Coach Jon Embree`s new staff in Boulder is comprised of veteran coaches known for being strong recruiters. They are men who are familiar with NCAA rules, but those rules change on an annual basis.
There was reason to believe a coaching staff that included three NFL coaches, one from a high school program, one a year removed from college coaching and a strength and conditioning coach also jumping from the pro level might get tripped up trying to assemble a class of 21 recruits in less than two months.
But the CU staff reported only one secondary violation in the process of putting together the 2011 class signed to national letters of intent in early February.
The violation wasn`t a mistake as much as it was the staff looking out for the welfare of a 10-year-old boy who accompanied his older brother to Boulder on an official visit.The recruit did not bring sufficient funds to pay for meals for his younger brother on the trip, so CU coaches made sure the boy didn't go hungry and self reported the violation. CU paid $103.26 for the boy to eat during the visit. The recruit did not end up choosing to come to Colorado.
Though the violation is ultimately the responsibility of the coaching staff, an operations staffer received a letter of admonishment and remedial training because he should have made sure the recruit knew the rules ahead of the visit.
CU compliance director Julie Manning, said the goal is always to avoid all violations but considering the circumstances, she was pleased by having only one violation and the realtively smooth transition Embree and his staff made during the busy recruiting months of December and January.
"I do think it's impressive," Manning said. "I think we're working really hard together."
The athletic department took steps to ease the transition between coaching staffs by moving Manning into a Dal Ward Center office in early January just a short walk from the football coaches' offices.
Manning said she makes a point of visiting the football offices twice each day or as much as her schedule allows.
She said coaches have been good about asking questions and communicating with her and the rest of the compliance staff. They are also looking out for each other.
Manning said it helped that the majority of the three major football recruiting weekends in January were spent on campus with recruits, a departure from the past under the former coaching staff.
"Everything is here and I think that helps, too," she said. "They are just surrounded by people who I think have pretty good knowledge of the rules. And (Embree) has us engaged. ... I think the pace at which they were moving, you're really just focused on what you can do and what you're able to do and then you're out of that kid's home and out of that airport and on to the next.
"Not a lot of time to even make some mistakes, if you will."
Coaches are required to report their recruiting phone calls to the compliance office, but CU has a second line of defense against coaches accidentally making more than one call to a recruit in a week.
It uses a software program in each coach's cell phone called Comply and Verify. The program tracks which recruits have been called during the week and alerts a coach if he tries to make a call to that prospect.
The staff will wrap up spring practices in a couple weeks and hit the road shortly thereafter for six weeks of recruiting during the spring evaluation period. It will serve as the second major test for Embree's staff.
The Colorado program reported just a handful of secondary violations each year under former coach Dan Hawkins, but no major problems. There were only three violations by Hawkins staff from Jan. 1, 2010 through the end of his tenure. The most serious was committed by Hawkins.
He received a letter of admonishment from CU last year for a level II violation committed last summer during a trip to Dallas for Big 12 Conference football media days.
Hawkins obtained tickets to a Texas Rangers baseball game for himself and three of his players directly from Rangers coach Clint Hurdle, the former Colorado Rockies manager, instead of using tickets made available to coaches and student-athletes by the conference.
Colorado completed the eighth practice of spring on Tuesday. Embree said it was the first practice in which both sides of the ball performed well at times. ...
Embree said defensive lineman Nick Kasa suffered an injured knee ligament that has been keeping him out of practice. ...
Embree said there have been only three days of installing new plays on the offensive side of the ball. He said he wants offensive players feeling confident with their assignments and playing fast and not overwhelmed with information. "I don't want to put in a lot on offense if it's slowing them down because I want to see who can play and who can compete," he said. "When you don't know what to do, it makes it hard to show what kind of talent you have." ...
Embree said none of the cornerbacks have distinguished themselves so far this spring. ...
Place-kicker Justin Castor and punter Zach Grossnickle have continued to be inconsistent, Embree said. Snapping and holding have contributed to those issues. ...
Center Gus Handler spent the majority of Tuesday's practice running laps around the practice field. Embree said Handler was being punished by offensive line coach Steve Marshall.