PITTSBURGH — The NCAA has instituted several changes to the way that the recruiting process will unfold over the next few years, affecting everything from when recruits can take official visits, how many players a school can sign, when off-season camps can take place and even how many coaches on the staff can contact recruits.
But all of those changes will be pretty minimal when compared with the big one. There will now be an early signing period in December. The news came down from the NCAA in April, but Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi just got the opportunity to talk about what he likes — and what he doesn’t like — about the changes with the members of the Pittsburgh media.
Narduzzi started off by saying that he didn’t have a strong take either way on whether the whole of changes were positive or negative.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” he said. “As a coach, you look at it and there’s always positives to everything that happens and then there’s the negatives.”
So let’s take Narduzzi’s advice and break down the positives and negatives from his perspective.
Change: It moves the first signing day from February, when nothing else is going on, to the third week of December December, when most teams are in bowl prep or playing bowl games. The coaches that aren’t would probably prefer to spend the end of December with their families.
PN (sarcastically): “Merry Christmas to you all. As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to have our signing day party either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
“We’ll go to Heinz Field and we’ll have a Christmas Tree and we’ll have presents. … It’s a poor time of the year when you think about it.
“Maybe it will prevent AD’s from firing guys mid-season. I don’t know. It might cut down the problem areas with when the coaching carousel begins. … If you have a guy fired mid-season, you’re going to lose your entire class.”
Change: With the season still going on when the signing day occurs, players could sign with a school, only to have that school fire the head coach after the season ends.
PN: “This can’t happen. These kids commit and then they’re committing to a school and not a coach. … The NCAA has enough things to do. They don’t need to have all these petitions to get out of an agreement because their coach left. Those are some of the things that don’t happen in a February singing period.”
Change: Instead of all of the signing happening in one shot, teams will be able to sign a number of players, re-evaluate and then re-focus their recruiting efforts for the next window.
PN: “You know who you got in December. Let’s just say we have a class of 15 and 10 of them sign in December. Well, I know I’ve only got five more guys. Ten assistant coaches are on the road, not only hunting for those five guys, but … I can send nine coaches to one guy in a night.
“You’re not managing the other 10 you’ve already signed. You know you’ve got them in the bank and you can go work on your next investment.”
Change: Starting in 2018, recruits will be able to take official visits in April, May and June instead of just December and January. Pressure to commit before December meant that a lot of potential recruits ended up missing out on taking their official visits. Now, they’ll be able to take them before their senior season.
PN: “I think it’s just crazy. That means that almost half the year is open for official visits.
“It effects the kids in our program because now we’re spending more time in April, May and June with these recruits. Let’s think about our student-athletes that have to host players. They’re hosting players five months out of the year. … It just becomes a burden for our kids and for our coaches.”
Change: With recruits able to sign earlier, schools should be less likely to offer recruits they’re not serious about or extend offers with caveats or that aren’t committable at all.
PN: “We don’t have those at the University of Pittsburgh. When we offer a guy, we’d like to be slower, do our homework and do it the right way. But when we offer, we want you. All of our offers at the University of Pittsburgh are committable. Those are the most important thing. It will prevent some of those non-committable offers from being made. Coaches will be in trouble in December where they don’t have as much time.”
Change: Recruits with commitments will now have to make a binding decision earlier in the process, meaning that there could be less flipping of recruits from one school to another.
PN: “They’re going to flip all through the summer, now. They’re going to flip. They’re young kids. The poor kids. That’s the crazy thing. They’re 17 and 18-year-olds that we’ve now moved the date up on them.
“Let these kids have time to make decisions. Let them flip if they need to flip. Flipping is not a bad thing.”
(Not much of a) change: As it stands right now, there is not one signing day, but a singing period that lasts almost two months when recruits can submit their letters of intent. But the vast majority of them do it the morning of the first day.
PN: “I don’t think we’re going to have a February signing day. … If they’re committed, they should sign on that day (in December). Here’s the thing it does for you: If they don’t sign on that day, I’m going to go recruit with their scholarship, because they obviously aren’t committed. If we have 15 guys committed to us by December 20, I expect all 15 guys to sign on that day. I think the new signing date is going to be in December.”
Change: Schools can now only have 25 players in a signing class, so the days of over-signing players and then deciding what to do about that problem after the fact appear to be over.
PN: “Look at Rashad Weaver. He’s a great player. I can’t wait to watch him play. He’s a guy that committed in the summer to Michigan and I think they had eight or nine guys that year that happened to. I’m not I’m their recruiting meetings, I’m not listening to what’s going on there. So, I don’t know the reasons why. It happens. But [schools] have to be very careful about who they take commitments with. They better make a decision.”
Regardless of whether the changes turn out to be a net positive or negative, Narduzzi doesn’t believe we’ll know right away. The signing period adjusts this year. The calendar changes and coaching staff additions won’t take place until next year. So it might be a while before it can all be evaluated.
“It’s kind of interesting how the whole thing is going to turn out,” Narduzzi said. “It’s going to take us a couple years to see with this whole process how good of a decision it was or how bad of a decision it was.”