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June 11, 2014

Paul Johnson hates signing day; related: the sun also rises

So The Genius of Techwood hates signing day. Of course he does. He aligns with Bo Pelini and Rich Rodriguez on abolishing it.
Pelini is in favor of scrapping signing day altogether, and simply letting recruits sign college scholarships whenever they are offered – an idea that was endorsed also by Arizona coach Rich Rodriquez. Under this plan, it would eliminate a lot of the recruiting silliness provided by both the colleges and the prospects.
Except it won't. Oh, the idea is good in principle, but the silliness isn't being solely propagated by the recruits and colleges, it is also propagated by the media and fans. True, letting a guy sign and then he is 'off the market' could help quash hype, but what happens when a kid gets an offer, but he decides not to sign it? Or changes his mind because he significantly improved over the nine months from May to February? Or the school changes their mind because he got hurt in his senor year?

John Infante, whom I linked below for more on the issue, offers a glimpse into a way for this could work:
Two changes would be made to the NLI to combat the problems that are created or get worse with an early signing period. Both are in favor of the prospect, but prospects and institutions would choose one or the other based on when the prospect signs. 
For prospects signing in the early period, they would be released from the NLI if the head coach or one other coach indicated on the NLI is no longer employed at the institution. For prospects signing in the regular period, the school would be unable to deny permission to contact any institution or frustrate a transfer in any way after one academic year. A prospect who is “sure” can sign in the early period with some assurance that the circumstances under which he chose a school will be the same. A prospect who waits until the April signing period is rewarded with no transfer restrictions if, after giving the institution a full year’s chance, it is not the right fit. 
These changes discourage institutions from offering NLIs in the early period and discourage prospects from signing early. The advantages to both prospects and institutions of later signing will hopefully slow the inevitable march toward all or almost all prospects signing in the early period, followed by having to clean up the mess when the coaching carousel finishes turning.
In other words, a simple solution that takes power away from the schools, something that isn't likely to fly with the NCAA, since they are, you know, governed as a member services organization by the schools.

Furthermore, I just don't see kids signing that early with a school unless he was absolutely going to go there anyway. I just don't see schools offering that many that early unless they are 100% sure that is a kid they'd put on their team today (much like UGA has been doing for several years, thus our undersigning issues). Maybe it fixes things in the first year, but soon enough, players are going to figure out how to game that system, and you better believe schools and their team of recruiting consultants will.

The problem lies in many places, including the inequity of the NLI, which is why there is currently a date, after the football season, that is the beginning of when a player can sign. Now, if you can figure out how to get media, schools, and fans to stop with high school player worship, as well as the recruited players and their people to stop with the hype machines, I'm all ears.

See also:
- Early Enrollees Can Sign as Early as August 1 (John Infante, Bylaw Blog)
- Adding Early Football Signing Period More Complicated Than It Seems (Infante, Bylaw Blog)


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