Posted: 9:40 am Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

How would an early signing period work for college football? 

By Michael Carvell

How would an early signing period work for college football?

Some of the biggest names in the coaching profession gave us their ideas.

An NCAA committee will meet this summer to discuss whether to keep the current system of waiting until February to allow high school seniors sign football scholarships with colleges or to amend the rules for an additional date earlier in the yearly recruiting calendar.

Football is the only major NCAA sport without an early signing period. Because the football recruiting process has become so accelerated, many FBS-level prospects commit before the start of their senior year of high school.

The majority of college coaches support some form of an early signing period.

The topic gets discussed at almost every AFCA convention and conference meeting of head football coaches. The same NCAA committee (CCA) that will review it as part of its June agenda discussed it two years ago, and on a yearly basis before that, according to an NCAA official.

If almost everybody wants an early signing period, why hasn’t it passed? It’s simple: There’s no consensus support for a plan on how to do it.

“A lot of coaches agree on the concept of an early signing period, but they have different ideas on how to do it,” said Susan Peal, the NCAA’s associate director of operations. “That’s why you’ve probably never seen it happen because there isn’t a (consensus on how to do it). And if no one can agree, it’s probably not going to happen.

“It’s not (a situation) where you have to get 100-percent in agreement but it’s all over the place when you hear from coaches (with their specific ideas).”

Here are a few ideas ideas for you to consider:

MSU's Dan Mullen

MSU’s Dan Mullen

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen: “I’m all in favor of the choice of an early signing period if it would be the first Monday after Thanksgiving. It would be just that one day. Within that rule, it would make that Sunday and Monday a dead period after Thanksgiving, after your last game. That would be a huge help for coaches that play on Saturday, and they’re out on the road recruiting that Sunday — because you’re in a dead period those two days, or have a quiet period in case you bring in recruits for official visits … That way, teams playing in the (conference) championship games will feel at a little less at a disadvantage, I guess, because there are only two days they are still playing that other teams aren’t getting the advantage by being out on the road and recruiting. But on the top of that rule, for it to work, part of it is that you (as a recruit) not cannot take an official visit prior to signing to the school you’re going to sign with. You can take official visits to other schools. But, for example, if a kid is going to come to Mississippi State, and he’s going to sign early, chances are it’s a kid from Mississippi who has been here seven other times on unofficial visits, and he knows this is where he is going to go to school. If he signs in the early period, he can also still take an official visit (to the college he signs with) later on if he wants, but he can’t take one prior (to signing early). The reason for that is that you (as football coaches) don’t have to overload yourself during the season. People say if you do (an early signing period), you’re going to have to move up the recruiting calendar and you’re going to have to have official visits on game weekends every single weekend. Not for the guys who sign early, you don’t. But (under this plan) it also gives an opportunity for a kid who wants to sign early with Mississippi State an opportunity to visit other schools (before Thanksgiving) if he wants. However, if you take an official visit (to a particular school), you can’t (sign with that same school in the early period). You can still go to that school, but you have to wait until the regular signing period (in February). My philosophy behind having that as the rule is that early signing should be a signing period for guys who know where they want to go to school. If we had an early signing day (at Mississippi State this past year), I couldn’t give you an exact number but I would guess at least 50-percent of our class would’ve signed on that day. Now with rest of recruiting, not that you’re not going to visit those kids (that signed early because) you’re still going to check on them and make sure their academics and everything is in order, but you’re probably doing a little less babysitting of those kids, which saves budget money for your program. It lets you get ahead with some other guys (seniors who aren’t signed), and maybe find out more information on younger players. And it gives the guys who want to wait until (the February) signing day so they can take all of their visits the opportunity to do that after the season ends. And for the guys that want to sign early, the (early signing period around Thanksgiving) allows them to do it without a rush.  If you have it in July or August, you’ll have guys who have never taken an official visit, yet they are signing with colleges. That’s the idea I like. But you might find 15 different proposals on how early signing should go. You will probably find it split evenly between the 15 different proposals on what everybody thinks is right. A lot of people think other ones are completely wrong, so that’s why it struggles to get approved.”

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly: “The (recruiting) clock has definitely moved up in terms of guys making decisions. I think if a guy has made their decision, and they are firm about it and they are mature about it, I think they should be allowed to sign early in December … I would do it just like the junior college early signing day, which is around Dec. 12. And I think you go with it, and those guys that are committed and ready to make that decision, you get them out of the way. … There doesn’t seem to be a unanimous feeling across the board (about how to do it), but I’ve been on that train (for an early signing period) for a long time. I think I stand with only a few people. But that has been my one big (rule suggestion in recruiting), that they should have an early signing day.”

Miami’s Al Golden: “I feel strongly about an early signing period. I think we should have three signing days. The first signing day would be prior to Labor Day as you’re going into your senior year of high school. I would say close to 50-percent of the pool is done (with kids committed to colleges) by then. So we should go ahead and have an early signing day, and (the colleges will) know who is left in the pool (of available prospects). It would be very cost effective for all the institutions and all the athletic departments … These are the most prominent kids. They know where they are going coming out of camp season or their junior year of high school or long before that. It’s (a situation where) either their dream school has offered them, or they’ve always wanted to go to that certain college. (The second group’s) opportunity to sign would be right before Christmas, Dec. 22 or Dec. 23, right in that window. That’s the type of student-athletes we see the most after (the first group). This group knows where they want to go by Christmas. Obviously, every time we have a signing day, we are verifying the pool, and thus saving our expenses. Finally, the last signing day for the third group would be where it is now in February … Most people on the outside don’t understand that there are six opportunities for contact in December and January. Even if a kid is committed, as a coach, you go see him … For instance, our quarterback this year from California was committed but you have to go out there six times to see him. And it costs a lot of money to do that. And you send your recruiting coach, your position coach, your coordinator and whatever the case may be. But if that kid wanted to come to Miami and had the opportunity to sign early, then it would be very cost effective for everybody for involved. So that’s what I would like to see come to fruition, to do at least two signing day windows and perhaps three …”

Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss: “(My first preference is for the NCAA to make the rules where colleges can’t offer, recruit or sign a kid until August of his senior year in high school). I think the next best thing to help us with the drama that goes on with recruiting is to allow kids after Aug. 1 (of their senior year) to be able to go ahead and sign. It would save us a lot of time and money — and probably the families are worn out by this process. That’s if they (the kids) know where they want to go, and I like the provision to allow them to get out of it if there’s a coaching change. I would support that.”

FSU's Jimbo Fisher

FSU’s Jimbo Fisher

FSU’s Jimbo Fisher: “I think you need official visits as juniors like they do for basketball. I think you need a junior contact and junior recruiting. And I think you need an early signing period … I’d like to see the (head) coaches back on the road (in the spring), and I’d like to have an official contact (with recruits) during the spring (of their junior year in high school) because those kids are all making critical decisions. I think you need a contact in there, and I think you need a visit as a junior like basketball  …”

Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson: Click here

Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin: “I think there needs to be an early signing period for a number of reasons. Because of how recruiting works now, many juniors and sophomores have the means to get to camp. They get to know coaches, they know where they want to go to school, and they commit. And what happens is that the whole month of January, my nine coaches and myself are running around the country going to high schools every week because we have to do that up until signing day. It’s a waste of money, and it’s a waste of time when we know that a guy is coming here. So financially, it makes sense, whether it’s in conjunction with the junior-college signing period in December or sometime in August before the senior year in high school. Those couple of dates make sense to me … And you know if a guy doesn’t want to sign early, then you know he’s not committed. He’s open for recruiting. I think it clears up the waters for everybody about who is going to take it to the end, and it will save money.”

Note: All of the coaches who are mentioned above either suggested or supported a special provision for student-athletes who signed early which would give them a release from their letter of intent if there was a coaching change between the early period and regular February period.

Finally, the NCAA committee that has the early signing period on the agenda for June is the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA), a 32-member panel of Division I conference commissioners. They are the only people with the power to change the current rules because they manage the signing periods for all sports.

If any changes were made to football’s signing period, it would likely not be effective immediately, according to Peal.

“This would be one because of how many are involved and how many it impacts, along with the education needed and the changes in recruiting calendar, I would say there’s not going to be any type of immediate effective date,” she said. “It would definitely take time for the adjustment.”

Now it’s YOUR turn: If were you in charge of the NCAA, what is your best idea on how to do an early signing period? Please post below. (I must confess that I was initially in favor of an early signing period, but after listening to all the different ideas from coaches, the current system, despite some flaws, doesn’t seem as bad anymore. But I do like Jimbo Fisher’s idea about letting the head coaches get back out on the road for the spring evaluation period)

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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44 comments
Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

Shocking that a Dwag fan would support a "dead period" for recruiting so all coaches can take a summer break. If we can't match their work ethic we should pass rules to govern it. Next thing you guys will propose replacing two-a-days with swim parties......oh wait.

HotDawg
HotDawg

How about mid June, with a dead period during spring practice, so coaches can fully concentrate on current team. Of course all schools will have to agree on a uniform spring practice time, give or take a couple flexible weeks. They can take a summer break after mid June signing date.

Why not be able to sign at end of junior year? Many are already offered and committed by then.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Dan Mullen gave me a headache with his early signing proposal.

dcole001
dcole001

I agree there needs to be early Signing Period. As it stands right now Kids can lock a school down if they sign up for Financial Aid. Then if a Kid decides to Flip at the last minute Coaches are left scrambling to find a replacement. If a Kid is not 100% they sound not commit to a school. Last year alone at least 4 Top 100 Kids flipped on Signing Day. Leaving that School who they committed to find a replacement. Also this will help the Student who signs early. It will lock down there spot so a coach can't come to him 1st of February and say I need you to Grey-Shirt and come in next January. Win/Win for all parties except for the Wishy/Washy Kid who commits to a school early to guarantee a spot at a Division 1 School hoping/Waiting for the school they really want to go to Offer them and flip.

Dawg350
Dawg350

A band of merry morons..

Excuse

Poad

Buckeye

Whiskey

Wooly

Y'all 5 should start your own blog together! Haha!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Heck everyday is signing day for the dawgs baby! Wooooooooo!

Natureboy809
Natureboy809

I am all for an early signing period because it would keep guys like a certain coach we all know who will accept a commitment from a kid, and then still dangle scholarships out there and if he lands a big fish (5 star) he'll offer the kid who has been committed for a year a grayshirt.  It would give coaches who handle recruiting ethically some leverage with recruits.  "So coach S___n offered you a spot, but is asking you to wait until February to sign?  Why do you think that is?  We really want you and will sign you in November (or whenever the early signing period is,  That way you know there will be no surprises in January or February."


dawgs01
dawgs01

Everything about the way College Football is ran is a Cluster ****.  College football to me is the best sport out there but the recruiting process, naming a champion, and the transfer rule are all ridiculous.  Recruiting is a freaking joke. you got 30-65year old men kissing high school kids butts.  I mean down on bent knee for these kids.  The parents like it when the recruit gets their first few real offers but after about 3 wks when it turns into a feeding frenzy and you cant eat dinner, watch tv, do anything without every family member's cell phone ringing or vibrating off the freaking chain.  the mailbox has crap just falling out of it everyday.  there are weeks where all you do is meet with coaches.  they say it is about the student athlete.  how is a kid suppose to pass high school when he has to step out of class bc his high school coach has a bcs coach on the line for him or is sitting in the office and how do you study when all you each night if talk and Skype to middle age men.  if you are 17/18 and you go visit lets just say southern cal and when you get there they got 2-5 gorgeous women waiting on you (this happens almost everywhere) and you have a great night and I mean great night.  how do you not get an inflated ego.  these kids are not even 20 yet and have lived out most guys dreams on 5 official visits and they got senior citizens begging them to come to their school.  I am telling you I got stories that will blow your mind about recruits on official visits. 

POAD2013
POAD2013

#1 rule has to be that a kid can't sign early without a Qualifying ACT or SAT score. 

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Mike you can't agree with Jimbo on allowing the HC's back into the schools in spring because that rule was passed by the lazy azz coaches to prevent Nick Saban from getting all the recruits! That was the Saban Rule #1.

NC Dawg...you know you're a obnoxious and overbearing jackash!

NCDawg
NCDawg

Hey WetWussy...I know you'll stop by this blog so take a look at what Hugh Freeze has to say.  Wow, looks like a real live coach is able to figure out that the process is mind numbing for the kid and their family and they'd most likely want to end it if they could.


I guess I am spot on in my prior analysis,  SPORT.  LMAO!

NCDawg
NCDawg

I think August would be a disaster.  You are right in the middle of camp.  I'd go for right after spring ball... early May for a couple of days.  Rising seniors only.  Limit the number of signees to 10 or 12.

NCDawg
NCDawg

Hey WetWussy...I know you'll stop by this blog so take a look at what Hugh Freeze has to say.  Wow, looks like a real live coach is able to figure out that the process is mind numbing for the kid and their family and they'd most likely want to end it if they could.


I guess I am spot on in my prior analysis,  SPORT.  LMAO!

Caius
Caius

As I said on the Johnson thread, early signing date in August before the player's first game of his senior year.


dawgeatdawg
dawgeatdawg

LIKE THE DRAMA------------Leave it the way things are. Job security for CARVELL-----Blahahahahahah

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Blackoutanyone


That was a little weak Blackout!!!!!!!!!!!!!


How are "things"???   Do you still have that 73" TV??

HotDawg
HotDawg

Blackout.....coaches from all schools, including your favorite one, aren't against the dead period for summer breaks.

It's been in place for years.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Blackout... ..They already have a dead period in july for that reason.

Noone is arguing FOR something that is already in place.

Learn to read better.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@HotDawg


That was NOT Dan Mullen. It was Thomas Brown. It was obvious by the V  O L U M E !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Poad..

What a hypocrite you are....after all the bad things you have said about people...then you run and cry when somebody puts you in your place....crying to the ajc......pot meet kettle! Boo hoo! Lol.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Dawg350  coming from somebody as BRITE as a 4 watt bulb that really hurt all our feelings.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

LOL...Nick Saban strikes again....call us when you win something sport....until then work on beating Vandy

Dawg350
Dawg350

Nature boy

Wooooooo! Styling and profiling! Yeah the nature boy! To be the man you gots to beat the man! Woooooooo!

thebucket
thebucket

@dawgs01 Good post and I agree with you. That's why I would be in support of some type of early signing period. There is no rule that can totally fix what you have described for all of these kids. But if a school really wants a kid and that kid wants to go ahead and stop the madness for himself and his family then they should be allowed to sign and get it over with.

NCDawg
NCDawg

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillieAgain, for those of you too slow to get it the first few times... You do not have any right to football knowledge of any sort just because the college football team you pull for wins a bunch of games.  You and your Bammer bretheren claim this and it is absolutely laughable.  YOU did nothing to win any football games for the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Nothing.  Therefore your contention that a Georgia fan is not worthy to have an opinion about how our team may do in the future is utterly laughable. 

I'll give you an example of how asinine your constant rail along these lines is:  Does a New York Yankee fan know more about baseball just because he pulls for the Yankees?  If so he sure was smart during their Golden Era and suddenly became very stupid from the mid 60's to the mid 70's and 1982-1992.  Anybody with even the smallest amount of sense knows that is ridiculous.  And that applies directly to your assumption of superior knowledge in football, sport.

 Drop the BS attitude and I won't hammer you.  You have no damned right to rag on any fan for being excited about the future of their team, no matter what that may be.  Your stupid " beat Vandy, then get back to me" line is far more overbearing, condescending and obnoxious than anything I have ever posted.


NCDawg
NCDawg

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie LMAO!  Overbearing?!  Obnoxious?!  You Bammers cornered the market, SPORT.  You just hate it when I don't roll over and kiss your rear ends just because your football team has won some championships.



KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Hugh Freeze is the most sleazy HC in the SEC ! The ole miss folks are giving away for free what if we could bottle we would be rich.

NCDawg
NCDawg

@POAD2013 @Dawg350you put that in all caps just to prove how smart you are?  How about BRIGHT... the real spelling.  You can't make this crap up.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Poad..

Well thanks man...ya know you deserve it...you have worked hard to become a merry moron...it just didn't happen over night...congrats! Your only final step is to become the leader. You have to dethrone wooly...it's a tough task....but in short time I'm sure you will...it won't be long now pig boy.

dawgs01
dawgs01

@thebucket @dawgs01 early signing period will help a lot with both sides the recruit and the coaching staff and save the school money for other sports or whatever.  nothing will be perfect and not everything is bad about the process.  the recruit can the see the Country if he wants at least all the regions which is a great opportunity bc not all will be traveling in the nfl one day.  you also get to meet all types of people and like I say you see some beautiful ladies that some of these kids only saw in magazines.  I still remember my first day on campus and I thought to myself this is gonna be a fun five yrs never seen so many women.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

unlike you Sport I actually played college football! Hammer me...hell boy you bring nothing to the table.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Poad...

You're the maroon! Bud.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie


Me too Bro. At 75 I sometimes can't find my way home then later figure out I am already home.You do a good job on here and I  am here 98% of the time just to jiggle some chains to see what reactions I can get.


Have a nice St. Patty's Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Puss...at 63 everything is old...much like the one trophy you have....just kidding

Just a reminder that I come for the fun around here so never take me serious. I actually like UGA and have since the 60's. I only have a problem with the few folks that feel they need to slam Nick and Bama. Hell Bama's had some great years but we've had some poor years and well and will again. Adversity...it's where the elite overcome and the weak succumb.

NCDawg
NCDawg

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie hell boy what do you bring to the table?  There you go again assuming what you have no right to assume.  We are supposed to take your word that you played?  Wow...I am sooo impressed.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Poad..

We all know you like those farm animals brah! Lmao!

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Livingston State...small school college at Livingston, AL. Morris Higginboatham was our HC and Mickey Andrews was one of the 4 assistant coaches. That was 1968...LOL.  My high school HC had me set to walk-on at Bama but Mom and Dad just didn't have the money for that to happen since my sister was at Auburn as well. I look back on what a mistake that was no going and giving it a shot but I guess we all have things we wish we could get a Do Over. We had one kid from I think the high was Avondale that played with the great QB recruit that selected GT but I can't recall the QB's name.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Dawg350  It is still PLAYING College Football unlike you playing with your boys and their toys 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Wooly

Sport...who did u play for? West Texas state tech community prison? Lmfao!