Yesterday afternoon, the Collegiate Commissioners Association voted to enact a new signing period for Division 1 football after the proposal was recommended at the NCAA’s spring meetings. While creating a 72-hour early signing window starting on December 20th might not seem like a big deal—in reality—it is. Boise State, and every other NCAA football program must typically wait until the first Wednesday of February to be able to sign players that they’ve spent the last 12-18 months recruiting. The year-round sport of recruiting all ends up hinging on that February date and it makes for a wild race to finish each year as teams try desperately to hang on to “their guys” and hope other schools don’t come in at the last minute and spirit them away.
Early football signing period is officially approved; from Dec. 20-22, 2017 for a 72-hour period for the 2018-19 classes— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 8, 2017
For most G5 schools like Boise State, the biggest disruptor of those plans is usually the so-called “power 5” conference teams, who often lean on the staff evaluation of top group-of-five members like Boise State to shore up their numbers right before the finish line. If you recall, this has bitten Boise State on the proverbial keister of late as they’ve had quarterbacks, D-linemen, and running backs jump ship with precious little time left in the process. Of course, this creates opportunities for others but many coaches have long lobbied for an earlier signing period to be able to sign and seal the “solid verbals” before they can go soft. Now, such a date exists.
Is the December 20th date significant? Somewhat. Boise State’s initial 2016 quarterback commit, Micah Wilson, was swayed by Missouri on January 21st...his running back counterpart, Damarea Crockett followed his lead two days later. The Broncos still landed on their feet with Alexander Mattison and Jake Constantine, but considering the vigor both players had for the Broncos before the lure of the SEC, one could argue that both may be Broncos today with an early signing period. Of course, it could also cause poachers to strike earlier, but that still gives teams like Boise State more time to enact back-up plans since the February signing date will still be on the table.
Any way you slice it, I think this is a positive step for college football and specifically the “lesser-haves” in the football landscape (the SEC was against this move—which speaks volumes). The big boys will have to step up their game and the smaller guys may have a better chance of holding on to guys they’ve created relationships with...and sealing a few deals while bowl-prep is underway may be easier than when the January doldrums hit. Now there are two finish lines...and two chaotic sprints to cross them. Who doesn’t like that?