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SEC morning links

1. For a variety of reasons, there will probably always be signing-day shenanigans like what has happened over the last couple of days with SEC targets Byron Cowart, Roquan Smith and CeCe Jefferson. Sometimes the players simply aren’t ready to make a decision yet when the TV cameras arrive, and sometimes other factors are involved. This is a big -- and binding -- decision to place on an 18-year-old kid’s shoulders, after all. Adding an early signing period won’t eliminate the after-the-fact drama that we’ve witnessed since Cowart, Smith (who might not make his decision for at least a week) and Jefferson announced their decisions, but it would reduce such issues. LSU coach Les Miles discussed the subject on national signing day, saying an early signing period is “the only way to go.” And it might be coming soon. Conference commissioners are expected to take up the issue this summer, and a three-day December signing period could go into effect later this year if passed. As Miles pointed out, it would make life easier for all involved, alleviating the strain on the coaches who won’t have to keep recruiting signed prospects for several more weeks, locking up the player’s spot in the class, and reducing the craziness that arises in early February each year.

2. Real-world tragedy rightfully overshadowed college football concerns in South Carolina on Thursday. An on-campus murder-suicide caused South Carolina’s Board of Trustees to delay a meeting where it was expected to approve the school’s hiring of Jon Hoke as the Gamecocks’ co-defensive coordinator. The State reported that Hoke, who worked under Steve Spurrier at Florida, will handle the pass defense, and that current coordinator Lorenzo Ward will handle the run. Spurrier has made clear that it was time to shake things up on defense. South Carolina’s defense has been rock-solid for much of his tenure, but it dropped to 92nd nationally in total defense last season, allowing 432.7 yards and 30.4 points per game.

3. The day after signing day frequently features another unfortunate aspect of today’s first talking point: The day after players sign with colleges, the coaches who recruited them sometimes accept other jobs. That happened all over on Thursday, including Texas, where defensive line coach Chris Rumph left for the same post at Florida. He replaces Terrell Williams, who accepted a job with the Miami Dolphins, possibly making Jefferson’s situation even murkier since he would have been Jefferson’s position coach with the Gators. As we discussed in yesterday’s links, a coaching change was also a sticking point with Smith, as UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who recruited Smith, is reportedly leaving to take a job with the Atlanta Falcons. Unlike coaches who can basically leave at any time, players are bound to schools once they fax in their signed letters of intent. When adults deceive prospects like that, it’s a genuine shame. It’s one of the ugliest parts of the recruiting business.

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