Scooter Hobbs: Now the chaos begins

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

But nooooooo.

College football is never that simple. Not anymore anyhow.

So today is — hold on, let me double-check my schedule — yes, its National Signing Day, the Early Edition.

Pity the poor coaches for South Alabama and WKU who must deal with the inconvenience of a “meaningless” bowl game on the same day when much bigger fish for their programs are being contested elsewhere.

Will those New Orleans Bowl coaches have a fax machine on the sidelines to keep up?

Or used to be anyway.

These days, who knows?

It’s hard to keep track any more.

But this could be the very day that college football, bumbling blindly through the early stages of its no-rules, no-regulations, no-clue-how-it-works era, goes ahead and jumps the shark.

I actually think the real fireworks, the massive convergence — probably an ugly pile-up — of high school recruiting, portal transfers and shady NIL deals — is still percolating somewhere down the road.

But keep a keen eye on today’s hijinks anyway.

It could be explosive, possibly ugly.

And it will tell only half of the story as most of the portal-buddies won’t check in yet.

As if keeping track of the “decommits” and “flips” wasn’t confusing enough.

There will, of course, be another National Signing Day, Final Edition, in February, as if one isn’t torture enough.

But the later NSD, once a festive holiday, seems to be losing some of its luster as it appears most of the good stuff will be picked over by then.

With the portal now in play, the prep stars seem hesitant to drag out the suspense of their higher educations, lest their spots get swiped by a few portal drop-ins. You snooze, you lose.

That’s a good thing, by the way, since as important as it is, recruiting was never meant to be the spectator sport it became.

But while we’re at it, and oddly enough, the first reform needed is to make February mean something again — by eliminating this Early Christmas Signing Day.

The bowl season deserves that much respect. It’s too important to society.

The college game seems to want more and more to copy the NFL. Would the NFL hold its annual draft on Super Bowl week?

By February, too, the transfer portal should have somewhat sorted itself out.

Not to mention NIL deals.

Speaking of which, I’m waiting on some young 5-star to do a new take on the old three-cap monte in picking and revealing a spot to “showcase my talents.” In this version of the tease, he puts the proper school cap atop his noggin, followed by the ball cap of his NIL sponsor — maybe Chico’s Bail Bonds, for all the Bad News Bears fans out there.

But there is no doubt things have changed. I don’t know how you keep up with a roster, let alone manage one.

Remember last year when LSU showed up at the Texas Bowl with a mere 39 scholarship players?

Brian Kelly might sign that many newcomers for LSU this year, thanks to the NCAA waiver that allows schools to sign at will as long as they stay below the 85 total scholarships.

“Mid to high 30s,” Kelly said of his signing plans.

He says he’s trying to wean himself from the portal, but — out of necessity not the master plan — he’s not there yet.

Kelly actually seems to be managing the shell of a roster he inherited as well as anyone could dream.

Going into Wednesday, the Tigers have a class ranked No. 5 in the country.

Maybe Kelly understands college football’s new era better than the rest of us.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com