By DARRYL MAXIE / firstname.lastname@example.org
ACC coaches, like most of their counterparts nationally, came out this week in favor an early signing day for college football. But who would it really benefit?
Those who spin it in the most favorable light say it would take pressure off players who have made commitments. If the early signing day is early enough — say, before their senior season begins — they might even be able to play their last year free from the hounding phone calls, the fan hype, etc., because they’d already be in a binding agreement.
That may be. Or, more likely, kids who otherwise would’ve had their senior seasons to make up their minds about where to go to college would be hounded to make that decision even earlier.
Let’s face it: The real benefit isn’t for the player; it’s for the schools that recruit them. Those who say an early signing day would simplify the final weeks of recruiting … simplify it for whom? Coaches who are of mature minds, established and financially set for life in most cases, don’t like the idea of being at the mercy of a sudden de-committing. They would prefer to lock up their commitments and zero in on the truly uncommitted.
Between the time a guy commits to a school and the time he signs on the line that is dotted, only bad things can happen, from that school’s perspective. And most football coaches aren’t keen on the idea of playing defense the whole time, which is what the interim between commitment and signing day really is: You’re babysitting, praying nothing goes amiss before that signed letter-of-intent gets faxed in. And coaches are much better equipped to put a foot in a player’s backside than they are to babysit.
As it is, kids are pressured to make non-binding commitments that lead to the babysitting period. We want to know which way a kid is leaning, until they lean far enough to topple over and make a choice. At least as it stands now, they then have plenty of time to sit back and reflect on whether they’ve chosen wisely. And if, in the months of maturing that follow, they should decide to change their minds, shouldn’t the rules err on their side?
Some say early signing day would give kids more security. But if that college coach gets fired, or lands a more lucrative offer elsewhere, that kid is more stuck than ever if he signs early.
I’m not sure signing day shouldn’t be pushed back. All an early signing day does is shift more pressure on kids, not less. How is that a good thing?