Early Signing Causes College Football Culture Shock

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The New York Post


College football's new early signing period was supposed to improve the "environment" and "culture" of recruiting, according to the mission statement at the time of the change. It was designed to erase problems the previous model — with just one day for prospects to sign — created.

Instead, it has created new problems, several coaches believe, speeding up a process that already was fast to begin with. On Wednesday, the first three-day early signing period in college football begins, and there is expected chaos.

New coaches are working feverishly to put together classes on the fly. Others are preparing to coach in bowl games and recruit at the same time. Kids who just wrapped up their high school seasons are deciding whether one or two official visits are enough to make a choice.

"What they wanted to do was make the process more up front and easier to deal with, and they made it a lot worse," 247Sports.com national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn said in a phone interview. "[Coaches] think it's ludicrous. I haven't found many coaches who like it."

Alabama's Nick Saban has been one of the most vocal in his opposition, telling reporters recently the early signing period doesn't benefit anybody. He sees players getting pressured into signing by some schools so they don't land a bigger offer before the regular signing day in February, and there are new coaches pushing for kids not to sign so they can get a chance to get involved.

"I have not talked to a coach who's happy with it," Saban said. "Not one."

It's difficult on new coaches. Chad Morris, for instance, was introduced as the new coach at Arkansas less than two weeks ago. It takes time to formulate a staff.

"You're trying to build a relationship in eight days," Morris said in a phone interview. "That's basically impossible."

The thought behind the early signing period is it would prevent kids from losing scholarships at the last second, being told there was no room for them right before signing, as has been the case in recent years. But Dohn said that still exists. The hope was it would help lower-level schools not lose out to bigger ones who waited until the last second for the best possible players, but Austin Peay's Will Healy said the "trickle-down effect is still happening." And now new problems are being created, for kids and coaches alike.

There is less time to make educated decisions, for both parties. Schools playing in bowl games before the early signing period miss out on a key weekend to host prospects.

"How is that a level playing field?" Dohn asked.

Here are three more things to watch over the next three days:

l There could be a new No. 1 in recruiting this year. While Alabama of course has another elite class lined up, the Crimson Tide aren't a lock to finish atop the recruiting rankings for the eighth straight season. Ohio State, Texas, Miami, Georgia and Penn State are all in contention. A lot will be determined this week, as a number of premier prospects make their decisions. At the moment, eight of the top 12 in 247Sports.com's rankings are uncommitted, including defensive ends Micah Parsons, Eyabi Anoma, and KJ Henry, offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, and wide receiver Terrace Marshall. The above names are expected to sign this week.

l Rutgers is expecting to land a strong class, headed by two promising quarterbacks: four-star signal-caller and one-time Miami commit Artur Sitkowski from Matawan, N.J., and Californian Jalen Chatman. It's heavy on locals: Nine New Jersey natives and four from New York City.

l It will be a big week in the city for local prospects, especially at two schools in particular. Erasmus Hall (eight) and Cardinal Hayes (six) are planning to see a combined 14 players sign, led by E-Hall's offensive lineman Matt Jones, a top-60 recruit who is headed to Ohio State, and Hayes lineman Qadir White, who will sign with Syracuse.


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December 20, 2017


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