Oversigning.com
30Mar/1016

Total Control

Yesterday we mentioned that it is extremely hard and time consuming to investigate things such as oversigning.  While there is a ton of information on the Internet, if you look hard enough, there seems to be a void in the main stream media with regards to investigative reporting.  Sure ESPN has OTL, but whatever happened to the beat reporters who did more than write up a practice report and include a couple of meaningless quotes?

Paul Finebaum has a theory on this: 

"With the newspaper industry under siege and cutbacks literally being made at every corner, a reporter covering Meyer or anyone else really can ill afford to spend time in the doghouse. Otherwise, he or she will be left out in the cold when the pack goes on the next scavenger hunt for whatever scraps are still fed to those on the daily beat.

I spoke recently to an official at a major BCS school and he openly scoffed at the beat reporters covering his team. The person told me his school could completely cut off access to the reporters and still get practically the same message out to the public by delivering it themselves.

This isn't the good old days when most doors were wide open. Nowadays, there is such tight control over most programs that the average fan can learn almost as much sitting in front of computer in Muscle Shoals or Mobile, watching the press conferences live, or being force fed exactly what the school wants them to see and read.

Many beat reporters have been reduced to nothing more than stenographers. They are emailed releases which are posted on the Internet in quickly rewritten blogs. Sometimes, they are published verbatim. Rarely, if ever, does anything get out the school doesn't want out.

That's why the textbook investigation at Alabama went undetected for a year while the process played out -- including a secret appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. It was done so to protect recruiting and worked like a charm.

And by the way, this is all just fine with the fans who don't really know or can't tell the difference between a legitimate story and something sent out by a member of the school's publicity staff. People neither trust the media nor particularly like the media anymore. Some of this is self-inflicted. Most of this results from the times in which we live."

http://blog.al.com/press-register-sports/2010/03/finebaum_urban_meyer_outburst.html

If you don't read anything else on this site, we encourage you to at least read Finebaum's full article linked above.  It might shed some light as to why we don't hear more stories about players being cut and oversigning.

The truth of the matter is that beat reporters should be posted outside of certain schools demanding answers on roster cuts and oversigning, but the reality of the situation is that none of them can afford to be cut off, such as the poor guy from the Orlando Sentinel who had to cower down to Urban Meyer and then was forced to accept a private apology. 

If a reporter almost gets banned from practice for quoting a player, could you imagine what would happen if he really took Urban Meyer to task on his practice of oversigning players or about the huge number of arrests by his players?  Forget about it, that guy would be done. 

The bottom line here is that the coaches and the schools are going to control what message gets sent out, and it's up to us as fans and followers of the sport to dig deeper for the facts and expose the truth.  Hopefully, in some way we can do that here with the topic of oversigning.  We're not professional writers and we're not being paid to do investigative work, but we care about college football and we can write whatever we want without fear of economic security.  And maybe with your help we can continue to put a spotlight on oversigning until it is completely removed.

Filed under: Rants 16 Comments
29Mar/106

Medical Hardship Scholarships

During our investigation into Alabama's attrition, codenamed "The March to 85," we have stumbled across two things that have really baffled the life out of us, medical hardship scholarships and the Bryant scholarship program.  But before we dive off into the Bryant scholarship topic, we want to recap the medical hardship scholarship process that moves an injured football player from his football scholarship onto a "medical hardship" scholarship so that he can finish his education on scholarship but not have it count against the limit of 85 players.  Plus we want to share the story of Zeke Knight.

To the best of our knowledge medical hardships are handled on a university by university basis, meaning that each school's medical team determines, on their own, which players are deemed medically eligible to play or not.   This is not something that is regulated by the NCAA, and to the best of our knowledge a player can not hire a doctor on his own or challenge a medical ruling by the school's doctors. 

Once the school's medical team deems you as medically ineligible that is pretty much it; it then becomes a decision by the head coach as to whether or not the player should be released from his football scholarship to free it up to be used on a new recruit or to allow the player to continue to contribute in whatever limited capacity for which he is medically cleared.  In some cases there is no question that the coach has absolutely no say in the decision.  However, as we pointed out earlier, Mike D'Andrea remained on football scholarship and continued to rehab and work with the team at Ohio State for 3 years after his initial injury - and although he never saw the field again, he graduated with his class and worked with the team in whatever capacity he was cleared to and given the nature of his injuries we can only imagine that at times he couldn't do much more than walk around on crutches and attend team meetings or film review sessions. 

Alabama's Zeke Knight on the other hand was placed on medical hardship scholarship and released from his football scholarship, but didn't believe that he should have been removed and filed a request to transfer to a smaller school in hopes of continuing to play out his career. 

"In a very heartfelt speech, Coach Saban thanked Zeke, but said he could no longer play at Alabama for medical reasons.

He said:

"Zeke is a fine young man and we appreciate all that he has done for this program.  Zeke did a great job for us as a starter and, more importantly, is on track to graduate in August. I would like nothing more than to have him with us for one more season on the football field... I wish him and his family nothing but the best. Zeke Knight will always be a part of the Crimson Tide family."

With that, he graduated from Alabama and wasn't sure where to turn with eligibility left. He needed to figure out what it was he had and how to take care of himself. He took some time off to get well and regain medical clearance. Knight said, “I felt like I might as well go back for one more year and eliminate all the questions about me being able to play.” Knight said he considered several options. After a year away from football, a host of skeptical cardiologists, neurologists and other doctors examined him. After hours of testing Zeke to see if he was able to play the sport he loved again, on July 30, 2009, they completely cleared Zeke to play football. His APO was resolved and the clinical neurological examination did not reveal any localizing cranial, motor, sensory or reflex deficits.

What to do? “It kind of dawned on me a little bit, like maybe I was meant to finish my last year in Tuscaloosa,” Knight said. After all, he now bled Crimson and had so many friends in Tuscaloosa.

His new Coach, said it best, “People had doubts that he could play anymore. It was a life-threatening situation for him. He made it through, and we got one more (year of eligibility by the NCAA)... I take my hat off to the young man.” After seeing him play, his coach bragged, "It helps us to get Ezekial Knight. He’s a real experienced linebacker that’s going to really bring something to the table for me... I’m very impressed with him. I can see why he played at the University of Alabama. That guy, to me, is a top-round draft choice. He’s an amazing football player... Zeke is a quiet leader. He doesn’t say very much on the field, but he’s always working to get better.” Stats were not well tracked at Stillman, but Zeke had around 8.5 sacks, second in the nation in Division II. He had around 42 tackles, 3 forced fumbles (2 returned by teammates for touchdowns), and 1 interception.

He finished well and now Zeke Knight is looking towards proving that, like Tedy Bruschi, he has the (healed) heart... and courage of a Knight. He is ready for the next level, with only his past as his present obstacle."

http://site.zekeknight.com/About.html 

This is an emotional topic and an emotional story, no question.  There is also no question that anyone could argue that the University of Alabama was simply doing what they thought was best for Zeke Knight given his health condition, and after all, if something were to happen to Zeke, the University doctors could be liable for putting him at risk.  You could walk that argument into a court of law (or public opinion) and win every single time without breaking a sweat.

There is, however, another side to this story, one that is going to sound like we are trying to spin Zeke's story into a tale of blatant player abuse, one that probably makes it sound like Nick Saban has no heart and is a ruthless, cold-blooded killer.  We don't believe any of those things.  Nick Saban at his worst is only guilty of being a high-paid coach who is being paid millions of dollars to win football games, championships specifically, nothing more, nothing less.  It's up to each individual to determine whether or not they think that Saban will win at any cost or whether or not he discards players in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.  We happen to think he does by the way, but that is just our opinion. 

The other side of Zeke Knight's story is that the year he was released from his football scholarship and placed on a medical hardship scholarship was also the same year that Nick Saban signed 32 new recruits to Alabama and was facing a tremendous numbers crunch in order to get his roster down to 85 players or face penalties from the NCAA.  Nick Saban and Alabama were also coming off of a dismal 7-6 season and it was imperative that Saban improve the team immediately to justify his salary, which at the time was one of the highest in college football.

Zeke Knight was not alone in the list of players that were removed from football scholarships in order to get the roster down to 85, several others were removed for various reasons as shown above.

In addition to Alabama being in a numbers crunch, it probably didn't help Knight's case any that Saban had signed 4 linebackers that year, 1 five star and 3 four star, and freshman linebacker Rolando McClain was bursting onto the scene as a future star.

Honestly, if not the for the oversigning and the mandatory roster cuts as a result of oversigning, we probably wouldn't scrutinize things like this so much, but when you have a coach and program that are habitual abusers of oversigning one can't help but find situations like Zeke Knight's extremely intriguing or suspicious.  Let's put it this way, if Saban took regular numbers and didn't need to cut players in order to get his roster down to 85 and avoid NCAA violations, and Zeke Knight was still released from his football scholarship, we would be much more inclined to think that Knight's departure had nothing to do with roster cuts.  In fact, we would probably be writing a piece on what a stand up guy Saban was for protecting Knight at the risk of roster shortfalls and depth problems at his position - we would be commending Saban for recruiting by the numbers in the spirit of maintaining a level playing field and not abusing loopholes, and for putting his own career at risk in order to do the right thing both by the game of college football and by Zeke Knight.  But that's not what happened, instead Saban over-stuffed his roster with scholarship commitments and had no choice but to pick 8-10 guys to cut from the team.  It is that simple.

Moving players to a medical scholarship, in legitimate cases, is a win win scenario, the player gets to continue his education for free and it lessens the likelihood of APR penalties for the school because as long as the player continues his education and graduates the school is in the clear; it also frees up the player's football scholarship so that it can be given to a new recruit.  Seems harmless.

We found several cases of legitimate medical hardship cases, but for some reason, medical hardship scholarships and oversigning seem to go hand in had at Alabama, and other schools such as North Carolina; whereas you just don't see or hear about it anywhere else around the country.  We did some digging on Ohio State's medical hardship cases and found about 4 or 5 over the last ten years; Saban has that many in 2 or 3. 

The only thing we know to do is to somehow get oversigning removed (for real) and then let's see if the medical hardships continue, and if they do then we know they were legit; the only downside, for guys like Saban, is that once you do away with oversigning, the medical hardships become holes in the roster that lead to depth problems.

Filed under: Coaching, SEC 6 Comments
28Mar/106

March to 85 Watch List

If you have been following us over the last couple of weeks we have been documenting Alabama's attrition as Nick Saban works his oversigned roster down to the required 85 players.  Right now the magic number is 7; it started at 10 but 3 players have already left the team with eligibility remaining.  Here's the list:

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

Player Position Reason for leaving after NSD
Terry Grant Running Back Scholarship not renewed
Travis Sikes Wide Receiver Scholarship not renewed
Rod Woodson Safety Scholarship not renewed
Star Jackson Quarterback Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.
Deion Belue Defensive Back Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO
Alfy Hill Linebacker Academically Ineligible; future unknown
Taylor Pharr Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Milton Talbert Linebacker Medical Hardship
Darius McKeller Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Ronnie Carswell Wide Receiver Greyshirt
Wilson Love Defensive End Greyshirt

We're putting Robby Green (db) and Star Jackson (qb) on the watch list as candidates for the 2 of the remaining 7 bodies that need to be discarded in order to get Alabama's roster down to 85.

Update 3/31/2010: Star Jackson is back from his three day academic suspension.  It's really hard not to be cynical here, but you have to wonder if Saban is just taxing the young man, leaning on him a little bit perhaps, in hopes that Jackson decides there is not a future for him at Alabama and makes the move to transfer on his own.  It's just interesting that the kid has never had academic issues and all of the sudden during spring camp he's got issues.

Update 4/10/2010: Scratch Robby Green from the watch list, he has been ruled ineligable for 2010 for violation of NCAA rules.  He will remain on scholarship and count towards the 85.

Robby Green's status is still up in the air and Star Jackson has started missing practice because of sudden academic issues (issues that he didn't seem to have the last two years, but he is now struggling to keep his grades right - we're sure this has absolutely nothing to do with being at the bottom of the depth chart at QB, just like Terry Grant's departure had nothing to do with being at the bottom of the depth chart at running back).  A quick look at Alabama's depth chart at quarterback shows that Jackson is behind starter and National Champion QB Greg McElroy, backup AJ McCarron, and new recruit Phillip Sims, and to make matters worse for Mr. Jackson, Nick Saban has already started to recruit 5 star all-world QB Braxton Miller from Ohio and has offered him a scholarship.   

And if that isn't enough for Jackson to battle, Alabama also has another player listed at QB in Morgan Ogilvie, but Morgan, get this, is playing football for Alabama on a "Bryant Scholarship" which doesn't count towards the 85 NCAA limit.  We're going to do a separate post on this as we peel back the onion, but it appears that Alabama can have players on the team under a Bryant Scholarship that don't count against the 85 team limit.

The writing is on the wall for Star Jackson and the bottom line is that 7 players still have to leave the team in order for Alabama to stay under the 85 limit.

And for those of you who are sick and tired of us focusing on Alabama, we politely ask you to find us one other roster from another BCS conference team that has, for the last three to four years, had to lose 8-10 players every spring/summer in order to get down to the required 85 players.  You find us that program and we will put the spotlight on them, until then the king stay the king.

Filed under: SEC 6 Comments
27Mar/106

Mike D’Andrea, No Medical Hardship Scholarship

If you can't already tell, we've been bitten by the medical hardship scholarship bug.  If anyone out there can help shed some light on the topic it would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime we are going to look for cases of players who we know were injured badly enough to be unable to continue to contribute to the team on the field, yet remained on football scholarship and remained part of the team. 

Despite how warn and fuzzy it feels to hear that an injured player is given a free ride to continue his education as long as he leaves the football team to free up a scholarship for another player, we believe that guys in this situation, unless they simply can't walk, should be allowed to stay with the team, work hard at whatever capacity they can, and continue to earn their scholarship by working as hard as they can, instead of just kicking them to the curb with a free meal ticket in order to avoid APR penalties, but then again, we believe in commitment and teaching guys commitment by sticking with them through injuries and continuing to mold and shape them through the 4 most life-altering years of their lives.  Of course we're not getting paid $4 Million Dollars a year to win football games either, though. 

Maybe for some coaches the pressure to win is so great that they don't have a problem talking a kid into leaving the team and taking a medical hardship scholarship (which we still don't understand how it works other than the player has to leave the team and he gets his education paid for).

First stop, Mike D'Andrea, former #1 linebacker recruit from the 2001 recruiting class.

 "Mike D’Andrea (6-3, 248, Sr.) – D’Andrea was the third member of the shining 2001 recruiting class that included Clarrett and Zwick (and, of course, Smith) but, so far, Mike’s career at OSU has been plagued with bad luck and injuries. A man-child as a freshman, D’Andrea worked hard and saw some playing time backing up Matt Wilhelm but had shortened sophomore and junior seasons. His junior season ending with knee surgery. He sat out all of last year and seems to be struggling to get back in health for this season. If he can get everything together and stay healthy, OSU will be thick at middle linebacker."

http://menofthescarletandgray.com/2006/07/19/2006-defensive-preview-linebackers/

Why was Mike D'Andrea not given a medical hardship scholarship so that Ohio State could replace him with a new recruit?  Simply put, because that is not how Jim Tressel rolls.  He doesn't oversign and he doesn't abuse the medical hardship scholarship thingy.  Instead, Mike D'Andrea finished his degree while on a football scholarship and watched the last 33 football games of his college career from the sidelines, with no real hope of ever seeing the field in a meaningful way. 

Here's a nice summary of Mike D'Andrea's time at Ohio State: http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=10399&draftyear=2007&genpos=ILB 

Obviously there is a fine line between protecting a player that is truly at risk and abusing a loophole to make room for an overstuffed roster.  It's hard not to be suspicious of medical hardships that come during spring and summer practice and conditioning when a roster is oversigned and no matter what players have to be released or the school will face NCAA violations for being over the limit of 85. 

Simply put, we would not be so suspicious of medical hardships that Nick Saban and Butch Davis dole out if their rosters weren't so heavily oversigned.  Even if you submit to the notion that the medical hardships are legit, the fact that they oversigned ahead of time still leaves us feeling as though they are taking advantage of a loophole.  We'll state this again, coaches should have to prove where a scholarship is coming from before it is given out.  If a player is going to take a medical hardship then his scholarship shouldn't be given out until he is officially removed from the team. 

What football player do you know of that suffered career-ending injuries but remained on football scholarship and remained with the team until they finished school?  We want to know!

Filed under: Big 10 6 Comments
27Mar/100

How 29-for-12 turns into 24-for-24

We ran a search on the most powerful search engines in the world for the following string "what is a medical hardship scholarship" in hopes of learning more about this mysterious scholarship that injured football players are being awarded in lieu of their football scholarship.  The only thing we found that was related to football were links to articles about two different schools, Alabama and North Carolina.

One article we found, regarding how Butch Davis magically converted 12 roster openings into 24 and 29 scholarship commitments into 24, shows that Davis put 3 players on medical hardship in a single season. 

"Butch Davis promised it would work out.

With Angelo Hadley's exit from the UNC football program before he got there, the Tar Heels coach was right. His over-recruiting strategy balanced out in the end.

What was once a 17-scholarship discrepancy is likely to work out to an even 24 signees to 24 available scholarships.

Rewind to December — UNC had 29 commitments with 12 seniors departing the program."

http://obsrecruiting.blogspot.com/2009/05/uncs-davis-balances-scholarship.html#ixzz0jO8DMiRy

The rest of the article goes on to explain exactly how 12 scholarship slots turned into 24.  Basically, 4 players graduated with a year of eligibility left but were not given a renewal of their scholarships, 3 players were given a medical hardship scholarship (we still don't know what that means, who controls it, who monitors it, etc), 4 players were dismissed from the team, and 1 player left early for the NFL.

Kind of ironic that Nick Saban and Butch Davis are considered two of the best recruiters in the country, despite their long list of kids that have been cut from their teams or placed on medical hardship scholarships.

A reader from the original article is calling BS on UNC's use of medical hardship scholarships:

"14 kids have left the UNC football team since 2002 due to medical reasons. 14!!!!!!! How are all these kids getting hurt so badly to have career ending injuries? A lot of these aren't even during games. As the poster said above, that's just slime ball tactics. You tell a kid who's not that great that if he keeps his mouth shut, he still gets school paid for. Not saying that all cases are the same, but 14?? My God.

What about that world renowned hospital right beside the stadium?

And for comparison's sake - even with the ridiculous injuries NC State has had in recent years (Remember when they had < 60 scholarship players available to play last year at one point due to injuries??), students have received 2 medical hardships since 2002.

14 >> 2."

http://obsrecruiting.blogspot.com/2009/05/uncs-davis-balances-scholarship.html#ixzz0jOAiTTNv

He's right, what kid in his right mind would turn down a free ride just to leave the team, especially if he is either injury prone or not good enough to see the field.  To guys like Nick Saban and Butch Davis this is like the holy grail to solving roster issues and helping make room for all those players they oversign without facing APR issues; because you see, if a player remains in school and makes progress toward his degree, then the school is safe.  Without APR would these kids get medical scholarships or would they be kicked to the curb, or would they have to remain on football scholarship until they finish school and just do what they can to help the team and earn their degree?

Filed under: ACC, SEC No Comments
26Mar/101

Verification

Just so everyone knows that we are not pulling numbers out of our ass and we are not making things up as we go along, here is the longest and most detailed account of Alabama's current numbers situation, from an actual Alabama website.  We stumbled on it just shortly after our last post while looking for more information on this medical hardship scholarship thing...and as expected, our numbers are dead on the money.

Side Note: we can only chuckle at comments such as these from Alabama fans:

"Great breakdown of the numbers! I was just talking to my Pops the other day about the necessary attrition number moving from 9 to 7 since your last article. Still seems like a long ways to go. Three or four greyshirts from the 18 to enroll in the summer would help, but I get the feeling that Saban and Co want to be able to take as many as possible for 2011 class. Either way I know that the numbers in the senior and junior class suggest we will only take 18-20 at the most. Considering your laundry list of things that can effect the numbers by August 2011, is there any way you see us signing a full 25, or even 28 next February?"

After classes of 25, 32, 27, and 29, why not sign a 28 next year...ugh

Back to the task at hand; we did see something in the article above that adds more fuel to the medical hardship scholarship fire thing.

"After that, though, is when we will start seeing the numbers change. At the close of the spring the writing will be on the wall for several guys, and we'll likely see a transfer or two. There are a few players who have struggled to stay healthy during their career who are also struggling to stay healthy this spring. If things don't improve by the A-Day, we will likely see those guys moved to a medical hardship scholarship. With the spring semester nearing an end just a few weeks after the close of spring practice, this is when the rumors will run the most rampant."

Again, how many frigging guys can you move to a medical hardship scholarship to free up football scholarships????

It appears that this is nothing new to Saban, this is from back in 2007.

"Alabama football players reported to campus Thursday for the beginning of preseason practice, and the Crimson Tide already has lost two with local ties from its roster.

Alabama coach Nick Saban announced that former West Morgan High standout Byron Walton's career could be finished because of a health issue. In addition, Saban said former R.A. Hubbard player Michael Ricks of Courtland is academically ineligible.

Ricks spent the past two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

Saban put Walton on medical hardship because of a recurring issue that has plaguing the 6-foot-3, 299-pound defensive lineman throughout the summer. Saban said he has been told that it is a heat-related issue.

"When he exerted himself at the level to do the things you need to do here, he put himself at tremendous risk," Saban said. "It has something to do with how your muscles break down and how your body dissipates that and how it affects your kidneys and liver. It is a serious issue."

Walton will continue to receive his athletic scholarship, but he will not count against the NCAA limit of 85 scholarship players that Alabama has. Saban said three receivers also will receive medical hardships for this season — Tyrone Prothro (leg), Aaron McDaniel (knee)and Jake Jones (leg)."

http://legacy.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/sports/070803/tide.shtml

Does anyone else see the pattern here???  Oversign by 10, send as many as needed to medical hardship scholarships and then transfer the rest, and magically sidestep any APR issues.

Filed under: SEC, Uncategorized 1 Comment
26Mar/101

Like Clockwork – The March Continues

As we predicted immediately after signing day and before spring practice, Saban is going to have to cut players, again, for the third year in a row, in order to get down to NCAA limit of 85.  If you are new here go read this, then read this, and lastly read this.

For those of you too lazy to read all that, just read this:  Alabama returned 66 scholarship players after last season, signed 29 new recruits to letters of intent, and now must shed 10 players between signing day and the first day of fall camp in order to stay under the mandated 85 scholarship limit.  Terry Grant and Travis Spikes have already left the team.

To help track the 10 bodies that need to go we have created a table for them.

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

Player Position Reason for leaving after NSD
Terry Grant Running Back Scholarship not renewed
Travis Sikes Wide Receiver Scholarship not renewed
Rod Woodson Safety Scholarship not renewed
Star Jackson Quarterback Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.
Deion Belue Defensive Back Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO
Alfy Hill Linebacker Academically Ineligible; future unknown
Taylor Pharr Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Milton Talbert Linebacker Medical Hardship
Darius McKeller Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Ronnie Carswell Wide Receiver Greyshirt
Wilson Love Defensive End Greyshirt


The latest addition is Darius McKeller.  Here is Saban's comment on Darius:

"Our medical staff thought that he would be at severe risk of injuring it again if he continued to play."

Click the link to continue reading >>>

Filed under: Coaching, SEC Continue reading
26Mar/103

Night and Day

It is our belief that when the NCAA set the scholarship restrictions to 25 new players per year and 85 total on the roster they knew that it would be almost impossible for every school/team/coach to sign the exact number of players needed every year so that everyone comes out at 85 total scholarship players in August.  This is probably why they allowed walk-on programs continue so that schools/teams/coaches could allow X number of players to walk on (pay their own way) to the football team and if they work hard enough or become good enough they can be awarded with a scholarship.  This is what the NCAA would consider the buffer between recruiting new players and not over-committing and maintaining a roster of 85 scholarship players.  That is the true spirit of college football recruiting as laid out by the NCAA.  

However, we believe that this is as far as the NCAA is willing to take it in terms of trying to come up with numbers and rules that can apply to every region of the country.  Let's call that the NCAA baseline.  Given the baseline, conference commissioners and university presidents are free to establish additional rules and criteria with regards to recruiting numbers that help further shape and mold the overall mission or goal of their conference or university.  For example, in addition to the 85/25 rule, the Big 10 conference has established that no more than 28 recruits total be signed in a single class (meaning 3 can count back to the previous year if the recruit enrolls early and their is room in the previous class and 25 count to the current class which meets the NCAA rule of no more than 25 per class).  They also require that the additional 3 scholarships/LOI's have to be petitioned for and proof must be given that there is room for the 3 additional players without pushing anyone out.  Other conferences do not have these additional rules.  Therefore we have two drastically different method of roster management in college football:

Oversigning to gain a competitive advantage or subsidize future known and unknown attrition

 

Undersigning to avoid unnecessary roster cuts and operate within the spirit of recruiting and retaining student athletes

It doesn't get any more cut and dry than these two diagrams.  They are, as the title says, Night and Day.  In the case of oversigning, the incoming pool of players are quit often more talented, uninjured, and have much more upside than the pool of players in the attrition bucket.  Whereas in the undersigning diagram, we have smaller pool of more talented players and instead of dumping the less talented, we add those who have proven that although they might not have the athletic ability to be a 4 year scholarship player, they have the willingness to be a team player and have contributed to the team in other ways worthy of a scholarship reward at the end of their career.   Quite often, what those players do in the classroom and in the community mean just as much to the coach as what they do on the field, thus the reward.

Rewarding a walk-on player doesn't always happen though.  Sometimes coaches will bank those extra scholarships if there is not a worthy candidate in the walk on pool of players and use them next year.  This results in a shortfall of scholarship players. 

When you look at the oversigning diagram, specifically the "attrition" bucket, you see a list of things that no university president, educator, parent, or player really wants to go through or be associated with.  Conversely, when you look at the "addition" bucket in the undersigning diagram you have a situation where everything is positive; a player being rewarded for hard work.  There is also no question that the oversigning model is the easiest and fastest pathway to stacking a roster full of 85 scholarship players, of the variety that were recruited and sought after by other schools.  

So the next time someone asks you to explain oversigning or to compare and contrast it to normal recruiting practices, send them a copy of these diagrams or a link to this site.  There needs to be more awareness of oversigning and a higher level of understanding with regards to how teams are built through oversigning. 

Filed under: Coaching, Rants 3 Comments
25Mar/100

What Happens when you don’t Oversign?

In Tennessee's case you end up with a scholarship shortfall and monstrous holes in your 2-deep roster.  Just recently Tennessee announced that 5-Star running back Bryce Brown left the team, and today it was announced that starting offensive lineman, Aaron Douglas, is leaving the program.  Those are two big holes to fill.

Tennessee signed 25 recruits this year in Derek Dooley's first year as Head Coach of the Volunteers.  Dooley arrived late on the heels of Lane Kiffen's departure to USC and didn't have a whole lot of time to put a recruiting class together.  In fact, Dooley had to scramble at the last minute to try and hold the class together amidst all of the coaching changes.  All things considered, however, it appears that Dooley did a great job with the recruiting class.  His class ended up ranked 9th nationally by the time it was all said and done.

Based on recruiting numbers alone, Tennessee has signed 32, 18, 22, and 25 over the last 4 years, which equals 97, but to determine how many players were on scholarship on signing day we need to know how many seniors left, how many juniors left early for the NFL draft, and how many seniors with a year of eligibility left came back for a 5th year.  If we had to guess, Tennessee probably had somewhere around 60 scholarship players returning.   We haven't seen any articles on Tennessee oversigning this year, and looking at their historical numbers they are not has high as Alabama's or Auburn's.

Some of the Tennessee fans seemed to think that Dooley was going to sign 30-32 players in this class.

"Maybe promised was the wrong word. We (the fans) were told by numerous articles this past week to expect UT to sign 30-32 players with 5 of them counting on last years class. If UT doesn't do this, then they will continue to be way under manned to other teams. We were down 22 players last year and could make up 5 of those this year if we would sign them."

Obviously that didn't happen, as Tennessee signed 25 recruits.  But you can bet UT fans are going to be wishing they had signed 30-32; they are going to need the extra players if they have any hope whatsoever in competing with someone like Alabama who still needs to shed players in order to get down to 85.

We need your help!  If any Volunteer fans know of a site that offers an updated roster break down, similar to this one for Notre Dame, please pass along a link.  In case you can't read the numbers, the ND chart shows that they have 5 fifth year seniors, 15 seniors, 22 juniors, 18 sophomores, and 23 freshmen.  The 23 freshmen come from Brian Kelly's first recruiting class.  Important note here, ND only has 83 total scholarship players going into fall camp - not 95 like Alabama the last couple of years.  But back to the topic at hand...we need help getting solid numbers for Tennessee.

Where are we going with this???  We are trying to show you what happens when you don't oversign and then suffer unexpected attrition after signing day.  In Alabama's case, the loss of two players like Brown and Douglas would hurt, but it wouldn't hurt nearly as bad as it is going to hurt Tennessee.  They are going to have to wait until next year to fill those holes, unless they can find a JUCO transfer at the last minute.  This is why guys like Saban oversign on signing day...they don't wait until the attrition happens and then seek out additional recruits to fill in for the losses because the only thing left after signing day is table scraps.

Dooley is a disciple of the Saban coaching tree having coached under Saban while at LSU and Miami, but he obviously skipped the course on oversigning.  In his time at La Tech (2007-2009), Dooley signed, 22, 22, and 26 players; those numbers were lower than his predecessor at La Tech so without doing a full-blown investigation it appears on the surface that Dooley is not a coach that is going to consistently oversign every year like Saban.  If nothing else, Mark Richt should enjoy some company in the non-oversigning category of coaches in the SEC.

Filed under: SEC No Comments
23Mar/101

Florida Gators Stay Under 85, Barely

After doing a little more homework on this story we have updated the entire entry below...apologies for the confusion.

Defensive tackles Gary Brown and Edwin Herbert were both recently "cut" in order to keep Florida under the 85 limit. 

       

Gary Brown was recently arrested for slapping a woman at a party on campus and was dismissed shortly after; Edwin Herbert was a JUCO transfer who played in 1 game in 2009 and has transferred to a division II school.  By Herbert transferring Florida avoids APR penalties, but given that Brown has not graduated, his departure could hurt Florida's APR score in the future. 

The departure of these two players is timely to say the least as Florida was facing a numbers crunch (surprise, surprise) to stay within the 85 player limit.  Damn it, either SEC coaches have the ability to see into the future or they just know its coming, attrition that is.  And what a luxury it must be to be able to oversign ahead of time to account for the attrition they don't know about yet, such as Brown. 

Here's the deal.  Brown's arrest came after signing day, which means that Florida did not know Brown would be leaving due to his arrest when Florida finished its recruiting class and was two over the limit.  Sound familiar?  Saban did the same thing at Alabama when he oversigned by 10-11 and then had a string of off-season arrests which magically enabled him to stay under the 85 roster limit.

This is where Brian Cook's proposed rule of proving where a scholarship is coming from before signing a letter of intent would come in handy.  Right now coaches have all the cards.  They can sit back and wait and see who they are able to land in recruiting first and then if necessary cut a lesser player to make room for a better one.  Coaches that do this need to be called on the carpet for it.   And don't even think about giving us this BS about the one-year renewable scholarship deal - that is a one-sided agreement at best.  If you are going to play that card and attempt to justify cutting players because scholarships are only good for one year, then you have to be willing to swallow the fact that players do not have the same option - they are not able to leave after one year with no strings attached.  If a player wants to leave on his own he has to sit out a year, period.  And if you are so in favor of the one year rule and have no problem cutting players, then why not endorse players being able to act as free-agents and play wherever they want whenever they want?

Florida signed 27 recruits this year, some of which enrolled early and counted towards last year's numbers.  However, Florida must have had 60 players returning on scholarship on signing day because 60+27=87, which = 2 over the 85 limit; we're working to confirm their roster numbers now and will update this when we have those numbers.   Most likely it wasn't the 25 per year limit that forced Florida to drop players, it was the 85 roster limit.

A confirmation tweet from Palm Beach Post writer, Ben Volin.

"The Gators were 2 over the scholarship limit after Signing Day, but that problem has been resolved. DTs Gary Brown & Edwin Herbert are gone."

http://twitter.com/GatorBenPBP/status/10877947999 

It also just so happens that Florida signed 3 stud defensive linemen in 5 stars Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, and 4 star Leon Orr.  So the writing was on the wall for Herbert.  But we have to ask, which one is it, dumb luck or calculated future planning?  Florida either got lucky to have, by sheer coincidence, signed 3 mega recruits at a position they were going to have attrition at but didn't know it at the time of signing the new recruits, or they just said the hell with it and signed all they could get away with and figured there would be a few months to sort the bodies out. 

Either way, the whole damn thing stinks if you ask us.  Unless we are blind or just ignorant, this appears to be a system that depends on a certain number of players failing in order for the coaches and universities to succeed.  By coaches constantly oversigning they are putting extra undo pressure on their rosters and putting themselves in a position to have to cut players.  The math here is simple.  If Florida takes the 25 recruits they had room for on signing day and Brown gets arrested and Herbert decides on his own that he wants to transfer, then Florida should be left with two open slots for next year and they will just have to get by until then.  But by oversigning, there is no real impact by the loss of these two players, instead, Florida actually avoids penalties for going over the 85 limit. 

The real frustrating part is that it has already been proven that oversigning is completely unnecessary - Texas, USC, and Ohio State, just to name a few, have all won National Championships without once oversigning and cutting players or subsidizing attrition by taking extra recruits ahead of time.  If they can do it, damn it, so can Florida, Alabama, LSU, and the rest of the SEC teams.  Or can they?  Could it really be that without oversigning players every year SEC team rosters would be such that they would not be able to remain as competitive?  Look at Auburn's numbers.  From 2002-2010 they signed 83 more players than their last bowl opponent, Northwestern.  What if they took the same number of players as Northwestern over that time period (170 instead of 253) and instead of signing 83 more, they lost 83 to academic ineligibility or off the field character issues...how in the world would they field a team, seriously?

Of course in the eyes of some all of this can be explained and there is nothing here to see, so move along please.

"This case illustrates the fact that quality coaches are always going to have a plan for making it under the cap. There is little doubt that Meyer would've kept these guys if he could. Florida, like most other major football programs, budgets to give out 85 scholarships every year, and it really does them very little good to save the money. If the player is not causing problems and there is even an outside shot he could turn into a contributor, you might as well keep him around. The limit changes that, though, because once you hit the cap, those guys who might turn into something by their senior year are keeping you from having the younger kids who could be something right away or in a year or two with a couple left on scholarship.

Meyer had a plan. Pursue a certain number of players and, depending on how many of them he got, some cuts might have to be made. It would have been suicide for him to offer a single scholarship before he had a prioritized list of which players were on the chopping block and how many commits he'd need before he had to start throwing off dead weight. 

As has been true throughout this over-signing debate, the math is immutable: if the limit is 85 and your current roster plus the new scholarships you promise exceeds that number, someone has to get cut. The faulty reasoning, however, is in assuming that cutting a player is somehow immoral or unacceptable.

The idea that a player is owed 5 years worth of free tuition and a spot on a roster because he, at one point, signed a letter of intent is laughable, and this is an example of how stories like this should play out: a few relatively unsurprising roster moves drawing little in the way of commentary or righteous indignation. 

Brown and Herbert might have gotten five full years of free education, but they got more than most folks get and, just like with Academic scholarships, these grants don't come no-strings-attached. "

http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2010/3/22/1385485/florida-cuts-two-to-make

The comments and justification for oversigning and cutting of players by Pete Holiday are so ignorant that they don't even warrant a response.  This is college athletics, or at least it was, not professional sports.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
22Mar/101

Someone Much Smarter than Us

This article is a couple years old, back before we really latched on to the topic of oversigning and started keeping up with it, but it speaks to the very heart and soul of this website.  Written by a very well-known blogger, Matt Hinton, who used to run the blog Sunday Morning Quarterback, the article is laser focused on Nick Saban's recruiting practices and abuse of the oversigning loophole.  Matt now writes for Rivals and can be found here.

We are linking this for a couple of reasons: A.) because Matt put together version 1.0 of the Saban Cup and probably didn't even realize it at the time (see below), B.) to show that we are not the only ones aware of this or who have blogged about it - there are others out there who have figured it out as well and are against it, and C.) because Matt cites a suggestion made by Brian Cook, another well-known blogger who runs MGoBlog and writes for the Sporting Blog, regarding what the NCAA should do to address the oversigning issue.

"Brian's laid out a sensible policy proposal on this front: players don't have the option to break their obligation to schools; make the obligation a two-way street. When a kid signs a letter of intent, the school should be bound to show where his scholarship is coming from under the limit. If it can't, at least within two or three positions, no letter. If they anticipate a veteran also-ran or likely medical liability on the team will be willing to give up his slot, make him sign a waiver saying so before that scholarship goes up for grabs.

Coaches can hide answers from reporters, but they have to be accountable to their own players, no matter who recruited them."

Brian's solution is a little more lenient than our solution, whereas we we suggested that coaches be required to report their recruiting budget by a certain date (prior to signing day) and that becomes the number of letters of intent they can sign (maybe  you throw in a petition policy where a coach could be granted x number of extra letters - maybe something like 1 per year - but it has to be absolutely clear that the extra guy signed was signed to cover the loss of another guy in the same recruiting class that didn't make it academically - a coach would not be able to get an extra letter if it meant having to take a scholarship from one of the players he claimed when he announced his budget number). 

Therefore, if Saban reports 66 players on scholarship by the deadline date then he gets 19 letters of intent to work with.  Gone are the days of signing and placing, gone are the days of oversigning and culling the rosters, and gone are the days of subsidizing academic and athletic attrition.  And don't tell us it can't be done because programs all over the country are already doing it, just look at the bottom half of our big board.  Furthermore, if you want to play the "academically impoverished" card we don't want to hear that either. 

Regardless of the solution, the problem is clear, oversigning is an issue that is yet to be completely dealt with and it needs to be addressed.

Filed under: Coaching, History 1 Comment
13Mar/1016

Saban’s March to 85 Continues, Grant and Sikes Leave Team

Quick recap: We addressed Alabama's recruiting numbers and the situation they are in this year (same as the last two years and the same as almost every year while Saban has been in the SEC) in an earlier post, here.  Basically, Alabama had 66 players returning on scholarship on signing day and they signed 29 recruits to LOI's.  66 + 29 = 95.  11 of the 29 enrolled early and counted towards last year putting the roster at 77, thus leaving 18 in this class but only enough room for 8 to stay under the 85 limit.  Therefore, 10 players have to hit the bricks.  With the loss of Grant and Spikes, that number is now down to 8.  Robby Green, previously thought to have been booted from the team for rules violations, is still on the roster for now.  He is awaiting due process...

Details on Sikes and Grant here:

The loss of Sikes is a complete non-issue. Hey was a greyshirt signee from several years back under Mike Shula, and never made any impact whatsoever. He never caught a single pass in his career, nor did he ever play a meaningful snap. The height of his career was playing special teams in a few games in 2007, but he redshirted in 2006 and did not play in a single game in 2008. This past year in the Crimson Tide's national championship run, the only playing time he saw was some mop-up duty against Chattanooga. He was a good kid and it is certainly good to see him get his degree -- both for him personally and for us (APR purposes) -- but he was just never a meaningful contributor in any real sense, and frankly I'm not even sure that he was still on scholarship towards the end.

With Terry Grant, however, it was a different story. He was the highly-touted tailback signee in 2006 out of Lumberton, Mississippi -- though in hindsight, it was clear that Rivals dramatically overrated him -- and at one time he seemed to have a relatively bright career in front of him. Of course, though, that was before surgeries for a sports hernia, and it was also before the arrival and emergence of players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Glen Coffee, Eddie Lacy, and Jeramie Griffin. You hate to see it for the young man, but as I mentioned yesterday, it is simply the harsh reality for some by having a roster so loaded with talent and depth.

Interestingly enough, though, it seems that Grant didn't necessarily just give up football, but instead is probably looking to go out the way of the medical scholarship.

http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2010/3/13/1371415/spring-practice-news-and-notes

The article above mentions having a roster loaded with talent and depth, but neglects to mention that it is also a roster that is oversigned.

Saban comments on Grant:

"He's been injured two years in a row," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Grant, who had two surgeries for a sports hernia.

"He decided because of injuries -- he's already graduated -- that he would not come back for his fifth year. He does qualify for a medical, if we need to do that, so he can continue academically. ..."

We're not exactly sure what "qualifying for a medical" means, but we assume that it is some sort of hardship case that enables players to remain in school on some sort of scholarship, but it frees up a scholarship for football--we would like to know more about this.  Also, not sure what "if we need to do that" means either; does that mean if Grant is unhappy about being cut and wants to stay in school they will give him the "medical?"  

Grant and Spikes both used red-shirts already and still have 1 year of football eligibility left, despite already finishing their undergraduate degrees.  The bottom line here is that although they both have eligibility left it is clear that they will not see the field due to the depth at their positions, and the fact remains that due to Saban's oversigning, 10 players have to leave the team. 

The fact that both players have graduated eliminates any APR implications for Alabama and makes the story a little less egregious; but it now raises another interesting point.  Schools avoid APR penalties by making sure players don't leave the team with either not graduating or not transferring to another school.  We find it very interesting that Alabama's graduation rate was the second highest of any BCS Bowl team this year.  You see where we are going here, don't you.  With a higher rate of graduation you have a larger pool of players to "cut" without facing APR penalties.  Probably a bit of a stretch on our part, but it should be noted that Alabama traditionally hasn't had high graduation rates.

What is the issue here?  The issue is that without oversigning Saban would not have 10 extra new recruits (from a top 5 recruiting class mind you) to squeeze into his roster and guys like Grant and Sikes would probably still be on the team.  Does anyone really believe that Grant and Sikes walked into Nick Saban's office, unaware of the numbers crunch, and told the coach they just decided not to return?  If Saban had not oversigned then we would believe a scenario like that, but given the fact that players have to go or Alabama will face NCAA penalties, it is highly unlikely that these two guys just happened to quit football on their own accord.  Also, without the extra 10 players in this recruiting class, would Saban be so willingly to let a player like Grant leave the team or would he encourage him to use the last year of his eligibility?

"Spring is a time where we're going to fiddle around with the roster a little bit," Saban said. "Depth chart means nothing in the spring. Mostly it's for organizational purposes."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4991170

What a luxury to have several extra guys in the bank during spring evaluations and practice.  Saban calls it "fiddling" we call it oversigning, but of course he makes $4 Million a year and we write this blog for free; guess the joke's on us.

Here's what would have happened if Saban was required to announce his recruiting budget before signing day and had been permitted to only take enough recruits to stay within his budget.  Saban would have announced 66 returning scholarship players and he would have been given 19 scholarships to offer, not 29.  In addition, had Saban announced 66 and signed 19 AND Grant and Sikes still left, then Saban would have been faced with a scholarship shortfall, similar to the kind of shortfall Lloyd Carr was talking about here:

"I think it's a positive change from the standpoint of being able to be on the same playing field with a lot of the teams in other conferences," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "Especially when you look at our bowl hookup with the SEC in the Citrus and Outback Bowl, it's an important rule. I can remember going to bowl games with 77, 76 guys on scholarship against a team with 85 ... In bowl games against conferences that have an advantage of doing that, Big Ten teams were at a severe disadvantage."

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2008/01/stricter_scholarship_rules_put.html

We've posted this before, but it is the perfect example of how recruiting classes should be managed and bears repeating here.  Tressel's recruiting method is in sharp contrast to Saban's approach.  In the video below, Tressel is upfront about the number of vacancies and explains the importance of not going over the limit, or even to the limit.  His method rewards walk-on players for sticking it out 4 or 5 years, whereas Saban's method simply discards those that are not able to produce anymore to make room for new players.  

Both methods are within the NCAA rules, but Tressel's method is also within Big Ten Conference rules which do not allow gross oversigning, whereas Saban, residing in the SEC, does not face those same rules.  There is no way a coach in the Big 10 would get away with signing 10 players more than they have room for on signing day, but in the SEC it's just another day at the office because like it or not attrition is simply a way of life. 

More on Tressel's class: At the time of this video (National Signing Day) Tressel was still waiting to hear from Seantrel Henderson, the #1 player in the country and the 2nd OL that he hoped to sign in the class, and Ohio State was sitting at 18 players signed to fill their 20 vacancies.  Shortly after this video, Henderson opted to go with USC and Tressel was left with very little or no options at the OL position they wanted to fill with two prospects.  Therefore, with 20 vacancies and 18 players signed, Tressel's class was done - 2 short of 85.  A week or so later Tressel awards a scholarship to Archie Griffin's son, a relatively unknown prospect who originally wanted to walk on.  This leaves Tressel with 1 scholarship in the bank either for another walk-on or for next year; this is a total night and day difference from Saban's situation where he has 10 players too many and needs to start dropping bodies to avoid NCAA rule violations. 

Essentially, when you look at the 19th scholarship in Tressel's class, he traded the #1 player in the country for a walk-on, but he almost had to - he didn't have three other OL signed because had they all made it academically that would have put him over the limit and he would have to cut players to make room, players like Garrett Hummel and Ryan Schuck who will never see the field at WR with all the depth at that position or a guy like Tyler Moeller who suffered a possible career-ending head injury off the field (Moeller's career story is almost identical to Terry Grant's, both red-shirted and both had a lot of potential, the difference is that Moeller will get his shot to come back and use his last year of eligibility, whereas Grant, due to Saban's oversigning and need to shed players will not); conversely, with the departure of Grant and Sikes, Saban just traded out two spots with new recruits from a top 5 recruiting class for two guys that would have never seen the field this year.  That is a drastic difference.

Nevertheless, the march continues and the number is at 8.  We're waiting for the announcement of a gray shirt or academic casualty next.

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 16 Comments
13Mar/109

Da U Oversigns, Adds Player on Track Scholarship

Thanks to the Michigan State board for linking up this gem. 

The Hurricanes oversigned for the 2010 recruiting class with 29 players. The NCAA limit is 25 players. Since Miami doesn't have any scholarships remaining for football, Anderson will sign a track letter of intent, playing football as a walk-on.

Anderson says to The Miami Herald:

"It was a little strange not talking to the football coaches during my visit,'' Anderson said.  "But the track coaches basically talked for them because they're close to them and know the situation. I like the family thing at UM and the way the football and track teams work together.''

http://www.cleveland.com/ohio-sports-blog/index.ssf/2010/03/glenvilles_latwan_anderson_is.html

If there is any silver lining here, at least Miami didn't sign the kid to a football scholarship and cut a lesser player.  Anderson was the #2 ranked overall "athlete" in this recruiting class and somehow he signs a track scholarship and will walk-on to play football.

Filed under: ACC 9 Comments
11Mar/100

Gerry DiNardo, Circa 1996

We found a Sports Illustrated article from 1996 with some interesting comments from Gerry DiNardo.  We can only imagine what a sobering experience it was when he came to Indiana and had to start recruiting by a different set of rules after spending 5 years at LSU. 

If you remember, he was the coach that led the charge in 2000 to get the Big 10 to approve a rules change to allow Big 10 schools to sign an additional 3 players over the 25 per recruiting season limit, provided the coach could prove that he had room for 3 in his previous class.

"There are 28 new Tigers, although some of them will not qualify academically (which will keep LSU within the NCAA one-year maximum of 25 new scholarships) and many will never contribute. 'It's a fact that only about a third of the guys you sign will end up starting, because if you get it going, you sign someone the following year that's better,' DiNardo said. 'There will be injuries, transfers, failures. There always are.'"

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1007746/1/index.htm

DiNardo is right about the fact that once a coach get going and has some success he should be able to start landing better talent, and eventually these coaches are faced with a dilemma, sign as many of these better players as legally possible under the 25/85 rule and by exploiting the oversigning loophole of cutting guys between signing day and august or simply take what your roster budget will allow. 

DiNardo was at Indiana for three years and those were the 3 highest years in terms of recruits.  Despite signing a larger number of players, DiNardo was never able to put it together.  Indiana never won more than 3 games in a single year during his time and he was fired.

We find this extremely interesting.  One of the main things oversigning enables is for a coach to completely gut an existing roster and get his guys in faster; most of the time this is when you will see the most abuse of oversigning.  There have been several coaches who have coached other places (Ron Zook, DiNardo, Saban, Rodriguez, etc) that were all somewhat successful (ranging from NC caliber success to mediocre success) in other conferences (which obviously have different recruiting rules), yet failed to get it done in the Big 10.   Meanwhile, coaches that have had longer tenures in the Big 10 such as Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel, and Joe Paterno, and all who were accustom to the Big 10 recruiting rules, have won National Championships and were (in Carr's case) or continue to be very successful (in Tressel and Paterno's case).  Our point here is that most new head coaches coming into the Big 10 are going to struggle if they have to come in and wade through 3-4 years of recruiting to get their guys in, instead of gutting the roster in 2-3 years by oversigning.   This is not to diminish the actual coaching these guys do - some coaches are much better recruiters than they are coaches - but there is definitely something to all of this.

Here is a look at his numbers while at Indiana (2003, 2004, and 2005); kind of interesting that Indiana's numbers leveled out some after he left. 

Indiana Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Indiana B10 21 25 26 25 21 20 20 19 25 202 22.44

The article is actually a great read.  Check it out.

Filed under: Big 10, History, SEC No Comments
9Mar/104

Calling Michigan State Fans!

 

We need some help tracking down the number of kids signed in each class from 1995 - 2000.  We have a project we are working on and we really need solid numbers from those years for Michigan State, not the number of players enrolled (unless that is all you have) but the number of players signed.  If any of you has that information or can point us in the right direction we would greatly appreciated it.

Filed under: Big 10, History 4 Comments
8Mar/100

The Big 10 Legalizes Oversigning

Maybe legalizes was a strong word, it's more like they made a slight rule change back in 2002, but stick with us, this gets pretty interesting.  We have already covered the history of oversigning in the conference that has the worst problem with it, the SEC.  Now we are starting to dig around and look at the history of oversigning in other conferences.

Recently, we found an article on Penn State's Collegian website from back in 2002, which we found extremely interesting. 

"According to Scott Chipman, Big Ten associate director of communications, the Big Ten has passed a ruling to allow teams to "oversign" on national signing day. Starting next season, teams will be able to sign more players to scholarship than were lost the previous season to graduation, which they are not currently allowed to do. Chipman said that the rule has been passed, but is still in the legislative process. The Big Ten released no further comment, and Chipman would not explain the workings of the legislative process."

"The cause was championed by Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo, who is in his first year at the helm for the Hoosiers. DiNardo spent four years as the head coach at Vanderbilt and five in the same position at Louisiana State, where he was able to oversign players. DiNardo and his staff introduced the legislation, and DiNardo lobbied faculty representatives."

"There's no way in most universities that you can manage your roster to be at 85 scholarships if you're not permitted to oversign and allow for no attrition," he said. "I don't know any program that has no attrition from the first Wednesday in February until the day freshman report. I think that creates a competitive disadvantage for the Big Ten as a whole in interconference play."

http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2002/10/10-23-02tdc/10-23-02dsports-03.asp

The article delves further into the topic and we'll get into that after the jump. 

Click the link to continue reading >>>

4Mar/100

LSU Fans Weigh in on Oversigning

A good friend forwarded us a link to this LSU message board where they have been talking about oversigning.  It is really interesting to read people's opinions on the topic.  Great stuff LSU fans!  Thanks for reading the site.  Congrats on the Saints winning the Superbowl!

http://www.tigerdroppings.com/rant/MessageTopic.asp?p=17890317&Pg=1

Filed under: Feedback, SEC No Comments
3Mar/102

Feedback!

If you haven't read the news, Michael over at Braves & Birds - The Atlanta Sports Blog has been reading our site and decided to write an essay on the topic of oversigning and the nature of our website.  Michael is an Attorney from Atlanta, Georgia, we on the other had are not attorneys (we didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn, but we're going to give this a go anyways), but we did we bounce emails back and forth with Michael and he seems like a personable guy, not to mention he has been blogging since we were in diapers. 

So let's take a look at the article.

"I've been reading Oversigning.com over the past few weeks and enjoying the discussion. The authors there take a much harder line on oversigning than I would and at times, their writing devolves into unhinged attacks on the SEC from every angle. (Comparing endowments? Really?) In those instances, they come across as excuse-making Big Ten fans who want to justify the fact that SEC teams have won more national titles in the past four years than Big Ten teams have won in the last forty."

Yeah, we're pretty hardcore on the topic of oversigning.  People write about it from time to time, especially during the off-season and around signing day, but we are the first and only website completely dedicated to the topic.  Why?  Two reasons: 1.) During the 2007 during the National Championship game, we saw a graphic that showed the number of players signed in each of LSU's and Ohio State's previous 5 recruiting classes: LSU 28, 26, 13,  26, and 26 = 119 and Ohio State 16, 24, 18, 20, and 15 = 93.  A difference of 26 players, or essentially an entire recruiting class.  That raised an eyebrow.  It was the first time we could remember a broadcast ever showing those kind of numbers.  2.) A couple of months later we saw Nick Saban on ESPN battling it out with a local sports reporter over his recruiting numbers which led us to this link.  That raised a second eyebrow.  The thing that really got us going was Nick Saban saying:

"It's none of your business.  Aiight?  And don't give me this stuff about the fans need to know, because they don't need to know."

Something about that has always bothered us.  It wreaks of someone having something to hide. 

Unhinged attacks on the SEC.  Have we attacked the SEC, probably so, has it been unhinged, no not really.  If we were attacking the ACC for oversigning, then it would be considered unhinged, but to take the conference with the worst problem with oversigning to task is not unhinged attacking in our opinion.  Calling out the SEC for running off Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Sawenee isn't really all that unhinged either, in our opinion, it's more like factual history.  The post regarding endowments was a follow up on two fronts: 1.) Texas joining the Big 10, and 2.) The SEC running off academic universities because of disagreements on athletic competition, specifically football, and how that has left them poorly positioned in terms of adding a powerhouse like Texas who wouldn't consider joining the SEC back in the 90's because of the poor academic standards.  Again, those are facts, not unhinged attacks. 

Click the link to continue reading >>>

Filed under: Feedback Continue reading
3Mar/101

ESPN’s Outside the Lines Tackles Oversigning

If you care at all about this topic then you need to watch this video.  

Having watched the video, there is no question that ESPN could have done the exact same story on Nick Saban and Alabama.  The parallels are eerily similar.  Big name coach, long-term 35 million dollar contract, coach comes in and oversigns recruits and start gutting the roster, etc., etc.  All of those things are fine when you are dealing with professional athletes, but when you are dealing with unpaid, college athletes it's a different story.

Ramogi Huma, President of the NCPA, is leading the charge on NCAA rules reform.  Go check out the website!

 http://www.ncpanow.org/

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 1 Comment
2Mar/101

APR – Academic Progress Rate

We're going to try and keep this post brief, but during our review of Michael's oversigning essay on his site, Braves and Birds, we couldn't help but think about the topic of APR - Academic Progress Rate.  APR is basically a way for the NCAA to attempt to determine if student-athletes are making academic progress towards graduation.  Here is press release from the NCAA on APR; warning, you are very likely to go cross-eyed while reading the press release.

Not trying to be cynical here, but something about the NCAA's APR system just doesn't seem right.  It's as if the NCAA is trying to put a number on something that you really can't put a number on...academic progress seems more like a subjective matter to us.  Is the NCAA concerned with student-athletes getting a quality education and a meaningful degree, or do they just want some sort of proof that college athletics are not a farm league for the NFL and NBA.

Dennis Dodd is not buying it either:

"And what is happening is not promising, even if you have a shred of skepticism in academic reforms. You can identify if you've ever chased a number -- sales quota, commission, etc. It's less about the process, more about getting to the number. It's easy to agree with Ridpath when he says some schools are more interested in chasing the 925 APR cutoff score than in meaningful degree programs."

http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/story/10170837/1?tag=pageRow;pageContainer

What does this have to do with oversigning and Michael's essay???

Ole Miss was the only school in the SEC hit with scholarship reductions because of APR issues; with a score of 910 Ole Miss was penalized 3 scholarships in football for the 2010 recruiting class.  Schools must score 925 or above to avoid penalty.  Ironically, Ole Miss was one of only two BCS schools to be hit with APR penalties in football, Minnesota was the other school.

http://www.olemisssports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=2600&ATCLID=3734179

If the topic of oversigning had a twin brother from a different mother, it would be the topic of APR.  Much like playing tricky games with recruiting numbers to run through more players (either to get a competitive advantage or to subsidize academic and character-based attrition), we're almost certain there are tricky games being played with the APR numbers.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 1 Comment