- Roquan Smith may turn out to be a trendsetter, but I think it’s important to understand that his “no LOI” strategy was not calculated and planned in advance. It just fell into place because of circumstances. Without a doubt, however, I think you’ll see a few more kids across the nation using the same strategy next year for signing day – and some will even boldly reveal it in advance. In only a very few situations, and certainly not the majority of situations, this is a wise strategy for a kid to consider, especially if there are rumors of pending coaching transactions. This post-signing day mess has been a flat-out embarrassment to college football since Wednesday.
- But before you think the sky is falling, not many kids will have the leverage to do something like this. Georgia produces around 200 D1 football signees per year, and I’d estimate that around maybe 10 or less out of 200 had the leverage to pull off something like this IN ADVANCE of this year’s signing day. For example, I think UGA or Clemson would’ve waited until kickoff for next season’s opener for Trent Thompson or Mitch Hyatt to report. So that’s 10 kids or less per year who have the leverage to do it (around 5 percent) and maybe only 3-4 that will seriously consider it (less than 2.5 percent). But when it happens it will be big news, so you’ll think it’s happening more than it actually is.
- There will also be some kids who aren’t desired enough (or ranked high enough) that will try to pull off this strategy. It won’t work and it won’t be pretty. “You’ve got 15 minutes to sign with Texas, or you can have fun at Texas Southern.” If you’re not ranked higher than 15 or 20 in your state (or don’t have more than 10 committable Power 5 offers), it might not be wise to even bring it up with your college coach.
- The NCAA’s proposed early signing period next year for football is truly setting up to be a complete disaster if there’s not a clause that gives an automatic release to signees if there’s a coaching change. Now two things will have to be figured out there: (1) Will the release be contingent on the head coach or (assistant) prospect’s position coach leaving? Or both? You would hope both. (2) And by when does the coach have to leave for the automatic release to take place? In the best interests of the kids, I would think May 1. That’s when spring practice is over and there doesn’t seem to be as many coaching transactions after that date. Of course, I’m betting the college coaches won’t want to go past the first week of February.
- What if the colleges colluded and decided together against recruiting a kid who didn’t want to sign an LOI? This was an interesting point of view from Sports Illustrated: “Maybe the Bruins, Bulldogs, Wolverines and Aggies would decide he (Smith) isn’t worth the potential hit to the system … (although) it seems unlikely that all would pass on a player they clearly want. Also, if all these competitors in the market for college football talent did conspire to shun a player they obviously covet, then Smith might get a call from … (the attorney) who cleaned the NCAA’s clock in the O’Bannon case …”
Roquan Smith (AP Photo/The Macon Telegraph, Jason Vorhees)