Bipartisan Recruiting: Early Signing Day

With the ultra aggressive nature of SEC recruiting, a proposed early signing day was a hot topic when the majority of the conference's coaches voted for it during their meeting last week.

The interesting thing, however, was who exactly was for it and who appears to be against it.  Normally, when recruiting rules are subject to change, the D1a coaching ranks fall into two very clear camps.  In one corner, with their My Space pages and text friendly phones, you have guys like Zook, Carroll, and Meyer.  Think of them as the free market types, they want as few restrictions in order to exploit the fact that they will recruit without shame from dusk until dawn.  The other corner, rather predictably, are both the old school cats like Paterno and the seemingly lazy ones like Tiller.  They simply aren't going to do what it takes to play Zook's game and therefore typically aren't interested in a 12 month recruiting season.

So what is the deal with an early signing period?  Who does it favor?  Paterno was asked recently to share his stance and offered up the following:

"I don't like it," he said. "I don't like it only because I go back to the fact that when I was working for (former PSU coach) Rip Engle, Rip used to say all the time when we'd get all wrapped up in talking about recruits, he'd say, 'Let's take care of the guys we have here first and then we go out recruiting.'

"Early signing dates bother me because you've got to have your official visits during the season. You're playing a big game. I don't want to be bothered, really. We do a terrible job when kids come up for official visits for a game."

While I'm not surprised by his rational, I can't say that I was certain he would be against it.  The early signing period doesn't have a clear beneficiary except coaches in general: they don't have to work as long.

Meyer, obviously a fan of the Regan Recruiting Plan, had this to say :

Urban Meyer is against it. “Kids are being pressured too early as it is,” Meyer said. “We should be taking more time, not less time, to evaluate these guys.”

Saban is woven from the same cloth, but has a totally different take:

Nick Saban is for it. “I just think we spend too much time and money babysitting guys who have already committed to us who want to sign. Let those guys sign and let’s spend our time and money recruiting the ones who have not made a decision.

So the camps are split on this one.  Those for it are either tired of having recruit stolen from them or would rather lock up the guys they have so that they can focus on stealing other people recruits.  Funny how enemies can agree.  Those against it typically want more time to evaluate a player, understanding that an early signing period would mean you have to decide on who to offer even earlier.

What is lost in all of this, of course, is what is best for the recruits.  Yes, maybe an early signing period would mean they can end the constant harassment, but wouldn't it really be the same harassment just starting a couple of months earlier?  And is making a kid pick a college sooner, which would require more visits during a busy high school season, better in any way?

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