The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

CNHI News Service Originals

March 14, 2014

Early signing changes calculus of college football recruiting

College football fans have two loves – the fall season and recruiting, not necessarily in that order. Those who follow the game cannot get enough information about their team, present and future.

Thus a storm of debate at the mere suggestion of an early signing period in which recruits could submit national letters of intent to colleges ahead of the traditional date in early February. It’s an idea that an NCAA official told ESPN.com has “more momentum now than ever.”

It would seem that college coaches would embrace the chance to get top targets to ink binding agreements in the fall. If the change is adopted, college football recruiting would move to a dual framework followed by college basketball and other sports.

If anything, this would help minimize the growing practice of trying to get high school football stars to bypass “committed” status - which means little anyway - in favor of a system of locking in future athletes even before bowl season begins.

Susan Peal, the NCAA’s associate director of operations, said the 32-member Conference Commissioners Association will review a possible expansion of the  signing period in June.

She thinks it has support, though questions remain over whether high school seniors would be permitted to sign in the fall, late summer or even earlier. Those who want to wait until the February of their senior years could reserve that option.

Not all coaches see the need. An earlier signing period would only add stress to the fall schedule. Coaches would face the added pressures of coaching the current team while attracting talent that wouldn't arrive until the following year.

Which begs the question: Who does this proposal benefit?

Basketball recruits frequently endorse the idea of signing early because it allows them to enjoy their senior year without the constant focus and demands of recruiters.

From a coach's perspective, a player who signs in the fall is one who won’t require the same level of attention over the winter. If a team recruits 10 players during the early period, its staff can focus on 15 or so prospects needed to complete the new class, instead of wondering how many verbal commitments really are solid.

Early signing has drawbacks, too. What happens when a player signs long before graduation, and in the meantime the college coach that made the offer gets fired or hired away? Is the athlete still locked into that team?

That’s critical because players in many, many cases are attracted to a program and its coaching staff, rather than the academic institution they’ll attend.

Academic eligibility could be a factor. How will high school students who haven’t qualified academically be treated under early signing provisions? Not all students achieve the necessary ACT or SAT scores the first time they take the test.

Of course, top-flight academic institutions like Stanford, Notre Dame and Duke have higher admittance standards. Coach Mike Krzyzewski seems to have found a way to make things work at Duke.

In the end, major college football powers are going to recruit the best players regardless of the system. It’s unfathomable that teams like Alabama, Ohio State or Texas might suffer because a player is given the opportunity to sign in the fall.

With this change, the intense recruiting season will start earlier in the year. Maybe an early signing period will also end the charade of college recruiting in which it's been said that the real persuasion starts once a high school player is committed.

Recruiting college athletes is an evolving system. It wasn't long ago that coaches recruited without Twitter, blogs or other digital portals that are now part of everyday life. Early signing seems like the next logical step.

Then again, the persuasion of 18-year-old kids by silver-tongued recruiters doesn't always involve logic.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
CNHI News Service Originals
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 10.43.57 AM.png VIDEO: Amazing dance moves at NCAA title game

    Eye-catching action wasn't confined to the court at AT&T Stadium Monday night during the NCAA Championship game between UConn and Kentucky. This pair -- apparently a father and son -- delighted the crowd during a timeout with some synchronized dance moves.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: White House may ban selfies

    The White House wasn't too pleased after Red Sox player David Ortiz snapped a selfie with President Obama that was later used promotionally by Samsung.

    April 8, 2014

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • A man with amnesia taught us how memories become personal

    Although not as celebrated as the late American amnesiac H.M., for my money K.C. taught us more important and poignant things about how memory works. He showed how we make memories personal and personally meaningful. He also had a heck of a life story.

    April 8, 2014

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 8, 2014

  • Investigators seek cause of fire that killed three brothers

    Authorities searched the rubble of a burned-out farm house over the weekend for the cause of a fire that took the lives of three young brothers left home alone while their widowed mother worked the overnight shift at a direct mail company.

    April 6, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 3.36.06 PM.png 3 apps to make your flight easier

    Whether you fly once a week for work or once a year for a vacation, you can bet that all areas of your trip are being monitored by smart phones. While it isn't hard to find an app with your flight info, some apps make the process of flying a lot simpler.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don't blame voters for low turnout

    Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
    It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.

    April 6, 2014

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

What are your plans for the weekend?

Enjoying the outdoors
Staying in out of the heat
Traveling
Other
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.