Georgia Tech football head coach Paul Johnson is sometimes dismissed by folks, fans and media members alike as being cranky or grumpy. But he’s also really smart; in fact, he’s usually the smartest person in whatever room he is in.
Most of the time he is right, and he is, after all, a heck of a coach.
There was another example of that recently as Johnson said it’s time to do away with National Signing Day for college football. It’s not the first time he has said that, and it won’t be the last. Hopefully, someone will start to listen to him soon.
Johnson wants players to be able to sign with whatever college program they choose whenever they are ready to do so and eliminate the circus that is the first Wednesday in February. Johnson’s plan is one answer to the extreme craziness that we get on National Signing Day, and we might not ever get all the way to Johnson’s goal. In fact, that’s probably not likely.
But it’s certainly a goal we should try to attain.
What’s the best way to head in that direction? How about just follow the plan that is used for every other college sport. It’s not hard, and it just makes too much sense for it to not happen.
The other sports have two signing periods, and high school athletes are allowed to sign at any time during those periods. There isn’t one set day for the athletes to sign, and the focus isn’t on that one day and its madness, like it is in college football. That eliminates a lot of the silliness that is part of football recruiting.
The focus, instead of being on National Signing Day, is on the athletes, and the two periods allow the athletes an opportunity to sign in the early period if they want or take their time and sign in the later period if that’s what they choose. It alleviates the stress on the athletes, and there isn’t nearly as much pressure on them or hand-wringing by “adults” about where these athletes are going to be headed.
That’s what the entire process should be about: the athletes. It shouldn’t be about the big-money machine that recruiting has become, and it certainly shouldn’t be about ridiculous fans and their over-the-top reactions about where an athlete is going to sign ... or not sign.
Johnson is right, and it would be great for college football to follow his plan. Until then, there is a middle ground that makes a lot of sense.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org