Item: The NCAA’s approval earlier this month of an early signing period for college football recruiting will have a profound change on how coaches recruit, is likely to keep the strong programs strong, and has permanently deluded the important date of the first Wednesday in February, the traditional National Letter of Intent Signing Day.
Way back in 1990 we began working with publishers of college sports newspapers, most published weekly during the August-May school year sports calendar, helping them provide news updates about the school they covered via audiotext phone messages in which the consumer paid a per minute fee to hear news updates in the “pre-Internet era” of 1990-1995, and way before social media was even a blip on the radar.
The most important information these publishers dispensed was football recruiting news, which highly rated recruits were considering which schools and it always culminated with the highly anticipated NLOI signing day in which anxious fans called in multiple times that day to make sure every recruit that was expected to enroll had indeed signed and faxed in his commitment.
Once we took the telephone concept and brought it online with the start of Rivals.com in 1998, and subsequently once every major sports media network either merged online services or created their own by the mid-2000s, the market became saturated with coverage eventually resulting in live TV throughout signing day, other special programming, and once social media, specifically Facebook and then Twitter arrived by 2010, each player had their own personal platform to orchestrate the news of their recruitment.
The new December signing period (lasting from Dec. 20-22 this year) will give players who have verbally committed a chance to have an early holiday present by making their college choice a formality, avoiding incessant phone calls and texts from would-be suitors.
It also allows a coaching staff to know exactly who’s on board and who isn’t, providing the flexibility to concentrate on a smaller number of recruits for the final six weeks until the traditional Feb. date, something that figures to help a program like Syracuse which can’t be as selective as other ACC schools.
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