Oversigning.com
21Aug/1039

NCAA Gives Alfy Hill the Les Miles Treatment

The sole purpose of this site has been to expose the oversigning loophole in the NCAA rule book to the masses, identify the coaches that abuse it the most, and follow the stories of the kids that get screwed in the process.  As we near 3 million hits since this site was created in February, it is pretty clear to anyone who can type the word "oversigning" into a google search box that we have delivered on those three objectives. 

For the last several months, we have closely followed Alabama and LSU as they were both identified as teams guilty of gross oversigning of their rosters.  During that time we were able to predict with a reasonable amount of certainty the number of players LSU and Alabama would have to lose in order to remain under the 85 scholarship limit by the August 1st deadline.   The main problem we have with LSU and Alabama oversigning is that nearly all of the attrition and roster movement below took place after they already accepted over 25 signed letters of intent from new recruits.  When schools accept those signed letters of intent the recruits that sign them are bound to the school but the school is not bound to the recruit.  As we saw with Elliott Porter, LSU screwed up the signing process so badly that they had to just pull the rug out from underneath Porter, who was already on campus, and send him packing because they didn't have scholarship room for him.  Simply put when you accept more signed letters of intent than you have room for when you accept them it's inevitable that someone is going to get screwed.

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


With Alfy Hill's departure it opens a scholarship spot for Harrison Jones who just a couple of weeks ago was on the short end of the stick with regards to the scholarship numbers.  Jones was going to accept being greyshirted until January because due to Nick Saban's oversigning and the unknown status of so many of the players on Alabama's roster it appeared that there wasn't going to be room for Jones.   We'll have more on Alfy Hill in a minute.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


This is in sharp contrast to how a lot of other schools manage their scholarship numbers and the signing process.  As we have mentioned several times, the Big 10 Conference does not allow oversigning, even by 1, much less 8-10 every year.  The practice has not been banned by the ACC but in looking at their numbers it is clear that the coaches and schools in the ACC exercise constraint with the regards to the signing process and outside of North Carolina (Butch Davis) and Miami (Randy Shannon), the ACC has some of the lowest number of signed players in the country.  Same with the Pac 10+2, their numbers are consistently low. 

Outside of looking to get a competitive advantage by moving out lesser players for new recruits, fans of schools that oversign often site that one of the reasons for oversigning is that coaches often don't know who is going to be eligible and they use oversigning as a way to hedge their bets against the NCAA clearinghouse, after all the loophole in the NCAA rule book allows them to do so.

Case and point, Alfy Hill.  Hill was part of Alabama's oversigned class of 2010.  He was cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse, admitted onto campus, completed 3 courses of work, and is now being told that he is not eligible because after reviewing his high school transcript a second time, the NCAA has determined that a couple of his high school courses did not meet their requirements for eligibility.  Hill has now been released from his scholarship at Alabama and will have to go to JUCO or pay his own way. 

This is one of the most bizarre situations we have seen since we really started following oversigning.  Alfy Hill is getting screwed, as is Alabama, and it is completely the NCAA's fault.  The level of ineptitude and the lackadaisical nature of the NCAA is sickening.  The entire signing and scholarship management process that is under the care of the NCAA needs to be thrown out the window and there needs to be drastic reform in order to prevent more kids like Elliott Porter and Alfy Hill from getting screwed over.  The NCAA has managed to create a system so flawed and screwed up that potential student-athletes can get screwed from either side of the equation (Porter by LSU and Les Miles and Alfy Hill by the NCAA clearinghouse).

Between coaches like Les Miles and the NCAA does anyone know what the **** they are doing?  You have coaches signing more players than they have room for and then having to cut players in order to make room and you have a governing body who cannot accurately determine if a player is academically eligible in a timely manner and leaves a loophole in their bylaws that allows coaches to hedge their bets against their ineptitude.   It is almost like the NCAA is telling coaches, "since we are not efficient enough to tell you who is academically eligible in a timely manner so you know exactly how many players to sign or who to sign, just go ahead and sign as many as you want and sort it out later."  WTF???

The combination of coaches willing to oversign and ineptitude of the NCAA is a lethal combination that results in guys like Porter and Hill getting screwed.

This by no means excuses coaches that oversign.  They know the deal and they should at least keep their side of the street clean and some do - shame on the others that don't (Les Miles, Nick Saban, Houston Nutt, Randy Shannon, Butch Davis).  After all, it is these coaches and not the NCAA that are in the living rooms of recruits promising them and their parents that they will take care of them for the next 4 years. 

The bottom line is that the entire recruiting and signing process needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with a system that permanently closes the oversigning loophole and determines academic eligibility in an accurate and timely manner.   The new system should provide coaches with the exact number of players they can sign without going over their limit (which means the number for each team will be different every year based on who each team has graduating and leaving for the NFL early) and it should provide them with a list of players cleared to be signed.  They also need to make the letter of intent a two-way binding agreement, not a one-way agreement that only binds the recruit to the school.

Filed under: NCAA, SEC 39 Comments
18Aug/1056

Steven Wesley Speaks

Special thanks to one of our readers, James, for sending this story our way.  Steven Wesley has some choice words for Miami head coach Randy Shannon:

"If I had a chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't play for coach (Randy) Shannon."

"It didn't have anything to do with me being academically ineligible. It didn't have anything to do with me not being in good shape," he said.

"It didn't have anything to do with that," he continued. "That came down (to) a decision from coach Shannon personally. It was nobody else."

http://www.theledger.com/article/20100817/NEWS/8175014/1002/SPORTS?Title=Wesley-Responds-to-Dismissal-at-Miami

It is pretty obvious to us what happened to Wesley, he was caught on the short end of the numbers game stick.  We knew this was coming and could see it coming a mile away when Seantrel Henderson announced that he was leaving USC and was headed to Miami for a visit.  We knew that Miami didn't have scholarship room for him and that someone would have to hit the bricks in order to make room.  We just didn't know who. 

Wesley appears to be headed to the SEC's favorite oversigning dumping ground, the University of North Alabama where Terry Bowden is making a living coaching the leftovers from the SEC's oversigning machine.  Talk about getting screwed over.

"This is a real drastic, total lifestyle change," he said. "From Miami, you go from seeing palm trees and 70-degree weather every day to coming to trees that are bigger than all the buildings, to 100-degree weather."

Speaking of Terry Bowden, he is on record saying that some of the players he "receives" at UNA have been "run off" by other coaches:

“We didn’t invent the idea of kids transferring down to Division II from Division I,” Terry Bowden said. “Some of these kids have been run off by new coaches who think they recruited better players.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/sports/ncaafootball/29bowden.html

Parents should take Wesley's story into consideration when considering the University of Miami, especially if they try to sell you on the notion that they are interested is taking care of your child for 4 years of college.

  • Coach oversigns roster - check
  • Helpless kid gets shuffled out the door to make room for a better recruit - check
  • Kid comes out publicly and claims he was pushed out - check
  • Kid lands in Division II to a place where most all oversigning casualties end up - check
  • Coach for said team states that he knows that the players he transfers in are being run off - check

If there was ever any doubt that oversigning is a serious issue this should eliminate it, permanently.

Filed under: SEC 56 Comments
15Aug/1020

The Machine

In a story ESPN The Magazine published on the birth of Georgia State's football program, they interviewed recent Alabama transfer Star Jackson, and when we read the following quote the first thought we had was William Bradford Huie said this 69 years ago.

"Bama is a machine. You do it like this, and if you don't -- your ass isn't playing."

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/08/bill_curry_star_jackson_was_al.html

Star Jackson's transfer to Georgia State has drawn a lot of attention, primarily because of when it occurred (which was after Saban accepted more signed letters of intent then he had room for when he accepted them AND after Jackson spent the summer competing against a new QB recruit 5* Sims for a spot on the roster) and the circumstances surrounding his transfer.

His comment regarding Alabama and calling it a machine rings a bell for us because one of the first posts on this site was about a man named William Bradford Huie.  Huie wrote a spectacular piece on his Alma Mater in 1941 called  How to Keep Football Stars in College, and in his piece he refers to Alabama as a machine.

"Three thousand hopeful young men have entered the University of Alabama to play football during the fifteen years I have been close to that machine. Fifteen hundred fell out by the end of the first semester. All of these initial casualties had played football in high school and had learned little else. When the athletic department dropped them, what could they do? Even if their parents could afford to send them to classes, they were not prepared. They had come to college prepared only to play football. Had football not robbed them of their opportunities in high school some of them might have worked out successful college careers." 

More from his piece here.  The problem back in the old days at Alabama was not the scholarship limit, but the 5-year eligibility rule.

"The Red Shirts composed the "suspension" squad. They were the fifty or more prospects who had already served their time on the freshman squad but had not yet been chosen for the varsity. You see, under the five-year eligibility rule in the Southeastern Conference a boy can play a year on the freshman squad, a year on some intermediate squad, and still play out his full three-year varsity career. Thus in the spring the coaches look over the varsity and see what is needed to fill the holes resulting from what the sports writers politely call "graduation." They look over the Red Shirts first since they are older and better developed. Then they pick up a few from the freshman squad. Next they consign the rest of the freshmen to the Red Shirt pool to grow and develop another year. The chaff portion of the Red Shirt squad is then fired off the pay roll, and the brain trust promptly allows them to flunk and fall out of school. This fate will already have caught up with more than a hundred freshmen before the end of the first semester." 

We highly recommend you read our previous post on his piece and read his entire article yourself. 

Things have changed a great deal since Huie's time, or have they?  Sure there are scholarship limits now and the sheer numbers have changed, but based on Star Jackson's story and his calling Alabama a machine, how much has really changed?  Guys are still trying out for scholarship spots against oversigned rosters and fighting an uphill battle against numbers, just like back in the day.  Things were a lot more brutal back in those days, guys nowadays are at least getting medical hardship scholarships and opportunities to transfer to other schools. 

In the end, the bottom line is that institutions of higher learning are not supposed to be football "machines."  And according to the NCAA mission statement they exist to ensure that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount, not the sports experience.

Filed under: SEC 20 Comments
14Aug/1049

Saban Wants a Level Playing Field

Nick Saban seems to have taken the lead on the issue with the player agents.  Last week he held a conference call with various representatives from college football, the NCAA, the agent community, and the NFLPA to discuss how to deal with rouge agents, citing his strong desire to maintain a level playing field for all of the agents as they recruit college players to become professional athletes and to make sure that those not acting within the spirit of the process are punished and penalized.  You see the professional agent industry is loosely regulated in that there are some clear cut laws/rules, but for the most part everyone is just hoping the agents operate with professionalism.  Remind you of anything?  In reality the recruiting process for college players to the NFL and their interaction with agents is very similar to that of college coaches with high school players.

“We’re all trying to put our heads together to figure out what we’re going to do to level the playing field so that everybody that’s in the agent community, which some of them are very professional, have the same opportunity to recruit players and that the bootleggers out there are guys that get punished and penalized,” Saban said.

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/08/12/10/A-New-Approach-to-Scouting/landing.html?blockID=289137&feedID=4354

Glad to know Saban is so concerned about maintaining a level playing field.  We can only assume that he is holding similar conference calls with the NCAA regarding oversigning.  The hypocrisy and irony of Nick Saban leading the charge to level the paying field for agents and making sure that those who act unethically are punished is the damnedest thing we have ever seen since we started this website.  Wait a minute, Les Miles trying to tell everyone that what he did to Porter was not a big deal was the damnedest thing we have ever seen, this takes second place though.

We suggest you take a look at the article above and watch the video.

When you compare how coaches in the Big 10 handle the signing process and only take what they have room for on signing day to how Les Miles and Nick Saban oversign their rosters by 9-10 players per year it's pretty clear to see that one group of coaches are doing it the right way with integrity and the other bunch is exploiting the system.  The issue with the agents is exactly the same - it comes down to have two groups of people in the same profession, one operates with integrity and ethics and the other is a bunch of bootleggers.

Filed under: Rants 49 Comments
13Aug/1030

Tony Gerdeman Got It, Few Others Did (Including Us!)

We attempted to correct some of the wrongs the "real" media has been putting out lately with its coverage of oversigning and reaction to Elliott Porter's story, but Tony Gerdeman has shown us that we too missed the mark.

Our general theme with regards to the Elliott Porter story and the media's coverage of it has been that most people are missing the point with regards to the numbers - most media outlets are focused on the fact that Les Miles signed 27 and it was 2 over the single year 25 limit, completely missing the bigger issue which was that LSU was over the 85 limit based on what they lost from graduation/early entry into the NFL and what they signed (27).  They should have signed 18 recruits, not 27.  18 was all they had room for under the 85 limit and had LSU resided in the Big 10 Conference and not the SEC they would have been required to sign 18 and would not have been allowed to sign 27.

However, in our haste to point out that everyone missed the boat with regards to the numbers, we glossed over how the mainstream media missed the target and the real root of the problem all together, OVERSIGNING.

Eagle-eyed Tony Gerdeman didn't miss it though.  Gerdeman has been on the right side of this topic from the very beginning.  He knows the deal and he understands what is really going on with these coaches in the SEC that exploit the oversigning loophole.  In his weekly installment of The Week that Was, Gerdeman comments on the article we mentioned above and adds a really great point that we totally missed.

The gist of the article is detailing the way Miles told incoming freshman offensive lineman Elliott Porter that he needed him to grayshirt—and this was after he was already moved into his dorms, which then forced Porter to ask for his release and try to find somewhere else to go to college.

But that's not what really bothered me about the article. We all know Les Miles has character issues—he went to Michigan for crying out loud, so I don't really feel the need to stoke that tire fire anymore than it's already burning.

My issue is with the way the practice of oversigning was just glossed over in the article, and how perhaps the most ethical way of dealing with oversigning was actually vilified.

Yeah, offering a grayshirt is a jerk move that late in the deal, but it very much beats getting cut. At least the student athlete was given a choice in the matter. Normally in the SEC, they aren't.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't recall the Big Ten ever outlawing grayshirting as the article indicated. You just never hear about it because it isn't used to fitting 27 players into 24 slots.

And it certainly isn't discussed half a year after national signing day.

We wrote a piece on greyshirting being okay, but we really missed the point that greyshirting was vilified more than the oversigning - the focus should be on the oversigning because without it there is no greyshirting of players.  This is like a drunk driver hitting another car and the victim dying on the way to the hospital because of a bumpy ambulance ride and everyone vilifies the medical staff and the ambulance driver while the drunk driver slides under the radar. 

Sounds crazy doesn't it? 

But that's kind of what happened.  Everyone was too busy looking at what Les Miles did with the greyshirt process and vilifying it, while the real culprit (oversigning) slid out the backdoor barely even noticed.   Heck, even oversigning.com, the only blog on the entire Internet dedicated solely to oversigning missed it because we were too busy correcting everyone for missing the real point behind the numbers (that it wasn't the 25 per year rule that was the problem it was the 85 total that was the problem).

Great work Tony!

In the end, the Elliott Porter story and how Les Miles handled everything should have taught everyone the following:

1. Oversigning is the real problem - if the SEC had a ban on oversigning this would never happen.

2. The greyshirt process is not the issue and is not the villian here.  When handled correctly and in the right situations, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a greyshirt opportunity.  We would like to see the NCAA add a few rules to further regulate the practice and create transparency, but in the end greyshirting is not to blame - oversigning is.

3. The main issue with LSU and Les Miles (outside of the piss poor way he pulled Porter's scholarship away from him at the last minute) was not that he went 2 over the 25 limit in a single class, but rather that he went 9 over the 85 limit on National Signing day when he accepted signed letters of intent that bound 27 new recruits to LSU in a ONE-WAY agreement that they can't get out of and at the time he only had 18 openings.  That is the core of the issue and that is oversigning.  LSU had room for 18 recruits, not 27, and had they signed 21 instead of 27 they would have still had a problem, despite not being over the 25 per year rule.

4. Oversigning causes kids to get screwed and it has got to stop.  This is the very reason why the Big 10 banned oversigning all together decades ago.

Filed under: Quick Links, Rants, SEC 30 Comments
12Aug/1011

There is nothing wrong with Greyshirting, Les Miles

It appears that Les Miles has not taken the criticism he has received, which he was rightfully given, for the Elliott Porter debacle well and he has taken to defending the practice of Greyshirting players.   Here are a few of his comments...

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature.

“He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

The practice is common in the Southeastern Conference, but not allowed in other conferences, like the Big 10. CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel was particularly harsh with his critique in a column Sunday, calling Miles “a bad guy.” He had similar descriptions for others who oversign, calling Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt “despicable” and Alabama’s Nick Saban “two evolutionary stages below a lizard.”

Miles said he had not read the Doyel column but “I did get bits and pieces of that.”

“I can tell you no one is more critical of how I operate than me,” Miles said. “I can tell you the guys I visited with and I told, for the team, it might well be the best thing for you physically and might well be best for you and your health and by the count of numbers and scholarships, you might benefit the most by postponing your entrance into school."

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/100425914.html

Allows us to put on our Miles decoder and see if we can decipher what he said -- not sure we'll be able to make anything out of that last quote, though. 

First let us clear up some errors in Laney's original article.

1. The Big 10 has not banned greyshirting players; it is something that is watched very closely but it has not been banned.  Oversigning is not allowed, but greyshirting is allowed in the Big 10.

2. You'll have to read the entire article for this one, but in the original article the general tone is that the issue with Les Miles was the 25 scholarships per year rule and that by signing 27 he was two over the limit, hence the greyshirt offer.  While Laney is right, 25 per year is the limit and LSU was over with 27 eligible, the real issue here is the 85 limit and what took place prior to August deadline.  If you examine LSU's recruiting budget at signing day you can see that by signing 27 they were projected to be 9 over the 85 limit.  Therefore, in addition to the greyshirt offers that were declined there were a handful of other players that were removed in order to make room for 25 of the 27.  We happen to have a list handy.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


When you step back and look at the entire body of work in this recruiting class you can see just poorly Miles has managed the entire process.  The only conclusion you can draw about the series of events is that Les Miles simply signs the 25 max every year and sorts the bodies out later, and until this point it really hasn't bitten him in the ass.   We have a list handy for that as well.  This is every recruiting class for Miles since 2002; some of the numbers came from his time at Oklahoma State.  Roughly a 24 average with as many as 31 in a single class.  And for just about every one of those years there are handful of BS stories about how Les got the roster down either to the 25 for the year or 85 overall.

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00

Based on LSU's numbers at National Signing Day they should have signed 18 new recruits, not 27.  Had all 18 made it academically, like all 27 did, they would have all had a spot, Chris Garrett would be at LSU not Northeastern State or wherever he landed, and Elliott Porter, since he was an early verbal commitment, would be living on LSU campus partaking in LSU spring ball.  But then again, we all know the deal, you know, it's just business and all.  Plus, if Miles only signs the 18 he has room for he might miss out on a new recruit and another SEC school might get him, plus he won't have any extra players to hedge against unexpected injuries, where's the fun in that?

The Les Miles decoder tells us the following:

1. He only cares about the athlete portion of student-athletes.

2. He only reads bits and pieces of Doyel's columns.

3. He is a man with enough money to pay for his son's education and having to greyshirt would not be an issue for him.  Nothing like screwing a kid over and then telling the world that it wouldn't be a problem for him if it happen to his kids - no kidding Les, your son could go to any school in the country and you could stroke a check for the full 4 years and never even blink.  A four year education is rounding error on your balance sheet.  For the rest of the working stiffs and the underprivileged in this country who don't make $3MM  a year being a coach, having to pay for 1 semester of college can be an issue.

4. He told his players something about scholarship numbers and greyshirts, but we don't think he had any idea what he told them, when he told them, or who he told.  Reminds us so much of his explanation of the time out at the end of the LSU - Ole Miss game last year.

How can you seriously believe that he knows what is going on with regards to recruiting numbers after something like this: http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

The problem wasn't that he offered a greyshirt to Porter, it was how it was offered and when it was offered, and for Miles to come out and take exception with the criticism further proves that he has no clue that he did anything wrong.  Perhaps that empty suit Mike Slive should have a talk with him about managing scholarship offers and proper etiquette when dealing with potential student-athletes.

Now let us address the greyshirting and scholarship numbers for next year.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with greyshirting a player provided there is an understanding between the school and the player way in advance.  Obviously, we want the NCAA to do something about oversigning and our hope is that by closing the oversigning loophole we create transparency in the entire signing process, especially the greyshirt process.

So here is a scenario that we would like to see happen:

A school has 18 openings that can be filled on National Signing Day because that is their established recruiting budget for the year based on who they have graduating and who they have leaving early for the NFL.  Given the 18 LOI limit, the school is given the option to sign up to a certain number of greyshirt prospects (let's say 3 per year).  These three extra players are signed to a different type of LOI that explicitly states that the school has to honor their scholarship offer the following year but the players are free to accept scholarship offers from other schools and are not bound to the school offering the greyshirt. 

This keeps the school at or under the 85 scholarship limit, allows them to sign a few greyshirts for the next year to accommodate players that are willing and able to pay their own way until the next year and obviously really want to go to a certain school, and it eliminates the Elliott Porter scenario, which absolutely has to stop.

Now for the scholarship numbers next year.

Greyshirting creates a scenario where you are counting scholarships forward.  Let's take Alabama for instance; it appears that they have 3 potential greyshirt candidates this year that will join the team next year and count to next year's numbers.  Looking at Alabama's scholarship roster it also appears that they only have 9 scholarship seniors and 5th year guys who will be freeing up scholarship room for the next recruiting class (feel free to correct us on that Bama fans).  When you subtract the 3 greyshirt players from the number of scholarship seniors for next year the number of openings looks something more like 6).  According to Rivals Alabama already has 17 verbal commitments.  Let's say there are a 5 Juniors who jump to the league, that's only 14 scholarship openings.  Does anyone think that Saban is done recruiting for the year??? 

LSU is in the exact same situation, small senior class and already over committed (verbally at least) in terms of having verbal commitments from more recruits then they have room for next year.

And come next year we'll see all kinds of transfers and hear all kinds of stories attached to them, but at the end of the day it's all garbage because regardless of how many "mutual agreements to leave" we hear the bottom line is that in the business of college football, especially in the SEC, it's out with the old, injured, and less than, and in with the new.  After all, fans care just about as much about winning the recruiting national championship as they do about the BCS national championship.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 11 Comments
8Aug/1062

Let’s Talk Solutions

I think we can all agree to one degree or another that oversigning is a major issue.  It took some time for some of you to come around, but with all of the news coming out around the country, especially from sources far more credentialed and reliable than us, it's pretty clear to see that this issue must be dealt with.

Note: we removed the link to Doyle's article on oversigning and replaced it with a much better one from Andy Staples. 

So let's hear some solutions.  We have spent enough time arguing back and for as to whether or not it is a problem, that debate is over, time for solutions. 

Post your solution in the comments section and we'll discuss there.

Update: Our Solution

There are several areas surrounding the signing process that have an affect on oversigning, such as, determining academic eligibility, a student-athlete's desire to transfer, greyshirting, and injuries.

There is already a working model in place for dealing with all of these areas and doing so without oversigning players.  The Big 10 Conference has been at the forefront of this issue for decades and it has worked with great success with regards to preventing oversigning. 

Our solution would be to take the Big 10 Conference model and tweak it slightly and have it apply to all BCS conferences.  The overall theme in our proposal is to turn the LOI into a more meaningful agreement - for intents and purposes, the LOI might as well be considered a scholarship agreement, not just a one-way agreement that binds the recruit to the school but not the school to the recruit.

1. Determining the annual recruiting budget.  The NCAA provides a baseline 25 scholarships per year rule, but as we know 25 x 4 = 100 and 100 > 85 (plus with the redshirt rule there could be some 5th year guys on scholarship).  Therefore, a standing 25 rule across the board does not work and needs to be adjusted annually on a  team by team basis.  But how do you do this?  The most accurate way of determining how many openings a school has for new scholarship players is to take the previous year's scholarship roster and then remove graduating seniors, 5th year players that have exhausted their eligibility, and juniors that declare for the NFL draft or (new) any student-athlete that declares to transfer by the January 15th deadline. 

This method of determining the number of available openings is in line with the NCAA mission of preserving the amateur status of student-athletes and ensuring that their educational experience is paramount.  Don't worry, we'll address the 1-year renewable scholarship stuff and the transfers in a minute.

The Big 10 uses a method very similar to this (they don't have the transfer rule, we added that here as part of our proposal) and it provides their coaches with the exact number of openings they have room for on National Signing Day with is the first Tuesday in February. 

2. Limit schools to only accept the number signed letters of intent that they have scholarship room for.   In keeping with our theme, limiting the number of LsOI that can be accepted makes coaches work harder to ensure that every LOI they accept is in essence a scholarship.  If it is determined that a school has 17 scholarship openings and they can only sign 17 players to LsOI, coaches will work harder to make sure that all 17 are good to go.

So using the established budget (above #1) schools are only allowed to accept that number of signed letters of intent.

Again, the Big 1o has been doing this for decades. 

3. Handling student-athletes that want to transfer.  This is another tough topic to regulate.  The current system allows student-athletes to transfer pretty much whenever they want, provided they get a release from the school they are at and provided they are willing to sit out a year.  In many, many cases this is a very one-sided arrangement and players are often shafted by having to sit out, which is why many of them transfer out of Division 1A to avoid having to sit out.

We purpose that student-athletes be allow to declare their transfer intentions by the same deadline Juniors have to declare for the NFL, January 15th.  If they declare to transfer by the 15th they can avoid having to sit out 1 year. 

This isn't the perfect solution, not sure there is one, but here is what it does.  A.) Gives the student-athletes an opportunity to transfer without penalty, B.) Protects schools from being caught off-guard with off season transfers (don't worry we'll address student-athletes transferring after the 15th deadline) and not having scholarships to replace them with, C.) Completely eliminates students transferring because the roster is oversigned and they are buried deeper than they would be on roster that is not oversigned. 

For student-athletes that want to transfer after the January 15th deadline, they can still do so, but they have to sit out a year.  In order to make it equitable for the schools, they will be able to replace the transferred student with a new recruit, but only after the transferred recruit is enrolled into the new school.  This means that the school cannot accept a signed letter of intent from a recruit binding him to the school until the previous player has finished transferring.   This eliminates a school from having a new recruit bound to a letter of intent before the opening is really available, which is what is happening now.  This also gives schools an option to replace the player in the current year if they so choose, provided they stay under 25 overall.

This overall plan for handling transfers gives student-athletes an out, protects schools from not being able to replace transferred students, and eliminates the scenarios we see where coaches have oversigned their roster and players start to transfer because they had a "mutual agreement" with the coach that it was in their best interest to transfer.

4. Handling academic eligibility.  This is one of the main reasons why we see coaches oversign.  The problem here is that often time when a player doesn't qualify academically they usually don't make it back.  Two years ago Huston Nutt signed 12 players he knew wouldn't qualify academically and two years later did any of those players actually make it back to Ole Miss?  Maybe a couple, but the rest were simply a pawn in the recruiting game where Nutt was trying to generate a buzz at his new school by signing 37 recruits.  Total bullshit.

So here is how we solve the problem.  In keeping with our overall theme of making the LOI a more binding agreement, if a player is signed and doesn't make it then he is given the option to be sent off to prep school for 1 year and the school has to eat the scholarship while he is there.

This makes it a true partnership, gives the school an opportunity to take a slight risk without putting the kid at risk, and it eliminates oversigning to hedge bets against academic ineligibility.

5. Handling the non-renewal of the 1-year scholarship.  We're not going to say that we think they should go back to the 4-year scholarship agreements because we do think there are definitely situations where a player should be denied renewal of his scholarship, but we are going to say that non-renewal should only happen when a student-athlete doesn't meet the academic requirements, violates a campus law or criminal law in public, or violates clear cut, written team rules.  As for the team rules there needs to be complete transparency and player cannot be removed without written explanation of the rules violation and the NCAA should hold an exit interview for each player removed for violation of team rules to ensure that players are not being run off by a school through the combination of a coach not renewing his scholarship and the financial aid department agreeing with the coaches ruling simply because they don't want to disagree with him.

6. Scholarship shortfalls. In order to ensure that all 85 scholarships are used, coaches will have the option to give out 1 year scholarship rewards to any 4th or 5th year walk-on players who have proven themselves worthy of a scholarship reward for excellence in the classroom and in the community.   

Summary

Outside of a few small tweaks, this is by in large the system the Big 10 conference has been using for sometime and it has proven to eliminate oversigning.  We added a few things here and there but the overall theme is to make the LOI a TWO-WAY binding agreement and restrict coaches to accepting only what they have room for on National Signing Day.  This completely closes the oversigning loophole that is being exploited and resulting in kids like Elliott Porter getting screwed over before he even gets started on his college education.

Filed under: Feedback 62 Comments
8Aug/1060

Most Common Arguing Points

Here are some of the most common arguing points people have tried to use in defense of the practice of oversigning (in random order):

1. The SEC banned oversigning when it created the Houston Nutt rule and set the limit to 28 signees per recruiting class, oversigning is no longer an issue.

Wrong.  The SEC did not ban oversigning with the Houston Nutt rule; it simply put a cap on the number of players that can be signed at 28.  Obviously, only 25 can be assigned to a single class per NCAA rules, which allows them to either back count 3 recruits to the previous year if they didn't take a full 25 the previous year or they can greyshirt 3 recruits and have them delay their enrollment until the following January and count towards the next year.  The problem is that 28 x 4 = 112 and you can only have 85 on a roster at a time.  The SEC rule lacks the supplemental rule of requiring coaches to prove that they have room for every signee they take at the time they accept a signed letter of intent that binds the player to the school and prevents them from going elsewhere until the school releases them.  This is the fundamental problem with oversigning -- coaches are binding players to their schools before they truly know if they have room for them or not.  If they knew that they would have room then we wouldn't have to wait until the last day before fall camp to see who is being cut. 

In the Big 10 conference, coaches are encouraged to establish their recruiting budget (number of openings for new signees) ahead of National Signing Day and stay within those limits; Big 10 coaches are allowed to sign up to 28 players to a single class, but they are required to petition the Big 10 office and prove that they have room for the 3 extra players and that signing the 3 extra players will not results in the removal of anyone currently on the roster with eligibility remaining.  They are also not allowed to accept a signed letter of intent for numbers 26, 27, and 28 until they receive permission from the Big 10 office and it is our understanding that the Big 10 office reviews the roster in question to make sure that there is room for those players before giving the coaches permission to accept those LOI.  And it is also our understanding that this is not the case with the SEC.

Prior to the Huston Nutt rule, teams in the SEC as a collective group averaged signing 29 recruits per year, which is off the charts high.  The new rule drops that number by 1.  For the conference with the biggest problem of oversigning, setting the limit to 28 helps, but it doesn't come close to solving the problem, and we saw that play out this year with LSU and Alabama who clearly oversigned their rosters and had to work until the last day before fall camp in order to get down to the 85 number.  LSU ended up removing/releasing 9 players between signing day and fall camp and Alabama 10.

Conference Comparisons 2002 - 2010

Comparisons SEC Big 12 BigEast PAC10 Big10 ACC
Average # of Total Recruits Signed Per School: 227 219 215 208 199 199
Total Players Signed: 2,727 2,629 1,737 2,084 2,196 2,394
Highest Single School Total: 253 243 235 235 218 225
Lowest Single School Total: 191 192 201 170 170 174
# of Times Over 25 in Single Class: 54 37 23 28 18 22
# of Times 28 or More in Single Class: 33 24 14 14 5 10
# of Back to Back Classes of 25 or More: 35 24 11 8 6 5


2. There is no law or rule against oversigning so therefore no one is doing anything wrong.

There is no law against adultery either, doesn't mean that it is not wrong.  Stupid argument and as irresponsible as Les Miles saying that his only obligation is to get his number down to 25 every year.

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

3. Oversigning gives more people a shot at a scholarship - if you take it away you are robbing kids of an opportunity to get an education.

This might be the most laughable of all the arguments in favor of oversigning.  First of all, we live in a society and a country where we are blessed with opportunity, and if there is someone who is driven enough to want to get an education they can get an education, without having to be a football star.  There are federal grant programs, student loan programs, academic scholarship programs, and a ton of companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs.  Anyone with enough physical ability to play football could go work at Walmart, McDonald's, or a number of other places and get their education partially paid for and take out student loans or a pell grant for the rest. 

When you oversign your roster that means that players have to leave in order to get the new players in.  There are only 85 scholarships that can be given out each year and very few coaches waste them.  As we explained earlier, there are two models of signing recruits, oversigning and undersigning.  In the undersigning model the "leftover" scholarships (usually 1 or 2, sometimes maybe more) are given to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship through hard work both on and off the field.  In the oversigning model, the same amount of scholarships are given out by a single school, but instead of signing within your budget and giving the leftovers to the walk-ons, coaches pushout  guys on the roster with eligibility remaining and bring in new, often times more talented players with more potential.  At the end of the day, the same number of players are being educated (85), but with the oversigning you have to shove out players and interrupt their education in order to educate someone else. 

The reason we say this is the most laughable argument is because the people that make this argument are clearly more concerned about losing the oversigning advantage than they are about educating young people.  This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to tug at the heartstrings of parents and policy makers, and the people that make this argument about oversigning enabling more kids to get an education are all about protecting oversigning and the clear advantages it has produced; they are worried about losing out a potential future star recruit, nothing more.  College football is a system where future stars are the lifeblood of the program because kids will only be around for 4-5 years; it is becoming more important to focus on the new incoming stars than it is developing the more senior players because by the time they develop they are gone.

4. Scholarships are 1-Year Renewable Contracts; we can cut whoever we want to cut and we are not doing anything wrong.

That is correct, scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts.  These contracts are set to be automatically renewed unless the coaching staff files paperwork to stop the renewal process. This was not always the case with scholarships, as up until 1973 scholarships were 4 year scholarships, not 1 year renewable agreements.

The one-year renewable scholarship, with a limit of five years of athletic aid, has been in place since 1973. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for academic and membership affairs, said the 37-year-old policy has not been a frequent topic of concern among member schools. He noted that NCAA rules require colleges to provide athletes who lose scholarships with an appeals option, typically consisting of a campus panel formed from outside the athletics department. But such arbitration is not common, he acknowledged.

Requiring Division I transfers to sit out a year before competing for a new school prevents coaches from recruiting players away from other schools, said Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2010-05-24-revoked-scholarships_N.htm

Basically, coaches want it both ways.  They want to be able to cut guys that are not living up to their expectations or to make room for someone new that has come along that has more promise, but they don't want the recruits to be able to leave on their own (hence the one-way binding letter of intent agreement) and they don't want other coaches to recruit kids away from their program (hence the rule that requires players to sit out a year if they transfer).  Sounds real fair.  It is our opinion that these changes are lockstep with the increase in coaching salaries and the revenue generated by the sport. 

The people that argue that scholarships are a one-year renewable contract and nothing is wrong are basically agreeing that the coaches should have all of the power to treat players like pieces of meat for their own personal financial gain.  We don't agree. These coaches are paid millions of dollars, the least they can do is not abuse loopholes like oversigning and exploit kids in the process.  If a coach is good enough he should be able to win without having to oversign players.

5. You don't know what you are talking about, coaches know ahead of time which players are going to transfer and that is why they oversign.

We got this argument with regards to Star Jackson.  The argument was that Saban knew that Jackson was going to transfer and that's why he signed Sims.  Our position is that if Saban (or any other coach in this situation) knew that Jackson was going to transfer, then why in the world was he out there competing for a roster spot in the Spring game?  If his replacement or another guy was signed to his scholarship and his transfer was a foregone conclusion, then why was he out there working so hard for a spot on the depth chart?  It just doesn't add up.  The truth of the matter is that these coaches are signing a handful of extra players because they know they have some wiggle room and they always have the upper hand in that they can simply elect to not renew a scholarship or in Les Miles' case just tell a kid there isn't room and he can greyshirt.  That is a problem, but it is not a problem that will be solved without legislation because regardless of how much Les Miles screws a kid over (Elliott Porter) there will always be more players that want to come to LSU then he has room for and there will always be the allure of coming to a division 1 school in hopes of making it to the NFL and making MILLIONS of dollars.  This will almost always override any reservations or concerns about getting screwed over during the recruiting process, therefore more legislation is needed to prevent these coaches from exploiting the oversigning loophole. 

Those are probably the 5 most common arguments that we encounter here on the site in our conversations elsewhere on the topic.  It should be noted that almost always these arguments come from people who are fans of teams that oversign.  Very seldom, maybe only a couple of times, have we heard any of these arguments come from fans of teams that don't oversign.  That in and of itself is pretty telling.  Just look at the comments here on our site and you can count the number of comments on one or two hands that advocate oversigning and are not fans or supporters of a school or conference that oversigns. 

Update: We left out one other very common arguing point, apologies.

6. Oversigning doesn't create a competitive advantage so what's the big deal.

This couldn't be any further from the truth, especially within the last several years.  Over the last several years the ability for coaches to evaluate players has decreased; the NCAA continues to decrease the amount of contact coaches can have with players (mainly out of fear of recruiting violations) which is making it hard for them to evaluate talent.  In addition, the NCAA continues to place more and more restrictions on the amount of time coaches can spend with players during spring and fall training camps and during the off season.  The  net result is college football has become less about developing talent and more about mining for the next "sure thing" 5 star recruit. 

When you oversign you have access to more opportunities to find that "sure thing" whether it be from landing a 5 star recruit or taking a chance on a borderline guy who turns out to be a stud.  It's a numbers game and obviously, given that most of the top tier schools can attract top tier talent, the more of it that you can go through to find the ones you really want the better you will be.

Nick Saban and Les Miles have used oversigning as the backbone of building National Championship teams over the last decade.  If you look at the chart below and look at the number of players signed by Saban (who had the highest average) and Tressel (who had the lowest average), in the years that Saban was in college football he signed roughly 193 recruits; Tressel signed roughly 142 in those same years.  That is a difference of 51 recruiting opportunities over the same period of time.  Any change there might be a couple more good players in that list of 51?  If the difference were 5-10 I don't think we could point at this being an issue, but 51?

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00


Some people will say that this doesn't add up because if you look at Huston Nutt and how many he has signed he should be the greatest coach of all time.  Our response is that oversigning is masking just how bad of a coach he really is and that we could only imagine how bad his teams would be if he weren't running through players trying to find stud players like McFadden.  Oversigning makes average to below average coaches look pretty good and average to above average coaches great or National Champions.

Filed under: Rants 60 Comments
8Aug/108

Sunday Afternoon Reading

We're working on a rather long piece right now that will go over the most common arguments we receive here and we hope to have it up later today, but in the meantime, here is a great article written by Mr. SEC that I think many of you will find interesting. 

http://www.mrsec.com/2010/05/us-justice-department-looking-into-ncaas-renewable-scholarships/

And another one written by David Moulton.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/may/27/david-moulton-ncaa-needs-change-rules-regarding-re/

Filed under: Quick Links 8 Comments
6Aug/109

The Great Debate

We found a really, really cool website called the www.thesportsdebates.com and thought that we would pass along a couple of links to some really well thought out articles on both sides of the oversigning argument.

First, the Dirty, Unfair Business Targets Naïve Student Athletes article (yes it is posted first because we are bias). 

Next, the Do Homework Before Signing article. 

Finally, The Verdict article.

We'll let you read the articles to see who wins the debate.  The one thing we do want to point out about the Do Homework Before Signing article is that part of the problem has been that oversigning has remained a mystery for a long time and not everyone understands what it is (insert joke about Les Miles not even knowing what oversigning is and how to avoid it here). 

That is why this site is here - to help raise awareness.  We cannot tell you how many emails we have received from people telling us they had no idea what oversigning was until the started reading this site; we see the same thing in message boards where fans who have been following the sport for a long time don't fully understand oversigning.  Honestly, it's not rocket science, it's just that there are so many terms and by-laws involved and so many variables that it is really hard to understand at first.  We do agree that everyone needs to do their homework and be responsible, but we also acknowledge that college coaches and recruiting coordinators who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to say almost anything to get a kid to commit, so it wouldn't surprise us if oversigning is never mentioned during the recruiting process.

Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting the site.

Filed under: Uncategorized 9 Comments
6Aug/1025

Les Miles Speaks, Problably Shouldn’t

Les Miles thought it might be a good idea to answer a few questions about the Elliott Porter situation and his scholarship numbers situation.

“You get to a time where you anticipate that your signing class might have room,” Miles said. “At several points in time, I figured that would be the case this year.”

Interesting.  Class might have room.  Figured that would be the case.  He probably thought he had time to clock the ball against Ole Miss last year too. 

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

Clearly Les Miles has no idea what he is doing here.  He believes that his only responsibility is to be within the 25 number.  I guess the 85 number doesn't count in his mind.  The LSU recruiting philosophy is to sign the max number of kids allowed every year and then make whatever roster cuts necessary to get down to 85.  Here are their numbers over the years.

LSU Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 27 222 24.66


Here is the deadwood shuffled out the back door this year to get down to 85.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released

“The opportunity to offer a grayshirt to a guy (this late) is not exactly what I’ve ever done before, but I think the opportunity is a very good one,” Miles said. “If you look at it over time, it still keeps him on scholarship and still gives him all the opportunity for an LSU degree.”

Les, you told the kid he was going to be on scholarship, he was already in the dorm room.  It does not keep him on scholarship between August and January and he does not get to be a part of the team, something he was promised and something he had his heart set on and something he worked hard for during the summer.

And lastly, from Elliot Porter with the quote that proves that oversigning is wrong and what it is doing to kids is wrong.  Why? Because kids are being conditioned to this that this is just part of the deal that getting an education and playing college football is just business, not to mention others are getting FITHLY rich in the process while these kids get hung out to dry.

“I was hurt a little bit, but they have to do what’s best for the team,” Porter said. “It’s a business. (Miles) over-signed, made an honest mistake. He has to do what he has to do, and Elliott Porter has to do what he has to do.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

College football is not a business, well according to Porter it is at LSU.

Filed under: SEC 25 Comments
5Aug/1038

Last Comment on Rod Woodson

Mark Barron from Alabama's secondary doesn't believe that Rod Woodson will be missed at all in the secondary.

And what about Rod Woodson's departure? The sophomore free safety is transferring.

"Rod's a good athlete, but at the same time, we have more athletes that can step up and play at any time," Barron said. "He will be missed, but I don't think it'll hurt us as much as some people - other people - might think."

So there goes the argument that he was too valuable to cut or that he was cut despite being soooo valuable.  Then there is this other tidbit of information...

Alabama signee Blake Sims has been cleared academically by the NCAA and will practice tonight with other Crimson Tide newcomers, according to his father.

Sims was signed as an "athlete" out of Gainesville (Ga.) High School, where he starred as a quarterback. At the time he signed, it sounded as if he would begin his college football career as a slot receiver, but his father, Sonny, said this afternoon that Blake will start off as a defensive back.

"They want him at safety," Sonny Sims said.

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/08/blake_sims_qualifies_at_alabam.html

Are we really supposed to believe that Rod Woodson's dismissal from the team and Blake Sims being cleared academically had nothing to do with each other?  Had Blake Sims not qualified are we to believe that Saban would have still removed Woodson from the team?  After all, no team rules were violated and he is academically eligible.

We'll need to clean up our attrition board for Alabama and remove Blake Sims and replace him with Deion Belue as #10 because he did not make it academically.

Filed under: SEC 38 Comments
5Aug/101

Mike Slive, Empty Suit

The year before last when Huston Nutt signed 500 recruits to letters of intent and then rubbed the NCAA's and the SEC's nose in it by saying that there wasn't a rule that said he couldn't, Mike Slive and the SEC university presidents decided to take a hard stand on the practice of oversigning and banned it in the SEC, or at least that was the spin at the time.

SEC ADs had wanted the cap at 30. The presidents had other ideas. Coaches tend to oversign classes for two reasons: 1) To protect themselves against academic casualties; and 2) To stockpile players by placing signees into prep schools or junior colleges, with a good likelihood those players will come back to them.

"The presidents and chancellors view signing the letter of intent as a commitment to the institution for a student-athlete that is academically capable of being admitted and contributing athletically," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "From their point of view, there aren't other reasons to sign a kid. Obviously, coaches have their own reasons for doing things, and there's a litany of those."

http://blog.al.com/solomon/2009/05/sec_passes_limit_on_football_s.html

In light of that the SEC limit was set at 28 signees per class and the Huston Nutt rule was born.  28 x 4 = 112 but we'll come back to that later. 

So did the new rule instituted by the SEC chancellors, presidents, and commissioner make any difference in oversigning this year?  Well, Houston Nutt didn't sign 37 recruits and his farm system is dead, but a number of schools signed more than they have room for: Alabama had 10 more than they had room for and LSU had 9 more than they had room for when the accepted the signed letter of intent.  Both schools managed to get down to 85 before the deadline in order to avoid NCAA penalties.

Mike Slive's new rule lacks teeth.  The Houston Nutt rule was nothing more than window dressing to quiet the masses and enable the practice to continue.  Mike Slive, as the SEC commissioner, should required that each of his institutions prove where every accepted LOI has an available scholarship tied to it before it is accepted.  And he should prohibit schools from accepting signed letters of intent that bind a player to the school if the school can not show him on paper at the time the LOI is accepted that there is already room for that ONE-WAY COMMITMENT to the school.  By allowing his institutions to exploit the oversigning loophole he allowed guys like Les Miles to screw an innocent kid like Elliott Porter.  And that is why this site exists.

In the end, however, it is obvious that Mike Slive cannot do that; he serves at the pleasure of the SEC university presidents.  Hence the empty suit.  He wears it well though.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
5Aug/101

For the 1,000,000,000 Time

We have never claimed that anyone is violating NCAA rules by oversigning - that is not the issue.  It has never been the issue here.  The rules are not being broken.  The issue is that some schools/coaches have found a loophole in the NCAA by-laws that allows them to accept more letters of intent, which binds the recruit to the school in a ONE-WAY agreement, than they would have room for under the 85 scholarship limit should they honor all of those ONE-WAY commitments.

The schools and the coaches then have the option to not honor that agreement and at any time they can release a recruit from their LOI and the school is not obligated to honor the LOI.

Classic example, a school has 65 scholarship players set to return and they accept 29 signed letters of intent.  Those 29 kids are bound to their commitment to the school and have no options once they sign on the dotted line; well they do have the option to just not enroll and in which case the school that holds the LOI can prevent the recruit from going to another school on scholarship until the 1-year scholarship period expires.  Therefore, the numbers look like this 65+29 = 94, which is 9 more than the 85 limit.  So in order for a coach to get down to 85 something has to happen.  9 players either with eligibility remaining or with a commitment to the school via the LOI have to be removed.   Often times we see players suddenly transfer out of the program, injured players will get placed on medical hardships scholarships, or in the case of Elliott Porter they get completely screwed by the coach and the school and are asked to greyshirt at the last minute because the coaching staff, athletic director, and the university president are reluctant to place oversigning restrictions on their coaches and the coaches they hire are complete morons when it comes to managing roster numbers.

This is completely unnecessary and the only reason this ever happens is because the coach/school that accepts more signed LOI than they have room for is trying to get a competitive advantage and there is nothing in place (no gentleman's agreement or conference rule) to prohibit these coaches from exploiting the loophole.

It would be one thing if the LOI could be broken at any time by the recruits, then maybe you could find some justification for the schools to oversign in order to protect themselves from a recruit leaving.  That is not the case - the recruits cannot break the LOI.  Therefore, it is on the school to do the right thing on the honor system and keep their commitment and not push someone else out in order to keep their commitment.  Obviously there are certain schools that do not know how to operate on the honor system, they simply take the baseline rules and exploit every single loophole they can find. 

The Big 10 has been out front on this issue for decades and have been competing against the rest of college football without the benefit of oversigning and playing games with the roster numbers, and so have a number of other schools such as Notre Dame.  The Big 10 Conference is a working example of the solution to the oversigning loophole and there is no reason why the rest of college football cannot operate the same way.  There is simply no place for oversigning and playing games with the numbers and the lives of the kids like Elliott Porter and numerous others that have been affected by the greed and self-interests of coaches that exercise oversigning.

For those of you who continue to argue that no one is breaking the NCAA rules so nothing is wrong, please stop making that argument, 1. no one is saying anyone is breaking the rules, 2. the practice is wrong and everyone around the country besides those benefiting from oversigning is starting to see the light and agree that something needs to be done about it.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
4Aug/10151

Saban Gets Down to 85 on the Last Day

We'll have more on this later today, but Saban just announced that 1 player is transferring and two players are accepting a greyshirt and will delay enrollment until next year. We said months ago that Saban was over by 10 and that 10 players needed to go; until today we had 7 accounted for and today we got 8, 9, and 10.

The interesting part is that Alabama only has 9 scholarship players on their roster, and with two guys greyshirting this year that leaves only 7 openings for next year plus the juniors that leave for the NFL. Alabama currently has 16 verbal commitments for next year, so much like LSU, they are already over the limit and we will see the exact same thing next year that we have seen this year.

Update:

As we mentioned above, Saban announced earlier today that 3 guys won't be joining the team this fall, two of which have elected to greyshirt.  The one that is getting the most attention is Rod Woodson.  Here are some comments from Saban regarding Woodson and the situation:

"He will transfer and have an opportunity to do that," Saban said. "We were very helpful in trying to give him an opportunity someplace else. We wish him very well. He did a good job for us."

Multiple sources had previously indicated that academics could be an issue in Woodson's case. After the initial announcement, Saban later made it sound more like a dismissal from the team.

"I don't really feel it's a problem, when you have people in the organization who aren't accountable, how not having one would affect anything," Saban said. "We cannot make decisions about the future of players who aren't accountable for what they're supposed to do and not responsible to what they're supposed to do as a member of this team, regardless of what they issue is, behavioral, academic, football-related.

"We have a lot of good players on the team, and I would rather move somebody from another position to play where we don't have enough players than to allow somebody not to do the right things and be involved. I don't think we do anyone any good if we do that."

So did Woodson violate a written team rule or was he declared academically ineligible?  Doesn't sound like it.  Sounds like Saban simply didn't like what he saw out of Woodson, end of story.  Next.  Too bad Woodson didn't have an agent when he signed his letter of intent, maybe his agent could have negotiated a better contract for him when he signed.  That's where we are headed this this pattern, we all know it's coming. 

It is interesting that Saban refers to the University of Alabama as an "organization," he could have fooled us, we thought it was an institution of higher learning that enjoys a tax-exempt status because it exists to educate the masses.  Maybe we should start treating these schools like what they are, semi-pro "organizations," which flies directly in the face of every NCAA and University mission statement.

So here is what the final March looks like for Alabama:

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


Sometimes a diagram is better than wordy explanations; we put together two diagrams that best depict the difference between how Alabama and LSU are managing their rosters compared to programs like Penn State, Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Ohio State, and other brand name power schools.

The first is the OVERSIGNING MODEL which gives the coaching staff an extra period of time to evaluate the players and make decisions on how they are going to get down to the NCAA mandated 85 scholarship players.  This model results in mandatory roster cuts or non-renewal of the 1-year scholarship agreement.

The second is the UNDERSIGNING MODEL or the model where we have coaches who exercise constraint and ethics in the recruiting process and who are guaranteed not to have cut anyone in order to stay under the 85 scholarship limit. 

It doesn't get any more cut and dry than the two diagrams above, and as we documented this year with LSU and Alabama this is exactly what is happening right now.  Couple of things to note: both teams started with 66 players; one signed 29 and one signed 17; both ended up at 85.

At the moment what the oversigners are doing is legal because the NCAA doesn't not prohibit schools from oversigning, but we are of the opinion that they don't realize just how badly it is being abused.  It is our goal here to raise awareness about oversigning and help make the NCAA realize that they have to do something about the entire signing process - it is completely out of control and it is damaging kids.  Not to mention, the NCAA mission is..

Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/portal/ncaahome?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/ncaa/NCAA/About%20The%20NCAA/Overview/mission.html

Our proposed solution has been to create a system where schools are required to declare the number of openings they expect to have before National Signing Day and be limited that number of signed letters of intent.  This number, and bear in mind we are adhering to the NCAA's mission statement that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount, will the number of players that have graduated and any juniors who opt for the NFL early.  That is who should be replaced, not some 3rd string DL who doesn't have the potential of the next 5* stud recruit.

In addition, we recommend that the NCAA require schools to prove that there is a scholarship available before a letter of intent is accepted.  This will eliminate scenarios where coaches like Saban and Miles knowingly accept more letters of intent then they have room for when the accept them, knowing full well they have 6 months to make arrangements in order to get down to 85.  Let's be honest here, guys like Star Jackson and Rod Woodson were dead men walking the minute Saban oversigned his class...everything else is window dressing.  This will also eliminate situations like what we saw at Miami this year where they didn't have scholarship room for Seantrel Henderson when they accepted his LOI so they cut someone in order to make room after the fact. 

We know what you are thinking, "well that will just lead to guys getting cut before hand instead of after."  We have a plan for that as well, as mentioned by one of our best posters here, Mario.  Require that each player leaving a team go through an exit interview at the NCAA office where the NCAA can monitor when players are released from a scholarship and get their side of the story as well as the schools.

That only leaves one issue on the table - the 1 year renewable scholarship rule.  We are on record here numerous times that the 1-year renewal scholarship is something that needs to be addressed as well.  Granted, you need to have something in place in order to remove a player who doesn't meet the academic requirements or violates a university policy, but giving the coaches power to make judgement calls on this not the answer (and save of the BS about the appeal process and the review process by university officials outside of the athletic department). 

Bottom line, there is no reasonable excuse for allowing oversigning, especially when the results are what we have seen over the last couple of days at Miami, LSU, and Alabama.

Filed under: SEC 151 Comments
4Aug/105

LSU Over by 9

Just a quick note; we have updated the March to 85 board for LSU.  As it stands right now, they oversigned by 9 players this last season when they signed a class of 27.  They should have signed 18 recruits.  As we mentioned, it will be real interesting to see how many they take next year given they only have 9 scholarship seniors leaving the team.  They already have 16 verbal commitments (so LSU must be banking on 7 juniors leaving early for the NFL next year or a rash of medical hardships).  Here's the updated board:

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released

Filed under: SEC 5 Comments
4Aug/1011

Elliott Porter Speaks

Elliott Porter made his side of the story public yesterday, which is a rarity because most guys that are cut like he was don't go public with the intimate details because they are still trying to find a place to land.  This is why you rarely hear a player come out publicly about being cut.  Porter, however, appears to be very upset with the situation and decided to speak frankly about what happened - kudos to him.  Here are a few of his comments and based on his side of the story Les Miles screwed him out of a scholarship at LSU.  

Elliott Porter woke up Tuesday morning planning on taking care of a few personal things and preparing for the start of pre-season camp in Baton Rouge, La., today. But a summons to Les Miles' office changed all of that.

"I got called to coach Miles' office. I had no idea it was coming," Porter said of his being asked by LSU to 'grayshirt' this season and re-enroll next year. "He just told me that they didn't have room for me. I moved out of my dorm today and I am now back home trying to figure everything out. It's been a rough 24 hours."

http://tennessee.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1109179&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

Porter goes on to make it clear that he understands now that football is just a business at LSU (see his comments after the jump).   The fact that these kids are being conditioned to think that college football is just a business is only going to lead to further problems down the road.  College football is not supposed to be a business, at least not according to the NCAA:

The NCAA espouses a collegiate model of athletics in which student-athletes participate in varsity sports as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.

The NCAA is committed to the highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship, diversity and inclusion, amateurism, competitive equity and excellence in the classroom. The Association also believes in presidential leadership as the guiding force in operating athletics programs. 

Sorry but we don't see anything in there about college athletics being a business.  Note to the NCAA: Elliott Porter was screwed out of his scholarship because of the loophole in YOUR by-laws that allows coaches to accept more signed letters of intent then they legitimately have room for under the 85 scholarship limit.  YOUR loophole allows coaches to hedge their bets against academic attrition and injuries, essentially giving coaches free rein to gamble with the scholarship numbers.

More after the jump >>>

Filed under: SEC Continue reading
3Aug/1010

Houston Bates got out early, why not Elliot Porter

Somehow this flew completely under the radar in April (Houston Bates being asked to take a greyshirt because LSU was over their number of scholarship openings), but Les Miles' ability to manage scholarship numbers looks to be worse than his decision making ability when it comes to calling time outs or spiking the ball.   Special thanks to reader "DP" for posting a link to the article, despite his position against this site. 

At least Houston Bates got out in April with enough time to find a new school, Elliot Porter on the other hand is going to have to look for a place at the last minute.   The only guess we can come up with is that Les Miles had "buyer's remorse" after signing Houston Bates and figured he could push him out early and not lose much (hate even typing that about a kid), and perhaps with Elliot Porter he was willing to wait a little longer in hopes that someone else wouldn't make it academically.  Regardless of what Miles' was thinking, its pretty clear that his recruiting philosophy is to sign the NCAA max every year and cut the roster down to 85 by any means necessary.  This year it just happened to include mailing a letter to a player stating his scholarship wouldn't be renewed, 3 medical hardships, 2 transfers, and asking two guys to greyshirt, one at the last minute in the first week of fall camp.

"The 6'3, 245 pound Bates was an early commitment to LSU in the 2010 recruiting class but got caught up in a numbers crunch.

LSU coach Les Miles asked Bates to gray-shirt for a year which did not sit well with Bates.

As a gray-shirt, Bates would have delayed enrolling for the fall semester at LSU before enrolling in the spring to allow LSU not to count Bates against its 2010 class. He was not interested in doing so."

http://www.neworleans.com/sports/lsu/373391-st-pauls-de-bates-signs-with-illinois.html

Now watch this video and listen to Les Miles' comments regarding his decision making process in the Ole Miss game last year.  You tell us if you think this is the same guy that would also not know how to manage his scholarship numbers and put kids like Elliot Porter and Houston Bates in bad spots.

http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

Filed under: SEC 10 Comments
3Aug/108

LSU’s March to 85 is NOT Over

We have been following LSU's journey to get their roster down to 85 players ever since one of our readers started posting the details of their roster situation a while back, and with the announcement that Chris Garrett was being cut from the team we thought that LSU's march to 85 was over.  Therefore, we started looking at LSU's recruiting for next year and that is when we noticed that Les Miles and LSU were getting a jump start on screwing players next year by already having more verbal commitments then they have room for next year.

Turns out we were wrong, forget about next year, Les Miles is not done screwing players from his current roster.  Word has come out today that Elliot Porter, who had this to say about his commitment to LSU...

"I stood face to face with Coach Miles and I committed,'' Porter said proudly Saturday evening shortly after meeting with Miles during an unofficial visit to the Baton Rouge campus. "I was blown away by the campus, blown away by the school. Just everything about it, I felt at home.''

              

http://highschoolsports.nola.com/news/article/-816132523422918078/shaw-lineman-elliott-porter-commits-to-lsu/

...has been asked to take a greyshirt because LSU does not have scholarship room for him because all 27 of the players they signed have made it academically.

Due to the fact that all 27 of LSU's signees are academically qualified, there would not be scholarships available for two players.

According to sources close to the situation, Archbishop Shaw High School lineman Elliott Porter will not be with the team when practice begins Thursday. Porter was asked to take a greyshirt. However, he did not want to be greyshirted. Porter asked for and received a release from his letter of intent.

Porter will be immediately eligible at any other school. A possible destination for Porter is Tennessee. Last year, Porter made 65 tackles. As a junior, Porter recorded 85 tackles, including 20 sacks. LSU intended to move Porter to the offensive line. Porter worked out with the team during the summer.

With Porter leaving, there are only two offensive linemen in the 2010 recruiting class - Evan Washington and Cameron Fordham. Washington enrolled in school last January and participated in spring practice.

http://lsu.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1109003&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

There are so many things wrong with this situation that we really don't even know where to start.  How does this even happen???  Why is this poor kid getting word at the last minute that there is not a scholarship for him?  At least Miles has enough sense to grant him a release from his LOI, but ask yourself, why is this poor kid bound to his commitment to LSU and LSU not bound to their commitment to him???  Why does he have to ask for a release AFTER they tell him that they are not going to give him the scholarship they promised him?

It would be one thing if this was the only situation to arise with LSU this year, but look at the list of attrition and the number of scholarships they have already had to cut in order to make room. 

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


Now add Elliot Porter to the list.

But this is nothing new at LSU, back in March we wrote a piece on Gerry DiNardo and his time at LSU and Indiana, and really nothing much has changed (sign as many as you can legally get away with and then do whatever you have to in order to get down to 85 by the fall).  Here are some of his comments regarding oversigning from an SI article a long time ago.

"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

Perhaps DiNardo and Saban were a little better at using discretion when screwing players out of scholarship to make room for better players or when hedging their bets against academic eligibility, or perhaps there just wasn't enough media coverage of this aspect of college football recruiting.  There certainly wasn't an oversigning.com website back in those days.  

The most disturbing part about this whole story is that the schools and the coaches have all of the power and they dangle the NFL $$$ carrot out there to the recruits in order to get them to sign and to keep them from signing with someone else, and if they want to get rid of them at any time, for any reason, they can, and they do.  This is where the NCAA has got to step in and put an end to the games these coaches are playing with oversigning.  Sure, we understand that these guys are trying to ensure that they have a full roster, but at what price?  For all the MILLIONS of dollars these coaches make and given the fact that they are the adults, you would think that they would take the moral high ground and do the right thing ethically by these kids.  And where the hell are the University Presidents, Athletic Directors, and the NCAA on all of this???  They don't appear to have a problem with a coach accepting a signed LOI that binds the player to a school, only to rip it up and not honor it because he couldn't count to 85 and doesn't have enough room for everyone. 

Thankfully, not all coaches operate this way.  There are coaches who refuse gamble with lives of the kids they recruit by hedging their bets on academic eligibility and injuries.  Guys like Mark Richt, Jim Tressel, and several others around the country.

Jim Tressel was asked about recruiting numbers at the Big 10 Media Days this week, here are his comments:

When asked about the 2002 recruiting class..

"It was special, and it was 25 guys--which is an unusually high number."

25 unusually high???  Not for the SEC.  When asked about the size of his upcoming recruiting class...

..."21 or 22. That would be the lid. We never want to be in that predicament where we're close to being over, because all of a sudden you're not recruiting a guy that you said to him you're recruiting. And we've got some walk-ons that we try to help them out."

This is nothing new for Tressel, here are some of his comments regarding last year's class.  This was taken on National Signing Day.

How is it that Jim Tressel already knows EXACTLY how many spots he will have for the next recruiting class in August, yet some SEC coaches all seem to not know what their numbers will be until next August?  That's because Tressel is not gambling with his commitments and is not hedging his bets to gain a competitive advantage, something that is just a way of life in some places.

What LSU, Alabama, and other schools are doing is not only is poor taste, it cheats the game, not to mention the players that get screwed in the process.  We get all up in arms when a coach runs the score up on a weak opponent or does something cheap like call a last second time out from the sideline right before a kicker kicks a potential game-winning field goal.  We boo these acts because they cheapen the game and they are unsportsmanlike; oversigning is no different, at least for the time being until it is banned and then it will not just be unsportsmanlike, it will be illegal.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 8 Comments
2Aug/109

This Site is for Guys Like You, Steven Wesley

Now that word has come out that Steven Wesley did not have grade issues and did not violate "unspecified team rules" you have to wonder why he won't be reporting to fall camp for Miami this year.  Actually, no you don't.  It's simple.  Miami was in a numbers crunch because they OVERSIGNED their class this year and then with the late additions of Latwan Anderson and Seantrel Henderson they had to do something in order to free up scholarship space.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/31/1755349/source-university-of-miami-dismissed.html

We don't have an account on the Miami message boards, but if any of you do and would like to share the general buzz from the fans please do so in the comments section. 

According to his facebook page, Wesley was all set to go to fall camp - all indications are at this point that his dismissal from the team was unexpected.   As posted here from one of our readers...

Per Steven Wesley Facebook:

Steven Wesley: "To clear all the rumors no im not academicly inelgible nor did i get kicked off the team for any off the field issues,its more to it then that but if you dont have nothing good to say about people you dont say nothing at all so ill leave it at that. But i wont be playing football at the U next season but i appreciate all the support from the fans that was given."

This makes two guys in just a couple of weeks that have been flat out sent packing because of scholarship numbers where the schools, LSU and Miami, were both guilty of oversigning.  

Best of luck Steven, we sure hope you find somewhere to finish your college education and get your degree.  We created this site so that guys like you wouldn't get screwed like you did.  Hopefully one day the rules will change and schools will no longer be able to oversign and push players out simply because they want to make room for the next big recruit.  The University Presidents and Athletic Directors that allow this to happen should be ashamed of themselves - they are supposed to be in the business of educating kids, not running farm teams for the NFL.

Filed under: ACC 9 Comments