Early Signing Period Threatens the Circus of National Signing Day
Recruiting for college football takes a new route this week. Normally coming on the first Saturday of February well after the bowl season ends, the NCAA altered the process last spring. On Wednesday student athletes will for the first time be able to officially sign with the colleges of their choice in December.
With less than 48 hours before thousands of high students fax in their National Letters of Intent, coaches still are not certain if the change will be a positive. In Alabama, both Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn have expressed concerns about the new “second” signing day.
For one thing it brings added pressure to coaching staffs near the end of the season at a time when programs are playing end-of-the-year rival games. Auburn hosted over 100 recruits for the Georgia and Bama games, and the early signing date doesn’t leave much time for coaches to be as thorough with their evaluations before the 72-hour early signing period begins on December 20th.
Then there’s the added distraction of having to focus on trying to get kids to sign while bowl preparations are taking place. And, it can’t be good for high school coaches either, many of whom are occupied with state playoff games.
This year’s edition will be tempered by the fact that a lot of schools will already have most of their big horses in the barn by the time February 7th rolls around. Auburn is expected to sign 15–16 players during the new early signing period.
While some may be happy that the incidence of last minute hat shows put on in recent years by highly rated recruits may be reduced, many others will miss the drama. For those fans National Signing Day is usually fun, coming at a time when there is little news for the starved football fan who gets wrapped up in the 3-to-4-to-5-star debates on ESPN.
But those shows are mainly for entertainment purposes. Don’t get me wrong. Talent is important. Being able to scientifically rate it from coast-to-coast is horse crap. What happens to develop those players after they arrive on campus is far more important. But …
I’ll still miss the circus.