College football recruiting gets bigger and bigger each year. Inside the state of Mississippi, it's downright wild right now.
National signing day has been in early February, as it is today, for as far back as I can remember. That was plenty fine when it was just a quiet event. Folks read about the signees in the newspaper and that was about it. In the 90s, shows like 'Countdown to Signing Day' became somewhat popular, but still it didn't reach a heightened level until the 2000s.
With the internet picking up steam, recruiting sites were formed. Football gets more and more popular all the time, and as the SEC keeps winning national titles - the demand for top notch talent is huge. Fans want to know how their program is doing on the recruiting trails, so even more recruiting services popped up. Then social media - twitter, facebook, message boards give fans instant access to information and discussion about these prospects.
It's like a perfect storm. All of these forces have combined to reach a crescendo in 2013. It's nuts out there. It's enough to drive you crazy unless you are lucky enough to be able to just walk away. So what can be done?
The obvious solution is an early signing period. After all, most of the recruits have decided on a college the summer before their senior year, and some even decide during the spring of their junior year in high school. Basketball has an early signing period, usually in mid-November. It last about a week, and then the second signing period is in April.
So why doesn't football have one? It would be pretty simple to do, really. You could open the whole month of July up to an early signing period. If that's too much time, maybe just a week in July. You wouldn't want to do it in August with training camp (although basketball's is actually during the first month of the season).
How hard would this be? Not hard at all. This would also curb all the coaches who nag prospects committed to other schools to come visit, it would eliminate some illegal January activity that goes on, etc.
Some may say, what if they sign with a school and the coach that recruited them leaves or is fired? Well, the best suggestion I've heard for this is to have two different LOI's.
1. Letter of intent would be contingent upon the coach being at that school. If the coach leaves for whatever reason, player is released from his LOI. By the same token, if the coach leaves the new coach does not have to honor the scholarship offer.
2. Letter of intent is binding no matter who the coach is, both ways.
What if a player signs with the school, then has a poor senior year? In this scenario currently, the coach would likely wiggle his way out of the offer by telling the player they will have to grey shirt, etc. But with an early signing period, coaches would have to make sure they really want a player before they sign a LOI. It would be a good thing - don't offer unless you really believe they will be good, on and off the field. Letter of intent is still binding.
What's more, coaches wouldn't have to constantly recruit their commits during the football season. They would already be in the fold, and the coaches could devote more time to actually coaching, or maybe spending time with their families.
We need an early signing period....bad.