Update 6/1/2010: This appears to be a very popular post. It has been linked to a lot of websites over the last few days, and judging by the comments associated with the sites that have linked to it there appears to be some misconceptions as to what these numbers mean. Here are couple of things to know before looking at the original post and the numbers.
1.) The table below is not a listing of teams from worst oversigners to least (we never said it was by the way). It is simply the number of players that signed letters of intent (referred to as "commits") for each BCS school, sorted by the highest number of players signed to the lowest. Granted, there is a strong connection between having a high number of players signed and oversigning. However, not all teams that have high numbers are guilty of oversigning. One reason for this could be the use of JUCO players that only have 2 years of eligibility, another reason could be consecutive years of attrition during the regular season or after national signing day on classes that were not oversigned. For example, if a team has room for 23 guys and they take 22 and then 5 guys transfer during the spring, the team will go into the fall short 6...if this happens a couple of years in a row you could see teams with a high average number but yet never oversigned. They too have a problem but it is not oversigning.
2.) In order to determine if the numbers below indicate that a school oversigned, you need to understand what oversigning really is. It is not just having really high numbers every year and it is not having more than 25 in a single class. Oversigning is the practice of accepting more signed letters of intent on National Signing Day than you have scholarship openings for under the 85 limit when you accept the signed letters and then depending on attrition between signing day and the NCAA deadline in August to get down to 85. This is where we have pointed to Alabama as the easiest to understand example of oversigning. They had 66 players on scholarship on NSD, leaving only room for 19 new recruits; instead of signing 19 new recruits they accepted letters from 29 players. So while Alabama has lower total numbers below, they were actually more guilty of oversigning than Auburn. Auburn's issue is that they have had so much attrition (mostly academic) that they, despite having signed more players than anyone in the country, are always playing catch up. This too is a problem, but it's a slightly different breed of cat. How they have managed to avoid APR penalties is proof that the system for APR is flawed.
3.) Determining which teams oversign is time consuming process and requires some investigation. You can't just look at the numbers below and say that all the teams that have signed more than 85 players are guilty of oversigning. In order to determine who oversigned you have to look at the the 2009 team roster at National Signing Day and determine how many players are on scholarship when the new letters are accepted. This number is typically the number of scholarship players on the 2009 roster minus graduating seniors that have exhausted their eligibility minus any players that have declared for the NFL draft by the deadline on January 15th. Once you have that number you subtract it from 85 and that gives you the recruiting budget for the next class. Lastly, compare how many players a team signed to how many they had room to sign, and that is how you determine who oversigned. It's not an easy process and it is part of the reason why few people really understand this process and how the numbers really work. There will be those that point to the 1-year scholarship rule, but they fail to realize that scholarships are not renewed until July first, therefore, players with eligibility remaining are still on scholarship on signing day.
4.) The real purpose for the numbers in the table below was to show how many players were signed by each school in hopes of shedding light on the schools that are doing a good job of retaining players and keeping their numbers in check, as well as showing the schools that go through a lot more players. Yes, there are some that are guilty of oversigning, but don't go away from this article thinking that everyone over 85 has oversigned because they haven't and don't come away thinking that this is a list of oversigning teams from top to bottom.
Back to the original post:
The results below should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this site or knows anything at all about oversigning, but we thought we would post them anyways. The chart below shows the average number of players signed per team by each conference for 2006-2010 and the table below the chart shows all of the BCS teams and their numbers (note the total and average columns in table are just for 2007-2010 so that you can get an idea of what each school has done in just the last four recruiting classes).
There is really not a lot to say here that hasn't already been said. However, these numbers do give us a pretty good indication of exactly who is doing the best job of recruiting and retaining players at a high rate. The NCAA needs to do something to rein in some of these schools that are simply abusing the spirit of recruiting student athletes. Although there is a NCAA By-Law that states that football scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts, we all know the true spirit of scholarship athletics is to recruit players with the intention of developing them over a 4-5 year period and making sure they graduate from your school. These numbers make it pretty clear who is operating within that spirit and who is simply running through players with a win at all costs mentality.
Recruiting Numbers 2007 - 2010
|Teams||Conf.||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||07-10 Total||07-10 Average|
Note regarding data above: The Total and Average columns are for 2007-2010; we included 2006 numbers just to show how many players were signed prior to the current 4 year rosters. The theory here is that if a team signed 115 players in four years, like Ole Miss did, and signed 30 the year prior to that, you have to imagine that they have a few 5th year guys who red-shirted. So in addition to 115 new players in 4 years, you should have a handful of 5th year guys as well. This just further exposes the oversigning of players relative to taking 5th year guys into account.