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May 28, 2014

Husker Buzz: More early signing day talk

Every year around this time when conferences get together for their spring meetings grand ideas about the future get tossed around.

Topics like early signing periods, cost of attendance stipends and schedule talk all seem to be popular around this time of year.

Over the last five years we have heard countless talk from coaches and administrators to move up the recruiting calendar and feature an early signing period.

It all makes sense, as right now 109 of the top 250 prospects in the Rivals250 are committed to schools on May 28. If you break it down in the Rivals100, 43 are already commits.

The problem is then you have to figure out when to move up official visits. As it stands, not one of those 109 committed prospects in the Rivals250 haven taken an official visit. In fact, they can't do so until the weekend of Aug. 30.

That means any visit they take is on their own dime. If the NCAA doesn't want to mess with the visit calendar and add spring or summer official visits, my proposal would be to have a December signing period that matches up with the Junior College and Prep School signing day.

This would still allow prospects from September to mid-December to take official visits, and then sign before the holidays. You would still have a normal February signing day as well for players not ready to sign in December.

The biggest thing this would do is take pressure off coaching staffs to keep recruiting their signed prospects. Back in 2013 we saw several teams fighting tooth and nail to keep their committed prospects after the SEC hired new coaches at Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn and Kentucky. This caused a domino effect of commit poaching at all levels of FBS.

Staffs that get hired in January have very little time to put together a quality class, so what they typically do is poach another school's commit list they have been putting together for almost a year. A mid-December early signing period would eliminate this stressful part of the recruiting process completely. It also wouldn't force the NCAA to mess with the official visit calendar if they didn't want to.

The other thing it would allow teams to do is spend more time recruiting for the next class when they go out in January, instead of feeling pressure to wine and dine their current committed players and fight off new coaching staffs that might be trying to steal them in the final hour.



Black Friday competition

The SEC and CBS will continue to stage a Black Friday game to go against Nebraska vs. Iowa. Arkansas and LSU have been in the slot as of late, but this year the SEC announced they will feature a border war match-up similar to the Big Ten's in Missouri vs. Arkansas.

It only makes sense for the SEC to take advantage of this window. A year ago LSU vs. Arkansas had 4.96 million viewers, while Iowa vs. Nebraska pulled in 3.98 million - the two highest numbers of the day.

The biggest difference is the time slot. ABC will most likely continue to put the Huskers and Hawkeyes at 11 am CST, while the CBS will put the Tigers and Razorbacks in a more ideal afternoon spot at 1:30 pm CST. It would be nice to see ABC move Iowa vs. Nebraska to the 2:30 pm slot, and put the ACC game in the 11 am spot going forward.

I think this year's Iowa vs. Nebraska game could have implications on who wins the West Division, and putting it at 2:30 pm CST would allow it to get more viewers and exposure for the conference.

Three and out

***Only in Nebraska is it news when a star football player like Kenny Bell shaves off his afro. Aug. 30 can't get here soon enough.

***Husker baseball got a very tough draw this weekend in Stillwater with both Oklahoma State and Cal State Fullerton. We know how good Okie State is after they won the Big 12 regular season title.

However, Fullerton is the real wildcard. The Titans were a preseason No. 1 caliber team in February that underachieved for most of the season, but have turned it on as of late. They almost have a 2014 Kentucky basketball type of feel to them and their pitching could end up being the story of the regional if they decide to turn it on. Friday's game should be a dandy.

***Lastly, congrats to our own Robin Washut, who ties the knot on Friday here in Lincoln. Unfortunately Dan Hoppen won't be with us at Robin's big day, as he'll be covering the baseball regional in Stillwater. However, Robin has ordered Dan to bring him back a plate of cheese fries from Eskimo Joes for missing the wedding.

Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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