John E. Hoover: Finally, college football recruiting, redshirt rules get a meaningful makeover

John E. Hoover: Finally, college football recruiting, redshirt rules get a meaningful makeover

Slowly, surely, college football rules are getting a makeover.

The newest change to the existing structure is, finally, an early signing period.

This week, the Collegiate Commissioners Association voted to enact legislation permitting a three-day period, Dec. 20-22, during which prospective football student-athletes can sign binding national letters of intent.

The new signing period goes into effect immediately and doesn’t otherwise impact the traditional National Signing Day on the first Wednesday each February.

Prospects now have an option — and that’s always a good thing.

Prospects can still choose to wait until February if they aren’t sure or if they haven’t taken all their visits or if they don’t yet have the offers they truly want.

But if a prospect has made up his mind, he can sign with the school of his choice in December and officially shut down his recruiting — no more phone calls, no more text messages, no more social media posts from coaches who are either late to the prospect’s recruitment or have been left in a lurch by another prospect’s flip.

It also helps the coaches who do their work early and establish lasting relationships with recruits. Once a prospect is signed in December, those coaches no longer have to worry about losing a player to another school at the 11th hour.

Another recent rule change allows juniors, beginning on April 1, 2018, to take official visits. Previously, official visits were exclusive to seniors.

Also, the American Football Coaches Association has forwarded a proposal to the NCAA that would allow players to participate in up to four games and still be able to redshirt.

The current rule doesn’t allow a player to participate in any games and still claim a redshirt unless the player suffers a season-ending injury and plays in less than 30 percent of the games. The new rule was developed in January, and the AFCA announced this week it will propose it to the NCAA in the upcoming legislation cycle.

Under this proposal, players would be able to play in parts of five seasons. The NCAA would still hear appeals for medical hardship waivers to allow for a sixth year of eligibility in some cases.

Supporters of the new rule proposal suggest that being able to play redshirts players in bowl games will make the bowl season more compelling, particularly in light of the new trend of NFL prospects skipping their non-championship bowl games.


Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.


Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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