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No games will be played, but tomorrow is still a big day for college football. As per National Signing Day tradition, the best 17 and 18-year-old high school players from around the country are set to officially announce which college they will play for.
Increasingly, the day, and the hype around it, have provided fodder to the critics who say college football is anything but amateur. To discuss the big day, college football analyst John Bacon joins Here & Now's Robin Young.
Interview Highlights: John Bacon
On how National Signing Day works
“It started in 1981 when the powers that be decided that they should all commit on the same day, the players to the teams and the teams to the players. Until tomorrow, you’re engaged but you’re not married.”
On either party being able to “de-commit” before National Signing Day
“The commitment is as good as your word, so you can imagine what happens between college football coaches and 17-year-old phenoms. It gets very messy very quickly. In this cycle alone, more than 300 top commits have already flipped from one school to another. And in the big 10 alone, which is considered one of the cleaner of the conferences, every single Big Ten school out of 14 Big Ten schools have all made more than 100 commitments to recruits and none of them have more than 25 scholarships, so you can see the problem.”
On how the process differs from the NFL draft
“They’re high school kids. They’re 17 years old. They are not going to get paid. They’re not really in control of a lot of this. However, I will say this: when you’re a hotshot college senior you go to the team that you want to go to least, probably the worst one of the league. When you’re a hotshot high school senior, you have most of the power in this equation, you get to pick where you want to go. The flip side is, in the NFL, everybody gets only one first-round pick but in college football Alabama can get five first-rounders, and they get to keep them all. So that changes things quite a bit.”
On whether it’s true that Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh once slept on a potential commit’s couch
“I think he’s done that once, a sleepover. He’s baked a kid a cake. Even climbed a tree at one point. And of course, this ticks off the other coaches in the southeast and elsewhere who don’t like Jim getting all the attention.”
On whether the signing process is too publicized
“Undeniably. This whole year-round process is not driven by the players; it’s driven by ESPN, it's driven by the blogs, the sports talk radio who have to keep college football going as a full-time, year-round exercise. It’s not good for the kids.”
- John U. Bacon, college football analyst. His most recent book is "Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football." He tweets @johnubacon.
This segment aired on February 2, 2016.