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Pre-Signing Day Musings

Yes, Virginia (and Wake Forest, and Indiana, and Kansas State) there is an early Signing Day.

Moved up from the first Wednesday in August, the inaugural Early Signing Day begins Wednesday, December 20th, at 7:00 a.m., MT.

The Colorado Recruiting Class of 2018 currently stands at 18 (according to 247 Sports), 19 (according to Rivals, which includes junior college linebacker Davion Taylor as a firm commit), or 20 (if you include Taylor and mid-year junior college transfer Tony Jones, a wide receiver who is already on campus).

The Buffs will likely sign between 20-22 players this off-season. Most will become Buffs next week, while a few more may come in on the February Signing Day (which will still happen, though with much less fanfare than usual). Colorado, like every other FBS team, has a scholarship limit of 85, but a head count isn’t taken on the 2018 roster until after spring practices, so the roster, with normal attrition and late additions, remains fluid.

There are pluses and minuses to having Signing Day moved up to December 20th. Some thoughts …

— Perhaps Mike MacIntyre wasn’t so far off … 

In the press conference after the season-ending loss to Utah, Mike MacIntyre had this to say:  “You still want to be in a bowl, you want your name out there.  Logistics wise, you don’t have to worry about bowl things like media day and all that.  We’ll get out there recruiting starting tomorrow night, we’ll get out there and be ready to go.”

MacIntyre was criticized in many circles (including here) for the comment. In my opinion, there is no amount of extra recruiting time which would justify losing out on two weeks of extra practices for a bowl game.

Yet, here we are, the weekend before Signing Day, and two of CU’s biggest rivals (or, at least, two of CU fans’ least favorite teams), Colorado State and Oregon, playing their bowl games on December 16th. Oregon is taking on Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl (Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, ABC), while Colorado State will play Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., MT, ESPN).

The coaching staffs for the Ducks and the Rams are not only missing out on a weekend of home official visits, but they have spent much (most?) of the past week in game preparation for their bowl games.

Will this have an effect on how these teams perform in their bowl games? Will it have an effect on their Recruiting Classes?

Only time will tell.

Which leads us to …

— Coaching changes and their effect on Recruiting Classes …

It has been a wild and crazy ride in the Coaching Carousel this year (and it may not be done, should an NFL team come calling for a top collegiate coach, tipping the dominoes over once again). Teams looking for a fresh start (like Oregon State, UCLA, and Arizona State) or teams looking for replacements (like Oregon), not only had to factor in what they were looking for in a new head coach, but had to take into account the looming Signing Day.

Oregon

One of the driving forces in Oregon elevating offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to the head coaching position was trying to retain a top five Recruiting Class.

Head coach Willie Taggart had departed for Florida State, taking his recruiting prowess with him. In order to help keep recruits from defecting, Oregon had its new head coach in place in three days. Rather than risk losing a top Class, Oregon did not bring in a new coach with likely a new set of assistant coaches. Instead, the Ducks elevated their offensive coordinator, a coach with a career record of 27-47 (at Florida International) with little national name recognition.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said the Ducks’ coaches “have done as good as we can do given the tight timeframe and transition. It is what it is. The circumstances are what they are, and our guys are great at adapting.”

Will it work out? Two thoughts?

– The Oregon Recruiting Class remains the highest-ranked in the Pac-12 (No. 9 at Rivals; No. 10 at 247 Sports), despite losing all five of its four-star wide receiver recruits. Whether Cristobal can retain most of this Class (not to mention defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt) remains to be seen; and

– Much has been made by Oregon of the advantage of retaining continuity by naming its former offensive coordinator as its new head coach. Of course, the last time the Ducks elevated their offensive coordinator in the name of continuity when their head coach bolted for greener pastures (that is to say, when Chip Kelly left for the NFL, and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was promoted), it didn’t work out as well as the Duck hierarchy would have hoped …

… Arizona State … 

The hiring of former NFL head coach Herm Edwards was, in the minds of many, a “head-scratcher“.

Not to worry, the Sun Devil faithful were told, athletic director Ray Anderson announced a “New Leadership Model” for coaching, with Edwards to assume the role of a corporate CEO, with the football stuff to be left to the capable coordinators.

Key to this concept was the retention of the existing coaching staff (well, except for head coach Todd Graham). Problem is, that’s not working out so well.

Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett announced earlier this week that he had declined an offer to stay on with Herm Edwards “for personal reasons”.

Then Friday, offensive coordinator Billy Napier left to take the head coaching position at Louisiana-Lafayette.

The effect on recruiting?

Five of Arizona State’s 15 commitments for the Class of 2018 have decommitted.

That leaves Herm Edwards down two coordinators, with a Recruiting Class ranked 83rd in the nation by Rivals; 71st by 247 Sports.

With only five days remaining until Signing Day …

— Stanford may suffer the most from the early Signing Day … 

An early and vocal opponent of the early Signing period was Stanford head coach David Shaw.

The main reason for Shaw’s opposition is that the December date can put the Cardinal at a disadvantage with some recruits.

Shaw has noted in the past that fewer than said that fewer than half of the program’s recruiting class was admitted to the university before November, and the final admission didn’t occur until the weekend before Signing Day in February.

“That’s a kid we never would have gotten because someone would have pressured him into forcing him to sign some place because they say, ‘You don’t know if you’re getting into Stanford so you got to sign with us,’ ” Shaw said. “I don’t think these kids should be pressured into decisions, and that’s what this is all about.”

Shaw was blunt in his opinions as to why the early Signing Day was adopted.

“On top of that — and I’ll be honest here, which is rare for a football coach in a setting like this — but we have a lot of kids that don’t know if they’re going to get into school until after that early signing day,” Shaw said. “So we’re going to punish the academic schools just because coaches don’t want a kid to switch their commitment?

“People can make whatever argument they want, it boils down to that. … Coaches don’t want to keep recruiting an entire class all year.”

Shaw’s fears may soon become reality.

Less than a week before Signing Day, the Stanford Class of 2018 only has 11 commits, with the Class overall ranked 67th by Rivals; 58th by 247 Sports.

Not where Stanford is used to being ranked …

— And back to Colorado, and its Recruiting Class of 2018 … 

Perhaps it’s due to having Signing Day five days before Christmas.

Perhaps it’s because Colorado, while it does have a solid list of recruits on its roster of commits, does not have very many players who have that “wow” factor that gets the fan base excited.

Perhaps it’s because I am going to miss that 3-4 week period after the national championship game, when college football turns its full attention to Signing Day.

But I’m just not feeling it, at least not yet.

Perhaps I, like Charlie Brown in “Charlie Brown Christmas”, need to visit Lucy, and find a way to get into the Christmas … er, Early Signing Day … spirit.

Still, if Mike MacIntyre can put a few defensive lineman into the stockings of the CU Recruiting Class of 2018, we might feel a little bit better come next Wednesday morning …

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2 Replies to “Pre-Signing Day Musings”

  1. All I want for Christmas…

    1. Is quality defensive lineman who can contribute sooner than later
    2. Is peace of mind regarding the two offensive coaches who were promoted, even
    though their units struggled mightily this past season.
    3. Is quality defensive lineman who can contribute sooner than later
    4. Is the little bit of swagger we had last year to return next season
    5. Is quality defensive lineman who can contribute sooner than later
    6. An offense that isn’t highly promoted this time around but who really
    encourage us with their passionate, quality play

    Go Buffs! And a special thank you, Stuart, for hosting this site!

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