It’s the day after National Signing Day, but in modern college football, today is far from a time when coaches can breathe a sigh of relief. There’s always been very little offseason for college football coaching staffs, but changes instituted in the last several years have taken their job from hectic to borderline impossible, especially in the month of December.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the goings on at Texas A&M just this week:
- Monday: The Aggies get a commitment from Trey Jones out of the transfer portal
- Tuesday: The Aggies get another portal commit (TE Garrett Miller), add a high school commit (DE Kendall Jackson), lose one of their players to the portal (WR Evan Stewart), get one of their players to take his name OUT of the portal (OT Chase Bisontis) and the current team continues their bowl practices.
- Wednesday: 12 high school recruits sign their letters of intent (including two new commits), and in Mike Elko’s Signing Day press conference, he talks about rounding out his staff, which will begin to take more shape in the coming 1-2 days and also as their finish their bowl games with their current teams. On and another player (OL Naquil Betrand) entered the portal.
With the transfer portal opening just days after conference championship games, coaches have to transition immediately from wrapping up the regular season to re-recruiting their own roster and scouting/recruiting potential new players who enter the portal. This also has to be done while making any necessary staff changes, be it position coaches or coordinators or a new staff entirely. And all of that is happening while you’re trying to put the finishing touches on your incoming high school recruiting class that will sign in the early signing period. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, there’s this little thing called bowl practices, with dozens of teams looking for one more win wrap up their season, and several on the quest for a title. Also in case you’ve forgotten players are supposed to be studying for final exams during all of this.
And next season it gets even worse. If the schedule holds, early signing day will be Wednesday, Dec. 18, just TWO DAYS before the first College Football Playoff first round game on Friday, Dec. 20.
Simply put: Why are we doing this? The way the college football calendar is set up is nonsensical, and in many ways, unsustainable. Josh Pate has mentioned several times on his Late Kick show, so a lot of what I’m saying isn’t necessarily original material. He even goes so far as to say that it is only a matter of time before it drives some really good college coaches out of the profession entirely.
So how do we fix it?
Move early signing day to July
As it currently stands, December has become THE signing day, with only a handful of stragglers waiting to commit/sign in February. If you move it to July, the early signing period becomes the smaller one, reserved for only a small group of recruits who are completely locked in, have no chance of changing their minds and simply want to get the recruiting process over with before their senior year of high school. Of course as it already the case, they would be released from that letter of intent if a coaching change occurs.
Moreover, the lack of a December signing period would not affect recruits abilities to enroll in January (as is becoming more and more common). Remember, you don’t have to sign a letter of intent at all if you don’t want to. Recruits could simply commit and then enroll in January without ever signing one.
While you’d undoubtedly still have SOME recruiting movement in December, it would pale in comparison to what we have now. It would also restore the February signing day as the true king of the activity, and that happening at a time when no games are being played and no coaching changes are happening makes so much more sense, for coaches and recruits alike.
Move the portal window until after the postseason
The biggest argument for the placement of the current transfer portal window is so that transfer players have the option of choosing a destination and enrolling there for the spring semester. An admirable goal, but not one that’s worth damaging other aspects of the sport to achieve.
Make the transfer portal open the day after the national championship game each year (next season that would be Jan. 21, 2025) and keep it open until National Signing day.
- It would mean that no player would have to choose between staying with their team for a bowl game/Playoff run or securing their spot on a different team for next year.
- It would allow coaching staffs to fully focus on their postseason games rather than trying to also scout/recruit portal players at the same time.
- It would give time for coaching/staff changes to happen and give those coaches more of an opportunity to form relationships with current players before they have to make a decision about transferring.
- By the time the February singing day is complete, you would know who on your team has entered the portal and you’d know which high school recruits you’d signed. Basically, you’d need to know what holes on your roster you’d need to plug by brining in new portal players.
Yes, it would mean that players who do enter the portal would not be able to join their new team/school until the summer (but that’s when most incoming recruits join a team anyway). We already see many transfers finish out the spring semester at their current school before choosing a destination, this would just make it the standard.
How would it help?
December would still be a busy time in this scenario. A lot of what happens this time of year does so because this is when it HAS to happen. Any time you’re trying to wrap up a semester, go through coaching changes and prepare for the postseason, it’s going to be hectic. But it would at least be a manageable level of hectic.
Moving the recruiting activities (early signing day and transfer portal window) to late July/January creates a more logical flow to the college football calendar, with ancillary events happening right before the season or right after rather than during. And from a marketing perspective, it would draw intrigue at times when you’d normally see a dip.
The current calendar can be exciting, but the unpredictability can also just make it feel like a beatdown as a fan. We need to bring some normalcy back to the process, and that starts be decongesting December.
Which of these proposals would you be most on board with?
This poll is closed
Moving early signing day to July
Moving the transfer portal window until after the postseason