ESPN reported after signing day earlier this month that there were nearly 400 decommitments in college football recruiting for the 2016 cycle. That comes out to an average of over three decommitments per school.
Oklahoma State was over the national average as Tyrell Alexander decommitted only to come back into the fold later. Three players decommitted and were lost with offensive tackle Ryan McCollum dropping the Pokes the week after Bedlam to jump to Texas A&M. Not too long after that quarterback Nick Starkel decommitted. That is always an earth shattering thought for a coaching staff, but the Cowboys recovered with an outstanding prospect in Keondre Wudtee that made it official on signing day.
However, just before signing day, the final weekend of visits, defensive end Jonathan Marshall, a really good player that OSU was counting on, took his talents to Arkansas. Maybe the loss of Marshall should not have been so surprising as he decommitted from TCU in August to pledge to the Cowboys.
"We're seeing players that have multiple decommitments," Gundy said with Marshall being one of those. "I think the only solution is some sort of an early signing. I suggested June 1 because the middle part of June and July is when coaches take vacation. If we disrupt the recruiting pattern much more prior to coaches going on vacation in the summer then it becomes a 12-month out of the year profession and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone that's trying to raise children and have some sort of life outside football."
Gundy has been a long-time advocate of an early signing period and the only part of it that has changed for him is that he keeps moving up the date for that proposed early signing.
Oklahoma State has long been a school that breaks fast in recruiting, has its first junior day before the signing day for the current class. The Pokes usually offer players earlier and generally have had double-digit commitments by sometime in the summer. Other schools kind of wait a little, see what other schools are doing, who they are recruiting, and then jump prospects. The rewards in recruiting don't always go to the more deserving when it comes to work ethic and originality.
"We have to come up with plans to make this a little bit better," Gundy added. "My feeling is that if a young man wants to go to a school and the school has offered that scholarship then you need to go ahead and get them signed up in June. The follow-up could be a potential December 12 or 18 signing date that would follow the junior college pattern and then on whatever that first Wednesday is in February.
"The reason I would lean toward that is because of the communication we have in the world today with Twitter and internet and social media the ability to sign players is better than it ever had been in that we can send forms and they can scan and sign them and send them back. Papers aren't really delivered like they were years ago. It is better now than it ever has been."
Northwestern University head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a former graduate assistant coach for Gundy at Maryland, actually advocates an immediate signing scenario starting in the summer when a player is offered that after a 48-hour wait he can go ahead and sign at anytime with a school that has offered. That wouldn't be bad.
Gundy says the decommitments can really derail the recruiting plans of a program. It's interesting because nothing stops schools from pulling offers, but Gundy said his program won't do that because it is not fair to prospects. The only time a scholarship offer disappears is when the position has filled up.
"It's becoming a two-way go and now it's the student-athletes that have more leeway than what most colleges do." Gundy stated. "At some point maybe again the word commitment will mean something in recruiting."
The best way for that to happen may be for the process to speed up in the most critical area, the final stage with the signing of a letter of intent.