ACC in favor of early signing period

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- The ACC will recommend an early signing period in college football to the College Commissioners Association, commissioner John Swofford said Thursday.

The CCA, a 32-member panel of Division I conference commissioners, governs the letter-of-intent program. An early signing period is on the agenda for its June meeting. The ACC wants the early signing period to begin Aug. 1.

"That would be a healthy thing for the recruits and the student-athletes in the sense it gives them an opportunity to make their decision, fully commit to it and sign, and then be able to play and study during their senior season without the distractions of the recruiting process," Swofford said. "If a player knows where he wants to go and is ready to make that commitment, it enhances the situation for that player and for the institutions as well."

League coaches have been particularly outspoken about the need for players to sign early.

"There's a lot of young men who commit early that would like to get it over and this is where they've wanted to go," NC State coach Dave Doeren said. They have no need to drag it out or have distractions in their life. And for us, just a way to know who's actually coming for sure and where we can use our resources to go recruit other players."

Here are a few other notes as the ACC spring meetings wrapped up Thursday:

  • The ACC will have an eighth official on the field during conference games beginning this season, following the lead of the SEC and Big 12. The official will be in the offensive backfield.

  • On the topic of an ACC Network, Swofford said the earliest potential launch date is still several years away. And he will be watching closely to see how the SEC Network fares. "It’s a big undertaking, and as ESPN and the SEC have found, they’re launching this year and they’ve been working at that for three years," he said. "We have those discussions and have had those discussions going on. I don’t know that there will be a lot of news along the way until we reach a point where, together, we are ready to announce a decision whether we do it or don’t do it."

  • On the topic of the ever-expanding bowl field, Swofford said, "I think it depends on where you sit. There’s conferences that have created some new bowls [that] feel that’s really important for their programs and their players. Hopefully they’ll all be successful, but it’s an awfully lot of bowl teams to have to have eligible."

  • While it seems clearer than ever autonomy will be given to the Power 5 conferences to make choices that best fit their needs, there is now a debate about whether a supermajority vote should be required to enact legislation. Swofford does not have a position yet on whether requiring a supermajority is a good idea. "The things that are in autonomy are important issues and particularly those directly involving the student-athletes going forward and something of that importance needs a significant level of buy-in. Of the 80 votes, you’ll have 15 student-athletes voting. When you start looking at percentages, you need to look at the number of institutional votes it would take to pass something, whether it be a supermajority or simple majority. ... On the one hand, there needs to be significant support for autonomy issues. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be so high that the system is ineffective in bringing about change. That’s one reason for the continued discussion period. Hopefully in the end, we’ll hit the sweet spot."