TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Add Alabama coach Nick Saban to the list of coaches against an early signing period for recruiting in college football.
The NCAA’s Division I Council proposed multiple changes on Wednesday, including an early signing period. The change would bring two 72-hour windows, one on the last Wednesday in June and another in mid-December. The December date is also the initial time junior college players can sign a National Letter of Intent. The signing period proposal would be effective for the 2017-18 recruiting year. Currently, the only signing period for high school athletes begins on the first Wednesday in February.
Saban said he was informed about the early signing date proposal following practice on Wednesday.
“I am absolutely, positively against any kind of early signing date, especially a June signing date before a guy plays his senior year,” Saban said. “If we want to have an early signing date after the season, then I would be more for that.”
Saban said the recruiting calendar has already been moved forward which he believes created “lots of issues and problems” because of the lack of time to evaluate prospects on and off the field.
That includes getting an accurate read on a player’s character, academic status and other non-football related things that take time to judge.
The football reasons are more obvious. Some prospects take longer to mature than others.
Saban used freshman running back Joshua Jacobs as an example. Alabama didn’t start recruiting Jacobs until after the national championship game in January.
Now, Jacobs is Alabama’s No. 2 running back. He’s started one game while rushing for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. Saban said Jacobs likely wouldn’t be on the team if there was an early signing period.
“Probably not. Because we would probably be full, and that’s what I’m talking about,” Saban said. “We would probably make some academic, character and maybe evaluation mistakes, because you aren’t even seeing a guy play during his senior season. The other thing from a high school coaches’ standpoint, I mean what is really the guy’s motivation to play, and really work hard to get better to play for his team in his senior year. … I know that guys making commitments doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot, I think we just kind of accept that, we keep recruiting.
“I think that whole early commitment thing is largely a thing that’s been created by the attention that players get, from a media standpoint. I think it is what it is. Ultimately, every player should have the opportunity to make official visits, to develop relationships, and now you’re doing that earlier, and earlier and earlier. I just don’t … I don’t see it. I agree with Urban Meyer on this one. He wrote like a three-page of a scenario of why we wouldn’t want to do this. I’m 100, total, percent in agreement with what his assessments are.”