NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day

As college football enters a new world with an Early Signing Period beginning December 20th and ending December 22nd, one power player in college football doesn’t believe it does enough. At Big 12 Media Days on Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he’d like to see an Early Signing Window.

The commissioner said, “ I think we need — we have data that indicates that they’re — about 70 percent of the Division I football prospects make their decision before the 1st of October and really would like to get the recruitment process over with. Whether we can get earlier is anybody’s guess.  It took us years to get to the early signing date in December that we just adopted, but we’re going to keep swinging the bat and see if we can get there because I think there’s still more to be done.”

When Bowlsby started mentioned the idea of an Early Signing Window, I was unsure of what exactly he had in mind, but the commissioner went on to explain how he’d possibly like to see this transpire.

“I think you could end up with a signing window where you say, okay, we’re going to do visits in April, May, and June, we’re going to go to camp.  If you want to get the recruiting process over, the institution can issue a letter of intent.  You’ve got 14 days to sign it.  And maybe the window runs from October 1st to November 15th, or maybe it runs from September 1st to November 1st, and you get it over before the postseason.  I don’t know why there can’t be a window where you offer the scholarship.  If the student-athlete wants to conclude the recruitment process and the institution knows they’d like to make a decision, they go ahead and do it,” Bowlsby said.

There are two schools of thought on the NCAA taking an approach like this:

Pros

  • Players can get their recruitment over earlier than ever to focus on their senior season and year.
  • Coaches can begin locking in players they are most interested in signing
  • Less likelihood for blue bloods swooping in late to steal players from the programs who have spent far more resources on players
  • Allows coaches to spread out recruiting during the season, rather than having a mad dash to the finish in mid-December

Cons

  • To the last point, getting guys signed during the season may prove to be too much for coaches who are already working 100+ hour weeks from September to December
  • Players may sign thinking they are going to play for Coach X, Y or Z, with that coaching ending up getting fired. Granted this can happen anyway in December or February, but the likelihood increases the earlier a player can sign.

Overall, the pros seem to far outweigh the cons for Bob Bowlsby’s proposed Early Signing Window of 4-6 weeks during the season. As it is, college football staffs are only getting bigger, allowing the head coaches to have less of a hands-on approach with recruiting, so adding a ton of hours to the work week I don’t believe will be as big of an issue as some may make it out to be.

As BobBowlsby points out, it’s 2017, doesn’t a specific “Signing Day” feel awfully archaic?

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