New Rules Endorsed By Big 12

It isn’t every day that coaches like new rules instituted by the NCAA, but this is one of them.

Beginning today, a ban on text messaging has been lifted, allowing coaches to contact recruits that have completed their sophomore year in high school. The NCAA outlawed texting recruits five years ago among fears of oversized cell-phone bills.

Smart phones and full-service plans have changed all of that. Sixteen-year-old kids these days have unlimited texts and they use them all.

Another change, which was approved in January, allows coaches to be with their players during the summer for eight weeks in two-hour blocks per week.

The text ban didn’t bother West Virginia coach Bob Huggins as much as it did others in his profession. Here’s why:

”I just learned to text last year,” Huggins said during a Big 12 coaches conference call Thursday afternoon. ”I’m kind of an old fashioned ball coach.”

Huggins suspected that ban wouldn’t last forever, though.

If you can’t legislate it, you might as well let it be legal, he said. ”I think that’s what happened with prohibition.”

Every coach in the country is taking advantage of the two hours per week to work with their players, though they still don’t think that’s enough.

”It’s a step in the right direction,” Huggins said.

These hours are important everywhere, but they’re bigger in places like Kansas State and TCU, where first-year coaches are in place. Former Illinois coach Bruce Webber is in Manhattan, Kan., these days while ex-LSU coach Trent Johnson has taken over in Fort Worth, Texas. They’ve used the time for introductions first, teaching second.

Johnson has a lot to do in a short time.

While West Virginia came from the rugged Big East – long known as a college basketball power – TCU is transitioning from the Mountain West. Combined with that, the Horned Frogs have a sketchy men’s basketball tradition.

”There’s a curiosity, a wait-and-see attitude,” Johnson said. ” ‘Can we get it done at this level?’

”I know what it’s like. I know what we’re getting into. It’s time, in my opinion, to take on the challenges of the Big 12.”

Johnson called TCU the land of opportunity.

”They (recruits) understand they can be a part of building a basketball tradition,” he said. ”There’s a lot to like. I have to think there’s a lot of guys who want this challenge, this opportunity.”

TCU went 18-15 last season in the Mountain West.

In other news, Kansas will play in Switzerland and Paris, not unlike West Virginia did last year in Italy.

While coach Bill Self can’t wait to see the sites, ”I’m probably more excited about getting to practice with them 10 times,” he said.

They’ll need them. The Jayhawks open the season Nov. 13 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome against Michigan State.

Webber has been a busy man, moving from Champagne Ill., to Manhattan, watching his daughter get married, and catching up on recruiting at a new school. After all of that dust settles, the Wildcats, too, are going on a trip as they’ll play in Brazil.

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford is still on crutches after undergoing hip replacement surgery last month. The former Kentucky Wildcats player, who is 42, said he had it done because it got to the point where he couldn’t run anymore.

At Baylor, coach Scott Drew is expecting three of his former players to be drafted June 28 -Perry Jones III, Quincy Miller, and Quincy Acy. Most mock drafts have Jones and Miller going in the first round and Acy in the last half of the second round. has Acy going 51st to Boston, one spot ahead of WVU’s Kevin Jones (Golden State).

”We’re going to have three players drafted,” Drew said. ”I don’t know when and where, but it’s going to be an exciting day for the Baylor Bears.”

Also of note as far as Big 12 basketball is concerned, in a 10-team league, each team will play a home-and-home against each other, unlike the mammoth Big East, where fans weren’t guaranteed a chance to see all the league’s top players because there were only three home-and-home deals per season.

Jim Elliott can be reached via e-mail at: