‘If you want me, then sign me.’

Nick Saban ain’t happy about the proposed early signing periods.  Nope, not one bit.

On Wednesday the NCAA Division I Council proposed two early signing periods for football, with the first in late June and the second in mid-December.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was quick to voice his opinion Wednesday evening after practice.

“I am absolutely, positively against any kind of early signing date, especially a June signing date before a guy plays his senior year,” Saban said in a news conference. “If we want to have an early signing date after the season, I would be more for that. We’ve moved the recruiting calendar forward, which creates a lot of issues and problems when it comes to evaluations, not only of a player but of his character and his academic status.”

I’m not sure that having sufficient time for character evaluation is a place you should be going, brother.  You had plenty of that to assess Jonathan Taylor’s character, but couldn’t even find the time to speak with folks like the district attorney who handled Taylor’s case… or Mark Richt, for that matter.  But I digress.

Because that’s not really what’s got Saban’s ass chapped here.

“From a high school coach’s standpoint, what is really the guy’s motivation to play and really work hard to get better to play for his team in his senior year?”

Uh, no, that’s not it either, Nick.  Try again.

Saban said the Crimson Tide may not have signed freshman tailback Joshua Jacobs had an early signing period been in place last year. Jacobs, a 5-foot-10, 200-pounder from Tulsa, Okla., played in only six games as a junior at McClain High School due to injury but blossomed as a senior, rushing for 2,704 yards and an eye-popping 15.1 yards per carry.

Jacobs rushed 16 times for 100 yards in last Saturday’s 34-6 win over Kentucky.

“We probably would have been full, and that is what I am talking about,” Saban said. “We would probably make some academic, character and maybe evaluation mistakes, because you aren’t even seeing a guy play during his senior season.

Ah, now we’re getting warmer.  Can’t let those late bloomers fall through the cracks; those missed opportunities can be real killers, amirite?  But let’s face it, people — what school has better resources than Alabama to evaluate players, even early on?

So, it still feels like we’re missing something else here.  What could it be?

The SEC has been one of the most vocal opponents of an early signing period in the past, but a conference coach admitted he has come around to the idea and says he thinks it will even benefit the recruits.

“I love the idea now,” he said. “I think it’ll finally make schools think twice about offering kids early with no plan of taking their commitment. If they really want them, they’re going to have to sign them now. That’ll help a recruit truly tell if they’re wanted by that school… “

Congratulations, Holmes, you’ve cracked the case!  Saban wouldn’t be able to bookmark recruits with things like contingent offers or offers made in a kid’s sophomore season.  Instead, he’d have to spend time convincing rising seniors not to commit elsewhere early, so that he would have the full opportunity to decide whether it’s worth extending a binding offer.  Even for Alabama, that’s a tougher sell.

Figure on plenty more angst to come on how early signing periods are bad for the kids.  After all, that’s how these guys roll.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting, The NCAA

29 responses to “‘If you want me, then sign me.’

  1. HVL Dawg

    The real problem is that Saban’s season lasts until mid January every year. He and his staff are busy.

    And that’s why UGA doesnt have a kicker this year.

  2. Irwin R. Fletcher

    We probably would have been full

    Let that sink in. They had other kids they had offered before Joshua Jacobs…so they would have missed out on him. But what this type of response doesn’t address is the kid planning on choosing Bama whose spot Joshua Jacobs took at the last minute.

    I’m sure he has a name…but Saban doesn’t have time for that stuff.

  3. BigD

    It’s Saban’s world…we’re just all living in it.

  4. ASEF

    Just because something is bad for a coach doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the athletes. This just advances the recruiting calendar and puts pressure on both parties to make binding decisions with less information – which simply guarantees more misses, more regret, and more transfers.

    Speaking of transfers – we want kids to be able to transfer without impunity. What about after they sign but before they enroll? How does South Florida handle a kid who inked early but suddenly wants out when FSU and Florida come calling?

    Colleges recruit kids academically. Top colleges get 300 applications or more for every available spot in the freshman class. Top colleges overbook their freshman classes based on the math of a certain percentage decling their offers or stumbling prior to enrollment. Kids get put on wait lists. None of this is controversial or evil or horrible.

    Why is the frame for top college football programs – like Georgia – different than the one for top academic schools? No one is demanding that Ivy League schools offer top students a binding enrollment opportunity prior to their senior year. No one is demanding that MIT not court top students unless they absolutely plan to enroll them.

    This is being proposed because a lot of smaller schools and schools in less geographically favorable areas think it will level the recruiting playing field against schools that can put more eyeballs and bodies into recruiting – like Georgia. Player benefit, like the satellite camp rhetoric before it, is a fig leaf and overstated.

    • How does South Florida handle a kid who inked early but suddenly wants out when FSU and Florida come calling?

      In your scenario, who held a gun to the kid’s head and told him to sign? If he thinks he has better options, he’ll wait.

      I have a hard time seeing how giving high schoolers more choices is a bad thing. Were it up to me, there wouldn’t be any fixed signing days at all.

      • I completely agree. If the coaches don’t like it, too bad. The reason we still have NSD is so the WWL has programming for an arbitrary day in February.

      • …and then a day after he gets his fee-fees hurt because he’s locked into USF and wants to go somewhere else the bloggers will be out in force decrying the “system.”

      • ASEF

        What is the easiest sales pitch known to mankind, executed daily by car and cellphone salespeople? “Better buy today, man. Offer ends tomorrow.”

        “Giving kids more choices” is a lovely glittering generality. Who could argue with that? But you’re not really giving him more choices. You’re just moving up the decision date on the same decision tree he already had – which gives him less information and guarantees a less informed decision. The obvious answer to the South Florida kid is this: he didn’t think he was good enough for FSU or Florida when he inked with South Florida.

        My son has friends who already meeting with scouts in 10th grade. I’ve watched kids in the neighborhood get offers in track, baseball, football, and volleyball to schools ranging from UNC-G to Wofford to North Greenville to Air Force. None of them bemoaned the lack of earlier signing dates. At the point of signing, all of them were still struggling with a relative lack of information and the unknowns – that’s where the NCAA could make a huge difference.

        The biggest thing the NCAA could do – and I am just mystified why no one advocates it – is making the academic side of the athletic scholarship a 4 year guarantee. If a kid spends a year in a program and hates it but wants to stay in school there, then he or she can quit the team but stay on scholarship. The roster gets the counter back, but the school is still on the hook for the scholarship.

        That would make the biggest difference in the lives of the kids I see heading off to school to play sports. It would lower the power the coaches hold over the kids dramatically.

        • JCDAWG83

          If the academic part of the scholarship was guaranteed for 4 years, it would only be fair that the kid had grades and test scores to be admitted to the school to start with. Would the academic scholarship count in the Title IX calculations? Where does the money come from for the academic scholarship? Is it an athletic scholarship or an academic one?

          The only reason these kids are getting offers is their athletic ability. If they decide to not play the sport for which they were offered the scholarship, they should be on their own like all other students. If they can’t continue to play due to an injury sustained while playing or practicing the sport is another matter entirely.

          • ASEF

            It’s an athletic department commitment in the books. And the kid still counts towards APR.

            As a rule, a small percentage of players are admissions exceptions.

            But if the goal is to give kids leverage over their situation, this would do it. It would also make schools put their money where their mouth is on educating the kids they bring to campus.

            It would in the end reward schools offering responsibly.

            Everyone wins.

    • CB

      If they’ve already signed with S Florida then FSU or Miami can’t come calling. I’m all for breaking the rules, but I don’t even think Saban recruits kids off of other teams.

  5. Macallanlover

    Maybe this will stop the rush to be first to offer a HS player. If Saban is concerned about the performance the Senior year, don’t make an offer. I don’t really care whether we have the early date in June or not, but I do think a signing before the end of the year is a great idea. I particularly like the staff being able to narrow the focus by knowing who is already on board, these verbal “commitments” should be actual commitments so the last minute flip flops are minimized. Hard to plan your personnel needs when other teams are sabotaging your plans. If Little Nicky is against it, that is just one more reason to support it.

    • Be careful what you wish for, Mac. I think your boy may be trying to replicate the system.

      • Macallanlover

        I know, I know, there is some evidence that may be the agenda. Wonder if we can pick and choose, like the results without the “tude”. No, I have a great deal of respect for Saban but I do hope Kirby can bring all the good and still not talk through a coke bottle.

        I do really think the early signing option is good for CFB, even if it is limited to a percentage of the class. Nick doesn’t have that many classes left to sign…..does he? Oh Gawd, give someone else a chance, please. Looking forward to the Tide and the Hawgs on Saturday night, depending on whatever SC tells us we must do to make it happen.

  6. Bright Idea

    Not crazy about June but December makes sense. The kids have played their senior season and any coaching change should be apparent, but not certain. Of course schools can decide who they want to offer a June signing and gamble on the rest. The gambling part is what Saban wants to avoid.

  7. DawgPhan

    Just let the kids transfer at anytime without having to sit out. Who cares when they sign.


    I see no need for a signing day at all. IF said school wants to offer a kid a scholarship, and the kid wants it…sign the papers. 25/85 still applies for the year they enroll.

    I am in no way for wide open transfers and playing immediately. I like the current rule…sit out at year at the top level…you really want Coaches poaching each others rosters year round? Blocking where they go seems to be a big draconian, I would ban that.

    Grad Transfers seem fine to me. Kid worked his ass off for 3 years or less to get a degree..if he wants to leave, have at it.

    • Macallanlover

      Agree, grad transfers with no penalty, but never to unlimited free agency. That would be total chaos, plus that is no way to run a plantation. 🙂

  9. Uglydawg

    June’s too soon. There’s a lot of difference in a senior in his last game and his first game. A lot of kids and schools will have buyer’s remorse.
    It’s easy to say “that’s tough” as old farts sitting in front of our computers, but this is about real kids and hard choices with long consequences.
    If a kid is really good, he has no reason to sign early..if people know he’s good they’ll find him an offer in December…if a verbal commitment isn’t good enough for the school, offer someone else. Can you just imagine some of these kids having to face the pressure and persuasion of a coach when they’re still looking at a year of highschool? Not good, IMHO.

    • Macallanlover

      I think August would be better than June also, some kids want to get this behind them and focus on their senior season. If they don’t, don’t sign anything and wait until after their playoffs are over.

  10. JasonC

    Odd they would put it in mid-December with the bowl season still going on. That’s not very good IMO.

  11. This change honestly feels like a change that will have more impact on schools that aren’t traditional powers. My guess is that kids with multiple offers to Alabama, Ohio State, UGA, Texas, etc. will likely just wait until February to sign – want to enjoy the fruits of the recruiting process.

    The teams that will really benefit are the mid and lower level teams that can snatch up the 2 & 3 star guys in June that may develop further as seniors. Then they can land a few higher caliber recruits than normal.

    I think it also helps the athletes who aren’t rated as highly guarantee themselves a scholarship, as opposed to waiting to see if there will be enough on a team for them to get one.

    In the end, I don’t think Alabama or any of the other big powers will be significantly impacted, based on the level of players they recruit. I think those guys will still hold off on making their choice.

  12. Mark

    Sooner or later, the NCAA just needs to do away with the signing day fiasco all together. Just let a kid sign at any time during his senior year. That should make recruiting more reasonable for most everyone, the kid included.

  13. CB

    I’m late to the discussion, but Pruitt was already over offering at Georgia, and Smart is definitely going to do the same. This new rule would hurt Georgia too, but I’m for the unpaid student athlete over everyone.

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