Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Colleges

Your place for signing day news: HomeTeam

GET THE LATEST: Check out the Times HomeTeam report here.

BY MATT BAKER

Times HomeTeam

Now that another national signing day is in the books, football fans might eventually have to update their calendars.

Between a sped-up recruiting process and drawn-out coaching changes, the NCAA's Division I football recruiting subcommittee has explored the idea of tweaking signing day from its early February position.

"It is an item that the football coaches have put on our radar as a topic requiring additional discussion," said Kirby Hocutt, the subcommittee's chairman and the athletic director at Texas Tech.

Shortly before signing day, the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Hocutt, the former athletic director at Miami, about two calendar changes that would drastically alter recruiting.

Early period

Adding an early signing period has been discussed for at least a decade. Most other NCAA sports have one in December and another three months later.

In 2012, 21 of the 26 football programs that responded to an unscientific survey by the Times were in favor of adding an early signing day.

A mid December date to coincide with the period for junior college transfers would have two main advantages, Hocutt said. Coaches wouldn't have to spend their time and resources rerecruiting a player who won't stray. And legacy players or long-time fans of a program could end the process sooner and stop being pestered by other coaches and recruiting analysts.

"In those cases where a young man is 100 percent convinced they want to go to a certain university, and they do not want to take any other visits …I do think there are advantages to letting that person go ahead and do it in the month of December," Hocutt said.

Six of the Times' top 25 senior prospects accomplished that by finishing high school early to enroll in January.

But an early period also has enough disadvantages to keep Hocutt's subcommittee from formally recommending a change to the conference commissioners who make the final decision.

A December signing date could bleed into the end of the high school season and distract from state championship runs. College coaching changes could make signings messy, and some coaches fear it could speed up the recruiting process even more.

"Would it have a negative impact on a young person to make a decision before they are completely ready to make it?" Hocutt said.

Push it back

Hocutt's committee has discussed an early period, but the Times' other idea — to push the period back — is much more radical.

Major college football has averaged 24 coaching changes over the past three years — five more than from 2005 to 2011. Almost five searches per year stretch into the pivotal recruiting month of January.

Vanderbilt and UAB didn't have head coaches when the final contact period began Jan. 16, and the Commodores' recruiting staff was down to four assistants, according to the Tennessean. That led two local Vandy commits — Armwood safety Kyle Gibson and Gaither defensive back Amani Oruwariye — to reopen their recruitment less than three weeks before signing day.

"Any way you look at it, those are challenging times in a lot of different scenarios," Hocutt said of coaching changes. "And the recruiting process with signing that year's class is always going to be one of those."

Those challenging times can have long-lasting consequences. Five schools — New Mexico State, Syracuse, Florida International, Oregon and Nevada — made coaching changes in January 2012. Of the 107 players those programs signed, 24 percent weren't on their rosters a year later.

One potential solution would be to model a new recruiting calendar off basketball, with one period in the late fall and another in April. An early signing day would let truly committed prospects end their recruitment when they're ready, and the later period would give players more time to think once the coaching carousel stops spinning.

Hocutt said the subcommittee has never discussed the idea and that it would force the NCAA to overhaul its calendar of quiet, dead and evaluation periods.

"It's my understanding that our coaches are very satisfied with the current recruiting calendar and the signing day period as it exists now," Hocutt said.

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected] Find him on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

Division I signing periods

Basketball Early period: Nov. 13-20 Regular period: April 16-May 21

Football Junior college transfer: Dec. 18-Jan. 15 Regular period: Feb. 5-April 1

Field hockey, soccer, track, cross country, men's water polo Feb. 5-Aug. 1

All other sports Early period: Nov. 13-20 Regular period: April 16-Aug. 1

Source: National Letter of Intent

Comments
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17
Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

TAMPA — Back home in Indiana, he was basketball royalty. He played in his first league at age 2. He lived — and loved — the hardwood life. He was accustomed to performing before more than 10,000 fans for his big games.Pat Bacon capped his storied pre...
Published: 12/06/17
Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

UCF hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as football coach.Heupel quickly hired former UF interim coach Randy Shannon as defensive coordinator.Heupel, 39, was a consensus All-American quarterback who led Oklahoma to the 2000 national titl...
Published: 12/05/17
At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

NEW YORK — After the class picture of the latest Hall of Fame inductees was taken, Peyton Manning made his way over to Steve Spurrier for another handshake and some chit-chat before heading off in opposite directions to do media interviews. The forme...
Published: 12/05/17
FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

GAINESVILLE — Terance Mann scored 25, CJ Walker added 17 and Florida State upset No. 5 Florida 83-66 on Monday night to remain undefeated. The Seminoles (7-0) also extended their winning streak against the Gators (5-2) to four, their longest in the 6...
Published: 12/04/17