If Big 12 coaches have their way, the first Wednesday in February's status as an unofficial holiday for college football fans could change. At the league's annual meetings last month, football coaches generally favored the idea of an early signing period, which would mimic college basketball's structure. There's no consensus on the date — some wanted June or July; more wanted December — or even on the idea. Although ACC coaches are in favor of the idea, coaches from the Pac-10 and SEC recently voted against it. But proponents say an early signing period would take the pressure off a recruiting cycle that has started earlier and earlier. "Everything has changed so much in recruiting,” Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione told the Rocky Mountain News. "It's a different world right now.” In recent years, schools have begun pushing for oral commitments earlier and earlier. In contrast to the past, some schools' scholarship lists are almost filled before the kids play their first high school game of their senior seasons. Penn State leads the way nationally. Regionally, Texas turned the early commitment into an art form (the Longhorns had 19 commitments through last weekend). And Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have joined the trend in the last couple of recruiting cycles. Through Monday, OU had 12 commitments. OSU had nine. Those numbers might not seem like a lot. But OU's current commitment list is about double what it might have been in early June a few years ago. Oral commitments are non-binding. Coaches say players who have already made their college choice should be able to formalize the decision sooner than February, and then get on with their senior years. And coaches admit it might help them rest easier, as well. "We need to have an early signing date in some form or fashion,” Baylor's Guy Morriss told the Rocky Mountain News. Any change in the rule would have to be approved by college commissioners. But without consensus from coaches, it's not likely to happen any time soon. The SEC's vote was 9-3; coaches said the early period would essentially become the more important signing day, and would only cause the recruiting cycle to rev up even earlier. "When we looked at how it would actually work, it just didn't fit,” Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It is not the way to go.”
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