Georgia Tech coach supports early signing period for football

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is in favor of the proposed early signing period for football.

Paul Johnson (AJC file)

Paul Johnson (AJC file)

An NCAA-related committee will consider a recommendation when the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) meets in June. If adopted, the new early date would begin on Dec. 16 and last for 72 hours, per CBSSports.com. It would go into effect immediately for this year’s recruiting class of 2016 prospects, and be used for two years as an “experiment.”

UGA’s Mark Richt appears to be opposed to the early signing period because he’s “not sure” how it will affect the recruiting calendar.

Meanwhile, Tech’s coach told the AJC that he supports the idea. And he offered up some ideas of his own.

“I think it’s good,” Johnson said. “I’d find a time once they finish their junior year of high school. Everybody got 85 total scholarships, and you’d have 25 you could sign every year. If the kids wanted to sign, they could go ahead and sign. If they didn’t qualify, you lost the scholarship. It would stop all the foolishness with committing.

“If you didn’t want to sign (early), you wouldn’t have to do it. There’s nothing that says ‘I’ve got to sign early.’ You could go all the way up until February if you wanted. But the guys who want to sign and have been committed for 18 months, and know they want to go to school there, this will take care of that. It would help everybody. It would stop all the foolishness.

“When a kid went in and said ‘I’m committing,’ then the college would say ‘OK, here (are the papers to sign).’ And then (on the flip side), it would stop the colleges from making a billion bogus offers. (Nowadays) it’s like ‘You’ve got an offer from us, but it’s non-committable.’ What is that? I mean, if you went in and said ‘OK, you’ve got an offer.’ And the kid said, ‘OK, I want to sign.’ (Doing it this way) would stop the foolishness both ways.”

According to an NCAA spokesman, the current proposal somehow does not include an automatic release for kids who sign in the early period but the college’s head coach gets fired or takes another job before the regular February period. Johnson is in favor of an automatic release if the head coach changes jobs.

“I think you ought to give the kids an out,” he said. “Most of the times if the head coach is going to change, it’s going to happen in December. They’d have time where if the head coach changed, and the signing date was in February, they’d have time (to find another school if they wanted).”

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