Update: Fitz was misquoted, has not terrible idea.
Pat Fitzgerald just had the two best recruits in his 2015 class decommit, so he's not a huge fan of the recruiting process right now.
Fitzgerald has long had a policy of pulling offers from commits who decide to look elsewhere, and when that happened with those two recruits — twins Andrew and David Dowell — he was as hard-line on that as ever, telling fans to "get ready for more decommitments," according to Wildcat Digest.
In that rant, Fitzgerald also proposed a new recruit signing procedure: a 48-hour rule.
"With technology now, (the current system) is antiquated," Fitzgerald said. "The process is sped up. What we teach families, and what we teach our guys is to hold each other accountable on both sides of the fence. This way, everybody knows I've offered (a recruit) a scholarship."
Fitzgerald advocated a 48-hour decision window for recruits to either sign or decline a scholarship offer. If a recruit does not sign a national letter of intent or reject the offer within that time frame, the offer becomes void, expediting the method of reaching the destination and forcing student-athletes to explore other options.
This can mean one of two things. The first option, which the Wildcat Digest guys told me they interpreted it to mean, is that a recruit would have 48 hours from receiving an offer. This is an absolutely terrible idea, for a couple reasons:
- It would be impossible to track.
- Are players supposed to just hope that they'd receive another offer if they decline during the 48-hour window? What if it's a kid's dream to go to Ohio State, and he decides to turn down Northwestern in hopes of gaining an OSU offer, but that offer never comes? Is he just out of luck? That's incredibly unfair to kids trying to make informed decisions.
But let's give Fitzgerald the benefit of the doubt and say he was referencing having a 48-hour time period to sign — possibly an early signing period, as he's advocated for before. Is an arbitrary, 48-hour limit really going to change things for Fitzgerald or help players any more than the current process? Or what if it was proposing the 48-hour window after the verbal commitment? That still limits the ability for players to make an informed decision.
This is all about Fitzgerald and other college coaches having even more control over recruits. And it ends up causing players to make ill-informed decisions, rather than figure out what's best for them. And frankly, it's better for schools like Northwestern, which will struggle more than the powerhouses when kids have other options.
There are solutions to Fitzgerald's worries that would be more realistic. For instance, Bo Pelini would like to get rid of National Signing Day altogether to help slow down the recruiting process and make sure players can sign whenever they feel they are ready. That's player-friendly and coach-friendly without giving coaches all the power.