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…