Yesterday morning the NCAA voted on changing the world of recruiting as we know it by implementing an additional signing period that will take place before the customary National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February.
That means there will now be two signing periods in college football. Starting this year the early signing period will take place on December 20th and the window to sign will be three days.
To adjust for the early signing period, high school players will now be able to take official visits as juniors in the spring versus having to wait for their senior year in the fall. Coaches will also be allowed to recruit at camps, though it is unclear for now whether that includes satellite camps or just camps hosted by the coach.
You can read the full release here.
Here’s the NCAA’s release on approval of CFB recruiting reform package: https://t.co/ejVHseHhPK— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) April 14, 2017
SB Nation Recruiting analyst Bud Elliot offered his analysis of the winners and losers to an early signing period pointing out that northern schools should benefit greatly from this.
You know who also benefits from having an early signing period? Group of Five schools. A lot.
The final week leading up to National Signing Day is always referred to as poaching season in recruiting circles. The Power Five teams that are left scrambling after losing recruiting battles always pick apart G5 recruiting classes as they take away their commits at the last moment.
Or how about the diamonds in the rough that G5 teams discovered way-back-when, only to have them swiped away once P5 teams realized they overlooked a player.
With an early signing period all of that could theoretically change. Athletes who have been locked in on a school can now end the process early by signing. The late bloomers who P5 schools missed out on will now more than likely end up at G5 schools. This should somewhat diminish the gap between the P5 and G5 and increase parity in the sport.
If a kid wants all the attention that National Signing Day brings, he can still wait until February and make his announcement then.
*I think the highly coveted prospects are still going to wait until February while the under the radar kids will sign early.
Bud argues that athletes are one of the biggest losers with this new policy and though I agree with him in some aspects, the one I didn’t quite understand is the point where prospects will now have limited schools to choose from.
If a prospect really wants to wait out for a bigger offer and sign in February he still can. If a G5 school really wants him, that scholarship offer will more than likely still be there for him come February if he doesn’t end up getting attention from P5 schools.
P5 coaches also now have to be more honest with prospects that they were possibly thinking of grayshirting or labeling them as a preferred walk-on. This gives prospects more options knowing they have full scholarships on the table from other schools.
Some athletes will definitely feel the pressure from coaches who want them to sign early - especially those who have verbally committed - but now coaches will know how genuine those commitments were and determine if they should look elsewhere.
The point Bud makes in regards to what players will miss out on with this new policy that I absolutely agree with is if head coaches leave after the early signing period. Players who signed early will be at the mercy of the school deciding whether they should release them of their Letter of Intent (very unlikely).
Although I don’t agree with this practice as players should be free to leave if any coach that recruited them bolts, this also favors G5 schools as they are the ones typically going through a late head coaching change during the coaching carousel.
For an example just last year Western Michigan was set to bring in the best class in the MAC. Once PJ Fleck left, so did their chance for bringing the best recruiting class in the MAC as several Western Michigan commits followed Fleck to Minnesota.
Being that Fleck would have been hired after the early signing period, Western Michigan would have more than likely kept a few of those players from Minnesota at least until they hired Tim Lester and let the early-signed players decide how they feel about him before considering the players’ release out of their LOI.
I think this new policy is good for the G5. It evens the playing field a little on the recruiting trail and makes it more likely for teams to keep their hidden talent away from the bigger schools.