SEC prefers status quo on signing day, but open to earlier date

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The quagmire that is the effort by some to have an early signing period for recruits instituted is still as muddled and muddied as ever.

Case in point?  The SEC.  At its annual spring meetings Wednesday, the football coaches in that conference voted unanimously for an early signing period the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Such an early signing period would be for one day only and solely for recruits who had not taken any official visits; in other words, for example, a kid from Tuscaloosa who’s had his heart set on going to Alabama his whole life could end his recruitment and not put up with an additional two months or so of recruiting pitches from rival programs.

While the vote was unanimous, it’s far from cut and dry.

“Not everybody agreed there should be an early signing date,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt, the dean of SEC football coaches, said. “But everybody agreed on a date if there is going to be an early signing day.

“Our biggest fear was making our season crazy with recruiting. We want to coach our teams. We didn’t want the recruiting calendar to move up, but if you have a guy that wants to sign early, let him sign.”

Additionally, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, one of the most powerful men in the sport, stated this evening that he hopes there’s no early signing period added, that he wishes early February would continue to be the only National Signing Day.

As you can imagine with not even everyone in the same conference agreeing on whether there should be an early signing day, it will be damn-near impossible to get a consensus nationally.  The ACC, for example, is pushing for an early signing day of Aug. 1.

Recruiting savant Nick Saban addressed that very subject in Destin Tuesday.

“Well, I don’t know that we’re ever going to come to a common ground or anyone’s gonna agree on something,” he said. “Some of the Northern schools, they don’t want an early signing date, because they want to be able to visit guys during the season. A lot of coaches, including myself, don’t want an inordinate amount of visits during the season because it takes away from your football team and your preparation and preparation for the next week. So I really think we’re gonna have a hard time agreeing on something that’s good for everybody, just because the regions of the country. A lot of the Northern schools don’t want kids visiting in January because it’s freezing cold and they lie to them and tell them it’s warm year-round.

“That’s something that you’ve gotta deal with. I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to common ground, in my opinion.”

Or, as Florida’s Will Muschamp said, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to a common ground where we’re all going to agree on something.”

The SEC’s resolution will be sent to the Conference Commissioners Association — this is a CCA issue, not an NCAA one — for evaluation and, potentially, discussion at its next scheduled meeting in June.

It’s Slive’s hope, however, that the CCA doesn’t even tackle the issue and the status quo remains in place for the foreseeable future.

“There are varying opinions as to what an early signing date should be… and for us we will continue to encourage our colleagues in the CCA to retain the current model,” Slive said. “I think our coaches have demonstrated that.”

A recruiting quagmire indeed.

Jake Butt’s draft tumble will net him $543k insurance payout

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The decisions to sit out their team’s respective bowl games made by Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey had little impact on either’s draft stock as both were selected in the Top 10 Thursday night.  Jake Butt‘s decision ended to play up costly him dearly, although he will see a (wee) bit of a financial cushion softening the blow.

Butt suffered a torn ACL in Michigan’s Orange Bowl loss to Florida State late last year.  At the time, Butt was considered one of the top tight end prospects for the 2017 NFL draft, with most experts considering him, at worst, a second-round selection.  Most, though, had him ticketed as a first-round pick in a deep class at the position.

Unfortunately, Butt saw his draft stock plummet because of the injury, with the talented tight end falling all the way to the fifth round as he was selected with the No. 145 overall pick by the Denver Broncos Saturday afternoon.

The injury and subsequent fall cost Butt millions of dollars.  The sliver of a silver lining is that Butt had taken out an insurance policy that will pay him a tax-free sum of $543,000, Darren Rovell of ESPN.com reported.

That said, Butt saw what would’ve been a potential signing bonus in the neighborhood of $4 million drop to just shy of $400,000.  Even considering the insurance payout, the injury will have cost Butt, at bare minimum, $3 million.

It could also have significant ramifications for the sport moving forward as, with the recent examples of Butt, Fournette, McCaffrey and even Jaylon Smith (HERE) fresh in their memories, star players could, more than ever, give significant consideration to skipping out on their team’s bowl game — maybe even a playoff game.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.