By Jimmy Hyams
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said recently he isn’t sure the December early signing day is good for college football.
He mentioned conflicts with bowl practices, recruiting visits, coaching changes and the transfer portal.
Sankey isn’t sure the right solution is having National Signing Day on the first Wednesday in February.
Danny White isn’t sure, either. Tennessee’s athletic director was asked what he thinks is the best remedy.
“I don’t know the answer to that specific question,’’ White said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with SportsTalk on 99.1 The Sports Animal.
“In my mind it’s a bigger question. What does a 12-month calendar need to look like from a recruiting standpoint? And I say that from the vantage point of a coach and the lifestyle we’re creating for them, the competitive environment.
“You could really work yourself to the bone quickly.’’
White said decision-makers should consider what’s asked of the college student-athlete, who plays a sport, helps with recruiting, and tries to get an education.
“As Universities, we need to be very mindful of what that calendar looks like over 12 months,’’ White said. “I know a lot of healthy conversation is going on around that. We’ve had so much change in the last couple of years with NIL and the transfer portal.
“We need to re-think the whole calendar and the early signing period would be a part of it.’’
Tennessee was in the midst of bowl practice when it announced its signing class Dec. 21. The Vols even practiced that day.
And with more than 2,000 football players entering the transfer portal window from Dec. 1-Jan. 16, White was asked if limiting undergraduates to one transfer and immediate eligibility would slow the mass exoduses. For example, quarterback J.T. Daniels is at his fifth school in four years. Many other quarterbacks have played for three schools.
Graduate students have unlimited transfers, as long as they do so in a five-year window (or six, if they utilize their Covid year.)
“it’s hard to graduate in four or five years if you transfer multiple times, and getting a degree is really important,’’ White said.
White said the transfer portal issue also relates to the calendar.
“People talk about looking out for the best interests of the student-athlete, and I’m all for that,’’ White said. “Maybe some people value that as much as I do, but nobody values it more than I do.
“I’m all for the student-athlete, but there are different ways to look at that.
“There’s the best interest of the student-athlete that wants to transfer. But what about the kids on the team they’re leaving and on the team they’re going to. There are significant implications on a lot more student-athletes than just that one individual.
“There shouldn’t be any problem with us identifying reasonable rules and a calendar where decisions need to be made that respect the seriousness of where you sign up to go to school and play because that has an impact on a lot of other student-athlete decisions.’’