With the Early Signing Period, the whole concept of National Signing Day is now over. And that’s not a bad thing
Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
It’s hard to type and giggle at the same time at the glee that the whole recruiting world has been diminished into a big ball of afterthought.
“If I should say he wasn’t very greedy/I could not, I’d be telling you a tale/One boy/Boy for sale/Come take a peep/Have you ever seen as nice/A boy/For Sale”
And now we know how this is all going to work.
How were the teams and coaches going to handle the new Early Signing Period for recruiting in late December? As it turns out, they’re going to handle it just fine.
Granted, there were several coaches who were up-in-arms insane over having to spend most of their time doing their closing pitch to a bunch of children rather than work on bowl game preparation, but for the most part, everyone seemed to adjust without a problem.
The early signing day came and went, with the idea that there would still be time to figure out what teams needed and what they had to do by the time the first Wednesday in February rolled around.
Everyone figured this one out in a hurry. If you didn’t get your guys in December, you were going to be left foraging for scraps.
If you were hoping to read and react to the 2018 recruiting season, you’re the Toys R Us in an Amazon world.
There are still a few five-star types still hanging around figuring out what they’re going to do – you’re INSANE to sign early if you’re a superstar recruit; wait until February and your price goes through the roof – but for the most part, schools need to have at least 90% of their class signed by now.
And that’s sort of the point of the Early Signing Period world. Everyone focuses on the Johnny Five-Star and Joe Four-Star, but recruiting classes are mostly about getting the bulk players who can fill roles and compete for jobs.
Hoping for recruits to work out is like any other form of speculation. The more there are in the mix, the more chances one will shine, and the less risk involved. There’s really only a fight for the top guys on the top programs – almost everyone else knows who they’re getting early on.
But all of that makes Wednesday, February 7th is relatively meaningless.
Oh sure, we’ll all get into National Signing Day because it’s what we in the biz do this time of year, but there are only a handful of top prospects still around. This is just for show now.
So how is this all different? What have we learned?
December is the New February.
This sucks so, so, SO hard for people like me who don’t want anything to do with this creepy, corrupt world while real games are going on, and it sucks triple-hard because this all comes down right around Christmas. But that’s the deal.
Now that National Signing Day as we know it is dead, everything gets moved to December. It’s going to be how things are done, and we all have to get used to it.
If you’re thinking about changing coaches, you had better do it early.
You’re sort of hosed anyway in recruiting any time you change up coaches – it really does take about at least a year to put together a proper class – but now there’s absolutely no time.
Before, a new head coach would be announced sometime around December, and then there would be a bum-rush to do anything possible for coaches to steal the guys they’ve been working on for their old schools and salvage something for their new places.
That’s not happening now.
The timing isn’t going to work. If you’re a school and you want a specific guy, you’re not going to be able to wait until after the national championship, or it’s going to set your program back by at least a year, if not more.
Now, Willie Taggart is going all out at Florida State to try getting the remaining four and five-star types left standing – and there’s something to be said for the stability of knowing that a new head coach will be there for the next four years – but it’s still going to be too late.
The prospects will eventually figure it out, but at the moment, signing early is risky.
The NCAA is at least paying lip-service to the problem, but it’s not going to be enough.
Let’s say a decent prospect signs early, either because he wanted to or you’ve was pressured into feeling like he had to. If the coach he wanted to play for leaves, then what?
There’s talk about changing the rules so the player can take off, too, but he’s probably not going to be able to play for that coach without getting hit with a penalty of a year off.
Or, let’s say a prospect signs early, and then a few more prospects are signed in February for the same position. Again, the player is stuck and doesn’t have any freedom to move.
Prospects can and should use the system to their own advantage.
Again, most prospects sign on with a school because they want to actually go to that school – you know, all that learning stuff. But for the ones who are only going to college because they have to, there’s some merit in waiting and seeing where the best opportunities are.
Let’s say you’re a running back or quarterback – a position that generally comes down to one specific spot – and you don’t really care about any one school. If you’re able to wait, then those six weeks will matter to see how everything shakes out, and then you have all of the advantages of being a free agent – or, a grad transfer – and you can pick the best situation for you.
Maybe that good Group of Five program needs more help at your position than that mediocre Power Five program. Maybe a good P-Fiver just got a new coach and he’s scrambling to fill spots.
Of course, none of this matters if you’re bad at football, and the coaches are always going to want to replace you with someone better, but if you’re looking for a good opportunity, waiting could be the best option.
And finally …
We’re all going to have to find something else to do in early February.
Again, everyone in my weird little world will still do stuff on recruiting once this first week of February comes around, but it’ll be more about recapping. What’s done is already done – and that’s not a bad thing.
The less emphasis on recruiting, the better. That toothpaste will never be put back into the tube when it comes to the crowd that likes recruiting season more than actual football – I sort of dig the draft more than regular season NFL – and the pressure will always be there on the coaches to do whatever is possible to bring in the top talent.
But it really, REALLY is all a fat load of hooey.
Wisconsin has done just fine without killing itself for five-stars.
UCF just went undefeated and beat Auburn.
Iowa State was just fine, and Texas was just fine.
The SEC sucked outside of the big boys at the top, and almost all of those schools have owned spots in the recruiting top 25 for the past few years.
So if National Signing Day is now in late December, so be it.
It’s more fun spending the first week in February wondering why Belichick didn’t play Malcolm Butler.