Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops called for the NFL to establish a later deadline for college underclassmen to declare eligibility for the NFL draft. The deadline is Jan. 15, although players are given a 72-hour window after that to change their minds and return to school.
Stoops suggested that the new College Football Playoff, which will extend the season to Jan. 12, is too close to the deadline to allow players adequate time to fully focus on their NFL futures.
"That question needs to be raised because that is an issue, when you've got a senior-laden team or when you've got some juniors that are in that position," Stoops said, according to newsok.com. "There's just no way to avoid it and it's been hard, even with some in the past. Some other games are late like that with that date and that decision, even if they're seniors knowing that it's right around the corner, it's an issue."
It's not entirely clear why Stoops would lump seniors into his reasoning. It's possible he is referring to players who earn their degrees early enough to still have another season of NCAA eligibility. Four such players declared for the 2014 NFL Draft: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard, Southern Cal defensive back Dion Bailey and Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford.
While college coaches encourage their top underclassmen to put off thoughts about early NFL entry until after the college season, that's an unrealistic expectation. Although many underclassmen wait until after their season ends to make their choice public, these decisions are often made, or at least considered, far in advance of that. Underclassmen submit requests for feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board in December, and they typically receive that feedback -- which helps them make a more informed decision about early entry -- in early January. Beginning this year, reforms to the NFLDAB's procedures will limit the number of underclassmen applying for feedback.
Stoops isn't the first to suggest that the NFL's declaration deadline should be moved to a later date. Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage has suggested the same thing, although for different reasons than Stoops. Savage believes a later deadline is among several actions the league could take to help curb the rising number of underclassmen entering the NFL. Last year's total, 98 (102 including the aforementioned early graduates), was a record number.