Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn looks at the scoreboard during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations
DESTIN, Fla. -- The Southeastern Conference's official stance is it doesn't want an early signing period for football. No, not at all. But just in case the wave for an early signing period washes over football in the coming months, the SEC is ready with Plan B.
Plan B, developed by the coaches and approved by the athletic directors at the SEC Spring Meetings, is a one-day signing period the first Monday after Thanksgiving. Everybody else would sign in February, like normal.
"We had a good discussion about that. Our football coaches came up with a real good solution for our league," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "The football coaches support it, and we do as well."
Talk of an early signing period comes as one of Auburn's major recruiting events arrives. Big Cat Weekend starts Friday. The proposal going forward won't affect this year's recruiting class, but it would future classes.
Most of the league's football coaches are OK with an early signing period. Others are less so, though the vote on their plan was said to be unanimous. The league supports their plan, more out of necessity than desire.
"Our position is our coaches and ADs are happy with the current signing day and procedure," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. But, just in case, the SEC has a "workable model" to address the earlier date.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is ready either way.
"I think the thinking is there's a decent chance that could happen," he said. "Each conference has a different way of looking at it and different plans. But our thinking as a conference was not changing the current recruiting schedule, because when you do that, you open up a lot of different things. That was kind of the consensus in our room."
The NCAA has to approve an early signing period. It would have to consider several options. The Atlantic Coast Conference wants the early signing day to be Aug. 1. The SEC wants it three months later. The SEC plan says a player can only sign early if he doesn't take an official visit to another school.
Slive says he's concerned the early signing day would become the signing day, trumping the February signees. That's what happened in basketball when the NCAA introduced an early signing period.
That's one of the reasons why Slive says, "Our first step would be to retain the current model." Slive says he hopes the idea for early signing dies at the conference level and isn't brought up for vote in national forums.
Still, the league has accepted the idea of change after the coaches agreed on a serviceable model. Jacobs said he's resisted early signing in the past.
"I didn’t like is that it pushes that calendar back. Now you’ve got coaches in the middle of the season trying to recruit and trying to coach teams. I think that’s unfair to the current team," he said. "Then you begin to look at it and you said: 'OK, if we’re going to sign them in August, then you’re backing up another year.' Now you’re starting to talk with 9th graders. I didn’t like that model, but the model that our coaches have come up with is the most reasonable one I’ve heard in quite some time."