It’s not very often we have something completely new in sports. Tradition has set the schedule so that we know when things are going to happen in every sport each year. But Wednesday, we have something totally new.
College football has an early signing period for the first time ever. Starting Wednesday morning and through Friday, high school football prospects can sign college scholarships. They no longer must wait until February. They can go ahead and get it out of the way the next three days.
Just like anything new, we’ll have to see how this goes. There are a lot of questions that will be answered. We’ll simply have to learn by experience to prove whether this is a good idea or not.
College coaches don’t like it because it interferes with the bowl prep. For instance, Kirby Smart of Georgia and Alabama’s Nick Saban have big games to prepare for in another 10 days, but they have no choice but to take a break and make sure the recruiting for this year is on track.
The date of the early period is weird. An early period is needed, but wouldn’t it be more effective in August, before the season starts? If a program knows it wants to sign half its class before the year even begins, it should be able to in mid-August. Then they can wait until February to sign the other half of the class.
An August date would lessen the pain college coaches have with the non-stop recruiting that goes on during the season. I don’t see how they do it. They must coach their teams and worry about recruiting during the season. Well, if half the class was already taken care of in an early period before the season even starts, coaches could spend more time with their current players instead of worrying about the ones not even there yet.
Maybe the presence of the coaches with the players during the season would cut down on off-the-field issues that pop up from time to time. Maybe it would help the team to have the coaches around, instead of them being on the road. And maybe, just maybe, it would allow the coaches to have a bit more of a life during the season instead of working 20-hour days.
And for the high school players, signing in August would allow them to avoid the burden of being hassled day in and day out by college coaches wanting them to commit. If they get it over with in August, maybe the players could concentrate on finishing their senior season and last year of high school, instead of being hounded by coaches.
This December period is not etched in stone. There have been enough complaints already to believe it will be re-evaluated. For now, however, Wednesday will be a big day as kids are able to sign scholarships.
It will also be a big day for the Georgia Bulldogs, who could have the best recruiting class ever with this group. Don’t count on there being a nickname, like the “Dream Team” for this crew, as this coaching staff does not need gimmicks to sell the Georgia program. Now, all Smart must do is ask prospects if they want to continue what has been started with this tremendous 2017 season.
We’ll see how this first early signing period goes. It’s good that college football, a sport not well governed, has at least tried this. It may make the first Wednesday in February not as much fun anymore, but it’s a good thing for the sport to at least give this a try.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com.