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?