By John P. Lopez
One of the topics today on the In The Loop show on SportsRadio 610 and around the country will be the debacle that is college football’s National Signing Day.
The pressure of the moment, not to mention temptations and inexact nature of who’s going where on signing day make for questionable tactics and bizarre last-second decisions that spin the day out of control.
It can be fixed. It won’t be as sexy, dramatic or captivating to some, but it just may bring more sense to the event, as well as reward those schools whose player evaluation is best, while forcing players and schools to truly decide the best place — not the best offer.
Today, the nation is convinced Ole Miss has cheated its way to a Top Ten class. Why? Because it came out of nowhere. Few outside Rebel Nation truly believe the Rebels just may have a great group of recruiters and evaluators.
Meanwhile, the Texas Longhorns were left in a lurch when four major four- and five-star commitments defected at the last minute to other schools.
While it doesn’t break my heart that two of those commitments went to the Aggies, who had a consensus Top Ten class, it still is wrong.
Mack Brown now says that if the Longhorns commit to a player and that player decides to still look elsewhere, then he’ll pull the offer. But that’s hypocritical. It was Mack Brown who was at the forefront of the early-commitment movement some 10 years ago.
Here’s the answer: And early-signing period and a post-season signing period.
Not a DAY — a three-day window. Twice.
Here’s what it does:
* The first signing period should be a three-day window in late-July before a player’s senior season. Why late-July? It’s after the annual cattle-call known as 7-on-7 and camps for linemen, kickers, etc. Schools will have all the evaluation data they need.
You really like a player, Mack Brown? Then put your money where your mouth is. Suppose Texas Tech evaluates a player and decides it’s ready to offer. Then, it does. At the same time, if Texas or Oklahoma decide they like the player but aren’t ready to offer, then both the player and the school have to make a decision.
If the player and his parents believe he’s ready and has the offer in-hand, then they can sign. An early-signing period, hence, rewards evaluation and also likely balances the playing field. If they player decides he’ll wait until after the year, good for him. Or, perhaps the offers won’t be as substantial.
* The second signing period — another three-day window — would be in February. Having a three-day window allows players and their families to again evaluate which players are going where and whether a commitment should change. Example: A&M earned two QB commitments this week. Southlake Carroll’s Kenny Hill may have changed his mind, but probably realized that Kohl Stewart is a first-round MLB draft pick and probably won’t be a threat for playing time. A three-day window also takes away the Hollywood-type drama of signing day antics, choosing hats, etc.
* If an early-period signee decides in February that it wants to change? Fine. However, he would be ineligible to play as a freshman and would have to redshirt. Thus, he can make a measured, knowledgeable decision, but he couldn’t do it on a whim or risk a redshirt year.