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Georgia coach Mark Richt speaks out against the proposed early signing period

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
Georgia football coach Mark Richt answers questions from fans about Georgia's recruiting class on national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Athens, Ga
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Georgia football coach Mark Richt answers questions from fans about Georgia's recruiting class on national signing day Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Now that the ten-second substitution rule proposal was withdrawn, it looks like coaches now have another potential change to speak out against: the early signing period.

Susan Peal, the NCAA associate director of operations, told ESPN.com on Friday that steps are being taken toward offering prospects an earlier date to sign with a school in addition to national signing day in February.

Stanford head coach David Shaw spoke out against the idea over the weekend and now the Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Georgia head coach Mark Richt is showing wariness about the early signing period as well.

“I always say ‘Be careful what we ask for’ because I don’t know what that will do to our recruiting calendar. I think there’s some sanity to it right now. I think if everybody plays by the same rules, then it’s as good as it is,” Richt said. “I’d be afraid to change it. I don’t want to turn the regular season into such a recruiting frenzy that you can’t even coach your team on a weekly basis. I enjoy coaching football, too.”

The AJC’s Michael Carvell noted that the paper has surveyed ACC and SEC coaches over the last few years about “one rule they’d most like to see to improve recruiting” and that implementing an early signing period is one of the most popular answers.

There would be many details to work out in order to make this work. As of now, there isn’t even a rumored date as to when the early signing period could begin. Under the current recruiting format, prospects cannot sign a National Letter of Intent until national signing day – the first Wednesday in February. Richt thinks a change would impact the way the entire recruiting process plays out.

“I think if you moved the signing date up, I think you push more official visits to the football season,” Richt said. “Sooner or later, they’ll say ‘We don’t want all these official visits during the season. Why don’t we move them to the summer?’ Then we’ll have official visits in the summer, and no one will get any time away. Not me, not our assistant coaches, not the kids, not the high school coaches, and not the families. Where does it end?”

Richt can admit that the current system certainly has some faults, but at the same time, he thinks this potential change would not be a change for the best.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good setup now. No matter what system you use, there’s going to be some bugs in it, and there’s going to be some things you don’t like about it,” Richt said. “That’s why I say ‘Be careful what you ask for’ because if you do that, what’s going to be the aftermath? That’s what I’m worried about. I can’t even say what it’s going to be, but I’ve got a feeling it will be like ‘Why in the world did we do that?’”

The Conference Commissioners Association will reportedly meet in June to futher discuss the matter. It will be interesting in the coming weeks to see if coaches continue to be vocal for or against early signing. 

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