Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA;  Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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Bob Bowlsby: NCAA groups have discussed ending or moving the early signing period

The early signing period in college football continues to be a controversial topic, especially in the aftermath of an eventful couple of weeks in coaching moves within the sport. According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, change might be on the way.

On Wednesday, Bowlsby addressed the Sports Business Journal Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, and discussed the impact of the early signing period, which locks prospective athletes into letters of intent during a time period that is often chaotic in terms of coaching moves.

Speaking specifically of the NCAA’s football oversight committee as well as the American Football Coaches Association, Bowlsby said, “There’s a lot more talk than I’ve heard in recent years about either getting rid of (the early signing period) altogether or perhaps moving it to after the first of the year. We’ll see how that goes.”

In addition, the NCAA recruiting subcommittee has begun discussions along the same track.

The early signing day for 2021 falls on Dec. 15. Meanwhile, high-profile coaching moves, such as Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma for Southern Cal and Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame for LSU, continue to reverberate. As high school prospects attempt to make their college choices, many football staffs (high profile or not) remain unsettled.

“Clearly, things have changed since the early signing date was put in,” Bowlsby said. “The transfer portal didn’t exist at the time, and there are things that have changed. At the end, we’re going to have to go back to the reason we put it in place and ask if that’s still a valid reason.”

Reporting from Sports Illustrated said these discussions are very early in the process and nothing formal has been proposed. Meanwhile, ESPN noted that 22 coaches have already been hired in this cycle — a large number — and that some of it might be attributable to schools trying to get ahead of the early signing period.

“If we change the signing date again, will it eliminate this accelerated (coach hiring) timeline?” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey asked. “I’m not sure it will. We may have let the toothpaste out of the tube.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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