It's time to end National Signing Day
Today is National Signing Day in America.
It's really just a regular Wednesday that has been transformed by our instant news cycle and thirst for information into a frenzy of high schoolers committing to play college football for various universities on national television.
This one is for the die-hards. No games will be won, lost, or even played today. Nothing tangible will be accomplished. Success will be based on projections on the futures of 17-year olds, tied up stars and rankings and guesses.
Nevertheless, National Signing Day is an institution on the calendars of college football fans. The first Wednesday in February, they believe, dictates the future of their beloved programs.
Of course, a lot more than recruiting determines success in college football, most notably coaching players once they have arrived on campus, but nevertheless, recruiting is a good indicator of talent and talent is the best predictor of success in sports at every level.
Hence the capitalized importance of National Signing Day. These days, regular fans have unfettered access to recruiting websites that coaches would have killed for ten years ago.
Fans can be scouts and talent evaluators, and go on social media and size up kids all across the country.
By its very nature, recruiting is a competition, and it is something that fans want their schools to win.
Recruiting athletes is a vital part of college athletics, no matter how asinine the NCAA tries to make the process. Recruiting going nowhere.
But it's time to quash national signing day before it spirals out of control.
It's a contrived, made-for-TV event that is damaging for the game and prospective student athletes.
Having to wait until a nationwide signing day to make a commitment official promotes everything that is wrong about recruiting – namely, coaches trying to steal other coaches' recruits.
Recruiting, especially today, is a cutthroat endeavor. It's dirty and corrupt. The stakes are pumped artificially high.
Coaches who play by the rules want kids to be able to officially commit whenever they want. It would cut out the waiting period that invites influence-peddlers and other coaches to poke and prod and incentivize kids to change their minds.
If you're a coach and you get a verbal commit from an athlete in November, you better keep recruiting that kid because there's no telling what might happen while that athlete is waiting to sign his name in February.
There's no need for a signing day. Let kids sign when they want. We only have National Signing Day because it looks good on TV and it makes money.
Besides that, the whole premise of the show is goofy.
Want to know why freshmen come into teams with attitude problems? It might have something to do with the fact that we point twenty cameras, a fistful of microphones, an ESPN reporter, and a couple hats in front of them and watch with baited breath as they announce where they are going to attend college.
Take a step back and think about how ridiculous that is. We ridicule The Decision in this county, but applaud translating The Decision to kids who haven't yet graduated high school?
There's no good reason why fans shouldn't be able to see who their school has signed and enjoy that facet of the college game.
Like most everything, recruiting coverage is fine in moderation. But it's time to draw the line at slobbering over teenagers on live TV. It's just unhealthy.
The entire idea of national signing day promotes an unhealthy culture around college athletics. It would certainly be easier for coaches without random fans scrutinizing their classes without a tenth of the information necessary to make an informed judgment on a recruit.
But this year there is more coverage than ever, with over twelve hours of programming lined up on the ESPN family of networks. Where there's demand in sports, there is always plenty of supply. But that doesn't make the signing day vacuum right.
There is a lot wrong with the NCAA. National Signing Day is one of the easier things to fix. Strip the deadline and let recruits sign where they want, when they want.
Some conferences are considering coming out against the February date or the idea altogether. It's a step that more conferences can and should take.
I like the idea of giving high school athletes a moment in the limelight in front of their schools, and I like the idea of giving fans a window into one of the most important days of the year for their school.
But we can all agree that the mayhem of National Signing Day has gone too far. It's time to shut the circus down.
Happy National Signing Day
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