The Syracuse Orange lost a pretty significant football commit last week and there was probably some hope that a change in football recruiting could help avoid this in the future. Unfortunately, the NCAA decided not to consider a proposed June signing date, which could have helped a school like Syracuse avoid having commits poached by bigger-name programs. There will be a vote in April to consider a December signing period, which is a small consolation at this point.
It should come as no surprise that many coaches were against the June period because of the potential impacts. If that signing date had moved forward, schools would have to lock in on their top targets and wouldn’t find it as easy to move on to options B, C, and D if needed.
As we hear about trying to “level the playing field,” it’s disappointing that more coaches aren’t pushing for a change. The signing period remaining later benefits the bigger schools who can continue to sit and watch as prospects grow and develop. Then they can jump in late with offers as they learn which of their players are turning pro. It’s a cycle that makes it hard for schools to consistently break into the top 10 and makes it easier for those in that position to stay there.
Another unfortunate consequence of keeping signing dates later in the year are the annual incidents where coaches pull offers late in the cycle. UConn’s Randy Edsall’s the latest coach to do so, and he certainly won’t be the last. A June signing day can limit these scenarios, and an early signing date could come with an opt-out clause if the head coach they signed with has left/been replaced. Signing early can also allow an athlete to make a decision on the best program for themselves and head into their senior season without the constant barrage of recruiting contacts and questions.
There are athletes who certainly benefit from the current system. They are the ones who land offers from bigger programs late in the process, or who simply play their way into any D1 scholarship. The hope is that continued improvements to the recruiting system will be made to provide more protection to the student-athlete.
One good note coming from the NCAA meetings is the idea of adding a second bye week for all college football teams. An extra week off is certainly a good step towards improving the health and well-being of the athletes. It is especially crucial as more conferences add weeknight games to the schedule to increase revenue and television exposure. Just take a look at USC’s schedule for 2017 (zero bye weeks) as exhibit A for why this could be a beneficial idea for all of college football to look into.