THE CHEAP SEATS with Steve Cameron: Signings don’t need party dates

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Last Wednesday was college football’s official signing day.

Or was it?

Yep, Idaho announced that 10 players had put pen to paper, agreeing to knock heads for the Vandals for the next few seasons.

Great, except…

Almost all the big-time programs had gobbled up most of the premier athletes back in December, in what is now known as the early signing period.

For major conference schools, it has become THE signing period.

Proof: Washington and Wazzu added exactly two players each on Wednesday.

U-Dub landed highly prized inside linebacker Daniel Heimuli from Menlo-Atherton High in northern California — allowing Heimuli to join prep teammate Noa Ngalu.

Heimuli and Ngalu won a state title together last season, so Heimuli always was leaning toward Seattle despite being recruited by Alabama, Oregon, Utah and others.

The Huskies also snagged 4-star safety Asa Turner on Wednesday.

But more to the point, however solid those signings might be, Washington already had landed 20 of its 22 recruits for 2019 last December.

THE STORY was the same in Pullman.

In fact, Coach Mike Leach had his signing work done before breakfast.

Wazzu needed beef (not for breakfast, but on both lines), and got it.

High school defensive end Nicholas Sheetz and junior college offensive tackle Jimmy Price were both locked up by 6:50 a.m.

Like the Huskies, Washington State did most of its business — also 20 signings — during the three-day December signing window.

So here’s the question: What’s the point of these artificial signing days when most good players have picked a school soon after finishing their regular season games?

In fact, the famous Feb. 6 signing date doesn’t mean much at all.

Players can still think matters over and sign until April 1, if they wish, and even then they can simply enroll at a school that will be happy to find a scholarship.

As for the December rush…

“I just think it goes to what we’ve known all along, that some of these guys are decided in the summer time or in the fall,” UW Coach Chris Petersen said. “I think that’s why the coaches were always pushing this so much.

“Why don’t we just sign them early? Why do we have to drag this out another month and a half or so?

“Because they’re ready to sign. Since we’ve had that early signing period, that’s what you’ve seen. They’ve been ready.”

SO WHAT’S the point of continuing to enforce a February signing date, an April 1 cut-off and other arbitrary points on the calendar?

Like a lot of things that the NCAA does, it’s just tradition — and instead of listening to coaches who do the actual recruiting and are responsible for steering young men into campus and academic life, the NCAA continues sitting on dates it likes.

I mean, what’s more exciting than watching a high school kid sit at a table in the gym and put on some college ballcap so his classmates can applaud?

The suits who insist on these arbitrary dates must not have noticed that recruiting goes on all year round, and that most players — as Petersen says — have made up their minds during the fall, maybe after their official visits, and a date in February means very little to anyone.

It’s not like half of those players who signed with Idaho last week made up their minds in the previous 24 hours.

Here’s the deal…

What makes sense would be allowing commitments to become signings in December, and then any time after that at all — right through until April.

That’s really how it works now.

So let’s dump the fake ceremonies.

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball each Tuesday.

Facebook: Steve Cameron

Twitter: @BrandNewDayCDA

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

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