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National Signing Day – good or bad?

JHouston Nutt at a Press Conference from SI.com. Is oversigning players o.k.?

Houston Nutt at a Press Conference from SI.com. Is oversigning players o.k.?

Earlier this year, many fans experienced what is considered to be one of the biggest events in the college football calendar year. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to the BCS national championship game. I’m also not referring to “The Grandaddy Of Them All.”

Arguably, National Signing Day has become as revered by college football fans as any other event during the season. Occurring on the first Wednesday in February each year, National Signing Day provides fans with a glimpse into the future of their favorite college football team.

Recruiting has turned college football into a year round sport. Accordingly, coverage of high school recruiting has become a lucrative business for website networks, mainly Scout.com and Rivals.com. Per NCAA bylaws Coaches and institutions cannot comment on or release information regarding committed recruits until a Letter of Intent is faxed in on signing day; however, team websites on these networks provide extensive information on recruits and their intentions. This information is provided to fans at a cost, approximately $100 a year for a premium subscription.

Ultimately, following recruiting has become a very enjoyable experience for fans, but what effect has recruiting coverage had on prospective student athletes? Here’s a few points to ponder:

Many student-athletes have utilized National Signing Day as an opportunity to have a little fun. The “hat game” has been a technique of choice. However, the glamour of signing day has left some kids under too much pressure. Take Kevin Hart for example, who in 2008 “signed” with Cal Berkeley and even had a congratulatory party drawing over 1,000 people. The problem is, he made it all up and Berkeley never recruited him in the first place.

Each Bowl Championship Subdivision can enroll up to 25 players each year; however, a growing trend is to sign several more recruits in anticipation of some recruits not qualifying. Ole Miss signed 37 recruits last year, which begs the question: is this in the best interest of the 12 recruits who won’t be able to enroll in the fall?

While many recruits enjoy the attention provided by the recruiting process, it often comes with “handlers” from the recruit’s home life who try to sway the decision making process. As Dr. Lawrence mentioned previously, the most recent example of this is Bryce Brown, a Class of 2009 recruit who has yet to sign with a school.

In recent years, there have been many advocates (coaches, administrators, and journalists) of an early signing period in the fall. Similar to college basketball, the early signing period would allow committed recruits to get the process over with. What are your thoughts on whether this rule change would help resolve some of the issues with recruiting?

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March 3, 2009 - Posted by | College Sports Business, Football, Recruiting | ,

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