The NCAA has concluded its 2017 spring meetings, and has officially implemented a new early signing period for college football in conjunction with a variety of other changes.
Per Bud Elliot at SBNation.com:
The existing date of the first Wednesday in February will remain, but to it will be added a date right before Christmas, coinciding with the traditional junior college signing date. In 2016, that would have meant Dec. 14, but in 2017, will be Dec. 20. The new signing window would last for three days.
The article goes on to explain that this will benefit some schools and hurt others, all the while not necessarily being a good thing for the student athletes.
For the coaches and schools, it would have the benefit of locking up solid commitments before the February signing date. It would allow the coaching staff to focus energies on uncommitted prospects instead of continuing to recruit already committed prospects.
It also provides clarity for both schools and prospects. Recruits who are solid with their school choice can get their commitment in a couple months early, avoiding opposing schools peppering them with “Are you SURE” questions. Additionally, coaches would obviously know who they have signed, and could focus (or re-focus) on positions of need, big-time recruits, or adding depth.
But where it will benefit Kansas, or at least appears to benefit the current staff, is that it would help schools avoid late flips. Now, I believe that the recruits KU lost last year flipped either before or during the season, prior to this new early signing period. Kansas doesn’t generally have much signing day excitement (although the Jayhawks did have one surprise signing this past February). But considering the players that KU currently has verbally committed for the 2018 class, those NLIs can’t get to Lawrence soon enough.
Again from SBNation:
Teams who are good at scouting and can secure early commitments from prospects who otherwise might be poached from better programs later in the process. The new date means less time for higher-profile programs to flip late-rising prospects. This is a good thing for lesser programs and will likely increase parity to some degree.
The way the new rules are written, however, there’s still no out once a recruit has signed his NLI. So if a coach leaves or gets fired, those recruits are still subject to the school, and would have to officially request a release.
Another notable change is the addition of a 10th assistant coach, which schools can add as of January 9, 2018. However, FBS schools are now prevented from hiring people “close to a prospective student athlete for a two-year period before and after the student’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school.”
I’m not sold as to whether this will either help or hurt KU, but I would expect Beaty to add another assistant billed as a skilled recruiter to that spot. However, I assume this would prevent teams from hiring Tony Hull type people, as they wouldn’t be able to recruit the players they had worked with. (Right? I’m not exactly sure how “close to a prospective student athlete” is defined.)
The new rules also provide a hard cap of 25 scholarship signings, which I thought was already there, but there ya go. Additionally, two-a-days are now a thing of the past, although schools are still allowed 29 practices before the first game of the season.
Decisions are not final until April 26 at the conclusion of the Division I Board of Directors meeting. The Collegiate Commissioners Association, which must approve the changes to the recruiting calendar and early signing period, is expected to rubber stamp it when it meets in June.
Overall, I expect these changes as a whole to be a net positive for Kansas football. I like the idea of less time for high-profile schools to come along and snatch rising two-star and three-star recruits, and I like giving the recruits the option to end their recruitment early if they are indeed solid with a school. But hey, Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby likes it, so maybe I should be more cautious.
Regardless, I say bring on the Louisianimals.