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Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Pelini: Eliminate signing dates altogether

By Adam Rittenberg


Momentum seems to be building for an earlier signing period in college football. It could begin Aug. 1, as the ACC has proposed, or the Monday after Thanksgiving, as the SEC has recommended.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has a different thought: eliminate signing dates altogether. Pelini thinks recruits should be able to sign with a school as soon as they receive a scholarship offer from that school.

PeliniIf somebody has offered a kid (a scholarship), let him sign, it's over. That will stop some of the things that are happening -- people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid.

-- Bo Pelini
Coaches could extend offers whenever they want, but they also have to be prepared for recruits to say yes and sign national letters of intent right away.

"Make [the offer] mean something," Pelini told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "People will be like, 'Whoa, I've got to take this kid now.' It will slow things down for the kids, for the institutions. There will be less mistakes. Why does there have to be one specific day?

"If you make an offer, you should be bound to it."

Many coaches want to modify a system where scholarship offers are occurring earlier than ever -- and in larger amounts than ever -- with less real evaluation taking place. Maryland coach Randy Edsall this spring proposed a plan to prevent schools from offering scholarships until a prospect's senior year in high school.

I wrote about the dangers of an accelerated recruiting cycle this spring. Many coaches I spoke with expressed concerns about the pace of scholarship offers. Pelini hasn't formally proposed his idea, but the coaches he has spoken with like the intent.

"Most coaches would love to see a kid play their senior year before they determine who they're going to take," Pelini said. "Some of these kids get 60 offers. Some of these people don't even know who a kid is. The whole thing gets watered down. There's no way some of these teams can take that many guys."

Pelini raises some valid points here. Coaches would have to be more careful when they offer scholarships and to whom, leading to more patience in the evaluation process. It could reduce the rising number of transfers in the sport. Pelini also favors allowing recruits to get out of their letters of intent if a coaching change occurs, which also makes sense.

This plan also would eliminate the spectacle of signing day -- the hat dances and such -- which many believe would be a good thing.

"In my opinion it probably will never happen," Pelini said. "They've operated under certain guidelines for signing dates and those things for such a long time. I think they're afraid of change."

Here's hoping they're not.