College football got a step closer to significant recruiting reform on Wednesday when the Division I Football Oversight Committee modified recruiting proposals to allow for earlier official visits and a December signing period. Those changes, if approved by the Council in April, would look like this:
One, there would be a three-day signing period in December for high-school prospects who are ready to end the recruiting process. Junior-college prospects already can sign in December, but as more high-schoolers have pursued early enrollment, this one just made sense and was sort of a half-step towards acknowledging the accelerated recruiting of today. The Council nixed a proposal to let players sign NLIs in June before their senior season.
I don’t know that this change will do much to diminish the more traditional signing-day circus in February. The early enrollees will sign in December, the majority of others will probably wait and I suspect programs will still sign two-thirds of their prospects on the first Wednesday in February.
Unless the second change, which will allow recruits to take official visits between April and June of their junior years, totally shifts the recruiting calendar. Presently recruits have to visit schools on their own dime until September of their senior years, at which point they can take official visits paid for by the schools.
That could be a positive change for schools located outside of the traditional recruiting hotbeds. One of the biggest challenges a school like Nebraska faces is getting kids to campus. Under the current rules, Nebraska can’t pay for those trips until those players are seniors, but for an increasing number of those players the recruiting process is effectively winding down at that point. Depending upon where they are located, those players have often already made unofficial visits to nearby schools and the official visits in the fall become sort of a formality.
Nebraska and many other Big Ten programs, for example, don’t have that luxury. A prospect from California isn’t driving to Lincoln for the spring game. If that player isn’t willing or able to spring for a flight, he doesn’t get there. Under the proposed rule change, Nebraska could pay for that trip, which levels the playing field a little bit.
It also might make spring games even more of a spectacle. They could become recruiting events, first and foremost, and the teams that can consistently draw huge crowds probably have an additional edge.
If these modified proposals are approved, they would take effect on Aug. 1, meaning the first early signing period would happen in Dec. of 2017, and the first early visit window would be available in the spring of 2018.
Buckeyes Steal One at the Vault
Tough loss in a pivotal game for Nebraska last night as Ohio State got a layup with 0.6 seconds left on a defensive breakdown by the Huskers.
The Grab Bag
- Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com looks at the rise of the college football GM, which includes some quotes from Nebraska’s Billy Devaney.
- Really interesting story at FiveThirtyEight showing that NFL referees may make calls based on which sideline they’re on. The gist: Refs are less likely to make a tough call against the offense if that ref is close to the offense’s sideline. Based on these findings, Bo Pelini should have run every play towards his own sideline.
- Nebraska picked up a commitment for its 2018 recruiting class on Wednesday.
- Bob Diaco gave his first interview as a member of Nebraska’s staff last night on Husker Sports Nightly.
- Steve Lassan of Athlon Sports has the Huskers second in the Big Ten West in 2017.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.