John Adams: College football needs to kick national signing date out of game

John Adams

College football needs to break a date.

February’s national signing date has become as outdated as leather headgear.

Coaches are now offering scholarships faster than ever. They’re offering them to juniors, sophomores and even freshmen.

And recruits are committing just as fast. They’re also changing their commitments faster than ever.

The process is in keeping with the up-tempo, fast-break offenses which dominate today’s game.

But in recruiting, it’s hurry up and wait — till February.

No matter how dearly a college wants a player to sign or how committed a player might be to a particular school, they can’t seal the deal until February.

It makes no sense. And it can make both the school and the recruits look bad.

High school coaches in Dillon, S.C., criticized Tennessee coaches this past week for not honoring their scholarship offer to running back Jabo Lee. They said UT coaches discovered in May that Lee would need knee surgery.

There also were questions about whether Lee could qualify academically.

Tennessee, which had no comment on the subject, released Lee from his national letter of intent. He finally met his standardized-test requirement in June and now plans to attend Temple on a football scholarship.

Recruiting breakups often leave schools on the losing end. Mississippi State fans were reminded of that last week when linebacker Keith Holcombe committed to Alabama, just 11 days after he committed to the Bulldogs.

He won’t be the last recruit to change his mind between now and February. Some will change their minds more than once.

But what if there were no signing date? Suppose a player could sign with a school whenever it offered him a scholarship. That would be so much simpler than the current setup.

Both parties would have to be made accountable, of course.

If a player decided before his senior year to sign, he wouldn’t be allowed to switch to another school six months later without being penalized. Instead, he would have to be treated like a transfer and required to sit out a year.

Schools would have to be obligated, too. If they signed a player early, that would count against their scholarship allotment even if the player didn’t qualify academically or if he suffered a career-ending injury.

Recruiting would become less flippant on both sides.

Coaches wouldn’t be as likely to offer scholarships to high school underclassmen, no matter how dazzling a player might have been at a summer camp. And commitments would become irrelevant.

If a player were committed to a school, he could sign. Game over.

Coaches then could

move on to the next recruit without having to baby-sit an early commitment all the way to February.

My sign-anytime proposal would come with only one restriction: A recruit couldn’t sign during an on-campus visit — for obvious reasons.

Imagine how much redder the red carpet would be if schools knew they could sign a recruit when he visited their campus. And imagine how much more creative and persuasive programs would become in their efforts to consummate a sale. Some might hire hypnotists.

So recruits would need time to clear their heads after visiting a campus. But they wouldn’t need to wait till February.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 10

coach799 writes:

I like it! Vol Fans would be even more excited for this season to start with next year's class almost set!

GO VOLS!!!! #Brick by Brick

tovolny writes:

John, you may or may not have a point; but, you lost your credibility several years ago. You have been taking the easy road for a few years, was demoted, quickly let any coaching staff we have had in the last twelve years know that you represented the enemy. You are the most despised sports writer in Tennessee just barely ahead of the scornful and distasteful Climer who only attempts to be a sports writer. Just leave the rule making to the coaching elite and to people who don't have an agenda to destroy a collegiate sports team.

You have hurt the Vol Nation more than any other human. If that is your career goal, you are at the verge of success.

Why not retire and enjoy yourself with a bunch of Voodoo Dolls wearing the orange and white.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Woh! tovolny?

Anyhow...what was I gonna say!?

Uhhh go Vols. Oh yeah...I prefer the drama of waiting to sign. It's much more entertaining. Like when Stokes decided to stay...not the same but similar. welp I'm going to get some shut eye. goodnight all.

imw8n4u writes:

I think there should be an early signing period. I agree there is probably a ton of time and money wasted trying to retain commitments that could have been signed, or trying to recruit players committed to other schools. Let the players that are certain sign early and get it over with.

dvhill100 writes:

I agree with a quicker signing day. It would certainly curb the hat drama and allow the teams to focus on the next recruit. Accountability on both sides has to be there.

While I understand the Dillon HS coach's frustration, UT has to look after itself. We don't have the deep talent to lose a year of development on a young man who is definitely going to miss a year due to surgery. If there was an early signing day, then this would have been moot, and UT would have had to suck it up.

arkyvol writes:

there is not one benefit of the proposed adams rule that could not be realized under the present framework if both sides keep their word. oops. perhaps that's a little too idealistic.

dvhill100 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

there is not one benefit of the proposed adams rule that could not be realized under the present framework if both sides keep their word. oops. perhaps that's a little too idealistic.

Way too much.

laraccoon writes:

make a kid go to a school he really dont want to be at , they are kids and at their age nothing is for certain . Any kid who commits and changes his mind is utilizing a valuable tool , to rethink or to apply much thought to make sure , why in the world would you want to remove this equation from the process ?

knoxknothead writes:

in response to laraccoon:

make a kid go to a school he really dont want to be at , they are kids and at their age nothing is for certain . Any kid who commits and changes his mind is utilizing a valuable tool , to rethink or to apply much thought to make sure , why in the world would you want to remove this equation from the process ?

I think any [kid] who commits then decommits should set out a year the kid who committed to MS knew all alone he wanted to go to Ala.a report in todays paper said a [kid] hung himself because they were going to put the needle to him

budd#207344 writes:

in response to tovolny:

John, you may or may not have a point; but, you lost your credibility several years ago. You have been taking the easy road for a few years, was demoted, quickly let any coaching staff we have had in the last twelve years know that you represented the enemy. You are the most despised sports writer in Tennessee just barely ahead of the scornful and distasteful Climer who only attempts to be a sports writer. Just leave the rule making to the coaching elite and to people who don't have an agenda to destroy a collegiate sports team.

You have hurt the Vol Nation more than any other human. If that is your career goal, you are at the verge of success.

Why not retire and enjoy yourself with a bunch of Voodoo Dolls wearing the orange and white.

Every time I read a John Adams column I am then assaulted with your critique of his article. And it is always the same critique. If you hate his writing so much then you might want to refrain from reading and especially commenting about it. Because if you think he is such a bad columnist you have no idea how bad you suck at commenting

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features