Early signing period closer to reality?

Mark Stoops has long been in favor of creating an early signing period for college football.

The Kentucky coach became even more vocal about it Wednesday after seeing 10 players de-commit from his 2015 football recruiting class, including six during the final two weeks of the process.

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According to Stoops, the defections had more to do with a cultural trend in college football than the Wildcats’ six-game losing streak to end the season.

“I don't think a lot had to do with how we finished at all,” he said. “As you say, if that would have been the case, I think we'd have had some turning early. I don't think it had a lot to do with that.

“I haven't been around a lot of that – you had that much change within a seven day span or so. I don't think we're alone. I think it's a situation that probably needs to be addressed on a national level.”

The UK boss says support for an early signing period – similar to the one used in NCAA basketball for years – has strong support among coaches now.

“I'd say the people I know and talk with, absolutely everybody is for an early signing period,” Stoops said. “Where and when is the big discussion. That's where a lot of people have different opinions.”

Most coaches are not in favor of drastic changes to the recruiting calendar, which may be required if an early period was enacted. “We’ve already got a lot on our plate, and you start doing things and having officials (visits) and things like that in the summer, spring, all that stuff gets very hectic,” Stoops said.

“The consensus in our league is we like the way it's laid out right now, if you could just find some kind of happy medium with an early signing period.”

It has long been thought that traditional programs – such as Alabama, Florida and LSU – would be opposed to an early signing period. After all, they work from a position of power, and can often wait until the end of the process to offer 11th-hour scholarships to other schools’ verbal commitments after missing on some of their primary targets. Kentucky has lost committed players to the lure of a late offer from SEC rivals on many occasions in the past.

“We recruit these guys for over a year, year and a half, two years. Whatever it may be,” Stoops said. “And if they give us their word and want to come to Kentucky, then give them the scholarship and let them sign it, and that protects both them and you.”

Stoops noted a December option may be a good compromise. “Give them the time to come in for a few weekends in December, and let them sign before Christmas and get it wrapped up. It only makes sense. They have our word that I'm going to give them a scholarship, and it would certainly save the university an awful lot of money, and it would save our coaches an awful lot of time.”

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