Coaches say no to early signing plan
By Mark Long
Associated Press Writer
DESTIN, Fla. — Southeastern Conference coaches rejected a proposal Wednesday to support adding an early signing period to college football.
The coaches voted 9-3 against it, joining the Pac 10 as major conferences that don’t want to change the current system.
Kentucky’s Rich Brooks, Vanderbilt’s Bobby Johnson and LSU’s Les Miles voted for the proposal, which the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 passed earlier this year.
“It’s something that the prospects want,” Miles said. “It makes sense. You can script it and guide it so it’s reflective of what the prospects want. It limits exposure to our coaches’ travel. It would have a cost-saving effect on our teams and our schools.”
Without the support of the SEC and the Pac 10, the proposal has little chance to persuade a change to the national letter of intent program that is run by the Collegiate Commissioners Association.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive is chairman of the national letter of intent steering committee.
College football currently has one signing period, which begins in February. But with extra attention being paid to recruiting and more students enrolling early, coaches have been forced to recruit earlier than ever and have seen an increase in the number of nonbinding verbal commitments given before prospects’ even begin their senior year of high school.
Proponents of an early signing period argue that it would reduce the number of prospects committing to one school, then de-committing and signing with another. They believe it also would save time and money by reducing the number of phone calls and visits between the time a recruit commits and the time he signs a letter of intent.
Opponents counter that an early signing period would cause more recruits to schedule official visits during football season — a significant distraction from game-day preparations. They also believe it would reduce the amount of time coaches have to get to know high school players and lead to more recruiting mistakes.
“Everybody wants to speed it up. I want to slow it down,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “There are some valid points. But it would have changed a lot. It would have made the visits during the season out of control. Instead of two maybe, you’re going to have 15 kids making an official visit on a Saturday. That’s awful.
“Those are hard days. We’ve done that. We’ve had like 10 kids visit during a Tennessee weekend. That’s rolling the dice. If you don’t (win), that’s a bad day. And also if you’re beat up on a Saturday night, you don’t want to go to dinner.”
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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