Early signing day has mounting support

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Grant Teaff, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), tells Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News that the AFCA is likely to propose an early signing date that would begin in 2009 and be held the third week in December.

Teaff estimates that more than 60 percent of college coaches support an early signing date and that most would like to have it in early December.

The SEC has already been down this road unsuccessfully. The coaches voted 9-3 in favor of an early signing date at the spring meetings in Destin, Fla. That's after voting 9-3 against one the year before. As it was, the SEC athletic directors and presidents shot down the idea in late May, mostly because they didn't like the clause in the coaches' plan that said a prospect could only sign during the early period if he had not taken an official visit anywhere.

The three SEC coaches voting against the early signing date were South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Florida's Urban Meyer and Arkansas' Bobby Petrino.

If the SEC is going to get on board with an early date, some of the language is going to have to change. The athletic directors and presidents I talked with in Destin made it clear that they would never vote for an early signing date that would allow a prospect to sign a scholarship without having taken an official visit.

The coaches' rationale in wanting that stipulation was that it would allow kids who knew and had known for a while where they wanted to go to go ahead and sign. That way, coaches wouldn't have to invest as much time babysitting players who were simply playing the recruiting game and holding several different schools hostage.

The reality is that both coaches and prospects have been known to play that game. All's fair in love, war and recruiting.