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Early-signing period could be coming to college football recruiting

This is a good idea in theory, but the details will be the key.

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN is reporting from the annual American Football Coaches Convention that an early-signing period proposal has some momentum:

"'Based on all of the feedback -- and there are all kinds of dates out there of what people want -- the most favorable option the committee has seen seems to be for an early-signing day in December, something that's in line with the midyear junior college transfer signing date,'" [Susan Peal, NCAA associate director of operations who serves as a liaison between the collegiate governing body and the commissioners] said."

Update: A three-day early signing period in December has been formally recommended, according to CBS Sports.

If adopted, the sport's new initial signing period would be in place this year for the 2016 recruiting class. The new early date would begin Dec. 16 and last 72 hours. It would be in place for two years as an "experiment," before being reevaluated.

There are good arguments for and against the proposal.

An early-signing period in December would afford schools more certainty in the final six-to-eight weeks before National Signing Day. And it could help a prospect with certainty and perhaps with schooling, knowing that he has his spot locked up. With that knowledge, the recruit could theoretically focus more on his academics and standardized tests to ensure that he gets admitted into the school of his choice.

But administration of the rule and its needed exceptions could prove confusing and difficult. Would a prospect be let out of his early letter of intent if a head coach is fired? What about a coordinator or assistant coach? Ideally, prospects pick schools and not simply coaching staffs, but in reality the opposite is often true. If the rule is not properly constructed and administered, it could be fundamentally unfair to recruits.

What's next?:

"Peal said the next step in the process for an early-signing period to become a reality is that the committee will formally make a recommendation to the conference commissioners. From there, they will solicit feedback one final time from coaches at annual spring meetings and a vote by the commissioners would take place in June. If the proposal passes, it could be in place for the 2016 recruiting class."