SEC pushing to change December schedule to dead period for recruiting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — SEC leaders are exploring a way to unclutter the month of December.

In a concept that the league is socializing with other conferences, the entire month of December would be a dead period for recruiting and the early national signing day would move up about two weeks to the early portion of the month, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told Yahoo Sports on Thursday.

The plan originated from SEC athletic administrator meetings and has the support of coaches, who reviewed the concepts last week. The potential December changes are now being socialized across the country.

The proposal implements a new dead period over the first 17 days of December, a month that is already dead in its final two weeks. Coaches cannot contact or visit recruits during dead periods.

In the plan, the early signing period — now in the middle of the month — will move to the first week of December: the Wednesday before conference championship game weekend.

There is urgency to change the December schedule ahead of the implementation of the new 12-team College Football Playoff, whose four first-round games will be played on the Friday and Saturday in the third weekend of the month. That is Dec. 20-21 this year.

December, already a busy month, is marked by coaching turnover, for one. Teams are also preparing for bowl games, recruiting athletes out of the open transfer portal window and, now, competing in the playoffs.

“Putting signing day in the middle of December with playoff games no longer works,” Sankey told Yahoo Sports. “Move it to early December, the Wednesday before championship games. That is the concept. It’s, in part, out of respect to high school football. You’ve heard some want the signing day in June. No one has done any work on what that means for high school football. We have a responsibility to listen to the high school coaches. What we’ve heard out of the Texas group is that they do not at all support that. Everybody has to be attentive to that.”

Conference commissioners, as a group, control decisions around national signing day. Changes to the recruiting dead period would need support from the NCAA Division I Council, of which Sankey is a member.

The transfer portal window should also be moved, Sankey said. The fall portal window begins soon after the end of the football regular season. There are suggestions, both from within his league and outside, that the portal window be eliminated, leaving only the spring window.

“We don’t think the portal is in the right place right now. It’s just an observation,” he said, acknowledging the potential legal implications of shifting or limiting the portal in some way.