“Coaches don’t want to spend all summer recruiting.”

National signing day is upon us, so cue the usual hand wringing.

Wednesday is college football’s national signing day, when prospects can finally ink their names on national letters of intent — binding documents that lock in the offers of athletic scholarships that colleges have made to them. But until players sign on the dotted line and, typically, fax their letters in (signing days are practically keeping the fax machine industry in business), agreements made beforehand are only as solid as the word of the parties who made them. A coach can pull a scholarship if he lands a better player. A player can renege on his commitment if he decides to sign elsewhere.
In fact, virtually everyone involved in the process feels it is flawed, and getting worse.

“What’s happening with the word ‘commitment’?” asked Chuck Kyle, the longtime football coach at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. “What are we teaching these young people?”

I love the implicit level playing field assumption there.  It’s like there’s no difference between 17-year olds who can’t even enter into a legally binding contract on their own and multi-million dollar athletic departments with business experience, representation and coaches who’ve made use of agents standard practice.

And that’s before you get to the straight math.

There remains a fundamental asymmetry between coaches and prospects that Josh Helmholdt, a recruiting analyst at Rivals.com, summed up: “College coaches recruit 20 to 30 kids each class. A kid gets one school.”

Helmholdt added that he was more sympathetic to the prospects who decommit than to coaches who renege on offers. “Most come into this completely green, totally naïve and just trying to keep their heads above water,” he said of the recruits. “They’ve been doing everything they’ve been told to do. They find out in December or January they’ve lost their scholarship — that’s on a totally different magnitude than a college coach having a four-star flip on him.”

The relative lack of leverage for prospects was a prime reason Darlington, among others, supported a signing window during the summer, something the oversight committee advised against. Many coaches oppose the earlier signing window, according to several participants in the process.

No shit, Sherlock.

You want kids to learn the meaning of commitment?  Let ’em consult with advisors who can explain that and make offers binding on schools and recruits when they’re accepted.


Filed under Recruiting

6 responses to ““Coaches don’t want to spend all summer recruiting.”


    Without signing legal papers with each offer and each commitment there is really no way to change the system. And if you do the courts will have to be involved and gum u the system. Is it a great system? Nope, but if we break it everyone involved will suffer. Colleges are clearly more like businesses….players aren’t angels either…more like product. But get the courts/unions/politicians involved and the whole thing collapses. The systems needs some tweeking for sure. I just don’t really trust the tweekers……


  2. Dog in Fla

    “What’s happening with the word ‘commitment’?” asked Chuck Kyle, the longtime football coach at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. “What are we teaching these young people?”

    How to act like football coaches.


  3. paul

    This is why it’s important to know lawyers and have a few around who are close personal family friends and have known your children since they were born. People like that can talk to your children as the family friends they are and not as the legal counsel the NCAA wants to tell you they are. Never mind the hypocrisy of asking teenagers to sign legally binding documents without the benefit of legal counsel.


  4. Chico Dawg

    I believe the player should have representation since they are, in fact, minors. But let’s be honest. Most of these kids cannot afford a lawyer. Most of them don’t even know a lawyer. Which means that the relationship would be more of an agent; resulting to more predators in their kitchen and of course opening the the whole “pay for play” situation even more-which I also think they should be allowed to negotiate. Imagine ADGM’s disdain to that thought…
    I have a daughter who is a Senior and is quite an accomplished student. The collegiate offers we are discussing are quite intimidating for an 18 year old. I couldn’t imagine the pressure being put on these young men. I think a lot of them get tired of the constant berating by coaches, peers, the media, etc. and just get over with it.


  5. A new opening for someone much younger than me. Get around the NCAA legal bull shit and become an advisary for some of these kids, really they are kids and help them out.
    A non profit one would keep the wolves out?


  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    Oh, the New York Times. Such an authority on college football. I’m awed by the superior insight. Hee hee, he haw haw.