Rich Rodriguez wants an early signing day, other Michigan-Illinois notes
College basketball has two signing periods, one in the fall and one in spring, and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he'd like to see two in football as well.
“I would be in favor of having an early signing day around the third week in December, when the junior-college signing date is, and then have another signing date like we do now on the first Wednesday in February," Rodriguez said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.
"There’s so many more young men that are ready to make their commitment to get it out of the way. And I know the argument is, well, it pushes the recruiting calendar back. Well, it’s already pushed back."
The American Football Coaches Association debated the merits of an early signing period in June, but nothing ever came of the proposal despite widespread support.
Rodriguez said an early signing period, coupled with allowing prospects to take official visits during the summer before their senior year, would simplify the recruiting process.
"I think what it does more than anything for a lot of schools is it clears up who’s left," he said. "If half the guys sign on the early signing date, then you know now who truly is left open to recruit the first Wednesday in February."
More notes from Tuesday's teleconference
â€¢ With no bye week on Michigan's schedule this year, Rodriguez said he's modified his practice habits to all but eliminate contact after Tuesday workouts.
"It used to go full pads Tuesday, Wednesday and sometimes half pads on Thursdays," Rodriguez said. "Now, we go full pads on Tuesdays and sometimes on Wednesdays we go half pads, just shoulder pads with the linemen and not even any shoulder pads with the other guys. So we’ve really been careful to try to keep those guys fresh and ready for collisions on Saturdays."
Even so, some injuries can't be avoided. Running back Carlos Brown suffered a concussion in a Tuesday practice two weeks ago on a hit by Will Campbell.
Brown said Monday he didn't remember the hit and had to go back and look at it on tape.
â€¢ Rodriguez said he was "disappointed" in how his team played in last week's 35-10 loss to Penn State.
"I think in a couple of the earlier losses, we had a chance to win the game and we didn’t play great but we played competitively and had our chances at the end," Rodriguez said. "In this past ballgame, we really didn’t give ourselves a chance with the turnovers and some of the lack of execution. So that was really, really disappointing, and our guys know that."
â€¢ And on turning things this week and getting people back behind the program: "I think everybody realizes where we’re at in our program and some of the issues we’re dealing with. And they can see some progress. What I’m more worried about is what our football team does as far as going forward and getting better each and every day. Our folks, our fans, our alumni, our administration has been very, very supportive, and I’m sure they’ll continue, but they want to see progress, as we do. But nobody wants this more than the players and coaches."
â€¢ Illinois coach Ron Zook said he's as perplexed by anyone why his team has struggled so badly this year. The Illini (1-6, 0-5) were expected to contend for a New Year's Day bowl entering the year.
"I was talking to one of our fifth-year guys this morning and he said, 'What the heck? No one saw this thing coming,'" Zook said. "He came out of (preseason camp) and said it was the best camp by far we’d ever had, everybody was fresher. We kind of stumbled out of the blocks there, got a couple guys hurt there in the Missouri game and then played two pretty good teams and I think probably our confidence began to shake a little bit.
“I wish you could say it was injuries, I wish you could put it on one player, but as I told our football team, we’ve all got a piece of this, coaches included, and me the most. And we’re the only ones who can fix it."
â€¢ Zook said he was appreciative of Illinois' athletic director Ron Guenther's declaration last week that Zook will return for another season as coach.
"You hate to put people in that type of situation where they got to stick up for you," Zook said. "It goes to show you Coach Guenther is very, very close to what’s going on here, he sees what’s going on here. He’s scratching his head like all of us are."
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.