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Could an Early Signing Day Affect Notre Dame Football?

Or will we just get that patented National Signing Day drama times three?

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Notre Dame
What do you think, Mike?
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As reported by Bud Elliot of SBNation, in all likelihood the NCAA will pass a rule instituting a second, earlier National Signing period for college football recruits.

High School Football: National Signing Day-Marvin Wilson
We want more signing days
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the new rule, there would still be a National Signing Day on the traditional first Wednesday of February. But now, recruits who are solid in their decision and sick of calls and texts from persistent coaches, poorly photoshopped magazine covers, packages of golden letters, equipment trucks at their homes, etcetera, etcetera, will be able to sign their National Letter of Intent sooner. The new period will coincide with the traditional junior college signing date and last for three days. In 2017, that period will begin on December 20th.

The NCAA’s intention is ultimately to protect the recruits and schools from some of the ridiculous tactics that have become the norm in ‘crootin’ over the past decade, especially in a ‘crootin’ world in which commitments seem to mean less and less to coaches. It should, on the other hand, ease the burden of the job for the coaching staffs in a different way.

Consider this: of the five prospects that decomitted from Notre Dame’s 2017 class, three of them did so after the new initial National Signing Day. Jordan Pouncey decomitted on December 28th of 2016, Paulson Adebo decommitted on January 9th, 2017, and Elijah Hicks on January 10th, 2017. Had these prospects been given the opportunity to sign their letters of intent in December, would they have? And what would have changed?

Well, for one, they’d be locked in (cough erm DE at UCLA) to their commitments to play football for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, at least for a year.

Surely, they are all unique examples, but for argument’s sake, lets say that just one of those players decides to do just that and signs in December. That relieves the burden of finding a replacement in the sea of college prospects for a position in need. Coaches can go down the line and offer the next guy on the board, but they then have a late start in the recruiting battle. On the other hand, there are prospects out there who could have ultimately ended up at Notre Dame thanks to one of these late offers, but now don’t have that opportunity.

To an extent, it will make life easier for some of those late offer guys, too. A late offer can destabilize the decision making process. Imagine your realtor showing you the best (and most expensive) house on the market and you have to decide whether it’s best for you and your situation in a week or so. You’ve already thoroughly vetted the accommodations and affordability of other options, and maybe you’ve even found somewhere you’ll be comfortable. But, oh those shiny granite counters. You get the idea.

On another note, Notre Dame has found itself battling Stanford for top-tier recruits. Stanford’s admissions standards are typically higher than Notre Dame’s, and as such, Stanford can’t inform a prospect of their admissions status until far later than Notre Dame can. If you’re a prospect with Notre Dame and Stanford in your top two, you’ve got the go-ahead from the Irish and haven’t heard from the Cardinal, do you feel like waiting? Or do you want to sign before Christmas?

In theory, the rule should hamper the chaos that is college football recruiting. Five-star prospects waiting until the final National Signing Day to announce will never go away, but prospects and coaches are now given an opportunity to agree on something way more binding than a “commitment” way earlier in the recruiting cycle.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get on with the rest of Friday’s Irish Links. Shall we?

Is Becca Longo the first woman to earn a scholarship at Div. II or higher?

Speaking of recruiting, signing, and stuff of that nature... it seems that way. Not only does Becca Longo have the best surname for a kicker, but she also signed her letter of intent to play college football at Adams State in Colorado. As her coach Gerald Todd said, she is the only woman “to the best of his knowledge” to ever sign a letter of intent to play college football, Division II or higher. Longo will play women’s basketball for the Grizzlies, as well.

In 2002, K Katie Hnida became the first woman to appear in a Division 1 college football game, but she was a walk-on and not on scholarship. Longo contacted Adams State while still in high school, and eventually someone on the coaching staff got back to her. She then get her opportunity to kick for the coaching staff, and the rest is, apparently, history.

Irish basketball stars headed to NBA Playoffs

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Portland Trail Blazers
We know that look.
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

We touched on Jerian Grant’s first double-double earlier this week, and the fact that the Bulls are headed to the playoffs. But, did you know that the Pat Connaughton’s Portland Trail Blazers are too? Judging by our comments section, yes. Yes you did.

The Trails Blazers clinched their spot with a Denver Nuggets loss last Sunday. I assume as a celebratory measure, Pat then posted multiple career highs in their season finale against the Pelicans. He scored 19 points, seven boards and seven assists, posting career highs in scoring, assists, made field goals, three-pointers, and minutes played. Not a bad day at the office. Connaughton is still fighting to establish himself in the Trail Blazer’s rotation, but given his opportunity while key players were getting a season-finale rest, he won over some of the fanbase and showed the coaches and front office what he can do.

Both players will start the post season Sunday. Connaughton’s eighth-seeded Trail Blazers take on the reigning Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, while Grant’s Bulls get the top-seed in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics.

Elsewhere in the sports world we care about

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California
Brian “Proven Winner” Kelly
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports went ahead and assigned major college football coaches to tiers on Wednesday, no doubt looking to spur conversation. They deemed Nick Saban and Urban Meyer “Bear Bryant first ballot Hall-of-Famers”, naturally. Jimbo Fisher, Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney are “Steve Spurrier Blue-blood Winners,” uh huh. Then there are the “Proven Winners,” with that subsection’s first tier being “The Barry Alvarez Success at the Power Five level” tier. That’s where you’ll find Brian Kelly, next to guys like Jim Harbaugh, Chris Peterson, James Franklin, etcetera.

The Savannah State University Tigers captured the attention of the college football world by accepting huge paychecks to take their football team on the road and take huge beatings. Most notably in 2012 when the Tigers opened their season with an 84-0 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and a 55-0 loss to the Florida State Seminoles. It seems the money wasn’t that long, however, as it was reported yesterday that the school would drop all sports from Division I back to Division II in fall of 2019.

I guess if there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that if you’re taking a big paycheck and putting your players out there on the line against better athletes, you need to makes sure they’re learning something that can help them be more successful in the future. That’s not to say that the guys who strapped on helmets for the Tigers in between the years of 2012 and 2016 can’t ultimately be successful human beings. It’s just that, when you need to fund your athletic department in Division I, you need to be successful on the gridiron sooner or later. The Tigers won six games in that four year span, half of which came in 2016. That doth not make a profitable football program.

That’s all for the roundup for Friday. Time to celebrate a little Easter if you’re into it, or strap in for some NBA playoff basketball.