The early signing period is a topic that has become a hot-button issue with college football, from all areas. Coaches want it. Prospects are mixed on it. Fans want it if it helps their school out.
In a recent post over at ESPN.com, Georgia's recruiting coordinator, Rod Garner, brings up the "necessity" of the early signing period, again.
“I think the NCAA is going to have to look at doing some things differently to put some sanity back into it, possibly an early signing day,” Garner said. “I am thinking if you could do something like have an early signing day on August 1 for those guys that are committed. At least you could get those guys locked in and you could focus on them. Because now really a commitment means nothing, it means absolutely nothing. We can say what we want to, ‘We have x number of players committed.’ But how many of them are actually committed? ‘I am committed but I am taking all five of my visits.’ Is that really committed?”
Don't cry for Rod Garner. Don't cry for Georgia. Don't cry for the college football coaches who are having to do their job; keep commitments in the boat. If your reasoning for college football needing an early signing period is that coaches won't have to recruit committed players, spare me. Seriously. It's their job. They get paid the big money to go out there and get the best high schoolers they can to come to their school. If it takes phone calls, letters, texts, Facebook messages and the like from Junior Day in February to Signing Day the next February to keep a commitment in the boat, do it.
An early signing period is not going to stop the kid who is interested in milking the process and exploring all of his options. An early signing period is not going to stop kids from changing their minds. An early signing period is only going to be a plus for the coaches who want to make their job easier.
This shouldn't be about making the coaches' job easier, at least not where the future of kids is concerned. It should be about the kids maximizing the process and getting the most out of it that they can. An early signing period would do serious damage to that goal.
A kid not on the radar for big schools early signs with a smaller school and misses out on an opportunity to level up after a big senior season. A kid inks with a school early, only to have his position coach leave for another school and he is stuck with a coach he never intended to play for. Ultimately, it just does a lot more harm, or has more potential for harm than good.
Unless the reform is to truly revolutionize the signing process, something Andy Staples at Sports Illustrated has mentioned, a small change like an early signing period is not necessary. Make the coaches do their jobs; let the kids maximize their recruiting process. If a player is truly committed and wants to shut down his recruitment, he most certainly can.