Hank Tierney is dancing out of joy.
That’s at least what the Ponchatoula head football coach claimed he would do a few months ago if the NCAA approved an early signing period.
Well, on Friday, the NCAA approved an early signing period.
An additional signing day will happen in December, and it takes effect with this signing class. High school seniors can still choose to sign during the traditional February signing day. The December date is now just an earlier option.
Is this a good option? It depends on whom you ask.
“I’m against it,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in the fall.
If Tierney is dancing for joy, Orgeron is maybe somewhere shaking his head, and recruiting reporters are expecting more changes in a few years anyhow, so who really cares?
Everyone has his or her own view of this — negatively, positively or indifferent. There’s good, there’s bad and, at least one national recruiting guru says, there’s neither.
“I don’t think it would have dramatic impact on recruiting,” said Barton Simmons, a national recruiting reporter for 247Sports.com. “It’s why I am not against it.”
Even for the players, this might not change a thing, said Myles Brennan, the highly rated Mississippi quarterback who signed with LSU in February.
“For some it could be good. For some, not useful,” Brennan said. “I wouldn’t have signed in December because of how my recruitment played out.”
The NCAA approved a bundle of other recruiting changes, but you’ll probably find most boring.
High school coaches and others closely connected with prospects can’t work college summer camps, for instance, or be hired on support staff roles. A prospect can now take official visits in April, May and June. Satellite camps, those that so many fussed about last year, are no more.
The NCAA also nixed two-a-days, something already many programs ended years ago. LSU, for example, had just two two-a-days last preseason camp.
The most notable of the other changes: the addition of a 10th full-time assistant coach, a long-expected move. Schools can add a 10th assistant starting Jan. 9, 2018, giving programs one more recruiter and on-field coach.
Like many schools, LSU hoped the 10th assistant position would've gone into effect this spring. The Tigers now must leave Greg McMahon in his role as a special-teams consultant. He is LSU’s quasi-special teams coordinator, but he cannot work with players during meetings or on the field, and he can’t recruit. Those are things reserved for only the nine full-time assistant coaches.
But back to that early signing period, the centerpiece of this bundle the NCAA approved.
Tierney is jumping for joy because he (and others) feel like this will decrease the dreaded de-commitments from high school seniors.
“Prolonging it, it just makes the kids keep changing their minds,” Tierney said. “It’s over and done before Christmas. All of the jumping back and forth, it goes out of the window. I think the early signing will make the kids get serious about it at an earlier stage in their careers.”
Players wanted the early signing period, according to surveys ESPN.com conducted. About 70 percent of high school juniors and seniors responded favorably to it when surveyed at the Under Armour All-American Game earlier this year.
Donnie Alexander really did think his opportunity to play at LSU had passed.
There are drawbacks, of course.
It speeds up a recruiting process that college coaches already complain is too fast. If prospects can sign earlier, schools may need to begin recruiting them earlier, offering them scholarships earlier.
The early signing period would de-emphasize the three-week sprint to national signing day that unravels each January, placing more importance on the official visits and in-home visits in late November and early December —sometimes with college football season still ongoing.
Then there’s the issue of instability on a coaching staff.
“Kids are going to still sign in December and have assistant coaches and head coaches leave,” Simmons said. “That signing period takes place right before the silly season of college coaches leaving.”
Simmons said he believes that eventually the only players who will sign early are those who enroll in January. Mike Scarborough, the publisher at TigerBait.com, the Rivals.com site covering LSU, said he thinks the signing period will be tweaked — just wait a few years.
“Down the line, you see what the benefits and unintended consequences are,” he said, “and then you change.”
Orgeron’s disagreement with the early signing day isn’t specific to any of the above issues. National signing day is a holiday of sorts in college football.
It celebrates the end of the longtime recruitment of a group of high school football players, falling always on the first Wednesday in February. It’s a long-awaited, highly anticipated day — one circled by every coach and highlighted by every prospect.
Now, there are two.
“It’s too much manpower. Way too much manpower,” Orgeron said. “You realize the manpower it takes for signing day. Then you’ve got to go through two of them? It’s just, there’s a lot of stuff. It’s a war. Signing day is a war. All of the stuff that goes into signing day, and now you’re going to go through two of them? I don’t think we have enough time to do it.”
Fresh off a visit to the New Orleans Saints, former LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith is en ro…
The NCAA Division I Council on Friday approved several changes to recruiting and eliminated two-a-days.
Previous: Prospects can only sign national letters of intent beginning on the first Wednesday in February, a day referred to as national signing day.
New*: Prospects can sign during a 72-hour window starting on the third Wednesday in December, coinciding with the junior college signing day. They can also sign on the traditional national signing day.
*Only the Collegiate Commissioners Association can create new national letter of intent signing periods. The CCA is expected to approve the council's recommendation.
Official visit calendar
Previous: A prospect can only make his five expense-free (official) visits to five schools after his high school classes have started, usually in August.
New: Prospects will be allowed to take official visits starting April 1 of their junior years in high school and stretching through the first three weeks of June. They will also be allowed to make visits during the traditional times.
Regulating third-party employment
Previous: Those close to a prospect (third parties) can be hired in a support staff role with the school that is recruiting that prospect. They can also be hired to work school-run camps.
New: Third party sources linked to recruits cannot be hired to a school’s support staff for a two-year period before and after the player’s anticipated and actual enrollment at the school. Third party sources, including high school coaches, cannot be hired to work school-run camps.
Previous: Coaches can conduct 30 days of camps, including those on campus and off campus within their state borders. They can also partner with other colleges, junior colleges and high schools in other states to host camps. These are widely known as satellite camps.
New: Coaches can conduct camps for only 10 days, and camps are only allowed on campus or practice/competition facilities (like an off-campus stadium).
Previous: Schools are permitted to have nine full-time assistant coaches. These coaches can work with players on the field, recruit, etc.
New: Schools will be allowed to add a 10th full-time assistant coach starting Jan. 9, 2018.
Previous: College coaches working a camp or clinic could not have recruiting conversations with high school players participating in the camp.
New: It allows coaches employed at a camp or clinic to have recruiting conversations with prospects participating in camps and clinics.
Previous: Schools could conduct as many as five two-a-days — two live-contact practices per day — during preseason camp.
New: Two-a-days are abolished. Schools can only conduct one three-hour, on-field practice session and a walkthrough. Walkthroughs must be conducted without helmets or pads.