Recruiting season is alive and well and soon the actual business of football will begin for thousands of class of 2010 college football hopefuls. With each passing day, college football fans hang on the news of where their favorite high school football players will commit to playing for the next 4 to 5 years. The entire process has turned into a sport itself but is it healthy?
From my vantage point, the ongoing sport that is early college football commitments is ruining the college football recruiting process. Increasingly, college football prospects are being pressured and by pressured, I mean really pressured to make a choice long before the actual signing date of February 4th. We are at the point now where kids are forced to make their decision long before they take any of their official visits. How is that right?
More and more, I am seeing these young high schoolers publicly announce their intentions and then another school they had not consider enters into the mix. When that happens, the recruit feels the need to rethink their commitment. Often times, that rethinking gets the kid labeled by fans and media personnel as any thing from wishy-washy to just down right shady. Is this fair? Should a 17 year old student athlete be painted in this light because adults have pressured them into making a decision before they have all of the facts?
Undoubtedly, the practice has already led to kids making the wrong decision on their future. Kids are picking schools under pressure and are not really considering the factors that are important (i.e. education). This will continue and soon measures will have to be taken to preserve the integrity of the process.
This whole thing is like holding the NFL draft but having college players sign before the two day event in April. I understand enough to know that the colleges do need to know before the actually signing date, who is coming to their school. It would be rather rough if 20 schools showed up at the #1 recruit’s home on February 4th and he has to tell 19 schools that they aren’t it. What do those 19 schools do after that? They have wasted their day. However, when it seems that the NCAA has a heavy hand in the recruiting process with their rules and regulations, why have they been so lax on this issue? They can legislate everything else to “protect” the student athlete, why have they not dug their hands into this with a little more zest?
It would seem to me that at the very least, the NCAA should set a date for early commitments. Before that date, there should be no announcements of early commitments either publicly, privately or leaked. That date should be set after that final date allowed for official visits. Will this stop early commitments, no but it won’t be so wide spread, so public and it won’t pressure kids to make quick decisions before they have had a chance to go through the entire process.
Of course provisions would have to be made for those athletes who are going to graduate early and attend college in the spring of their senior year of high school. I am not so sure that I like that idea to begin with. I think I am on the side of having all high school seniors finish their senior year of high school. What’s the rush? However, if this practice continues then perhaps some rules can be made for those players.
Obviously, this is an issue that needs some discussion, attention and planning. However, until someone in power decides to make a commitment to at least begin the process, I think the entire college football recruiting process remains tainted,