Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Early Signing Date Debate

With the recent rush of last-minute commitment changes led by Urban Meyer, there is some talk going around of puching for an earlier signing date for college football.

Currently, the signing date is Feb. 2nd, and recruits aren't bound to their commitments until then. Verbals prior to that are worth the paper they are written on.

Notre Dame has become a player in this discussion on both sides of the recruit-poaching issue. After losing our top defensive recruit to Florida, we were left with a scholarship opening and a need to fill in our defense. As a result, Notre Dame offered Brian Smith, the son of a former Notre Dame player. Problem is, Brian committed to Iowa several months ago.

Now, lest I be accused of hypocrisy, I'm not a big fan of this move. However, this is a situation where Smith wanted to go to Notre Dame and follow in his father's footsteps, but didn't receive an offer from the Irish. so he committed to Iowa. Now that he has an offer from Notre Dame, he is wavering on his commitment to Iowa (who rumor has it pulled their scholarship offer).

Now, as I said before, I'm generally not a fan of poaching recruits. However, I've listened to Coach Weis long enough to know that Brian probably told Coach Weis to contact him if they changed their mind about offering him a scholarship.

Nobody has even suggested that Trattou contacted Florida. By all accounts, Florida sought him out, wooed him, and convinced him to change his commitment. Notre Dame, on the other hand, simply offered a guy who was seeking an offer all along.

However, I may be splitting hairs here. The fact of the matter is, that this has now become a big part of recruiting.

So, I propose we have a preliminary signing period just before the season, where a kid can sign a letter of intent if they so choose, and therefore be taken out of the recruiting pool. Then, only those kids that are seriously on the fence will still be available come December and January. This early signing period will give coaches a sense of how serious a particular recruit's commitment to the University is, and be able to fromulate alternate plans if it doesn't work out. Under the current system, when a big recruit like Trattou changes at the last minute, a coach is left scrambling at the last minute to fill the hole left by the defection.

I say bring on an early signing period. Put all of this controversy to rest.