Also from that Staples piece, is a revisit of a concept of his that I’ve long favored.
A year ago, Rodriguez began exploring the idea of eliminating National Signing Day and allowing colleges to sign players at any point during their high school careers. This notion sounds counterintuitive to people who don’t understand how recruiting works in 2016, but it would slow the process because each offer would correspond to one of a school’s 25—or fewer—scholarships a year. Think about it this way: If you had to present a diamond ring the first time you said, “I love you,” how long would you wait to utter those words? “It’s an easier solution than looking at changing the recruiting calendar and visits,” Rodriguez said. “Most of the other issues can be tied directly to that.”
If this concept sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about it when Rodriguez suggested it last year. I also suggested it back in 2008, and the idea has only grown more practical since.
Rodriguez sits on the board of trustees of the American Football Coaches Association, and he is using that pulpit to spread the gospel of a world without National Signing Day. Would some coaches sign ninth- and 10th-graders? Of course. The dumbest ones would. Then they would get fired. Rodriguez pointed out that most schools’ admissions offices would tap the brakes for their respective coaches. Unless a prospect’s transcript absolutely sparkled, admissions would probably stop the coach from extending the offer. And if the coach extended it anyway and the player didn’t qualify? “If you sign him and he didn’t qualify, you made a mistake,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to eat it.”
A world without Signing Day sounds wonderful. But what, you say, if a coach leaves before the kid makes it to campus? Well, it turns out RichRod is more liberal on that than Staples.
When I proposed this idea, I suggested that players would have to stick with the school they chose or face penalties associated with breaking the National Letter of Intent. Rodriguez is nicer than me. He is in favor of creating a clause that releases a player from his commitment if the head coach he signed to play for leaves or gets fired. “Sometimes they pick a school,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes they pick a staff. You’ve got to protect them there.”
Gosh, that’s nice. Gosh, there might be an ulterior motive straight out of the Jim Boeheim school of coaching stability:
Though Rodriguez didn’t say it, this model could also benefit coaches. It would make athletic directors think long and hard before firing anyone. If they did, they would do so knowing they might have to release much of their next recruiting class from their Letters of Intent.
These guys don’t miss a trick. Although I’ve always said keeping a coach too long to avoid losing a recruiting class is as dumb a move as an AD can make. Not that there aren’t plenty of dumb ADs out there.