In recruiting, Christmas comes early.

Here we go.

An early football signing period in December has been formally recommended, potentially ending more than a decade of sometimes divisive discussion of the subject, CBSSports.com learned on Monday.

If adopted, the sport’s new initial signing period would be in place this year for the 2016 recruiting class. The new early date would begin Dec. 16 and last 72 hours. It would be in place for two years as an “experiment,” before being reevaluated.

In the abstract, this sounds like a sensible proposal.

“If you look at the information,” Steinbrecher said, “what you see is a large segment of prospects commit in the summer before or during the season, and ultimately 90% sign with the institution they commit to. Why aren’t we facilitating a signing period for it?”

But let’s face it – who’s jonesing for the early date?  The recruits?  Yeah, right.

If approved by the CCA, the initial signing period would move up approximately 1½ months. Part of the rationale is to relieve pressure on the early February date. For better or worse, coaches and high school players have become part of a national college football holiday surrounding the date.

That isn’t necessarily a positive. Some coaches are concerned that long-committed prospects can be “flipped” during the building hype of January. Players can conceivably be pressured into last-minute visits as the February signing date approaches.

That’s not to say that the early date can’t be beneficial for some kids.  If you’re a recruit who’s locked into a school, regardless of who the coach may be, you’re engaged with a program you’re convinced is stable or you perceive your prospects to be somewhat marginal and want to take the best offer you’ve got and be done with it, then signing early makes sense.  On the other hand,

” … In men’s basketball, the majority signed early,” Sankey told Solomon. “That’s a pattern you would probably see play out again. Whether that’s more or less pressure [on a recruit], I’m not sure that’s a prediction one can just make. There are any number of young people who would feel they want to end the decision and the fact it goes on adds pressure.

“We have to carefully consider a number of issues here if we’re going to alter the signing date … We need to be very cautious and very informed.”

It’s nice to say that.  But this is really for the benefit of coaches, who get earlier clarity on where they need to focus their last minute recruiting attention and who can end other coaches trying to poach kids they’ve had commitments from.

On paper, at least.  What’s more likely is that the new period will only serve to move up the timetable on the pressure.

“There’s an acknowledgement,” said Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley, a member of the 12-person committee that made the recommendation, “the reality is this becomes the new main signing date. If that’s the case so be it, let’s see what happens.”

That’s pressure that’s going to occur at the end of the regular season and into the postseason, as teams prepare for conference championships, bowl games and the CFP.  Not to mention that kids who sign at the earlier time assume the risk of coaching departures that might happen before the February signing period – which, of course, is when most occur.  Hey, what could go wrong?

41 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

41 responses to “In recruiting, Christmas comes early.

  1. watcher16

    Long overdue. I definitely see it as a benefit for recruits, too. Go ahead and sign in December and then finish out your last semester of high school without the pressure of dealing with phone calls and letters and hype and drama from outside sources.

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    • watcher16

      Also meant to add that maybe there could be a clause where if coaching changes affecting the player occur before the Feb signing date, then the player has the option to re-open recruitment and therefore nullifying the earlier signing.

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      • How far do you go with that? Head coach, position coach, chief recruiter?

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      • PTC DAWG

        Nope, you sign with a School, not a Coach…

        This is long overdue.

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        • Nope, you sign with a School, not a Coach…

          Oh, brother.

          Tell that to a quarterback who, say, commits to Chan Gailey and winds up with Paul Johnson.

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          • PTC DAWG

            Writing is on the wall by December, kids are not as dumb as some think.

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            • Yeah, all those 5-star running backs who signed with Alabama a couple of years ago look smarter by the day.

              These are 17-year old kids who don’t have representation. You give them way too much credit.

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              • Not true…some do have representation.

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                • Not without violating NCAA regs, which don’t permit a kid to retain an agent and remain eligible.

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                • Does not stop them….in Alabama they have had agents for HS players for years. The players and families do not retain them. The Agents come to the families. They are silent partners, but the alumni are the ones who put up the $$. I witnessed deals being made whe my son was a senior in HS.

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                • DugLite

                  Did you invent the “Been There, Done That!” t-shirt?

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                • ClydeBoogie

                  Jriding, methinkest thou has much knowledge. Far more than your brethren, tell us of the evil that resides bama and auburn that we may be enlightened. For they are despots of I’ll repute.

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                • No can do….I take the Fifth….Ask the Bag Man…. No I did not “invent the been there done that t shirt.” Although, I have quite a few. 😉🎈

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                • Well, how ’bout explain to the uneducated what you mean by “representation”, then. Lawyers, sports agents or who? And what’s being negotiated?

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                • Sports agents…One situation that I witnessed was a kid who’s Father was a Lawyer. Another involved a kid from the other side of the tracks, who was taken from his HS and placed in a more affluent HS where they groomed him to play for Alabama. Those Alabama Alumni position these boys as early as Middle School. Auburn does the same, but most of the kids in BHam and surrounding areas prefer Alabama over Auburn. Do not know why that is . 🎈🐘

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                • Parents are allowed in the process, so daddy being a lawyer is no big deal. But it’s not a common fact pattern either.

                  HS coaches being involved doesn’t surprise me either. But they’re not really representing the kid in the way that a hired agent or lawyer would.

                  As for sports agents, if you mean that in the literal sense, I really question that. Way too much of an eligibility risk there if caught, which would be very bad for business, since the kid couldn’t jump to the NFL for three years.

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                • Well, the guys involved scout these young kids and unofficially get the info to the powers that be. ” Friends of the families”, are what they call themselves; not Agents. The money that changes hands comes from Alumni. This I know for sure. 😌. Also, This activity looks good on their Resume’s, especially if they bring along an all star.

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                • Maybe it’s semantics, but you’re missing my point. No question that some people funnel kids to certain schools. That’s not what I’m referring to when I say representation. I’m talking about a kid retaining a professional to represent him in negotiating his scholarship and the terms of his NLI with a school.

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                • The Coaches, players, and families call them Agents. Call them what you want, but my Son and his coaches from years and years ago refer to them as such. I know for a fact that one of them, (probably more than one) is now officially an AGENT. Enough said! 😛

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                • Bazooka Joe

                  It sounds like what is going on is these folks ID a prospect early. Under ncaa rules if you have had a relationship with a prospect prior to some age (I don’t remember what it is) then you can give the kid stuff, etc… (of course cant go overboard but lets say Christmas presents, etc…). I know a buddy of mine had a preexisting relationship with a UGA player and could do stuff like that without running afoul of ncaa rules (he never gave him anything bit the point is under the rules he could have).

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            • sectionzalum

              whatever the sophistication of the student, it’s basically the only choice they get to make, and currently (and prospectively) it’s not a negotiation.

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        • In theory this is true, the reality is that it’s the opposite. I do think that If there is a change in head coach (and head coach only), there should be a provision to get out. My idea I floated a while back would be to give 2 weeks from the time the new head coach is hired, then allow a 72 hour window to decommit. Would be a little hard to monitor because would be different for every school with a new coach, but the two weeks would give the new coach time to communicate with and sell the current commits on his vision. Then the kids would have that 72 hour window after 2 weeks to decide.

          However, I would want it to be a one way street…….in other words, the kid could decide to decommit, but the new coach wouldn’t be allowed to yank the scholly.

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          • Scorpio Jones, III

            It seems to me that the kids will know if the coach is in trouble long before December 16. If a coaching change is in the wind, they don’t sign early, can wait to see how things pan out at the school of their choice.

            I would think this, more than ever, means that stability in the staff will mean something more. Yes, coordinators and position coaches may change after bowl season, but if the head coach is gonna get fired it usually happens at the end of the season…before December 16.

            There are not many secret hot seats.

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            • Scorp, agree on that scenario given the timing (for coaches on the hot seat), my concern is the other direction……..coaches who are doing well, so the kid signs early, then the coach jumps. Conceivable that could happen after the early signing date.

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              • Just as an example, Charlie Strong jumped to UT on Jan 5th, which would have sucked for any early enrollees at Louisville. Granted, if I remember right, most of their commits stuck with the school anyway, but at least they had the choice.

                The foil to my plan though would be if there was a scenario where the new head coach was named late enough into the process that there wasn’t enough time for the 2 week/72 hour window to take place. This would be unusual, but could conceivably happen. There would have to be some sort of provision there that would shorten that window in extreme cases.

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            • Sh3rl0ck

              The hot seats may be evident in December, but coaches also leave for better jobs.

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  2. Ralph

    Don’t forget the bag man.

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  3. sectionzalum

    i smell larger recruitin’ staffs just around the corner….

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  4. DawgPhan

    There shouldnt be a signing period at all. These kids should be able to transfer to any school at any time without any reservations. If they can maintain eligibility during the transition, they could do it in season.

    Restricting the movement of these students in any way other than the ways the normal students are restricted is absurd.

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    • There shouldnt be a signing period at all.

      Totally agree. Coach offers/kid accepts should be the end of the matter. And the thing about that kind of approach is that it would cause coaches to be more careful about extending offers.

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    • PTC DAWG

      I don’t think even non sports playing students can transfer during the season, ie during the semester, and keep right on going to class as if nothing has changed.

      IF you are serious about a free for all,. you can’t expect a Coach to have much of an idea of how to manage his roster. And the kids would never be out of the recruiting loop.

      It would make thing much worse.

      But yeah, I would be for a Coach being to offer a HS kid a scholly at anytime, binding on all sides, and the kid to be able to accept it.

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      • DawgPhan

        yeah, I am not sure what the transferring rules are for students, but I think that whatever those are they should be the same for athletes.

        it doesnt really concern me that it would be tough for coaches to manage their roster. Why would I care about that at the expense of a student athlete?
        I do care that schools and coaches shouldnt be able to hold an athlete hostage and think that should be fixed.

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        • it doesnt really concern me that it would be tough for coaches to manage their roster. Why would I care about that at the expense of a student athlete?
          I do care that schools and coaches shouldnt be able to hold an athlete hostage and think that should be fixed.

          Exactly – I’m not crying for the “tough” plights of the millionaire coaches that hold athletes hostage because their fee-fees get hurt.

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  5. Macallanlover

    Hard to see much of a case against this proposal, although it does seem that the early signing date should be at the end of summer before the college and HS seasons begin, not in December. Gives teams and players the time to see the available options left after the first wave. I also thought there would be a percentage cap on the number who could sign early, say 75%. I do hope they get this done in time for it to take place this year.

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  6. Les Miles will now be offering scholarships to Pop Warner kids.

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  7. Ant123

    We will see how it plays out. I would imagine more than a few of the players that made last minute switches because they were wowed by some flashy gimmick lived to regret it later. I think there will be less of that this way.

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