A day that several football coaches and fans long hoped and anticipated would happen finally came true as the NCAA made a much-needed rule change.
Recruiting can be a fickle aspect of being a collegiate football coach nowadays. The whole process (from a fans’ perspective), has seemingly gotten out of hand with poaching recruits, gaudy signing day antics, etc. The NCAA has made provisions in adding a much-needed, early signing period.
This was an action (more or less) long championed by Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. While it is not the exact changes he had hoped for, he wanted to abolish a specific Signing Day and leave it up to the student athletes and the school to sign when there is an agreement. I still imagine he and numerous other coaches in the NCAA are at least pleased with the start.
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On Monday, it was announced that the Collegiate Commissioners Association established a 72-hour early signing period for football, starting December 20, 2017.
The previous single signing day normally held within the first week of February will still be available, but perhaps the popularity and anticipation of the day may be slightly diminished in overall importance.
As a college football and Arizona Football fan, more importantly, I cannot begin to explain how big a change this is. While I cannot accurately predict what type of impact this will have on college football, my general belief and feelings are that it will help immensely, and more so for Arizona.
As you may recall, Arizona was the victim to other schools poaching recruits (giving an offer and flipping a prospect’s verbal commitment) up to the morning of Signing Day just a few months ago.
Indeed losing a commit is very hard to deal with as a college head coach due to the bonds that are thought to be made, and all the effort put into creating that bond. Recruiting battles will happen. But to me, you’re getting into a gray area here, and it has become almost borderline unethical when opposing coaches call committed kids last minute trying to get them to flip.
Now with the early signing period, some commits will sign their National Letters of Intent, essentially “binding them” to the school they signed with. Meaning, not as many chances for poaching kids last-minute.
Additionally, I think this may help some lower-rated recruits receive last-minute offers as schools are filling their classes. However, with that said, it also prevents some other recruits to get those last-minute offers, especially if they’re already signed.
With the new rule change, two things will certainly happen:
1) Athletes will shut their commitment down early in the process, sign their papers during the early signing period, and thus add less last minute drama come February when everyone else is signing theirs.
2) The remaining recruits will likely slow play their recruitment, commit later in the process, and sign their papers in February. This perhaps gives them more time to fully process all the information possible to make a well-informed decision, and not an emotional one following a recruiting visit that was cool.
I’m not here to say it’s easy to make that choice, I’ve never been a D1 athlete with numerous schools talking and visiting with me. I have never had coaches selling me on why I should play for their respective school. But if it helps the game and helps the recruiting process, I’m all for it!
To me, this new provision just makes sense. It seemingly improves the integrity of the recruiting process and makes life a little easier on coaches in some ways. After all, football coaches are signing anywhere from 20-30 recruits sometimes, and keeping all 20-30 guys committed throughout is tough to do.
College Basketball already has a model similar to this in place, and coaches like Sean Miller are only signing three to six players at most, not 20 to 30.
At Zona Zealots, we are excited about the decision. It is about time the NCAA stepped in and did this, and we can only imagine Rodriguez is happy about the change too! Bear Down, Arizona!