Full disclosure—I’ve had OU football season tickets for a few years. Being a member of the “Sooner Club” technically makes me a booster. I was shocked/dismayed when Lincoln Riley bailed and signed to become USC’s head coach. There are lots of pundits saying lots of stupid things about why he’s there now and not here. All of them are wrong except $$$$$$. The next day, though, something else happened that really has me spun up.
The NCAA needs to do something about the mess they’ve created. They created an “early signing day” for high school football players in December of their senior year. The “primary” (previously only) day is supposed to be in February. When the early date was initiated, pretty much everyone knew it would rapidly become the primary signing day instead of the signing day in February (and it has). Following the law of unintended consequences—since universities want to not lose time in recruiting players and new coaches when one is fired, multiple firings occurred during the season. Hiring coaches away from other schools before the season is over is likewise becoming more common. It’s one thing for a place like OU to lose its coach when the only thing left for the season is the bowl game—although with the December signing day, they are losing recruits and may not have time to fully assemble a new coaching staff and make up for the recruiting losses. However, it’s another when a school that’s still in the hunt for the College Football Playoff loses its coach when another dangles millions of dollars in front of him. How is it anything but bad for the sport for Notre Dame to face going to the playoff (or at worst one of the showcase/top six bowl games) without its head coach and some assistants? What does it say about the importance of striving for a championship? How can anyone expect a player to stick around one second longer than necessary at the college level, if they have pro potential, risking injury by playing without being paid, when said championship is so clearly less important than chasing dollars for coaches?
In all the pro sports, teams contacting/recruiting players or coaches from other teams during the season is called tampering and results in severe penalties. The NCAA needs to do that with its coaches. They and the universities will not police themselves. Violations should be met not just with fines and loss of scholarships but with multi-year bowl bans.
They also need to back up the early signing period until after bowl season in January (or, better to me, just go back to having only the February signing day) to decrease the impetus to hire/fire in season.