Now that National Signing Day is over, here are 10 things I would like to see happen:
1. FEWER DRAMA QUEENS: I realize that this is the day in the sun that recruits have dreamed about for years and years, but I could do with a bit less drama. This bit about five hats in front and the recruit fakes putting on four of them before finally choosing the one school was cute at first, but it’s a tired old act. Maybe I could deal with it better if someone injected some creativity but I’m tired of the same old, same old. I’m at the point where I just want the kid to say, “After a lot of prayer and consultation with my parents and coaches, I’ve decided to go go school X.”
2. TWO EARLY SIGNING PERIODS: Have one somewhere around June 20 and a second one the third Wednesday in December. Why two? The first one would be open for kids who have attended a camp to get the signing process out of the way, which would eliminate the pressure of recruiting during their senior season. The second signing day in December would be for jucos who have graduated, kids who plan to early enroll and those that simply know where they are going and don’t want to spend the entire month of January with coaches trying to flip their commitment.
3. MOVE NATIONAL SIGNING DAY BACK ONE MONTH: Instead of the first Wednesday in February, change National Signing Day to the first Wednesday in March. This is common sense when you consider the amount of movement in the coaching profession in the month of December. Once the December early signing period is through, then make it a dead period until the Tuesday after the national championship game. This would give new coaches a chance to get a full staff together for recruiting but it would also give kids who are undecided a chance to know the new coach and coaching staff. For so many schools that have a coaching change you can almost write off that first recruiting class because there hasn’t been enough time for the new head coach to get his staff together and for them to establish relationships with the kids and their families. Moving signing day back a month would also add a measure of excitement just before spring practice begins.
4. PENALIZE COACHES WHO LIE ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL: There is a simple way to eliminate the negative recruiting. If a coach – whether it’s the head coach or the assistant – gets caught lying about another school or the coach from another school, then either fine the coach, dock the school a scholarship or in the case of repeat offenders, both. Sounds harsh, but it would only take a year or two to clean up that aspect of recruiting if it became a rule.
5. NO SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS TO ANY PLAYER UNTIL THE JUNIOR YEAR: It’s ridiculous that eighth, ninth and 10th graders are getting scholarship offers. When you consider that kids are still growing both physically and emotionally, this makes a lot of sense. I realize that some kids are studs even when they are 14 years old, but that doesn’t make them mentally or physically ready for what they’re going to encounter at the next level. Eliminate all scholarship offers until a kid has at least completed his junior year in high school. A 16-year-old still has a lot of growing to do but 98% of the juniors are going to be far better equipped to handle recruiting than kids a couple of grade levels below.
7. 20 SCHOLARSHIPS A YEAR, UP TO 100 ON SCHOLARSHIP: This would eliminate oversigning, grayshirting and other stupidities. Each Division I school would be able to sign a maximum of 20 players to scholarships each year. Schools that do a good job of retaining players would have an advantage because they could have as many as 100 on scholarship. Schools that run kids off would pay a price because they couldn’t make up the numbers in the next signing class. This would force coaches to make better decisions not only with their scholarships but with the way they handle kids once they are enrolled in school.
8. ALLOW UP TO THREE NON-QUALIFIERS ON SCHOLARSHIP: I know that a lot of folks think academic requirements are too low as it is, but there are an awful lot of kids with circumstances and from backgrounds that simply staying alive until age 18 is an accomplishment. Allow each school to have as many as three non-qualifiers on scholarship but with stipulations. The kid would have a year to adapt to college life and prove himself capable of doing college work. During this time he could not practice or participate in any team activities. At the end of one year if the kid is qualified, he’s eligible to practice starting in August. If the kid spends a year on campus and doesn’t qualify, it eliminates one non-qualifier scholarship from the next year plus eliminates one regular scholarship from the next recruiting class. By adding that second scholarship into the mix it makes the head coach think very carefully about which athletes are extended non-qualifier scholarships.
9. RETURN OF ATHLETIC DORMS: I am convinced that one of the reasons we have far more off campus arrests than we had 20 years ago is because we no longer have athletic dorms. Athletic dorms were eliminated by a vote of the general NCAA membership, which meant Division III schools that don’t have scholarships and non-football schools with only a fraction of the athletes on campus had a say in a matter that didn’t affect them. It’s time to bring them back. Most of the coaches I’ve talked to are all for it. They get paid millions of dollars to coach and they’re held accountable for the actions of the kids off the field and off campus and they’re penalized when kids don’t make academic progress toward a degree. Bring back athletic dorms where coaches can monitor what kids are doing and see how the off campus arrests go way down and see how much more academic progress can be made because it’s easier to have mandatory study halls, tutoring sessions, etc.
10. ALLOW COACHES TO TALK TO A KID’S PRINCIPAL, GUIDANCE COUNSELORS AND TEACHERS: Recruiting is about relationships. It’s also about coaches making the right choices and finding kids who fit within their football program as well as fit in the general student population at their school. Current NCAA rules have eliminated a coach’s ability to get on the high school campus and spend time with the kid’s principal, guidance counselor and teachers. Before taking a chance on a kid, a coach should have access to as much information as possible. Find out if the kid fits in at his high school. Find out if he’s a social misfit or if he gets along with fellow students. Find out from teachers if the kid is motivated to do the work in the classroom. Remember Ben Hanks? Steve Spurrier was so impressed with the recommendations of Ben’s principal, guidance counselors and teachers that he went out on a limb and convinced UF president John Lombardi to override the admissions department. Ben graduated in four years, not five and has become a pillar of success in his community. That couldn’t have happened under today’s rules guidelines. The rules need to change.
If you were put in charge for one day, what recruiting rules would you change?MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Tedeschi-Trucks Band continues to show the evolution of southern rock and roll with their infusion of blues, soul and a little bit of jazz thrown in. If you ever want to know how Duane Allman played the slide guitar, just watch Derek Trucks and it’s like stepping back 40-plus years when Duane was at his best before he died. Susan Tedeschi’s vocals are just off the charts. This is a band that will knock your socks off if you see them live. They will be playing Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Thursday and Friday. The Friday show is sold out. They will play the Saenger Theater in Pensacola on February 26 and the Macon (GA) City auditorium February 27.