The followers of chaos out of control

I’m starting to see a few things bubble up about how college football deals with the new early signing date that soon approaches.  MaconDawg has a level-headed analysis here, and I think we’ve already seen one aspect of the brave new world take effect:

Schools will drop the axe faster than ever before.

Did you notice that it seemed like a lot of programs, including those in the SEC, accelerated the firing of coaches who might have made it to Christmas in years past? That’s no accident. The early signing period means that schools have been on a truncated time line to secure new coaches and get them out on the recruiting trail. Schools like Georgia with incredibly stable coaching situations will benefit from that certainty in the new world of December signings.

I think that’s right.  The turnover in coaching has been compressed into a tighter time frame because of recruiting considerations, something that is both understandable and yet somewhat foolish — get it right should always outweigh get it done fast — and that does benefit programs that are stable and locked in on their classes.  (You could argue that the only one who benefits more by the time pressure is Jimmy Sexton, and, hey, who am I to disagree?)

One other big factor has yet to fully materialize.

December 20th is the new February 7th.

SB Nation’s Bud Elliott has been reaching out to coaches for some time now to find out what their plan for the new early signing period is. They’ve been pretty clear about it: they plan to sign everybody they can on December 20th. Schools like Georgia that have verbal commits for a majority of their available scholarship slots will plan for most of those verbal commits to sign next week.

December 20th is becoming the new “National Signing Day” to the extent that such a thing exists. With more and more top notch recruits waiting until after NSD in recent years, it’s become a bit of a fluid concept anyhow.

The February signing period looks like it will begin to resemble the spring signing period in basketball. It will be for rounding out classes with that one extra interior lineman or defensive back you need to fill out the depth chart. Or for the guy who didn’t have his qualifying test score in December but now appears set to enroll.

I suspect that’s right, but we won’t know for sure until the 20th rolls around.  In the meantime, Rivals’ Mike Farrell punches the alarm button.

Perhaps one of the reasons the powers-that-be in college football came up with an early signing period was to cut down on late decommitments. It makes sense, right? The decommitment has become out of control in college football recruiting and by giving kids a chance to sign early, surely the number of decommitments will settle down correct? Wrong.

I have never, in my nearly 20 years of covering college football, seen so many decommitments in the months of November and December. And it will get even worse as we approach Dec. 20. Many blame the craziest coaching carousel in recent history, but I see it more as a result of a signing period that is drawing closer and closer.

This is just another example of the NCAA not having any idea on how to control the recruiting process. It seems like everything it tries to fix leads to the opposite reaction that they were hoping for. I’m sure we’ll all be more familiar with what to expect as we go through many of these early signing dates, but for now it appears this has made the decommitment problem a bigger one instead of a smaller one. And that’s never a good thing.

That’s some hilarious bullshit there.  The idea that an early signing period would cut down on late decommitments is something I’ve never seen the NCAA argue.  That “Perhaps” of Farrell’s is doing some very heavy lifting there.  Logic would suggest the opposite would happen, that as schools, particularly the recruiting powerhouses, faced the earlier date, they would have to make their intentions clear in December.  As a result, more recruits would have a better picture of their opportunities at a point when they would still be able to rearrange their goals well before the last minute.  Indeed, that’s why coaches like Saban and Meyer bitched about how the new date would limit their decision making with regard to sleeper candidates who previously were being evaluated up until the February deadline.

If you want a specific example, yeah, we can speculate that Jaevon Becton’s decommitment came as the result of Georgia’s roster management and that it sucks for him, but isn’t it better for him in the medium term that he learn where Kirby Smart stands in mid-December instead of February 6th?

Contrary to what Farrell argues, the NCAA wasn’t trying to impose its control over the recruiting process.  It was, for once, attempting to give recruits a little more transparency from coaches, which is why Saban and Meyer complained.  I don’t often defend the NCAA, but it looks to me like things may actually be going according to plan.  At least until some smart coach figures out a way to game the new setup…

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43 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

43 responses to “The followers of chaos out of control

  1. Biggen

    That Becton decommit definitely felt like Kirby and Co. had better options and told the guy “It’s not you, it’s us”.

    Did CMR ever pull an offer from a lower rated kid to pursue a higher rated one?

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    • We’ll never know if he did or not (that’s probably a good thing). I do know he would make some late offers when it was apparent we were going to miss on an NSD decision. Some of those guys turned out to be good football players (Tim Jennings) or hurt our rivals (Brendan Douglas).

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        It definitely was us decommiting from him, and he’s not the only one unfortunately. Look for Becton to end up at UT.

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        • I was responding to the question about whether Richt ever pulled an offer from a lower-rated commit for a higher-rated prospect.

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        • Brandon M

          You have direct information from inside the program? How do you know Becton didn’t see the writing on the wall with Anderson Ojulari and possibly Cox now in the fold for this class and decide he may have a better opportunity to see the field elsewhere? I don’t think any of us can say “definitely” either way.

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    • I think the main strategy is to stop calling and staying in touch. If a kid can’t get anyone on the phone and he sees someone committing at his position the message is clear. I don’t know how many kids push it at that point. Who wants absolute confirmation that they aren’t really wanted? Who knows what they get told by this staff or the prior one if a kid says: “you offered I committed, I expect my LOI.” We know what saban would do: not send it. I don’t know what we’d do.

      I completely agree with the Senator that the early signing period is good for the kids. If they aren’t “feeling the love” in early December they’ve got 2 months to find a place they are wanted.

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      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I don’t think just ‘not calling’ is a good strategy; it’s just a lazy strategy. Whatever esle you can say about CKS he knows recruiting, and is always saying it is about relationships. The tweet I saw from Becton did not sound bitter at all. I am thinking CKS has been up front with him from the giddy-up and when his position got taken by someone clearly better he was okay with it and going to make the best he could out of it. It is also why the early signing day is a good thing for kids like him, and mainly irrelevant to real 5* guys. It is a little like being wait-listed for Harvard or Yale. I think just icing a kid would get a round and backfire on you. Kirby is too smart for that, imo.

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      • DawgPhan

        No way that this is good for the kids simply because of the system at work. Coaches get to rep these changes, they will get to see what works and doesnt work with minimal penalty. They will all teach each other how to use the new rules to pressure kids into making the decision they want.

        Next year the coaches will be significantly more adjusted to these changes and the players will be back at square one. With each family/player likely going through the process for the first time with minimal resources to assist them.

        Dont confuse this momentary confusion on side of the schools as any sort of lasting improvement of the experience for the student athlete.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      Yes, quite a few times; mainly after Pruitt’s arrival.

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    • CB

      I feel like Pruitt brought some of this in under Richt. I also remember a coach (in Columbus I believe) banning Richt from recruiting his kids after pulling a scholarship, but I can’t remember the details. Either way, it didn’t happen much with Richt.

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  2. I like the new signing day. In late December, it’s easier for me to follow than the February date when I’m busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger.

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  3. Jeff Sanchez

    “Disturbance At The Heron House” is an all-time REM deep cut. Props.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. 3rdandGrantham

    Well said. Another dynamic is that top powerhouse coaches will ask (actually tell) certain lower 4 star and 3 star recruits not to commit/sign on Dec 20th (whether with them or someone else), but instead wait until the February signing period. We are now interested in WR Bateman, who just got upgraded to 4 stars and is committed to Minnesota, and Smart told him he most likely will have a scholarship for him, but he will need to wait until February and not sign with the Gophers next week. He basically said thanks but no thanks, and it will be interesting to see what Smart does.

    My hunch is we will end up offering him a scholly that is commitable next week and he will accept, but who knows.

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    • Uglydawg

      Visiting Minnesota in January might help him decide.

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        Yep, but I can understand his positioning and loyalty to Minn as well, as they’ve made him a top target throughout and showed him lots of love while everyone else ignored him. Then Rivals upgrades him to a 4 star after a great season, and suddenly every coach is vying for his attention last minute. If I were him, I’d stick with Minn if Smart/UGA doesn’t guarantee him a ‘ship and let him sign Dec 20th.

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  5. Atticus

    Nice REM quote…..

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  6. Dawglicious

    unexpectedREM oughta be a subreddit

    Liked by 1 person

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    Couldn’t have worked out much better for us. McElwain & Booch got the axe and sent their programs into a tailspin – all the while Kirby’s flying around and lining up top recruits. Except for some finishing touches Kirby’s recruiting class may be done in a week. For Pruitt and Mullen, recruiting is just getting started. They’ll be looking to sign the leftovers in February, while Kirby gets further ahead on 12/20/2018.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      As I mentioned the other day, this class almost certainly will eclipse last year’s absurd haul, which, IMO, was the greatest in UGA football history. And just think, ’19 has the potential to go down as the greatest NCAA class of all time.

      UT is screwed, as this will be their third straight subpar class. I read the other day that, when the ’18 class is inked, we will have something like 22 more 4 star players on our roster than them and 10 more 5 star ones when you combine the three classes. That is an insane gap that will be impossible to overcome short term. UF is in better shape but not that great, as McElwain had several ho-hum classes. SCU is SCU…mostly so-called diamonds in the rough types, so on paper we really should continue to dominate the east for quite a while to come.

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  8. gastr1

    This is a factor thatv makes the Tennessee search even more comical. I thought surely the rationale for firing Jones mid-season was two-fold; send the team a wake-up call that their play on the field was unacceptable, and more importantly, to start the coaching search immediately so as to announce the new guy the day after the last game.

    But that was clearly too complicated a plan for the Lols.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Uglydawg

      I wish the Tennessee Debacle was a movie. I would buy a copy and show it during Thanksgiving every year.
      It was truly a thing of beauty and warmth.
      I offer this Holiday season toast to Dawg fans everywhere,
      “May the burnt orange dumpster continue to smolder for years to come.”
      Cheers!

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  9. Hogbody Spradlin

    Getting the vapors over decommitments is fake drama. Commitments and decommiments are just announcements.

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  10. CB

    Definitely a step in the right direction. Phase two should be allowing juniors to sign in February.

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  11. old dawg

    I like the early signing day…why? the kids can sign and stop the circus and get their lives back…the coaches can breathe a little easier and not worry about the poachers plus they can give their undivided attention to the few recruits still out there…

    I never liked the drawn out February signing…I’m glad it’s gonna lose some of it’s appeal…I wouldn’t care if it goes away.

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  12. Otto

    I am not a fan of the early signing period. If you want to sign early graduate early and enroll. If you don’t want the circus firmly commit and stop communicating.

    I would delay signing day. Why? The colleges have another silly season coming when the NFL season is over. If I were signing I would want to wait and see if the staff is changing, not that it won’t the next year, but you get an idea for the 1st year.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      Disagree with you on the early signing period, as it helps HS athletes in forcing coaches to show their hand, so to speak. But I do agree on waiting to ensure the coaches will be in place. Roquan Smith was vilified here and elsewhere for waiting long after NSD, but if I were in his shoes I would have done the same. How often do we see coaches let go or leave literally just a few days after NSD? It’s shady at best and, if I’m a top recruit, I wait until April if needed in order to flesh things out in terms of the coaching carousel.

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  13. Russ

    Get rid of signing day and make offers committable. That will cut down on a lot of this recruiting drama.

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    • Yep. Both sides would play a lot less games if offers were immediately binding.

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    • David K.

      I agree but I’m not sure how they’d get around coaching changes. If a kid signs as a sophomore or junior then the staff changes you’re stuck. Same with incoming coaching staffs inheriting a bunch of signed LOI’s for kids they didn’t recruit. You could actually submarine a school as a coach with the writing on the wall that you’re on the way out. Offer up a bunch of no-names before you get fired, etc.

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  14. Macallanlover

    Next week will cause many players and coaches to show their cards, and that is a good thing in my opinion. This allows programs to have a clearer picture of what needs are unfilled 6 weeks before NSD, and recruits see a more certain depth chart if they are looking for the best space for them to land. But it had definitely forced schools to move faster on coaching changes, and that needs to be reeled in, imo.

    UGA has some undercurrent where Fields just took an in-home visit from Mullen. With Fromm leading UGA to the SEC title and getting UGA to the playoffs, he might seem more firmly entrenched than Fields would have thought back in September, what if he doesn’t sign in December? Does UGA play hardball, or roll the dice to see if they can keep him in tow? Helluva showdown game we have going on, and Fields hasn’t denied a wandering eye….at this point. He has helped convince some of the other talented guys we are counting on, so any slippage and it could be a mess. Now Fields may just be playing it cool and sitting back with Kirby laughing at the speculation but as a QB (leader) shouldn’t he do more to shut this down in the recruiting circles and keep the other guys home? Mucho popcorn will be required.

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    • David K.

      I don’t care if he’s the 2nd coming of Cam Newton. He’s not going to start until Fromm leaves.

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      • Macallanlover

        I don’t disagree, simply don’t know yet, but it was always crazy to me that we land 3 consecutive 5 star QBs in this day and age, especially with some big programs not having one decent QB. I am not saying he doesn’t come to UGA, I don’t know a thing about his intention, but the pressure/leverage involved in next week is fascinating and no one knows how it will play out.

        Folks will be jockeying for position, especially in a tight class like UGA anticipates. But I am surprised that Fields is letting the conversation continue about him not being as solid to UGA as had been reported. It is is one of the major stories of the next few days, I am sure KS is all over it because he has been a beast in landing players others doubted we could get in the boat. Would be disheartening if we hit a snag this far into the process. Potentially, this class could surpass last year but Fields plays a major role.

        As for Jake Fromm, you will get no argument from me. I have had confidence with him since I first saw him perform at The Opening and the Spring Game where all UGA QBs come to earn their stripes. Pretty stunning to see what he has been able to do from the very first snap. I would be very pleased to see him continue for three more years, but would love to see another strong talent available. We saw this year how valuable that can be.

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