May is the year’s nadir for real college football news, so it stands to reason that it’s the apex for issue stories about the sport.
There’s been a push to put a limit on the number of support staff that schools can hire for their football programs. The NCAA already limits the number of on-field assistant coaches to nine (soon to be 10) and schools can have a maximum of five strength and conditioning coaches and four graduate assistants.
But there’s leeway is other support staff positions. Namely, football operations, analysts, consultants, player personnel and recruiting positions.
The survey of all 127 FBS schools the NCAA conducted in 2016 came from simple website research, which presents its own problems. As someone who has tried to do this exercise for the ACC before, I can tell you it’s difficult to classify who works where based on just an athletic department directory, which is often incomplete.
That’s evident in the Hokies’ case. The survey lists 26 members on the Hokies’ football staff, with 11 on-field coaches (the survey must have been done when Tech was transitioning from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente, otherwise I can’t figure how they came up with a number one over the limit), five strength and conditioning coaches, five football operations members and five off-field/recruiting positions. That’s an incomplete figure, since Virginia Tech, like pretty much every school, has four on-field grad assistants too. (See, they’re listed now.) So at a minimum, that figure should be 30.
How does that stack up in the ACC? Here’s where everyone in the league stood in 2016 (and for teams that don’t have grad assistants listed, you can probably just add three or four, as a rule of thumb):
- 37 — Syracuse
- 35 — Clemson (no grad assistants listed)
- 33 — Florida State (no grad assistants listed)
- 33 — Louisville
- 32 — N.C. State
- 31 — North Carolina
- 30 — Duke
- 29 — Miami
- 28 — Virginia (no strength coaches listed)
- 26 — Virginia Tech (no grad assistants listed)
- 26 — Boston College
- 25 — Wake Forest
- 24 — Pittsburgh (no grad assistants listed)
- 19 — Georgia Tech ( no grad assistants listed)
That’s an interesting list, and one that five years ago, before a push to add some support staff, might have had Virginia Tech at the bottom. Clemson and Florida State, you’d expect near the top, but Syracuse? An off-field/recruiting staff of eight is not what I expected from the Orange. In fact, here are the teams ranked by how big their off-field/recruiting staffs are:
- 10 — Clemson
- 8 — Syracuse
- 7 — Florida State
- 6 — Louisville
- 6 — North Carolina
- 5 — Virginia Tech
- 5 — Virginia
- 5 — Miami
- 5 — Wake Forest
- 5 — Georgia Tech
- 4 — Pittsburgh
- 4 — Duke
- 2 — Boston College
Like the overall staff size, the Hokies have an average-sized recruiting-specific staff in the ACC, though for a school that wants to compete with the Clemsons and…