With the calendar set to flip to July in a couple days, Ohio State football has already received 23 verbal commitments for its 2009 Ohio State recruiting class that it will officially sign in February 2009. With a verbal commitment, there is nothing that would stop one of the young men from changing their minds between now and February to another school - one already has (Darrell Givens, a defensive back from Maryland who verballed to Ohio State in April and has since verbally committed to Penn State, citing probable earlier playing time at Penn State as his reason).
Even more importantly, just because a player has given a verbal commitment to a school, there is nothing that prohibits other schools and coaches from calling a player and trying to get them to change their mind. Last season, Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez was dubbed by Purdue head coach "a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil" for poaching some of Purdue's recruits. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel recently was able to convince Garfield Heights DE Melvin Fellows to renege on his verbal commitment to Illinois.
The SEC and other coaches, such as Jim Tressel or Texas' Mack Brown, have been advocating the use of an early signing period, similar to college basketball. Proponents suggest this would make it easier for the player to focus on their senior season, without the continual barrage of calls and visits from coaches. Opponents suggest this is simply a case of the rich getting richer ~ Ohio State could sign its 23 verbal commitments now, and literally put the full court press on two or three players to finalize its recruiting class, while other teams have barely even begun to assemble their recruiting classes at this stage.
What if a player changes their mind after they have signed? What if the coach gets fired or leaves for another school, a la Rodriguez with West Virginia for Michigan last season? Those are among the thoughts that must be addressed if an early signing period is to become a reality for college football coaches.