Bowlsby Likes Idea Of Early Signing Period

Mike Gundy has been pushing for an early signing period for years, even prior to Oklahoma State losing standout receiver prospect Fred Ross to Mississippi State just days before National Signing Day earlier this month. Gundy makes a pretty convincing case in the April issue of Go Pokes Magazine. But what does first-year Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby think about an early signing period?

Bowlsby, who has been on the job for just nine months, was in Oklahoma City and Tulsa the past two days for the Executive Management Briefings and Tulsa Business Forums speaker series held by OSU's Spears School of Business and supported by some great sponsors in both cities.

Bowlsby met with the media in both cities this week, and spoke candidly about a number of topics, including his thoughts on an early signing period for football.

"Coaches are probably better to comment on it than I am, but the early signing period would solve some problems. There isn't any doubt about that," Bowlsby said Thursday while meeting with members of the media at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tulsa.

"There are some other things you can do, however, that would also solve some problems. One of the things that I think we ought to be doing in all sports is ask student-athletes to narrow their choices and publicly declare those choices. So that perhaps on July 1, you narrow it down to 10 schools that you continue to be interested in. On October 1, you narrow it down to three (schools). At those benchmarks everybody else has to stop recruiting you.

"Then you get away from all the de-commits and re-commits (by the players), and all the shenanigans that go along with young people who are supposably committed someplace then all of a sudden end up someplace else. It's an example of where we could refine the recruiting process in ways that would pay dividends for the student athletes, and also pay dividends for the schools."

Here's the story written by Robert Allen that appears in Go Pokes Magazine:
Gundy Endorses
Early Signing Day

Every NCAA sport has an early signing period except for two. Football and soccer have just the one signing period each February. For many reasons that is really unfair, and football needs an early signing period. In this new age of NCAA rules deregulation launched by NCAA President Mark Emmert, an early signing period for football makes a lot of sense.

It makes a lot of sense to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, too.

"Years ago at the (Big 12) meetings when I wanted to get rid of North and South (Divisions), everybody laughed at me for about two years, and then it came about, and it has been really good for our conference," Gundy said. "Years ago, I suggested a July 1 early signing period.

"There had been talk of one in September or October but that is during the season. Head coaches want their coaches with their players during the season. We are responsible for those guys and to send assistants out on the road and start scheduling official visits during the season is somebody making a decision that is sitting behind a desk (in Indianapolis) that doesn't know what they are doing.

"Is it an advantage for an early signing date? Yes, it is. The reason is most of the recruiting that takes place now is in the spring and early summer. Unfortunately, it has moved so fast up in the calendar that official visits don't happen until later and the more important visits are in the spring with huge unofficial visit weekends for prospects. They commit and then you sign them on July 1, and then everybody gets a break – coaches, prospects, prospects' families and high school coaches that are responsible for them.

"If you run a signing period up through the fall then the guys that work for me aren't going to get any break. They are going to have to work all summer long. Families aren't going to be happy. It needs to be July 1. If you say you are committed to Oklahoma State, then you sign July 1. In our office, don't take it personal but if you didn't sign on July 1 then you are off our board because you aren't committed to Oklahoma State."

Not only will an early signing period give coaches a clear indication of how firm the early commitments are, but it will also save schools money on early committed players that sign. No longer will coaches have to spend money traveling to see these prospects once a week until the signing day in February. It will free up the coaching staff to better address needs left in the current class while also working ahead, as everybody does, on the next year's recruiting class.

Meanwhile, Emmert and the NCAA pushed through a whole set of proposals in January that take effect next August that range from unlimited phone calls, text messages and emails to recruits to allowing schools to have all their full-time coaches on the road during open recruiting periods versus the previous limited numbers (seven in Division I football).

A proposal also passed that allows for unlimited amounts of printed materials (letters, postcards, programs, media guides, brochures, etc.) to be sent to recruits. One measure that did not pass but will be looked at again is allowing coaches to contact recruits during their junior years in high school versus the rule as it stands now of no contact off campus until the spring/summer before their senior year in high school.

"We had that big set of rule changes ... and I'm not a very big proponent of many of them," said Gundy. "The rule that you can allow the nine coaches out at once, I think that is okay. That gives us a chance to evaluate and dig deeper. You can find out more about the young men. I don't have a problem with that.

"Some of the other changes, the contacts, contacting juniors, unlimited texting, unlimited phone calls, unlimited printed material are budget issues. You are talking printed materials, (and) you could spend $20,000 or $30,000 a year more in that and what purpose does that serve? If I send the same letterhead as the other schools in my league why do we need to blow a bunch of money on printing, so I'm not really sure how that happened. Hopefully, we will get all those things worked out."

OSU recruiting coordinator Johnny Barr is on the front line of the Cowboys recruiting efforts year round, and he also sees problems. But he also likes the rule allowing coaches to be out during recruiting periods.

"I like the rule where you can send all your coaches on the road during recruiting because that's going to eliminate having to keep track of where everybody is," said Barr, who handles paperwork on coaches. "Those other rules, I don't know about, the unlimited calling, texts, sending out of printed materials. That's overload."

Barr adds that recruits and their families will help determine what happens with those rules. "True statement, the recruits and their families are going to let coaches and schools know when enough is enough," added Barr.

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