2006 – 2010 Recruiting Numbers

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
Auburn SEC 25 30 29 28 32 119 29.75
Ole Miss SEC 30 22 31 37 25 115 28.75
Miss. State SEC 24 33 27 27 26 113 28.25
Alabama SEC 23 25 32 27 29 113 28.25
Arkansas SEC 26 27 26 31 25 109 27.25
Kansas State B12 30 34 33 25 17 109 27.25
South Carolina SEC 24 31 23 29 23 106 26.50
West Virginia BigEast 16 28 30 26 21 105 26.25
LSU SEC 26 26 26 24 29 105 26.25
Iowa State B12 30 25 25 26 28 104 26.00
Oklahoma State B12 29 23 28 26 27 104 26.00
Kentucky SEC 31 29 20 29 26 104 26.00
Baylor B12 29 29 23 28 23 103 25.75
Washington PAC10 22 27 26 19 31 103 25.75
Arizona State PAC10 24 24 28 22 27 101 25.25
Washington St. PAC10 24 27 27 22 25 101 25.25
Louisville BigEast 25 18 26 29 27 100 25.00
USF BigEast 28 27 24 29 20 100 25.00
Oregon PAC10 21 29 22 26 23 100 25.00
Virginia Tech ACC 22 26 31 22 21 100 25.00
Mizzu B12 25 27 24 25 23 99 24.75
Miami ACC 22 19 33 19 28 99 24.75
North Carolina ACC 28 24 18 28 28 98 24.50
Syracuse BigEast 24 27 26 16 29 98 24.50
Minnesota B10 22 24 29 20 24 97 24.25
Tennessee SEC 22 32 18 22 25 97 24.25
Florida State ACC 31 20 32 21 23 96 24.00
Nebraska B12 22 27 28 20 21 96 24.00
Oregon State PAC10 33 34 18 24 18 94 23.50
Oklahoma B12 28 21 21 23 29 94 23.50
Cincinnati BigEast 19 23 24 25 22 94 23.50
Texas A&M B12 23 18 24 28 23 93 23.25
Illinois B10 27 23 28 22 20 93 23.25
Florida SEC 27 27 22 17 27 93 23.25
Michigan B10 19 20 24 22 27 93 23.25
Texas Tech B12 34 26 16 25 25 92 23.00
Connecticut BigEast 22 29 22 21 20 92 23.00
Colorado B12 22 28 21 20 21 90 22.50
Rutgers BigEast 26 23 20 23 24 90 22.50
N.C. State ACC 22 26 17 26 21 90 22.50
Maryland ACC 22 26 17 26 21 90 22.50
Arizona PAC10 25 19 24 24 22 89 22.25
Purdue B10 27 19 26 20 24 89 22.25
Wisconsin B10 23 18 26 21 24 89 22.25
Michigan State B10 28 23 21 23 21 88 22.00
Cal PAC10 20 26 22 21 19 88 22.00
Iowa B10 21 22 25 20 21 88 22.00
Pittsburg BigEast 27 24 19 20 24 87 21.75
Kansas B12 25 23 20 25 18 86 21.50
Georgia SEC 28 23 24 20 19 86 21.50
Texas B12 25 24 20 20 22 86 21.50
Boston College ACC 20 18 29 18 21 86 21.50
Virginia ACC 23 24 18 25 18 85 21.25
Duke ACC 26 21 17 27 20 85 21.25
Indiana B10 21 20 20 19 25 84 21.00
UCLA PAC10 22 11 23 27 23 84 21.00
Clemson ACC 20 23 25 12 23 83 20.75
Penn State B10 24 21 14 27 20 82 20.50
Notre Dame Ind. 28 18 23 18 23 82 20.50
Georgia Tech ACC 16 20 20 21 21 82 20.50
Stanford PAC10 18 19 17 22 23 81 20.25
Wake Forest ACC 15 20 17 23 19 79 19.75
Ohio State B10 20 15 20 25 18 78 19.50
Vanderbilt SEC 25 14 21 18 24 77 19.25
USC PAC10 27 18 19 18 20 75 18.75
Northwestern B10 17 19 20 18 17 74 18.50

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.

Comments (23) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Your first graph really isn’t a fair representation. It would be more relevant if it showed “signed per team” instead of “total signed” due to the differing number of teams in each conference. I recalculated them below to account for this.

    89.4 ACC 1073 12
    86.8 B10 955 11
    96.3 B12 1156 12
    95.8 BigEast 766 8
    91.6 Pac10 916 10
    103.1 SEC 1237 12

    The biggest impact is that the ACC looks a lot better and the Big East looks a lot worse.

    • That does make a big difference, thanks for pointing it out. Look at that gap between the ACC and the SEC, both with 12 teams. That’s 13.7 more players on average per SEC team. Good stuff. Good to hear from you again!

  2. Either I am confused about this new data, or there are some errors in the table below the graph.

    The table is titled “2006-2010″ and it does show 5 years of data (2006-2010) but it seems that the “Total” column only counts the last 4 years (2007-2010).

    Also, check the “Average” column. At first I assumed that was an annual average. But look at WV, LSU and Iowa State… WV and LSU both show a Total of 105, but they have different Average values. And, LSU has a higher Total than Iowa State but a lower Average value.

  3. I think a lot of these players are not making it in to school on the first try and are being double counted, inflating the numbers. I would propose the NCAA adopt something like, you can only sign as many players as spaces available on the roster, up to 85, including players on medical hardship, or on other sports related scholarships, but are playing football. Maybe that would encourage signing only those players that can qualify, but it would reward schools who have low admissions standards. And, players shouldn’t be allowed to participate in Spring practice without going through the Fall season first, or something to prevent all the deferred scholarship grayshirts. But I would still like to see walkons have a chance to play.

    • All the numbers are the same for all schools – all players that are “double-counted” are “double-counted” for all schools. It is not as if players are only “double-counted” in the SEC and no where else. Other schools in other conferences have the same kind of situations, it’s just that the SEC has a lot more than everyone else. A lot more.

      • Do you know why? Hell man, just look at the education standards and achievements (or rather the lack thereof) in the deep south. This data means absolutely nothing without the inclusion of admission rates — try again………

  4. *would it unfairly reward those who have low admissions standards?

  5. Let me say that your efforts are really appreciated, to point out what’s been going on. SEC schools do seem to be able to recruit an “extra” class every four years, so they have plenty more prospects to plug in, for any reason.

    But you would weaken your case if your site has errors, and it does seem that there still are errors in the Table called 2006-2010, in the column labelled “Average.”

    Look at Ole Miss, with an “07-10 Total” of 115 and an “07-10 Average” of 26.33. But 115 divided by 4 (years) is 28.75, not 26.33 — maybe I’m missing something. Conversely, an Average of 26.33 over four years would imply a Total around 105 not 115.

    • Problem fixed…thanks John. I changed the sort order of the data before posting the table it is obviously didn’t include the last column in the sorting…everything should be right now.

  6. Yes, Joshua. You’re exactly correct. What we need here is more oversight by the NCAA. (snort) (giggle)

  7. I read an article about recruiting that showed that due to transfers, attrition, JV recruits, early nfl draft, drop-outs, what ever a typical college team should recruit about 25 players a year. If there are fluctuations above or below the 25 average it is usually the result of improper position recruting practices or an influx of JV players.

  8. Based on my understanding of the data, it would seem that you are drawing inappropriate conclusions. For example, you advance the notion that signing more players than other schools means that athletes are being exploited. However, if a school signs a lot of JUCOs, they are obviously going to have to sign more kids, since JUCOs typically only have two years of eligibility remaining. Also, what about non-qualifiers? If you sign a kid in February and he doesn’t make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse that subsequent August, does that mean the school should have known he wouldn’t qualify and not signed him? In many cases, no one can say for sure whether these borderline kids will or will not be cleared. Are you implying that schools should not give the borderline kids a chance?

    My school is South Carolina and we had a kid who was borderline academically and considered too short by many schools for SEC football. He graduated in 4 years with an excellent GPA and became an all-SEC LB. Are you saying that USC should never have given Eric Norwood a chance to play SEC football?

    Also, USC just completed one of the best semesters academically in its history – the football team’s GPA was the highest on record, if memory serves. I hardly think this supports your theory that these kids are being exploited.

  9. This is meaningless. You have no idea why kids leave a program making a scholarship available for another player. Some are “encouraged” to leave. Others make the decision with no outside influence. The solution is to go back to guaranteeing a 4-year scholarship as long as the kid stays out of trouble and passes. After all, the recruiters are all blowing smoke about the kid’s life being changed with a degree from Whatever U, then a year later, when they have no place on the team for the kid, he’s on the street.
    They can afford it. It might take a few bucks out of the coach’s salaries.

  10. Honestly…who cares? “Boo-Hoo, the SEC recruits too many kids. WAAHH!” The truth is that there are more kids WORTH recruiting in the “deep south” (Thanks for the negative stereotype, Dans. Don’t worry-we’re used to it). These schools tap into their fertile recruiting grounds and extend an offer to everybody worth getting…which just so happens to be a lot of kids. As long as they are not going over their NCAA-imposed scholarship limit, I don’t see where anybody can blame them.

  11. Isn’t it funny how non-SEC fans seem to find everything they can to put the SEC down. I guess the winning percentage in the BCS has a lot to do with it. One thing missing from your inciting report is new head coaches. When a new coach comes in, many time he has players leave because they just don’t fit the new regime.

    It is nice to try to make everything black and whit but I agree with MikeyMike – These teams are not going over the scholarship limits. And, why wouldn’t an athlete with a chance to play D1 football want to sign with a potential National Champion? Oh, I forgot, it isn’t about winning football games. Right!

  12. wow, it looks like definitive proof that oversigning doesn’t equal better teams!!

    the first two BCS participants on the list are numbers 4 and 19.
    compared to 5 teams with losing records in the top 19!!!

    • But there are 3 BCS NC teams in the top 9 (LSU twice and Alabama once). Regardless, we have argued that oversigning is really not necessary – there are several teams that do not oversign that compete for NC – tOSU, USC, and Texas just to name a few. The real question isn’t the what were the results of teams that oversigned, it is “what would those teams be capable of had they not oversigned?”

      • Looks like another topic for rampant speculation. Why don’t you just admit that you want the rules changed so that everyone has to recruit the way that tOSU recruits, instead of trying to imply some form of cheating?

    • Out of 52 teams on that list that signed atleast 86 or more players 32 of those teams had worse records and the end of the 2009 season than when they started in 2006. So I guess oversigning did that give that big of an advantage as some are lead to believe. The combined overall record for those same teams during the periods where they all oversigned were 58% winning record. Basically the average for the above teams that everyone is screaming has an unfair advantage on the field is a 7-5 record during that period.

      • We’ve posted this before, but I guess I’ll go over it again with regards to competitive advantages. Recently Michigan was hit with NCAA violations for exceeding the number of practice hours allowed. The NCAA deemed it as an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. Everyone knows that Michigan had a terrible year last year and there appeared to be no competitive advantage to them exceeding the number of hours allowed for practice time or for having practices evaluated by coaches. However, what you have to look at is not whether or not the competitive advantage resulted in more wins, but whether or not the intent was there to create a competitive advantage. Another thing to consider is just how bad would they have been had they not practiced more. It is all about having a level playing field. The problem with oversigning is that it is a loophole not a violation of NCAA rules, at least not yet. But surely, if we’re going to regulate the number of hours that a team can practice the NCAA should regulate the number of players they can sign.

  13. Go into a contract at 18 years old barely qualifying academically, promised riches and future glory…these coaches should be fired…I wish the SEC had morals..oh yeah..I played for Alabama!

  14. You have no idea what you’re talking about. When the kids you recruit don’t make the grades or decide to transfer for more playing time elsewhere, how is that the team’s fault? When the A-students decide they want to go to Northwestern and play on a team that will rarely win, but they can get a great education why is that team rewarded?

    Your logic is skewed and if the NCAA ever starts looking at these numbers to prove or disprove ANYTHING then college football is in peril. Plus, giving kids “opportunities” is one of the great things about college football. Believe me, the day the NCAA starts using this data is the day “opportunities” go away for some otherwise good kids with bad High School study-habits.

    Be satisfied that Northwestern can compete for Chess Club titles and leave football out of your discussions. As far as USC goes, that’s what happens when you pick the creme of the crop every year. There are only so many Army All-Americans to go around.

  15. UNC only signed 21 commits in 2010. Where are you getting your numbers from…?

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