With the rash of decommitments this year, especially the two felt by Notre Dame fans today, it’s gotten a lot of people talking about an early signing period much like college basketball has. A number of schools, not just Notre Dame, got burned by late decommitments which really hurt their recruiting classes after they had stopped recruiting a particular position.
Since this is a Notre Dame blog, I’m going to the Irish as my example. Notre Dame had three big decommitments over the last two weeks. First Justin Trattou bolted for Florida then Greg Little for UNC and Chris Little for Georgia today. The fact that these three individuals did not want to come to Notre Dame does not bother me nearly as much as the fact that Notre Dame could have used the scholarships they were saving for these three elsewhere and/or spent their recruiting efforts on other players.
Some people will say its the fault of the coaching staff for stopping the recruiting at say wide receiver when the Irish had Duval Kamara, Greg Little, and Golden Tate “committed,” but what message does it send to your recruits if you keep after other receivers when you tell them you don’t need any more? The Notre Dame staff made a commitment to these kids that they were done at receiver so they stopped recruiting wide outs out of respect for them.
Same goes with Justin Trattou. The Irish locked up Trattou and Kerry Neal very early and as a result felt comfortable targeting just a few select defensive ends – Martez Wilson, Ben Martin, Everson Griffen – figuring they would land at least one of them. If they struck out, they still felt they had two strong ends in this class. As a result a guy like Jason Peters got slow played and said the reason Notre Dame was never in the mix was because he didn’t build a relationship with the ND staff.
All of this is making the topic of an early signing period very popular across message boards this evening. Weis even mentioned it numerous times today in the press conference and on a few of the television and radio appearances he made.
Weis acknowledged the fact that there’s a lot of logistical stumbling blocks in the way of this so here are some really off the cuff thoughts from me on the subject.
Free agency in the NBA is already a little like college recruiting. Their is a “courtship” period where players can make visits with teams to see where they want to play, but there is a waiting period before they can sign any contracts. Granted, that “courtship” period is merely a few weeks, but none the less its a bit similar to recruiting.
Why not take that mold and apply it to college football recruiting? Let recruits take their official visits over the summer and set a date for September 1 for when they can officially start signing Letters Of Intent. Once they are ready to select a school, there would be no “commitments.” Rather, when they were ready to select a school, they would simply sign the letter of intent.
Instead of having two signing periods, just have one that starts a lot earlier because even with an early signing day and a late one, there will still be decommitments. Say an early signing day is set for September 1 and the NCAA gives recruits a one or two week period to sign a LOI in this period. That would still leave roughly four and a half months for recruits to “commit” and then decommit on the latter signing day.
Giving a recruit the ability to sign a LOI any time after September 1, however, would make them think a lot longer and harder about making their decision if they knew the decision they were making was actually binding and final. It would also allow for a lot more honesty in the recruiting game between coaches and recruits. There would be no more, “I’m still committed to you, but I’m just looking a school X this weekend,” and conversely, coaches could easily point to the number of signed LOI’s they have at a particular position and tell a recruit just how many more spots they have.
Of course there would be negatives to a system like this such as coaching changes affecting kids who have already signed LOI’s, but provisions could be made for such occasions where a signed recruit would have X number of days to cancel their LOI if they a position coach, coordinator, or entire staff was let go.
All of this is very argumentative and like I said, these are just some off the cuff remarks that I’ve had while dissecting all that went down today and this recruiting year.