His opinions haven’t changed on it now that he’s seen how it might play out annually. Saban and his staff spent nearly three whole weeks on the road recruiting before returning to campus to begin bowl practice. His opinion hadn’t changed, but the signing date had created even more problems than he originally considered.
Here’s his full answer when asked about it on Friday:
“I didn’t like it when we did it, I don’t like it now. I don’t think it’s in the players’ best interest. I don’t see how it benefits anybody. I think it’s really stressful for everyone. We’re all trying to get ready for bowl games and playoff games and we have a signing day right in the middle of when we’re going to be practicing for a playoff game. It was very stressful for a lot of coaches to get out and see as many guys as they could in December and accelerate everything. You don’t have very much time to do that. If you’re playing in a championship game, you have even less time to do it.
“I think two things happen: I see more players getting pressured by some schools to sign early so that they don’t get an opportunity from maybe a bigger school later, which I don’t think is in the player’s best interest. Because a guy may have an opportunity to go to a place that he’s always wanted to go to, or an SEC school, and he’s getting pressured by somebody else to sign early. Then other guys are trying to make a decision about signing early or not signing early, and they’ve got all these new coaches and coaching staffs that are sort of bum rushing them to not do that so they get a chance to recruit them. Then you have guys who are waiting until February, so you don’t have much control over who signs early and who doesn’t, so how do you manage that number of guys that you might get?
“Maybe I shouldn’t be speaking like this. I have not talked to a coach that’s happy with it. Now, maybe they wouldn’t say what I just said. Maybe they wouldn’t say that, and they’d probably disagree with it just because I said it. We’re dealing with it. It is what it is and we’re managing it the best we can, and we’re working with every player and trying to let them decide when they want to make their decision and not really pressing them to make a decision so that when they commit to us, they commit to all the things here that we do here to help them be successful personally, academically and athletically, and I think they ought to have the opportunity to evaluate that.”