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May 29, 2008

Why the SEC Should Endorse a Football Early Signing Period

The SEC coaches voted 9-3 to approve the idea of an early football signing period at this week's SEC meetings. This concept has been around for a while and implemented in many other NCAA sports, but it seems to be gaining momentum for football. There is no proposed NCAA legislation at this time, but the SEC should assume a leadership position and endorse the concept in a formal declaration. Given the collective might of the conference right now, such a declaration should get the rest of the NCAA thinking about this issue.

As recruiting has gotten more visible recently since the rise of the Internets, so has the intensity of the process. Here are three reasons why an early signing period is a good thing for college football:

1. Let the recruit get it over with. An unsigned, high profile football recruit gets all sorts of attention, whether wanted or not. I'd imagine that every phone within twenty yards of Terrelle Pryor was ringing during his very drawn out recruitment. It's not just the constant phone calls from coaches. Newspapers, ESPNU, Rivals, and Scout all call these guys constantly before signing day.

Not every recruit enjoys that stuff. Why not let the guys that know where they want to go sign with their school of choice? That way they can avoid the constant phone calls, sales pitches from coaches, and big wireless bills. The recent trend of early commitments hasn't stopped the attention, but signing would. Go ahead and let the kid make it official by removing all doubt about his status.

2. Let the coaches better marshal recruiting resources. It costs a bunch of cash to visit recruits, call them constantly, and sufficiently dote over them. These expenses don't end with a verbal. Coaches still have to babysit those guys, too. If some recruits could go ahead and sign, that would free up dollars and time to focus on uncommitted prospects. By the way, this issue seems tailor made for the smaller D-1 schools because they don't have as many resources to devote to recruiting.

3. Let everyone know when a commitment is wavering. There was serious consternation when Dwayne Allen pulled the ol' switcharoo on signing day this year, jilting Georgia for Clemson. Not only did it mean we lost a good player in Allen, but we might have lost two because Omar Hunter and Zebrie Sanders thought we didn't have room. Allen had committed to UGA very early in the recruiting process. With an early signing period, the staff could have known that Allen wasn't 100% sure about UGA if he didn't sign and they could have recruited appropriately. Clemson, in turn, could have known the same thing about A.J. Harmon. Or Texas could have known about Ryan Perrilloux (I think that worked out OK for them, though.)

Another recent trend in recruiting has been the insurance approach by recruits. They commit to a school who offers, but still look around and continue to entertain coaches. They essentially say "if a better deal doesn't come along, I'm going to the school I'm committed to." This plays havoc with any coach's ability to put together a complete signing class. An early signing period won't eliminate that type of thing, but it will put the coaches on notice as to who is playing the game.

Anyone opposed?



Andrew said...

Who were the three that voted against? My initial guess would be Vandy, KY and Miss. State?

Quinton McDawg said...

Tony Barnhart mentions that Urb and Petrino were opposed in his blog. I don't know who the third is.

Hobnail_Boot said...

andrew -

It was Petrino, Spurrier, and Meyer.

FWIW, I think this would just create even greater recruiting chaos surrounding the guys who aren't sure where they want to go. If coaches have even more resources to throw at the undecided guys, it will create more recruit flip-flopping and hype.

Not to mention that with these heightened circumstances, the enticement to cut corners would also increase.

Anonymous said...

What would be the reasons against an early signing period?

Anonymous said...

I don't know who voted for what, but I have heard Richt say in the past that he was opposed to an early signing period.

Paul Westerdawg said...

I was against it originally because I thought it would just push the whole process forward like in hoops.

But the nuance of only taking kids that haven't taken official visits is very interesting.

You're essentially saying, "If you've always been a Dawg. You might as well cut out the BS and commit."

That part I like a ton.

Ludakit said...

Just like any proposal or rule, there are major pros and cons to the whole thing.

The deal proposed would be limited to kids who haven't taken any official visits to any schools. Therefore most kids who would sign early you would figure to be lifelong fans of a program or just happened to know where they wanted to go.

However, what happens when a kid camps at one place, signs and then the coach gets fired at the end of the season? It hasn't been an issue now b/c coaches are canned well before kids sign LOIs, but there has to be some type of provision to guard against kids getting caught "Dick Rod" style.

Also, remember that these are kids who change their minds all the time, as kids sometimes do. I can see a kid getting courted left and right by teams and pressured to sign, only to find out he was being lied to and is now locked in to something he can't escape. This would be a major problem at Florida, where Urban Meyer has spent many an hour telling a kid what he wants to hear, only to do something else.

And what about the school? Some of these kids will slack off after they think they're golden and won't be academically eligible. Some of them will get in a LOT of trouble for doing something stupid. Doesn't the school need an out as well in case the kid doesn't hold up his end?

Personally, I like the idea, but I think the actual application will cause more trouble than not. For every Dwayne Allen out there, there are tons of A.J. Greens, DeAngelo Tysons, Matt Staffords, etc.

Good kids will commit and keep their word. Good schools will do the same.

I say leave it like it is until someone has an epiphany and figures it all out perfectly...meaning it'll never happen.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a bad idea. I can easily see someone like CUM telling Recruit X that he is the only qb he is recruiting. Recruit X signs and finds out that CUM is recruiting Recruit Y too.

Dr. Tom said...

It makes way too much sense for the NCAA. Imagine, someone being able to make a decision and commit to it...

Anonymous said...

The only thing that I feel confident about is that if it passed it would be a matter of weeks - maybe only days - before there was something else that developed. I realize this isn't an argument against it, but I have little faith that it would really solve anything.

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