academy over Silliman Institute 35-9,Starkville Academy over Parklane 26-14, North Pike over Purvis21-18, Wayne County over McComb 41-16, South Pike over Columbia20-10, Wilkinson County over Jefferson County 16-12 and CrystalSprings over Prentiss 22-12. Bogue Chitto has an open date to enjoyits perfect, 7-0 worksheet.

    Hoopla pauses to drain a 12-ounce Coke  before revealing Saturday’swinners.

    Mississippi State at UAB: Bulldogs find a victory in Birmingham.Miss. State 38-17.

    Southern Miss at Navy: In an offensive show, the Midshipmen ambushthe Golden Eagles in Annapolis, Md. Navy 31-28.

    Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Jackson State: After trouncing TexasSouthern, the Tigers win again on their home turf. Jackson State38-14.

    In other action, Mississippi College over Mary Hardin-Baylor 22-10,Belhaven over Faulkner 21-14, Alabama A&M over Valley State28-12, and Millsaps over Austin 26-17. Ole Miss and Alcorn Statehave an open date to become more offensive.

    

    Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email.tgoetz@dailyleader.com