Yesterday, Pat Fitzgerald made news by creating a signing day proposal that seemed to be absolutely terrible. According to Wildcat Digest, here's what the supposed proposal was:
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.
That would be a terrible idea for many, many reasons.
But looking at the full quote, transcribed by Wildcat Report's Larry Watts, Fitzgerald seems to have been severely misquoted.
What we have right now is antiquated. You need to hold each side (school and players) accountable. If I offer a player a scholarship, I'm going to go on a web site and say that, checking a box next to the player's name. Everyone in the country has access to that web site. That kid may get 50 offers, but everyone knows I have offered him a scholarship. The player has a 48-hour cooling-off period to decide. If he clicks on it, the web site will kick him out an LOI (letter of intent). He has that 48-hour window to sign it and send it back. If he doesn't, that offer is gone.
This makes a lot more sense and actually makes Fitzgerald seem like a guy who isn't trying to screw kids over (the wording in the Wildcat Digest article did make it seem that way).
The cooling off period means coaches wouldn't be able to pressure kids into committing. There are many stories of coaches at high-profile programs telling kids they have 24 hours to take offers or the offer will be off the table, which only serves to convenience the coaches and does the incredible injustice of pressuring kids into making a lifelong decision.
In Fitzgerald's proposal — or so it appears — the player could not accept the offer within 48 hours. Once he does click on it — essentially today's version of a verbal commitment — he then has 48 hours to sign an actual letter of intent, and if he doesn't, the offer is gone.
Of course, the proposal is idealistic, since coaches are not going to want to change that practice. Plus, not all coaches are as adamant about not continuing to recruit decommits as Fitzgerald is, and they probably wouldn't like that rule (this would help Fitzgerald, who would generally be more threatened by a kid receiving more offers than a blue blood program would be).
This is still a bit more controlling than the Bo Pelini proposal — it would regulate verbal commits more — but both would keep everyone more honest. And regardless of what you think of it, it's not nearly as terrible as what Fitzgerald was quoted as saying on Tuesday.