Is the proposed early college football signing period going to succeed the 10-second rule as the 2014 offseason debate du jour?
If other coaches feel the same way as Stanford's David Shaw, it just may.
An early signing period would allow recruits to sign their letters of intent with a school before National Signing Day, similar to other sports. An NCAA representative said earlier in the week there was support for the rule, but there was disagreement about the timing of the proposed signing period.
The 10-second defensive substitution debate was (mercifully) ended when that proposal was removed from consideration on Wednesday.
Right now, college players can verbally commit to a school early, but those verbal commitments are non-binding. Shaw told ESPN that he thought the idea of an early signing period was "terrible" and that it could hurt schools like Stanford, which have high academic standards.
"What's going to happen is, if a kid wants to change his mind late after the early signing period, he's going to appeal and that appeal is going to go through because the committees that decide those appeals, they always give in towards the student-athlete," Shaw said.
"So you have a kid that might be 16 going on 17 that commits and then really has a chance to think about it and changes his mind and we're going to try and hold him to it.
"On top of that -- and I'll be honest here, which is rare for a football coach in a setting like this -- but we have a lot of kids that don't know if they're going to get into school until after that early signing day," Shaw said. "So we're going to punish the academic schools just because coaches don't want a kid to switch their commitment?
Shaw is correct in saying that it's a move that is designed to benefit schools and theoretically prevent a prospect from switching his commitment. Or if he wanted to do so, he'd have to go through the red tape of the NCAA -- a much more daunting prospect than simply flipping a verbal commitment.
Of course, the flip side is that many players may simply not elect to sign during an early period and instead wait until signing day like has happened previously. Given the attention that National Signing Day has started generating, you can't necessarily blame a recruit for waiting to get his 3 minutes of airtime to himself on ESPN.
And could the rule proposal also be an opportunity to give some strength, whether it's perceived or real, to schools for the future? While standardization with other sports is a natural fit, there's a good chance the athlete-school relationship could be reshaped with a governance restructuring and the outcome of pending lawsuits against the governing body.
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