Last week, I spoke in large part about the ails of College Football in its current landscape and sensationalized nature in which people, including Clemson football fans, view the problems as “killing the sport.” Today, I look at something that actually has taken off in a different direction over the last couple of years. You could say the new changes are “killing signing day.”
Who remembers 2011 and the sheer stunning nature of stealing Sammy Watkins right from under the Seminoles noses? Or the same feeling in 2012 with stealing Carlos Watkins? There’s a long list of future Clemson Tigers who surprised people by donning the 1 o’clock tilted Tiger Paw hat on signing day, or at least there were prior to 2017.
Unlike last week, I am fully aware and willing to concede that, even though we’ve just seen one of the more dramatic signing days in recent memory, the early signing period has taken some of the suspense and drama out of one of the more unique aspects of College Football.
Recruiting used to be a marathon. A recruit could literally be contacted and offered by schools in 7th grade. Most of the time though, the average D1 recruitment period kicks off after the player’s sophomore season concludes. During the era of a single signing day, that’s still an eternity for a program to coax, visit, offer, and hang on to a recruit.
It used to seem that every signing day would bring some sort of drama that would have massive impacts across the landscape. If it wasn’t Clemson, it was someone else looking to stay atop or build their programs further.
This year’s early signing day saw plenty of drama. Peyton Bowen’s double flip from Notre Dame to Oregon to Oklahoma all happened within 24 hours. Cormani McClain has yet to sign with Miami as the opening signing period draws to a close, cracking the door open for the possibility of a flip to Deion Sanders and Colorado in February. There are a few more examples this year, and yet it feels like most of the drama has left the building.
Here is where I come to the crux of my argument: signing day is evolving, and that evolution may lead to an even earlier date. It’s an adjustment fans need to make and, if you pay attention, it’s still wildly dramatic.
Some of this is absolutely colored by my Clemson fandom but I am completely fine with drama free signing days. It means you got who you wanted, and they wanted you. And outside of a couple of decommits during the summer, Clemson has maintained another top class.
But wouldn’t it be great if most of these guys could put pen to paper in August?
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney is in favor of an even earlier signing day
Dabo mentioned earlier this week that he would be in favor of another, earlier signing day in August. And, like most of the administrative ideas he has, it’s valid.
For every fun day a Clemson fan has had with a Sammy Watkins or a Carlos Watkins, there are the “Todd Gurley” and “Keith Marshall” or even dare I say “Robert Nkemdiche” situations that arise during a recruiting calendar.
That’s not saying that guys like those would’ve signed with Clemson had the calendar been moved up, but it would be pretty nice to not have to wonder if your 5-star recruit is having second thoughts if a school in close proximity turns up the heat in November.
As far as actual drama goes, the day-to-day of recruiting is still dramatic. I’d even argue it’s as dramatic as ever- it’s constant now, day in and day out with social media. Summertime is almost like a secondary season in itself by tracking visits.
If the day comes (and I think it’s just a matter of time) when College Football moves to an August signing day, May, June, and July will become like a 3-month firework show.
I think in the end it will work out for all parties involved.
Either way, sit back and watch the fireworks and enjoy the new incoming class of Tigers.