Kirby Smart addressed the media on Monday as the team prepares for the Rose Bowl, but the content of his press conference was solely focused on Georgia’s upcoming opponent, Oklahoma, and the Bulldogs’ preparation. Smart discussed the first-ever early signing period for college football recruiting, which starts on Wednesday, December 20. Coaches must handle bowl practice along with recruiting and getting prospects to sign with the school. Smart said that it’s a challenge but one that could benefit kids in the long run.
The early signing period, from Dec. 20-22 for the 2018 recruiting cycle, is an opportunity for prospective student-athletes to go ahead and sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI or LOI) with the school they want to attend and play football at. Some might join early while others are just ready to make that decision about college football. Many think this favors the schools and coaches as it binds a player to a program and for all intents and purposes shuts down his recruiting process, but there are some drawbacks for coaches. The early period cuts into the time that coaches have to establish relationships with prospects and their families. It posts a big challenge, especially with all of the coaching changes. However, Smart believes it benefits 20 to 30 percent of the young men who decide to sign early.
Yeah, It’s been a great challenge,” Smart says. “I don’t think people anticipated or at least I didn’t anticipate some of the complications. First off, trying to play for a national championship and I know there are four teams involved in that. You got to look at it from both perspectives, the perspective of us as coaches and the kids. And I’m all about if it benefits them then it’s for a better cause. I think there is going to be 20-30 percent of the people who sign Wednesday that this is a beneficial process.”
Although 20-30 percent of the ‘kids’ believe it’s a beneficial process, there are a lot of recruits that feel rushed. Smart mentioned that decisions and relationships go hand-in-hand. Most prospects and their families base their decisions on the relationships with the coach. He says that the public believes a young man chooses a school and they go to that school, but not necessarily a coach. Kirby says that may be the case until it’s your own son or daughter making that decision to attend that school.
Then there’s a lot of other kids that feel rushed,” Smart said. “They feel like they’re making decisions amidst a sea of coaching changes and they’re having to hurry up and make a decision. And not really getting a chance to develop relationships with the people to the places that they are going. I think the public perception is you choose the school and you go to the school, you don’t necessarily go to a coach. And everybody can say that until it’s your son or your daughter, and you’re having to meet these coaches. You make decisions based on relationships and the time frame in which were having to make these decisions for the kids is really stressful on them.”
However, on the other side of things, from the coach’s perspective, Smart says they could get used to it. But that brings up another topic of concern? What about coaches leaving to take another job or being fired after the prospect signs the binding National Letter of Intent to play for the school? This problem according to Smart is one of the reasons some are hesitant about the early signing period. Along with, if the team plays in a conference championship, it loses another week of recruiting. So Smart mentioned its a very complicated process and a difficult one for certain.
On the coaching side, we could get used to it,” Smart mentions. “But I think with the advent of the temp coach in the same year as the early signing period it makes it really complicated. Because you have a lot of coaches that are going to be moving possibly after all the kids’ sign. And that’s a lot of the problem that people complained about before is that guys move after kids sign. So It’s been a difficult process for certain. And a little of that complicated due to the fact that we played in the SEC Championship game. We lost a week of recruiting and then signing day is basically upon us. I mean two days right. So its here and it has been very complicated and you like to look into and who did it actually benefit and how did it benefit.”
So Smart thinks that the early signing period complicates some things, but it isn’t anything he and his staff cannot manage. With the period just a day away, it will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs finish.
For Kirby Smarts full press conference, check out the YouTube clip below!
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