Has Early Signing Day Hurt College Football?

When the notion of an early signing day (ESD) started to spread throughout college football we were all convinced that it was good for recruiting. The benefit of the ESD was to allow recruits to lock in on their scholarship offers and coaches could continue to spend their time working on recruits that did not sign or recruits they wanted to take a look at for final pieces to their roster. We all thought this would be a great move for college football, but this one day could have deeper consequences than one could have ever expected.

This year we have seen major college football blue blood programs fire coaches mid-season and start the searching process for their next leader months in advance. We were all ok with the searches, but it was who they were going after and the immediate departures of these coaches that has shocked and rocked college football. So much so that fans and players are questioning why did these prominent coaches leave their programs when the season wasn’t even over yet. There are bowl games that still need to be played and college football playoff positions decided on so how could they do this?

Well I’ll tell you how.

We can’t be naive or blind to the facts here. The bowl games started to become irrelevant the moment the College Football Playoffs started. Once the final four teams were decided on we saw an unusual number of star players who were expected to go high in the upcoming draft deciding to opt out of the bowl games all together. They were not going to be playing for anything deemed worthy enough to take on the risk of injury and the possibility of losing money from a potential injury. Remember, big time college football is about making it to the NFL. If you have a solid resume, why risk it all for a game that means nothing?

If the bowl game doesn’t mean anything to the players, why would it mean anything to great coaches who have great opportunities to else where. The reason Brian Kelly left for LSU right before the final playoff rankings were decided was because of a beautiful contract he got and the fact that he needed to get his recruiting class for LSU situated before the early signing day deadline.

Lincoln Riley, former coach of Oklahoma, departed Oklahoma for USC less than 24 hours after OU’s last game for the same reason. The early signing day has become the new official signing day in most peoples eyes because most recruiting class and a roster for the following year can begin to take shape.

This is why many programs are also scrambling to figure out if they want to keep their head coaches or let them go. Early signing day has put a clock on programs to make big decisions quickly.

This is why Oklahoma is on the clock to find their next head coach and also why the Miami Hurricanes are in a bad situation. Miami does not have an Athletic Director or an idea if Manny Diaz should be retained as the coach for 2022. For the Canes this is bad all around. You can’t properly recruit players if the coach and staff that is out on the recruiting trail don’t know they will be there in a week or two.

The Early Signing Day has really turned the college football off-season into a complete mess even before it has officially began.

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