Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson in favor of scrapping signing day

One of college football's most popular topics this summer is an early signing period, and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has steered the conversation in a radically different direction.

Pelini is in favor of scrapping signing day altogether, and simply letting recruits sign college scholarships whenever they are offered – an idea that was endorsed also by Arizona coach Rich Rodriquez. Under this plan, it would eliminate a lot of the recruiting silliness provided by both the colleges and the prospects.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is a longtime supporter of a Pelini-type plan.

“Personally, with what Bo Pelino came out with, that’s what I’ve been talking about for years,” Johnson told the AJC. “That’s the way I would do it. You don’t even have a signing date. Once they commit, you give them a scholarship and they sign. You get 25 signees per year, and 85 spots overall. I think they have to be in their senior year of high school (to be able to sign), or maybe complete their junior year.

“It would cut all the (crap) out of it. All those people who think they have offers would find out that they really don’t have offers. You know, if somebody walked in your school and said ‘You have an offer,’ the kid could say ‘OK, where is it? I’m ready to sign it.’ This would stop all this foolishness.

“And it would work the same way with the kids saying ‘Yeah, coach, I’m committed.’ The college says ‘OK, here’s your scholarship. Sign it.’ The kid says ‘Well, I don’t want to sign right now.’ Well then that kid is not committed. If a kid didn’t want to sign, they wouldn’t sign. And if he did sign, it’s binding. It would stop all this ‘He’s a soft commit.’ It’s not a commit, it’s a reservation.’

“If you went to what Pelini has been talking about, you would wait until a kid graduated after his junior year. And you could have a provision in there that if the coach changed, you could release them. That would easy enough.”

If college football must have an early signing period, this idea makes too much sense – which is why it probably never has a chance of becoming an NCAA rule.

I like the idea of letting kids sign college scholarships as soon as they officially complete their junior year of high school (in late May or June), as opposed to Aug. 1 before their senior year. I know that’s only the difference of two months, but there’s simply too much going on around Aug. 1 with both the start of the high school and college season to likely make it a big distraction for both sides.

How would this plan affect the current recruiting calendar in other ways? None. High school kids could sign from the end of their junior year until their high school graduation. The only other necessity would be a provision for colleges to give an automatic release to signees if they change head coaches during that school year.