Early Signing Period Would Help Iowa Football

Iowa has seen more than their share of players decommit through the years late in the recruiting process and sign with other schools. That can leave a program in a lurch, with little time to re-recruit the position. But a new rule may be coming down the pike that could help the Hawkeye program: an early signing period in college football.

College football could be moving closer to a move that could help the Hawkeye program more than the blue bloods of the world.

A recent story in the Birmingham News quoted Grant Teaff, the American Football Coaches Association's Executive Director, as saying that is something that could be voted upon in August.

"There will not be a recommendation to have an early signing date in August and most likely not within the football season," Teaff said. "Based on those two facts, we'll probably look at the third week in December."

The entire article can be found HERE.

The topic of an early signing period brings up several questions that I'd like to throw out, and that we can discuss on the message boards.

Question: Who would benefit the most from this rule?

In my opinion, schools in high major conferences that fight to be in the top tier of their leagues on an annual basis might be helped the most. Iowa fits into that category, as would the Purdue's and Iowa State's of the world.

If the AFCA enacts the rule to have an early signing period in the third week of December, that would essentially separate the wheat from the chafe, in a recruiting sense.

Players that have given you a verbal commitment would either sign, thus finalizing their loyalty and commitment to your school, or they would opt not to sign, which would signal a need to either re-recruit these players, or end the relationship.

Kirk Ferentz has used terminology along the lines of ‘Are we holding hands, or are we married?' when it comes to players and their level of commitment to the program.

Here is an example from recent recruiting past: Kansas prep linebacker Brian Smith verbally committed to the Hawkeyes on August 15th of 2006. He said all the right things, and he even reconfirmed his verbal commitment on December 10th to our own Brian Finley.

But in late January, Notre Dame, his father's alma mater, lost a linebacker recruit to another school, one that had given the Irish a verbal commitment. The Irish then came calling and came through with a February offer for Smith, who decommitted from the Hawkeyes and committed to Notre Dame on February 1st, just days before signing day.

This left Iowa in a lurch, as they had no time to go out and find a similar replacement for Smith. Had there been an early signing period, Smith would have either signed with the Hawks, ending his recruitment, or he would have told them that he wanted to wait things out, which would have given Iowa time to either sever ties with Smith and re-recruit the position, or over recruit the position as a back up plan in case Smith only wanted to ‘hold hands'.

As an aside, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weiss was outspoken on that signing day, criticizing the late recruiting practices of some schools and how they poached Notre Dame's commitments. Which prompted Iowa assistant Eric Johnson to say ‘That's like the pot calling the kettle black,' on my radio show on signing day. Indeed.

It's much easier for the Michigan's or Notre Dame's of the world to replace kids late in the game, whereas that is not the case for programs like Iowa's.

Or in the case of Purdue, we wouldn't see a snake oil salesman in a wizard hat coming in late in the game to poach some of their players, which was Joe Tiller's comments in regards to Rich Rodriguez ‘stealing' a Purdue recruit late in the game this past winter.

Who would be adversely affected by this rule?

You won't be able to convince me that Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame and other traditional recruiting powers will be too hurt by this rule. It could hurt them in a way, because some of the ‘lower hanging fruit' won't be there to cherry pick in January and February.

Pardon my crocodile tears on that front.

I do wonder if it might hurt some of the schools in leagues like the MAC, where kids might get ‘recruited over' in the same class that could have changed their minds later in the game and perhaps ‘fallen' to the MAC schools.

Say Recruit A signs with a school in late December, and that school told him he would be the only quarterback they would take. Then that same school is able to sign another quarterback in January they didn't think would be there. Recruit A might normally decide to go a different route, but under the possible new rule, he couldn't do that.

He'd still be getting a full ride to a BCS conference program, but he might want playing time somewhere else.

This could lead to some transfers before kids ever don a uniform at the schools they committed to, something that has to be considered. But, that would be, in effect, a redshirt season their first year on campus, which isn't the worse thing in the world.

What about the kids? Will they benefit?

High school coaches want their kids focused on their own seasons as much as possible, so the SEC's proposal of a one-day signing period in November will be out the window, as will their ludicrous caveat that kids can only commit early if they HAVE NOT taken an official campus visit. That was just plain stupid, and it's good to see that idea put out to pasture early.

For some kids, they know where they want to go, and they and their families tire of the avalanche of phone calls from recruiters that just don't understand the word no. They also get tired of phone calls from newspapers and websites about the recruiting process, and this would help those kids that are truly committed put an end to that process.

For the prospects that wrestle or play basketball, it could also lock them into a scholarship with programs that have character, in the event they would get hurt before the February signing day.

Iowa is a program that says if you have made a verbal commitment and you get hurt during your senior year, in either football or otherwise, you are a part of the family and your scholarship will be there. That isn't always the case with other schools.

Add into all of this that Grant Teaff said that more than 60 percent of the college coaches are in favor of an early signing period, and I think we are getting closer to this being a reality.

Which, in my opinion, would be good for the Iowa football program.


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