Change is afoot in the world of recruiting in college football.
Last summer, coaches got the ability to (gasp!) retweet recruits on Twitter, though they still can't comment about them. Bigger changes might be coming this year, potentially altering the first Wednesday in February National Signing Day circus as we know it.
In January, the Division I Council spiked a possible vote on adding a second signing day in June, before recruits' senior season of high school. This April, though, the council is expected to vote on a new proposal that would allow recruits to submit signed letters of intent for 72 hours beginning on the third Wednesday in December.
Weighing the possible fallout is a circular debate. For players, it can end some of the recruiting circus early and allow those who already made decisions to lock in their spot in a class. It could also allow coaches to get a more concrete feel of what their class will look like and allow coaches to be more precise in piecing together classes.
It could also mean unprecedented pressure for players who aren't ready to make a decision. Plus, more than a few coaches have been fired after the third Wednesday in December, which could be a nightmare for players who elect to sign early. It would also put coaches who switch jobs at a disadvantage, unable to build classes at their new schools by flipping committed recruits who would now be signed early. The field could shrink considerably.
But the surest fallout would be detracting from the zoo-like atmosphere that February's signing day can produce. Every year, signing day produces at least one unforgettable moment amid the drama and what's now become a parade of live, hotly anticipated announcements on national television.
Of course, changes to when players sign won't reduce the craziness associated with recruiting. As college football perhaps tiptoes toward a new era of recruiting after Wednesday's signing day, let's look back at some of the most unforgettable moments in recruiting history.
Lone Star State Hideout, 1975. You didn't think recruiting shenanigans were a new thing, did you? Barry Switzer's recruitment of Billy Sims is the stuff of legend. Switzer once said that Oklahoma assistant Bill Shimek spent 77 nights in a Texarkana hotel that year, 20 minutes away from Sims' hometown of Hooks, Texas. During the process, Switzer once borrowed a nickel from an assistant to place a call to Sims from a pay phone at halftime of Oklahoma's win over Colorado in Boulder. (The Sooners led 28-0 at the break and Switzer "didn't have much to say" to his team.) Back then, coaches signed letters of intent, too, which meant running all over recruiting territory instead of sitting in an office collecting faxes all day. Switzer convinced Sims, who was a solid commit to Oklahoma, to hide out in a basement for two days and leave America wondering why he hadn't signed. Then, when he did two days later, it could be an even bigger story. Meanwhile, Switzer wanted to get to Clarendon, Texas, to keep running back Kenny King away from Texas A&M. He shrugged off recruiting rules, took King and his girlfriend to a pool hall and put them in a hotel room while he got the room next door and blocked their door with his car so no one could get in or out. His plan worked. The Sooners signed both, and Sims won the 1978 Heisman Trophy.
The Imitation Game, 2008. Kevin Hart (no, not that one) was making history in the small town of Fernley, Nevada. His commitment ceremony made him the first person ever in his town to sign with a Division I program. The problem was the ink it took to print the page was worth more than his signature. After the ceremony, reports began to leak out that neither Cal nor Oregon had offered Hart a scholarship. He'd invented the whole thing and got his moment of glory, but it was all a lie. He had gotten some interest from big schools, but he had a 1.8 GPA and never took the SAT, so schools stopped recruiting him.
Eventually, Hart ended up getting a chance at Feather River College, a junior college, before eventually signing with Division II Missouri Western State.
Puppy Love, 2011. Isaiah Crowell, a Columbus, Ga. native, was the nation's top running back and elected to stay home and sign with the Bulldogs. Just after doing so, he produced a white baby English bulldog, a carbon copy of Georgia's mascot Uga that roams the sidelines on Saturdays. Sometimes, it doesn't take drama to be memorable. It just takes an adorable pup.
Fun with Forgery, 2011. Ole Miss was thrilled when it got a letter of intent from four-star cornerback Floyd Raven from Louisiana, but less thrilled when it called Raven and tried to get a more legible copy. Raven was undecided between Ole Miss and Texas A&M, but his mother forged his signature and sent his letter to Oxford.
"Mom really wanted him here," Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. "Bottom line is, hey, we did get a signature, we did get a letter, but I want people that want to be here."
Raven later defended his mom, saying she didn't understand the seriousness of what she'd done and acted in what she thought was his best interest. Raven went on to have a solid career at Texas A&M.
Parents Just Don't Understand, 2013. Five-star Floridian Alex Collins committed to Arkansas on the Monday before signing day, but he didn't show up to his school's signing ceremony on the following Wednesday. His mom, unhappy that he'd elected to leave home instead of staying in Florida and playing for Miami, swiped the papers and disappeared. Collins didn't show to his signing ceremony because he was trying to find his mother. She eventually hired a lawyer, but 24 hours later, Collins signed his letter of intent to play at Arkansas at a nearby sports bar with his father, aunt and grandmother.
Signing Day Shvitz, 1988. If you read Buzz Bissinger's classic book "Friday Night Lights," you recognize the name Derric Evans, from Dallas Carter. He signed his letter of intent to Tennessee inside of a hot tub on TV, while wearing gold chains and, of course, sunglasses indoors. He never made it to Knoxville. He was later sent to prison and served a seven-year sentence after a series of armed robberies.
Hubris and a Hummer, 2006. Jimmy Clausen seemed determined to do everything he could to get college football fans to dislike him before he'd even played a down. Aside from the questionable, emu-inspired hairstyle selection, he showed up in a stretch Hummer limousine and verbally committed to Notre Dame from the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in the spring before his senior year at Oaks Christian in California. He will not get back to the Hall. He had a strong junior season after struggling as a freshman and sophomore and went pro after coach Charlie Weis was fired.
Foiled By The Fax, 1996. Running back Durell Price, a Los Angeles native, planned on signing with Ohio State. He signed the paper and went to a nearby drug store, asking the clerk to fax the paper. He did, but Price said he immediately felt depressed. The clerk also accidentally sent a list of recruiting dos and don'ts, rather than Price's signature, leaving him technically unsigned. He called UCLA coach Bob Toledo, who was "leery" that he was being fooled by an imposter, and he faxed in his real letter to the Bruins the next day.
Iron Bowl Indecision, 2011. Cyrus Kouandjio was the nation's best offensive lineman. During his televised announcement, he revealed his plans to play for reigning national champion Auburn. The Tigers started wondering, though, when his letter never arrived. Kouandjio got cold feet, and three days later, he sent in a signed letter to Auburn's most hated rival, Alabama. It added a memorable chapter to the rivalry and Kouandjio twisted the knife by becoming an All-American and helping Alabama win two national titles.