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Miami’s Mark Richt cautiously optimistic about signing day change

The apparent goal of an early signing period, in the best intentions of college football’s administrators, was to make it easier on recruits. Those with a firm college decision would lock up a spot early, and go back to enjoying the last moments of their time as high school students.

For some, it appears the pressure may have shifted.

Speaking at the ACC’s spring meetings in Amelia Island on Tuesday, several coaches expressed anxiety — albeit acceptance — over the headline item of college football’s new rules package. The NCAA recently mandated a three-day stretch beginning Dec. 20 in which players can sign binding letters of intent. It also allows players to take official visits from April to mid-June of their junior year.

That could create an alternate version of the traditional national signing day in February, the culmination of an exhaustive recruiting period. It could make December the primary recruiting month, not January.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher sees headaches ahead. He envisions juggling the postseason preparations with a frenzied final stretch of recruiting visits.

“You’re getting ready for a bowl game and a playoff game, you’re practicing all day and you’re flying out all night, getting back at two in the morning, getting up at six in the morning and going, you’re going to be doing that for two-and-a-half, three weeks. You’re going to drain,” said Fisher, who said he preferred an early signing day in August.

“It’s something I don’t agree with, but it’s here to stay, for at least another two years or so until they evaluate the process.”

Miami coach Mark Richt, who has the nation’s top-rated 2018 recruiting class and more committed players (18) than any FBS program, would like to keep his group away from prying foes. However, he’s cautiously optimistic of the new rules.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see. It may be great for us always. It may be great for one year and not so good the next.”

“I think we’re just going to have to live it out. Certain rules, I think we as coaches can predict the unintended consequences. I think a lot of people feared unlimited texting at one time, like, ‘oh my goodness.’ It ended up being a blessing. Some rules are that way. If an unintended consequence of an early signing date was having three more months of official visits, that’s a problem.”

Fisher called the addition of the April-May-June official visit period a “Pandora’s box,” which could create a college football calendar even more slanted toward recruiting.

The coaches liked at least one rule the NCAA recently passed: the allotment of another assistant coach, which brings the total to 10. It takes affect Jan. 9, 2018.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he wishes he had another coach “yesterday.”

Redshirt idea gains steam: Citing player development and safety, Richt and Fisher said all ACC coaches support the American Football Coaches Association’s proposed rule that would allow players to retain their redshirt after playing in four games.

“As the season goes on, there’s attrition,” Richt said. “There may be a need for more hands on deck. For example, some of the kids who are turning (pro), deciding they don’t want to play in the bowl game, they put a tremendous pressure on the guys they left behind. Maybe there’s a freshman who can take some pressure off so a guy doesn’t have to carry 35 times in the bowl game.”

Rumor squashed: Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told the Orlando Sentinel his school, contrary to an Internet rumor, is “absolutely not” in talks with the ACC to join as a full-fledged member. The Irish, who joined the league in 2014 in all sports but football, remain independent in football but play at least five ACC games a year.

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