The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

March 18, 2014

Early signing changes 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.

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