To Dabo Swinney, recruiting 'commitment' should be a two-way street

Tigers' coach proposes October 15 early signing day to help restore order to the process

Dabo Swinney, head football coach, joins in a Clemson cadence count, during a dedication ceremony for the new football team indoor practice facility.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Dabo Swinney, head football coach, joins in a Clemson cadence count, during a dedication ceremony for the new football team indoor practice facility.

To Dabo Swinney's thinking, 'commitment' is a two-way street.

The way things stand now in college football - or at least at Clemson - the traffic has a one-way feel to it.

During the long and winding course of the 2013 recruiting cycle, Clemson has been afflicted by the 'decommit' bug. It's a new experience for Swinney and his coaching staff, and it has him thinking about a remedy.

"It's not a new trend, but it's a new trend here, because we just haven't had that until this year," Swinney said. "I guess it was our turn in the batter's box.

"Again, that's why I think we should have an early signing period. I think this is a waste of time, and I think it would cut out a lot of garbage that goes on in the recruiting process."

Since October, Clemson has lost commitments from defensive ends Robert Nkemdiche and Elijah Daniels, defensive back David Kamara, and wide receivers Ryan Jenkins and Demarcus Robinson. Swinney's coaching staff has scrambled effectively, coming in late and picking up commitments from four-star defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko and ESPN Top 200 wide receiver Kyrin Priester, as well as a pair of defensive backs who had reopened their recruiting after previously committing to other schools.

Swinney says an early signing day - he suggests October 15 - would eliminate a lot of double-time work by coaches. When players commit, schools alter their recruiting plans, Swinney said.

"It's a problem, because if you're doing it the right way and are being honest with them, and you say 'we're going to take two of these,' and you have two great ones committed, then you have to go meet your needs at other positions," said Swinney. "We thought they were all 100 percent in October. We think we know, based on what they say. They want us to be committed to them. OK, then have an early signing day. And if they don't sign, you know they're not truly, totally committed. They just like you a lot. And you might be the leader. That's called 'recruiting.' That's not commitment.

"If a guy gets hurt, we're still going to sign him. We're committed to him. You're not going to hear me call up a guy the night before signing day and say 'oh, I found somebody better.' It's not going to happen. When we take a guy as a commitment, then we're committed to him - unless he's a criminal and does something really damaging."

Swinney said the tendency toward players making premature commitments accompanies a change in the recruiting evaluation timetable.

"The way the recruiting process has changed, you're having to make decisions quickly on guys," Swinney explained. "We're evaluating earlier and earlier, because if you don't, you're going to get behind and you're not going to have a chance to recruit them.

"There's so much more information. Guys know what you've got and who you're recruiting and how many spots you have - two spots for a running back, one spot for a quarterback - they all know that. It's hard to continue to recruit when you don't have a scholarship.

"When you fill up at certain positions, you stop recruiting other guys."

Swinney proposes a mid-fall 'early signing period' to restore some order to the process.

"I feel like we should have an October 15 signing day, and then of all those committed guys, the ones who are truly committed will sign," he said. "And if they don't sign, then you know they're not committed. So you've got to go and start recruiting.

"Also, I think the players should be protected. If a school fires the coach or the coach packs up and leaves (for another job), then I think in either one of those scenarios, then the guys who signed in October can be released and continue to be recruited.

"I think that would protect the school and protect the player. It would cut out a lot of wasted time and money. Then all this early-commit stuff would be real or not."

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Comments » 2

FlopEye writes:

Recruiting has definitely got out of hand.
The process needs a complete overhaul.
!8 year old kids having national press
conferences on the 4 letter network, having
various hats and taunting the schools that
they DO NOT select is childish and should
be abolished.
Don't agree wit the Dab a lot, but he is right
on on this matter.

brookesdad729 writes:

That's an excellent idea, especially since it protects both the school and the players. I love the clause that would allow a player to be released if the coaching staff who recruited him is no longer there for what ever reason. That way he doesn't get into a system that's not a good fit for him and he won't lose a year of eligibility because of a transfer. This is a great idea but will the boneheads that make up the NCAA think so? I think they're starting to listen more now though. Money makes you do that huh?

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