Dykes, Smart stump for changes to recruiting calendar

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The College Football Playoff championship on Monday night is the biggest game of TCU coach Sonny Dykes’ career. But it didn’t have his full attention this week.

“Look, we were preparing this week for a national championship game and we had six transfers on campus on an official visit. And you’re just kind of like, really? I mean, are we really doing this?” Dykes said Sunday.

Dykes and Georgia coach Kirby Smart called for changes to the condensed and crowded college football calendar during their final news conference before the top-ranked Bulldogs and third-ranked Horned Frogs play for the national title.

“It doesn’t stop for the coaches at the highest level,” Smart said. “I’m not sure any of us have the exact right answer, but I do think being smart and legislating time for coaches to be with their team and with their families is important.”

The game comes during the crux of recruiting for the transfer portal. More than 2,000 players have entered their names since Dec. 5, necessitating coaches and support staff go through an accelerated evaluation and contact process.

There is also the ongoing recruitment of those high school players who did not sign a letter of intent in December. They will be eligible to send in the necessary paperwork beginning on Feb. 1.

“I have a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, and I want to be able to see them and be part of their life and have a chance to spend time with them,” Dykes said. “And it’s very difficult if we don’t have some kind of legislated time off where we can get away, where we focus not only on our players and our program, but our families and doing our job as a father and as a husband in that capacity as well.”

Smart noted the pressure will be even greater when the expanded 12-team playoff begins in 2024.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey suggested eliminating the early signing period first introduced in 2017.

“There has not been a coach with whom I visited around our bowl games who hasn’t said this has just become crushing for us,” Sankey told reporters Sunday.

LA LA LAKERS

TCU is a 12 1/2-point underdog, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and basketball superstar-turned-TV pundit Shaquille O’Neal said he would “ eat some frogs ” if they upset Georgia.

Dykes isn’t holding it against O’Neal, who won three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant before their acrimonious split resulted in O’Neal being traded to Miami.

“I’ve always been a Shaq guy,” Dykes said. “I told the story before: My wife and I have been married 17 years now. We’ve had three disagreements in our marriage in 17 years. And one of them was about Shaq and Kobe. I’m a Shaq guy; she’s a Kobe girl. That was probably about an eventful argument as we’ve had in our marriage.”

That last disclosure prompted Smart to joke, “I’m more impressed you’ve only had three arguments with your wife in 17 years.”

DOG GONE

Georgia’s live mascot, a 9-year old bulldog named Que, will not be attending the game because a cross-country flight would be too stressful for the animal.

“It will be different,” Smart said. “I can’t lie. I don’t see Uga a lot. I’m usually tied up in some other things. I know that would be a big deal to a lot of fans.”

NO TAILGATING

There will be no tailgating allowed in the parking lots at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Monday, continuing a policy instituted by the CFP since at least 2019.

With the latest round of strong Pacific storms set to arrive Monday, including possible thunderstorms, the prohibition might be moot.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25

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