The push towards an early signing period in college football is getting stronger.
Discussion of an early signing period is set for a meeting of conference commissioners in June, and the ACC will recommend it, wanting to have an early signing period that begins August 1.
"That would be a healthy thing for the recruits and the student-athletes in the sense it gives them an opportunity to make their decision, fully commit to it and sign, and then be able to play and study during their senior season without the distractions of the recruiting process," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. "If a player knows where he wants to go and is ready to make that commitment, it enhances the situation for that player and for the institutions as well."
Basketball and other sports have an early signing period and while football coaches weren't unanimous in their support for an early signing period in March, Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Miami's Al Golden vouched for the idea.
For the early signing period to be approved at the CCA meeting in June, a simple majority "Yes" vote would be needed. Kentucky's Mark Stoops and Georgia's Mark Richt have spoken out against an early signing period because of potential changes to the recruiting calendar.
If approved, an early signing period wouldn't necessarily take away any drama from National Signing Day every February either. In an early signing period, only recruits who have a strong verbal commitment to a school would be signing letters of intent. However, switching does occur amongst recruits who have already made a verbal commitment, and that's the main point of Stanford coach David Shaw's opposition to an early signing period.
But many of the players who have National Signing Day ceremonies haven't made public declarations of which school they're leaning towards. While coaches would inevitably pressure kids in an early signing period to put their name on the dotted line, that pressure would only be towards recruits who have given a verbal commitment. Someone who refuses to make a non-binding verbal commitment won't certainly be signing early.
While Shaw's concern is legitimate, we have a hard time supporting the argument against calendar change for the early signing period. If opposition to change simply because it's a change is truly one of the top reasons coaches are against the pitch, it's hard to see it not getting approved.
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