Daily Cavalcade: Why Top Recruits Should Avoid The New Early Signing Period
College football has a new early signing period in late December to move along the recruiting process. Why should top prospects avoid it?
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
The powers-that-be purposefully chose to make me care about recruiting just to mess with my desperately-needed-at-this-point-of-the-season really, really, really long nap.
“Sign your life on the X/You eXit, X-off, but what you really get:/A box of Newports, and Puma sweats”
Okay, I’ll play along.
Why would any good college football prospect sign on in the early signing period that was just approved?
So you don’t have to read the entire boring thing – at the bottom of all this, thankfully tweeted out by George Schroeder – it’s this simple.
The Collegian Commissioners Association voted to add an early recruiting signing period from December 20th to the 22nd, to go along with the normal National Signing Day hoo-ha we all know and love in the first week of February every year.
But if you’re a top recruit, and you want to go to a major program, why in the wide, wide world of sports are you going to sign on in late December and take the chance that your coach is going to be off making his millions somewhere else?
Signing a Letter of Intent in late December of a college football season is like taking a test and being graded without getting the final ten questions.
It’s like a major governmental body voting on something, and then holding a victory party, even though there are four steps to go, and then … nevermind.
All it’ll take to start the domino effect aspect of the coaching carousel is just one big head man to leave – or simply be rumored to be going elsewhere.
21 head coaches were brought on to new places going into the 2017 season. Just five – Randy Edsall at Connecticut, Tom Allen at Indiana, P.J. Fleck at Minnesota, Tim Lester at Western Michigan and Justin Wilcox at Cal – were hired after what would now be the early signing period. But it’s not always going to be that way.
What’s going to happen when the Chicago Bears job is open on December 24th?
What’s going to happen to the early signing period when the “Nick Saban/Urban Meyer to Browns?” opinion piece lands around December 12ish?
All it’s going to take is a mega-rumor – whether there’s anything to it or not – that one big guy is looking around, and the drama will start.
What’s going to happen if Saban or Meyer or Swinney or Harbaugh actually does take the Cleveland or Jets or Chicago job … on January 13th?
One major head coach goes elsewhere after December 23rd – or retires, or gets fired – then another major head coach moves into the vacated job, and then a rising star head coach moves into that other job, and on and on and on.
And then a whole slew of great players will get the “you signed on to play for the school, not the coach” line of bull muffins.
The big winners? The big-time programs. Now, they might be able to know what they have to work with going into February, and what they need to do next.
All the verbal commitments don’t mean a bucket of spit until the LOI is faxed in, and now, it’ll be easier to sign Johnny Five-Star and lock him up over a month earlier than normal.
This also matters when it comes to figuring out what positions need to be filled, especially by the programs that can pick and choose the great players it wants.
Let’s say Alabama, Georgia and USC are all going after the same superstar running back. Of course, all three programs are pitching a slew of top prospects and will probably sign at least two or three four-plus-star talents.
But if No. 1 RB Guy signs with Saban early, then Georgia and USC can spend the next few weeks pushing harder for other running backs.
Or, if a program knows linebacker is going to be a need position in a few years, and it signs a slew of good ones early, it can concentrate on other areas.
Even better, for some, they might be able to have almost all of the recruiting class locked up and done weeks in advance. That’s massive when it comes to spring ball preparation, working on future recruiting classes, and saving the time, energy, stress, and extra bags of … school spirit.
This can benefit the savvier prospect, too, if he works the system correctly.
If you’re a player rated around 15-to-20 at your position by most services, and two higher-ranked prospects just signed on at XYZ State, you’re probably going to look elsewhere, or adjust your thinking to wait for the February signing period after the dust settles.
And, yeah, some of these top guys are going to figure out that the demand for their services is going to be much, much higher after December 22nd – and they’ll figure out how to work every angle possible.
But there will also be others who’ll be ecstatic to be done with the whole process.
A lot of them get sick of the constant contact, the speculation, and the full-court press sales pitch that never, ever slows down. Sign, get it over with, and breathe a sigh of relief.
And then they’ll pray to the college football recruiting gods that the coach they just signed away the next several years of their lives to will still be there when they get off the bus.