3 Takeaways from the SEC’s National Signing Day – TechVerdant

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National Signing Day was Tuesday this week. Don’t feel bad if you forgot or missed it. Many did. National Signing Day used to be special. Fan bases offseasons would be won or lost on high school seniors selecting their hats and committing to their school. Anywhere from 85-90% of all signings now occur in December rather than February. While the theatrics of National Signing Day may be gone, the SEC still has plenty to celebrate. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the SEC’s National Signing Day.

3 Takeaways from the SEC NSD

The Calendar Is Broken

The college football season ended on Saturday, November 25th, in Honolulu, with Hawaii knocking off Colorado State in Mountain West After Dark Action (that’s not quite the same as #Pac12AfterDark, but like many things, we will have to get used to it). When the final whistle blew, the regular season ended, and what followed is probably a blur to most Division 1 football coaches.

Tired from reading all of that? Now imagine having to recruit high school players on your roster, watch films, and prepare for a bowl game. No wonder Brian Haftley left Beantown and took his talents to Lambeau. The college football calendar is broken, leaving college coaches burned out. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle. The Transfer Portal will not disappear. We must make changes to the calendar; it is unsustainable. With the playoffs expanding from four to twelve teams this year, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta will crown our national champion on Monday, January 20th, long past the January 8th date this year. What’s the solution?

The Solution

The simplest solution seems to be moving the December signing day further back to July or August, just before the start of camp. Before you start wringing your hands, worrying about what happens if (when) coaches get fired after a player signs? Accept it will happen, and those players should be allowed to transfer. It’s already happening. Julian Sayin is one of the top quarterback recruits in the 2024 class. He originally signed with Alabama in December. He entered the transfer portal after Nick Saban announced his retirement and will now play at Ohio State next year. Problem solved. Folks in Tuscaloosa aren’t happy, but that is Calen DeBoer’s problem, not Sayin’s.

Roster Management is Evolving

College football is evolving. Faster than some like. The Transfer Portal, NIL, conference realignment, and the coaching carousel have some longing for the good ole days. Those days are not coming back. As Saban famously put it on a Zoom call talking about the way recruiting had to change in 2020 with the pandemic. “You adapt or die. The dinosaurs didn’t, and they aren’t around anymore.” Roster management is evolving. Recruiting high school kids is still essential. Georgia has the #1 recruiting class in 2024. Kirby Smart understands that the foundation of his program will be built with top-rated high school kids. That hasn’t stopped him from using the Transfer Portal to reinforce his roster.

Lane Kiffin knows that Ole Miss will not be able to recruit at the same level as his buddy Smart at Georgia or the Goat (his words) did at Alabama. Rather than complain about it being unfair, Kiffin became the Portal King. #ComeToTheSip and #TransferToTheSip are all over Rebel’s social media. The Rebels have adapted and embraced change. Ole Miss has the #1 Transfer Portal class in 2024. They are looking to use their success in 2023 as a springboard to take advantage of an expanded playoff in 2024. Unlike Clemson, which is in danger of going extinct.

The SEC is King

What conference has recruiting bragging rights? Well, where does it just mean more? The conversation starts and stops with the Southeastern Conference. We researched the top classes from 247 Sports going back to 2010. No other conference took the top spot in recruiting. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M all shared the top ranking in the last 15 recruiting cycles.

A closer look at the Class of 2024 shows that the SEC is widening the high school recruiting gap. 13 of the 16 teams rank inside the Top 25, more than half the spots available. Their 13 teams are almost double the Big Ten. The Big Ten benefited from bringing in Oregon (3) and USC (15) in 2024. Without them, they would have only one program in the Top 5. The conference that shares the region and many rivalries with the SEC, the ACC has only three teams in the Top 25. The Big 12 may have the most significant number of conferences in 2024 but is falling behind in recruiting, with just one school in the Top 25.

Conference Teams in the Top 25 Teams and Rankings in 247 Sport’s Class of 2024 Rankings 
SEC 13 Georgia (1), Alabama (2), Texas (6), LSU (7), Oklahoma (8), Auburn (10), Tennessee (13), Florida (14), Texas A&M (19), Missouri (20), Ole Miss (21), South Carolina (22), Kentucky (25)
Big Ten 7 Oregon (3), Ohio State (5), Penn State (15), Michigan (16), USC (17), Nebraska (18), Wisconsin (23)
ACC 3 Miami (4), Clemson (11), Florida State (12)
Big 12 1 Texas Tech (24)

Times are changing in college football, but one thing remains the same. The SEC is putting on a Masterclass on high school recruiting for the rest of college football.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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