Swinney breaks down proposed early signing period for recruits


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An early signing period would help with high-profile recruits like Rodgers, Johnson and Higgins
An early signing period would help with high-profile recruits like Rodgers, Johnson and Higgins

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has long been a proponent of an early signing period in college football, and he told TigerNet Wednesday evening that he hopes to see one implemented as soon as possible.

The Division I Council submitted a proposal last week to add a pair of 72-hour early signing periods to the annual recruiting calendar -- one in June and one in mid-December. Under current NCAA rules, high school players cannot sign their national letters of intent until the first Wednesday in February. Last week’s proposal would give them two earlier opportunities to sign with a school, as early as June before their senior year.

The proposal would be effective for the 2017-18 signing year, and Swinney said he would like to see a change made to the current model, but with a different date.

“I've always been for an early signing period. I could sit here and state the case all day if I had to do that on the reasons why. What I don't really like what they came out with is the dates,” Swinney said after Wednesday’s practice. “To me, I don't think June is the right time. I think August 1st would be better or December - tied in with the Juco. One of those, either August or December, makes the most sense. June doesn't make any sense to me. I don't understand that. It's good, though.”

Swinney said it would help slow down the hectic pace of recruiting.

“Guys that know what they want to do will sign and some of the rhetoric out there is that it will speed up the recruiting process when in actuality, it's going to slow it down,” he said. “It's going to slow it down big time. It's going to slow some of these early offers down because if a guy is committed, they're going to know if they commit, you're going to expect them to sign. It will also slow some of the early offers down because if you offer them, then they have that opportunity to sign, so now it will protect some of these guys that schools cut these guys in the end. I think it's a win, win, win all the way around.”

He thinks August is the perfect date, one that would allow the coaches to know if a player is really committed to the program. For instance, if that had been in place last August, the Tigers could have locked up marquee recruits like Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers and Hunter Johnson.

“I do think there should be some protection for the players. I've always said let's do it in August and have a signing period in August, do away with all of this Financial Aid Agreement mess,” Swinney said. “Let's have an early signing period for those kids that know what they want to do. Now if you've got all of these guys making these early commitments and they don't sign, then you know they're not committed and vice versa. If a school has taken a kid's commitment and he wants to sign in August but now you don't want to sign him, it's better for that kid to find out in August than in January that the school is backing off on him.

“I think it will slow the whole process down, clean it up, and these kids that know what they want to do will have an opportunity to get that behind them and protect them in that regard. I've always thought that's the best time and I would be okay with December, as well, if they do it that way. I do think there should be protection for them if the coach is fired or the coach leaves. If you've got a group of guys that sign in August, and the school fires the coach or the coach up and leaves, then those guys basically, it's null and void and they can either re-sign with the school or sign somewhere else in February on the normal signing day. That gives them protection so they're not locked in if the coach is fired or leaves. That's a fair opportunity for everybody, but what do I know?”

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