AUBURN, Alabama–It has been what Coach Gus Malzahn calls a “unique season” for his football team as the Tigers have dealt with major changes in how they have operated throughout 2020 since returning to campus in June after being sent home in March. The coach said major changes pertain to recruiting as well as the Tigers prepare for the early signing period that starts on Wednesday.
Dating back to March, Auburn and other college coaching staffs have not been allowed to have prospects on campus for in-person meetings with coaches on either official or unofficial visits under NCAA guidelines implemented as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The current dead period for recruiting is scheduled to run through at least April 15th of 2021.
As the Tigers prepare for signing players they are also preparing for the final game of the regular season, a Saturday night contest at Mississippi State that was originally scheduled to be played Oct. 31st.
When the Southeastern Conference eliminated non-league games and went to a 10-game, SEC-only schedule, the Tigers vs. Bulldogs matchup was reset for Nov. 14th. However, the Bulldogs were unable to play that week due to roster issues with covid-related issues combined with injuries.
On Saturday night the Tigers will be playing their 10th and final regular season game while Mississippi State is playing its ninth and next to last regular season contest.
“It is unique from the standpoint that we would be finished now (with regular season games) and would be out on the road recruiting,” Malzahn said Thursday on his weekly radio show. “A lot of times that is very important toward the end.”
In January, before the traditional signing day on the first Wednesday in February, the NCAA is expected to allow athletes to transfer from a Division I?program to another one without having to sit out for a mandatory redshirt season. A ruling has already been made allowing athletes who competed during the 2020 football season to be granted an extra year of eligibility.
“In six days we will have early signing and all of that,” Malzahn said. “I think we have got a really solid class right now. We have got a couple of guys I think there will be some good news coming on. I think some people will wait until February, too (Feb. 3 signing day) just under the circumstances.
“With the one-time transfer rule coming into play, I think that changes things, too,” the coach added. “It is kind of a different day in roster management. It is definitely not the same old recruiting that it used to be as far as the traditional ways. The dynamics of recruiting are different now.”