Arizona Football and Basketball: The Recruiting process needs an Early Signing Period

It seems like offers are starting to be handed out earlier and earlier for Arizona Football and Arizona Basketball coaches. There needs to be an earlier signing period too.

Arizona Football and Basketball coaches seem to need to try to establish long-term relationships with their players-to-be due to the committing then de-committing then committing somewhere else phenomenon. Majok Deng is just a freshman in high school, a freshman who just became a hot commodity in NCAA basketball and a Sean Miller offered Arizona recruit. Deng is a member of the 2019 recruiting class.

In Arizona Football before Donte Williams left Tucson, he offered Brandon Jones, a cornerback from Hawkins High School in Los Angeles. Brandon is also a freshman. He is a member of the 2020 class.

We see it mostly in football where there is a three-year NCAA playing NFL rule, but now we are experiencing it due to the one year rule from the NBA.

When recruiting starts earlier, there is more time for a commit to change his mind, so having an early signing period could make sure that the recruit is truly committed.

What are the parents looking at in a school? The parents are looking down the road, and they are seeking to help their son reach NBA and NFL skills as well as the coach who believe in their child, give him play time and help him get drafted. I don’t know for sure, but I gotta bet some coaches throw out promises left and right and some mean them and some don’t. So it’s the parent’s job to see through the BS and find the coach that the family feels most comfortable.

Recruiting is such a slippery slope! Especially because these days, while the parents are talking to the coaches, the coach they like the most may also get recruited to another school or even get fired with one or two losing seasons (à la Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich).

When it comes to coaches and programs, the circumstances from a coaches season are not always in their hands but effect the outcome of the football season and recruiting. Ponder the following:

  • Injuries to key players
  • Injuries to a mass of players in one or two key positions or at one time during the season
  • Not getting a bye week during the season to adjust game plans
  • Arrests of players due to felony charges
  • Suspensions based on conduct or grades
  • Losing a key assistant coach to another program
  • Death of a player or family member
  • Rumors of other schools recruiting them, or actually dealing with that type of distraction during the football season
  • The coach has an issue with a player, or that player has an issue that he cannot comment on, and his constantly asked for an answer

Wait, our own Arizona Football coach Rich Rodriguez checked all of those boxes. And not only has our football coach suffered a variety of these setbacks in one season, but our Arizona Basketball coach Sean Miller has also endured a majority of them as well.

Things like this have to completely shake the Arizona coaching staffs.

There is also the new coach dilemma. Newly hired coaches will have to go after other schools recruits and your son because they are late to the recruiting game for the upcoming season. That throws a wrench in recruiting as well. Commits will want to de-commit and commits from other schools may want to commit to the new coach and school.

Case in point: Braxton Burmeister four-star Arizona Commit is wavering. A big time quarterback who has been 150 percent committed to Arizona and about to move into his dorm any minute, gets an offer from a rival PAC-12 school. Burmeister, who has been recruited by Arizona coach Rod Smith for years, was offered by Oregon just days before landing in Tucson for early enrollment.

What was once a solid commitment, now turns into a 50/50 proposition overnight and the saga continues with whispers of an Oregon visit this weekend. If he had already signed his Letter of Intent, would this even be an issue? Maybe. Maybe a school doesn’t want a player who waivers either, who knows, these are teenagers.

Then today we got the news that Austin Faoliu just de-committed and seems pretty excited about it if you read his twitter feed. This led some fans to wonder what God has against Arizona, that’s how low it makes fans feel, but this happens all over the NCAA.

The recruits parents are paying attention to the educational caliber of the school, the coaches interest level in their child, the potential for their son to succeed in the program, and who is telling the truth to the family. Their parent may feel Coach X will play their son in a position the parent thinks will give their son more of a chance in the pros.

The recruit has other things on his mind.

In the old days, coaches had to travel to players high schools mostly to recruit, but now they are given the luxury of attending showcases and tournaments (think Las Vegas, Nike Elite, etc.) They start playing for their club coaches at an early age and forge relationships with their teammates for years, sometimes traveling all over the country with them.

So recruits may take into consideration which schools their AAU teammates and showcase teammates (think McDonald’s All-American Game) are committing too.

They are looking at the coaches, their fellow recruits, the players who are recruiting them, the girls on campus, the uniforms, the food, the housing facilities, and who has already committed and if they have a relationship with them. These teenagers are also looking for the school spirit that captures their heart, and we can’t forget school prestige.

Greg Johnson de-committed shortly after Arizona corner backs coach Donte’ Williams took a lucrative offer from Nebraska. There is still time for him to recommit and that has happened before, but he is being recruited by some big named schools as well as Nebraska, where he took a recent visit. For Greg, it seems he was very attached to coach Williams, and that is understandable, but he said he was also attached to the Arizona class of 2017.

As soon as Donte took his flight out of Tucson, you have to think all the other coaches who lost out on Johnson pounced on the opportunity to flip him maybe to commit to their school.

An early, or multiple signing periods should help lessen this dilemma if a recruit doesn’t really want to go to the school and is just committing to getting more offers. Or, he does like the school and his fellow commits, but he is overtaken by the attention he gets after his verbal commitment. Maybe if he had to sign on the dotted line, it would help him keep his word.

As luck would have it, right in the middle of writing this post, Rich Rodriguez was elected AFCA president. And wouldn’t you know it, the first big news out of their first meeting is related to signing periods.

It’s such a complex process, so much at stake for all parties involved and the decisions can make or break the athletes’ career. Football programs and Basketball Programs will go on. That said, there is something to be admired when an athlete commits to a program, college and fan base and never waivers.

Must Read: Head Coach Rich Rodriguez named 2017 AFCA President

Maybe more recruits would take the decision more seriously or put off the decision until the next signing day if he was only 75 percent committed but he had to sign on the dotted line. It’s worth a try.

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