The NCAA announced that a number of new rule changes have been passed. One of the more debated topics, has to do with recruiting. In college football, National Signing Day has always been the backbone of a stable college program. Traditionally, signing day has always been the first Wednesday in February, and is widely covered by media outlets. With the new rule, an earlier signing day would take place from December 20th through the 22nd.
Immediate Impact on College Football
For college football programs that are powerhouses, they endure the most turnover on their rosters because of players leaving early for the NFL Draft, and other forms of attrition such as transfers. This is expected based on how the season may be going, so programs in the past have been able to compensate for that during the conclusion of the college season. With the early signing day period, it accelerates the recruiting calendar for each team at a time when coaches may be heavily involved in game-planning for bowl games. It applies extra pressure on coaches to not only focus on a strong display in the final game of the college season, but also landing top recruits.
December is bowl season in college football but also the month where many coaches are either being hired by other programs or fired by their current one. Two notable examples of this would be LSU and Alabama. Ed Orgeron didn’t have his interim tag removed until late November. Lane Kiffin was announced as the new head coach at Florida Atlantic on December 13th. There are huge implications not only on the programs the coaches are leaving but the new programs as well. Evaluating prospects is just as important as recruiting them, and if the early signing day period becomes a trend, many coaches will miss out.
How This Affects the Miami Hurricanes
For the Miami Hurricanes, the timing of this could not have been better. Due to the fact that Mark Richt, in his first press conference as the head coach, openly stated “My goal is to retire at this university, or until they throw me out the door“, so recruits don’t have to worry about him leaving. Nor do they have to worry about key members of his staff leaving as well.
The best reason why this is great timing for the Hurricanes, they currently have the best recruiting class in 2018. An early signing day period would allow a renewed focus on the February group after locking away the December signees. The Hurricanes seem to already be ahead of the times. In the past two recruiting classes, Miami has had 15 prospects enroll early and participate in spring football.
Although that still doesn’t make Miami immune to recruiting losses. This past recruiting class served a valuable lesson when the Hurricanes were recruiting DeMatha Catholic standout running back Anthony McFarland. After long being rumored as a silent commit to the Hurricanes, he announced he would be staying in his home state and committed to the Terps. After his silent commitment, Miami stopped recruiting all other uncommitted targets. That, coupled with the departure of two other backs at the position, hurt the Hurricanes in terms of depth at that position for the upcoming season. Had there been an early signing day, who knows things might have worked out differently. It’s sure to be an asset for the Hurricanes in the future.