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A few thoughts on early signing period




For those that clicked on this link blind, not knowing what happened: college football's commissioners put into effect a new rule instituting a new signing period, 72 hours in length. Where the National Signing Day we all know and celebrate in early February, there is now another option in the preceding December in the middle of the month. 


---Above all else, this is one of two things: either a great day to be a (or most) Group of 5 school or a day where Power 5 schools have to step their evaluation games up. For the small schools, this signing period could be a really good way to protect the higher-rated prospects they jump on early from get stolen away by a bigger program in the final weeks. There are obviously plenty of examples of those kids that have gone on to great success in a Power 5 conference, and an equally high number of examples of Group of 5 schools that could've accomplished great things with one extra piece or two that was stolen away by a Power 5 school. What I'm really curious to see is how many Group of 5 schools really try to push this early signing on their recruits as to keep them from getting poached at the last second. To take it a step further, if Group of 5 schools are successful at that push, I wonder if the talent gap between the two decreases in the next 10 years. 


---I've wondered from the time this got floated about in the beginning how much this really helps the recruit. To me, the biggest benefit of signing early, but not enrolling early, is to live the final stages of the recruiting process in peace if one has found a school they love regardless of any future events with the football program. I'm not sure the last six weeks make all that much of a difference, but to be fair, I've never been a college football recruit. To me, it would make more sense to have an early signing period in August before a player's senior year, but I realize so much happens in the course of a football season that recruits are much more likely to get chained into a situation they don't like with a date that far out. 


---I can't take credit for this idea, as I first heard it on Podcast Ain't Played Nobody hosted by SB Nation's Steven Godfrey and Bill Connelly, but I found it so fascinating I decided to pass it along. I wonder how this will impact the coaching carousel, particularly the timing of it. 


Recruiting being the high-octane machine it is now, many schools seem to believe that beginning the hiring cycle after bowl games give their incoming coaches too little time to do something in the final moments of the current recruiting cycle. (Hi, Les Miles, Charlie Strong, Ron Turner, Randy Edsall, Al Golden, etc.) As we've seen, making your intention of getting a new coach known by late October/early November makes it easier to have one in place some time around Christmas/New Year's, meaning a solid six weeks to do something. Now all of that comes after an early signing date that many expect to carry serious weight. Will programs feel the need to dismiss coaches earlier and earlier (they already are, even without this) to keep the schedule on par with the new signing date? Time will tell, but the theory stands to reason. 


---I also wonder how this will impact the general calendar for assistant coach job changes. We always see a flood of assistant coach changes right after Signing Day in February (Auburn and LSU did it this spring, for instance). If a team has an overwhelming majority of its anticipated signees locked in after that December date, I wonder if they'll make those changes then, quickly hire a replacement and see if the new assistant can finish the job with the recruits left on the board.



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