Oversigning.com
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.

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  1. Raise the scholarship limit to 90–95 and enforce under signing/4 year scholarships, or cap it at 25 and do nothing. I don’t believe we should take scholarships away from high school students by enforcing under signing with an 85 scholarship limit.

  2. Simply eliminate the total scholarship limit and institute an annual limit (I prefer 20-25). Oversigning and grayshirting will no longer exist. While we’re at it let’s give 5 years of eligibility and send redshirts to the dustbin of history as well.
    An annual limit forces coaches to make the best possible recruiting decisions. A player that does not stick can not be replaced. When faced with a choice between an academically or behaviorally marginal recruit and another (perhaps less talented) more likely to stay with the team, the more likely to stay-and-play is the the best recruit.

  3. Who are you now, Al Gore? You don’t just get to declare the debate over, especially when you have over 100 comments to an article, mostly against your position. I would say that the argument will be around for some time, but it is certainly not over.

    That said, I’ve been pondering something that I mentioned on your last thread: put more penalty on the school when a player transfers to another school. Make it where they can’t fill that scholarship until the next year (unless it is given to a walk-on). While this may hinder a player wanting to transfer (as a school will then be harmed by his leaving) it would certainly eliminate your main reason against oversigning – without the need to change the rules on how many you can sign.

    I agree with BC, any further restrictions to signing should be accompanied by an increase in the overall scholarships that can be given (it is my opinion that this “loophole” exists on purpose to make up for the reduction in scholarships)

    • lol…

      In essence the schools that don’t oversign are already being penalized when kids transfer because they usually are unable to replace the transferring kid with a scholarship caliber player. What is happening now is that coaches are hedging their bets against things like transferring or injuries by signing more than they have room for. All we have to do is stop them from signing more than they have room for on signing day and all of this will go away. If guys transfer after signing day then the coach and the school are just SOL until the next recruiting class. They can give the scholarship to a deserving walk-on for one year and then replace the scholarship player next year. This will give coaches an incentive to develop players rather than be so quick to force them out for the next big name in recruiting.

      The problem here is that it has almost become more important to win the recruiting battles than to develop players and actually win the games. Coaches are at the point where they will do almost anything to land a recruit, including forcing out lesser players. Why? Because the fans are demanding it – fans are following recruiting more now than ever and they get pissed if a coach loses out on a recruit; if a coach loses enough of them he gets labeled as not being able to recruit which is like the kiss of death in the profession. How many times do you hear people talk about how great of a developer a coach is vs. how great of a recruiter he is?

      • Whenever national literacy rankings are released, southern states virtually always dominate the lowest echelon of those rankings. I don’t know if it’s weakness in the schools or what it is, but it’s a fact. The point has been made so many times that it seems ludicrous to make it yet again, but if the system is set up so that coaches cannot account for attrition during recruiting, then that has the potential to result in several scholarships being left unused. Why would the NCAA, the conferences, etc. restrict the system in a way that result in fewer athletes getting the opportunity to get an education. Don’t tell us that some kid who played high school football and that imagines himself good enough to play college ball even though he wasn’t recruited by anyone should be given that scholarship. Chances are pretty good that he wouldn’t be there to begin with if his parent couldn’t afford to send him there.

        Your solution works pretty well for areas of the country that aren’t plagued on an annual basis by poor literacy ratings and that generaly rank higher in per capita income as well. In essence, your solution would favor wealthier parts of the country, and that is no solution at all.

        I think the best approach is what some people are suggesting here. Raise the limit on schollies a bit closer to where it used to be (100?), and then enforce your recruiting budget concepts. Fine. I think that might result in a level playing field. This is what you’re after, right? A level playing field?

        • I’ve said this before, why should southern football teams be allowed to subsidize their academic attrition just because there are educational problems in the south? Oversigning is not the solution to educating more people – we don’t even know if all these kids that are transferred out to other schools end up finishing their education. If it turns out that they don’t finish then oversigning causing more damage than good.

          If you want to make football scholarship a gateway to improving the educational systems in the south then schools in the south should go to a mandatory 4 year scholarship program and work on raising their overall graduation rates to the likes of schools like Penn State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Rutgers, etc. If you spend a few generations graduating players you’ll have a strong group of parents who believe in the value of a college education and will make sure their kids go to college. Running players through college football farm teams via oversigning is not the solution to the kind of educational problems in the south.

          • You missed the fact that Alabama graduated 22 kids from the ’09 team, most of any BCSNCG winner since the BCS was formed. Alabama’s graduation rates and APR scores are completely acceptable.

            But the fact is that southern schools are at a disadvantage in terms of getting kids qualified. I am not suggesting that the attrition be subsidized, I am suggesting that you raise the limits. When you argue against that, it sounds a whole lot like you want to try and force there to be a system that favors a school that does things one way (i.e. the OSU way), which is exactly what you are arguing against on your site. You aren’t advocating a level playing field. You are advocating a “do it OUR way” solution.

            • So do Big Ten teams get to sign X number of extra players who are fast since they have such a hard time with speed. You essentially characterized southern players as stupid and therefore southern schools should be allow to sign more player or we should raise the total number of scholarship because of the problem southern schools have with academics (your words not mine). The number 85 is fine 22 positions 3 at each is 66 which leaves 21 more scholarships plus the walk on players. That is more than NFL rosters. Plus as many of you have stAted academics are no longer an issue at Alabama.

          • Actually, the SEC’s APR is above the national average (944-955), and Alabama’s is above both with 972, and this takes attrition and players leaving early into cosideration. Saban’s doing just fine graduating his players, regardless of what you say.

            http://www.teamspeedkills.com/2010/8/6/1609079/sec-coaches-ncaa-apr-rankings
            yes, the link is to a SEC blog, but they provide all the official links.

          • RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE WE’RE BETTER THAN THE SOUTH RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE. Get over yourself, brah.

        • deepsthboy,
          I see your point and I agree kids should have every opportunity to succeed but…..this is what junior college is for. Kids who are not able to make the grade to get into a division I school but have the ability to play a sport have a direct route to junior college. If they work hard there in sports and in school they will be able to make it into a Division I school. Raising the scholarship limit or oversigning is not the answer!

      • WAIT, i thought you said that Rod Woodson was cut so that Sims could play. Now you link to an article saying Jones is going on greyshirt so that Sims can play. You are all over the map in your accusations.

        • It now looks like a two for one…it turns out that I might have been wrong with my numbers…it looks like Saban was 11 over the limit not 10.

          • oh, so it would only be your count that is wrong. Not that you were wrong about Woodson being ‘cut’ to make room for a player that had never played the defensive back position supposedly replacing him. And you wonder why it is hard for some to take you seriously.

          • just 11, not bad! LOL

      • Schools that don’t oversign are only being penalized by their own rules. If they want to abide by stricter standards, that is their choice – but don’t go complaining that others don’t want to abide by them.

        What’s so bad about hedging your bets? As long as the kids are told up front that they may have to greyshirt a year if a spot isn’t available, noone is getting screwed as you continue to imply. It then allows for recruiting marginal players who, in turn, are given incentive to get their grades in order and make it to school.

        If your new argument is that some coaches don’t develop players, but rather just recruit ones that don’t need development you better distinguish who you’re talking about. Since the majority of your posts are about the SEC, and Alabama specifically you are going to have a very difficult time convincing anybody that Saban doesn’t develop players. Many of his players over the last couple of years were origionally recruited by Shula and were not part of the nationally ranked recruiting classes we have been getting since.

  4. 25 a year, period. Only walkons can use any remainder.

    Like the Southern Grandma’s have always said – there are only 2 kind os people in the world “Thems that do what they say and thems that don’t”

    Let your yea be yea and you nay be nay…

  5. i agree, raise the scholarship limit. you will still have some teams trying to push the limits of any rule, but i think if you raise the limit, put scholarships back to 4-5 yr (not 1 yr renewable) and breakable only if you were to require medical procedures that do not allow you to ever return to the football field. That way if you get some players that cant play for just the 1 yr, the medical redshirt cases, they would all still count.

  6. Continue writing Joshua, its beyond entertaining for me at work. The way you stop responding to comments when it comes to something you don’t have a response for is also very entertaining. You have a misspelling in your links section too. Athlon, instead of Atholon.

  7. Fact: Oversigning is allowed. Whether it’s a “loophole,” as you so frequently like to call it, or not, it’s pretty widely known that it is allowed.

    If a school decides not to oversign and take advantage of the “loophole” (I prefer to call them rules, but to each his own), so be it. But don’t complain when you don’t have as many quality players each fall as other teams who are doing nothing but taking advantage of the rules as they exist.

    I’d be fine with putting the absolute cap on signees each season at 25. That’s great.
    However, it’s not possible to provide proof that players will be academically eligible when they sign. Signing day is in February. Schools graduate in May. No player is qualified until they graduate.

    • “I’d be fine with putting the absolute cap on signees each season at 25. That’s great.
      However, it’s not possible to provide proof that players will be academically eligible when they sign. Signing day is in February. Schools graduate in May. No player is qualified until they graduate.”

      That’s the risk coaches would have to take when deciding to recruit players whose grades are lousy. I like the hard cap of 25 for exactly that reason.

      Coaches work for institutions of higher learning. If they’re consistently offering scholarships to kids who are academically ineligible, they should suffer the consequences of not having a full class available for camp. It would cause them to be a lot more careful in choosing who they should recruit.

      • yes, but now you make any borderline risk not getting a scholarship offer, when it might be the only way they can pay for college.

        just playing devil’s advocate there.

        And coaches may ‘work’ for institutions of higher learning, but they make more money than most colleges see. They are the reason for many of the things the colleges have. Their success is the reason many students go to that college. I believe for example that the University of Georgia experienced an increase in about 250% for applications in the year following their national title. People like to go where a school is a winner.

        • “yes, but now you make any borderline risk not getting a scholarship offer, when it might be the only way they can pay for college.

          just playing devil’s advocate there.”

          No, he risks not getting an offer from Rich Tradition University. Talented players will always get an offer from someone, even if it’s Podunk Tech. Smaller schools will suddenly find themselves in the running for top-tier talent that the BCS schools are afraid to risk a scholarship on.

          “And coaches may ‘work’ for institutions of higher learning, but they make more money than most colleges see. They are the reason for many of the things the colleges have. Their success is the reason many students go to that college. I believe for example that the University of Georgia experienced an increase in about 250% for applications in the year following their national title. People like to go where a school is a winner.”

          This is a half-truth at best. As much money as college football makes–and make no mistake, it’s big business–it’s not the straw that stirs the drink. It’s not even the ice cube. Universities are funded first and foremost by research dollars, and everything else is a distant second. Athletics and tuition make up a comparatively tiny portion of a university’s income.

          • I disagree with your statement a bit. Football funds athletics. Research grants fund postgraduate research. It depends on the student but I’d bet a majority care more about the former than the latter.

            • But colleges care more about the bottom line than what its students think. To most professors, teaching classes of students is what they do when they’re not doing their real work, which is their research.

        • Wouldn’t this provide an incentive for boarderline student athletes to study more so that they can get into “Great State”? And you suggest this would be a bad thing?

      • Bill,
        Youre right on!

  8. This entire web-site is comical – I can’t wait to see what get posted next.

  9. Wow there are a number of mistakes on this site:

    1. Likely none of the signing information is correct. That is unless someone has enough information to attribute back the number of midterm signees who each school signs and enrolls at midterm and counts back on a prior class.

    2. The main graphic is terribly misleading as they only show one of two binding constraints. Every August each program can only have 85 scholarship players INCLUDING 25 INITIAL SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS. So a progam with 81 scholarship players might have to let someone out of a NLOI or greyshirt someone, if they signed 26 and all of them qualified.

    Still this site can provide a service by publicizing what appear to be low rent acts by a program and head coach. The check in the system on “cutting” players is that it can hurt future recruiting. This gives coaches an incentive not to do so or to “place” such players at other programs. This site publicizing what appear to be such acts gives coaches further incentives not to behave that way.

    Finally, a few questions:

    1. Is is wrong to sign a group of players with the warning they may be asked to greyshirt?

    2. Should colleges feel obligated to renew a players scholarship for the 5 year? In your Miami case, the guy had four years of scholarship money? Just because the NCAA allows a student to take 5 years, should a college be obligated for that 5th year?

    3. If Miles/Saban found places for their late “cuts” to go, does that make it more acceptable in your mind? Might that be the reasons we hear few player complaints?

    • Excellent questions — My Answers:

      1) No. If the coaches are honest with a player this is nothing wrong with the practice. Greyshirting isn’t illegal and will always be a part of college football. There will always be teams that run out of scholarships and there will always be players are willing to wait 6 months to enroll at the college of their choice.

      2) Borderline call. I know some schools routinely don’t exercise a 5th year for marginal players that have graduated (even in the Big Ten). On the other hand, if a team redshirts a player they are acknowledging they plan to give them 5 years to graduate. It seems to me the school should abide by that unless the player decides to move on or is not on track to graduate by the end of the 5th year. I can see the other side of the argument though … good question.

      3) To specifically answer your question – It is much more acceptable for coaches to find homes for cuts — IMO any coach that doesn’t do that shouldn’t be coaching college football.

      I like to think all the coaches use their contacts to find “homes” for all of their cuts. The problem is the situation isn’t clear cut as some players are let go due to academics and disciplinary reasons as well and those cases can be difficult. For an outsider it can appear that coaches are playing favorites when in fact the coaches most likely didn’t want to publicly embarrass someone for behavior off the field. Oversigning makes coaches appear more ruthless than they probably are in reality. However, finding homes for castoffs isn’t a justification to allow oversigning to continue. It just makes it less rotten.

  10. Lots of good comments folks. I believe the answer that best gets at a system that:

    a) Gives the most opportunities for kids to go to college
    b) That provides an appopriate level of accountability to a coaching staff and a university
    c) That protects the players who make are doing the primary thing (academics) in the right way
    d) Provides a level playing field for all BCS subdivision teams

    Here is my proposal:

    1) No cap on the total # of players you can have in the program at any one time
    2) A Hard cap of 22 schollies to be given in any year. Transfers count against the year’s 22 total. No back counting of awards. It would be illegal to quid pro quo with a kid a greyshirt arrangement
    3) All schollies are 5 year guaranteed deals as long as: 1) The kid is making satisfactory academic progress as defined by that school, 2) The kid does not violate any law and/or university or team rule and 3) The kid is willing to be a part of the program as either a player (no injuries) or as an assistant (injured) within reason based on their particular set of limitations
    4) Since the only rule in place is the 22 annual rule, schools just get the shaft if they have players flunk out, get busted, or plain stink. Theoretically (with full redshirting of an each class and with zero attrition in each class) a program could have up to 110 players (5 classes times 22 players each) for each season
    5) The NCAA APR rules would allow for programs with strong academic performance (like Alabama, Ohio State, etc.-programs in the top third) to earn an additional scholarship for the next recruiting cycle. The NCAA APR scores would also be used to cut a scholarship from the next class if the program was in the bottom third of that year’s rankings (I would suggest that a program loses 1 schollie if they find themselves in the bottom third and 1 additional schollie if the APR score is below a certain pre-set “floor”- we really need to penalize those who don;t ensure the players they recruit perform in the classroom).
    6) The NCAA needs to clean up its APR formula to somehow adjust to the home school (the school the kid first went on a scholarship with) if the kid transfers out but does not ultimately graduate. Ruight now, the home school doesn’t get dinged at all of the kid flunks out and gets admitted to another school but immediately flunks out there too…one might argue this is why Alabama’s APR score, for example, is so good because they cut the low achieveing academic students who are marginal players and get them “placed” elsewhere so they don’t ding their score.

    This idea seems to be a conglemeration, I hope, of most of the best ideas here. The hard core on either side won’t like it, but it is a good comprimise.

    You could also make a pretty compelling argument for no schollie limits at all if every athletic department was forced to be completely and utterly self sufficient financially and comply with Title IX at the same time. Only a handful of schools do this year in an year out, so this seems to be an unreasonable solution. Thus, we are stuck with these types of proposals.

  11. Great Solutions! Good Post!

  12. Frist of all, thank you guys for taking the time to point out how all of these student athletes are being taken advantage of. The idea that this kid at LSU is already on campus and he has been asked to go home until January is appalling. As for the possibility of palyers being ineligible, that is the risk you run by recruiting kids who might not qualify. If you want to avoid that, recruit better students. I just want to point out that the NCAA needs to step forward and do something about this. It is an organization that is supposed to be protecting student athletes. Instead it allows them to be exploited. Someone made a good point in the comments. Oversigning isn’t a loop hole. It is allowed, but it needs to be banned. If a kid is told in February that they want him to gray shirt, so be it, but it should be in writing and agreed to. Don’t even get me started on the transferring.

  13. It amazes me that the NCAA gets away with giving out 1 year scholarships. I think the solution is simple. They need to illiminate all voluntary work outs that exist and set paremeters for offseason and summer workouts that are mandatory with your scholarship. Then, you give the kid a 4 year scholarship that can be taken away if he refuses to particiapte in mandatory activities.

  14. I can’t find the answer, but can a student that signs a letter of intent still apply for financial aid (and other academic scholarships)? That way, if the scholarship is dropped, the aid is still there for the student. But if the student is OK with the athletic scholarship, the student can simply decline the award and not be on the hook for the loan.

    And not to sound too Ayn Rand-y, doesn’t some of the onus belong with the student and his family. If you really are depending on the athletic scholarship for pay for your education, then maybe the student shouldn’t sign with an SEC school and sign with a school from another conference. That Porter kid had offers from numerous big time programs, surely some of them mentioned about the SEC pulling the scholarship possibility, so it had to come up anyway even if Miles wasn’t upfront about it (which is BS if he wasn’t, btw). And there is a history of it happening in the SEC.

    I dunno, I could be off on this, but it seems like if the student had the ability to acquire financial aid even with the signed LOI, then the oversigning issue become, well, mute. Then the worst case scenario is that the student takes the financial aid and enrolls as a regular student, which in the big scheme of things as a former student who needed student loans, isn’t really that bad.

    On the other hand, I could be an asshole, which is highly possible as well.

  15. Let’s be clear — this didn’t become a problem until the NCAA instituted scholarship limits. They did that to 1) cut costs and 2) prevent marquee programs from hoarding talent on their bench.

    Most of these solutions ask an institution with a competitive advantage to limit that competitive advantage. That’s not going to work. Watching the best football players in my state (North Carolina) head to Florida, Alabama, and California this year was certainly disappointing, but I get it. That’s where they see the bright lights. On the other hand, watching the uncertain progress of boys to men in an extremely demanding sport, I understand why coaches paid millions per year don’t want to be locked into their recruiting mistakes.

    So, it’s the last conditional — a level playing field for all programs — that I don’t buy. Sorry, it’s not really level anyway. If a university has the luxury of being “in demand” and having boosters willing to pay the freight of the extra scholarships, well, great for those kids and that school. Supply and demand. Everyone’s happy. So here’s my suggestion:

    1) Have a PROTECTED roster of 80. These kids operate under current rules.
    2) Have an UNPROTECTED roster of 30. These kids can remain in the program or transfer without penalty up to… pick a date after signing day and before the opening of camps. Aren’t those the two key issues here: kids getting kicked to the curb (current system) or programs hoarding kids who would otherwise be playing elsewhere (old system)?
    3) Have a scholarship fund which supports players who (A) decide they don’t want to play football any longer and (B) continue to make satisfactory progress towards graduation.

    I understand that finances and politics make this unlikely, but we’re discussing equitable solutions here.

  16. Hilarious…now you’re trying to use Gregg Doyel to support your claims. The worst columnist on a sportsite devoted to bad columnists. Are you trying to make your site worse?

    Furthermore, concerning the Harrison Jones article you link to, here’s a few great quotes that you won’t bother adding to you site: “Harrison wishes he were out there, but he wants to be supportive of Barrett and of the whole team,” Leslie Jones said. “Alabama informed Harrison Jones before he signed that a grayshirt was a possibility,” & “He also was awarded an academic scholarship to Alabama some time ago, and the family’s checking into whether he can use it to pay for his fall-semester tuition. ” & “We don’t feel like we were treated unfairly at all, and they explained everything. ”

    The mere fact that Alabama does practice grayshirting destroys the accusation that they are “roster trimming.” Grayshirting is a GREAT thing. I don’t know who should be congratulated more in those cases… the players for having such a desire to play for the school/coach that they are willing to sit-out a season, OR Alabama, for giving/extending an oppurtunity for those players to join their program late, even after they’ve been sitting-out football (Seriously, how many other schools do you hear offering players that?).

  17. So his solution is back on the table.

    Part I: Take scholarships away from football.
    Part II: Act high and mighty and pretend that’s a good thing.
    Part III: Hope like hell nobody else sees this is just a way for him to try and make Big 10 football relevant again.

  18. all Josh is saying is the Big 10 has a mold to follow and it works. I could care less about the SEC or Big 10 and I agree with this. That idea to use something that already works instead of reinventing the wheel is something used in every day life and he is just applying it to oversigning.

    ps. Nebraska just lost one of the LB’s to injury. They kept him on football scholarship and he is going to be a student coach. What would Miles or Saban done with that player? We already know. Reference their road to 85 medical scholarship list.

    • Funny you should ask.

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

      “The junior running back, who missed the 2009 season because of a knee injury he suffered almost exactly a year ago during preseason workouts, is getting a medical scholarship, Alabama coach Nick Saban said today.”

      “We did talk to him a little bit about being a student coach, because we thought that’s something he’d like to do. We’ll see if he wants to do that when school starts.”

      What difference does it make if it’s a medical scholarship or a football scholarship?

    • Unless there was someone else, Neb. didn’t lose the LB, he is an OL.

  19. Because that is the loophole! They get one opinion on the injury (from the team doctor) and tell him he will never be healed or healthy enough to play again. They then give him a medical scholarship which frees up the football scholarship so Saban can give it to one of his oversigned 11 players he had. Dont you get it, there is a huge difference.

  20. Also, how come LSU and Alabama give out more medical hardships, people kicked off the team, transfers and scholarships, etc not renewed than most of the division I college football teams in the nation? Explain that.

    • I would love for you to prove the following assertions that you made:
      1. That players only get one medical opinion
      2. The implication that coaches/doctors mislead players into believing that the injury is more serious than it really is
      3. That LSU and Alabama have more people kicked off the team and scholarships not renewed than most other teams.

      I agree that Alabama does have a higher player-initiated transfer rate than other schools. It is not however due to roster cuts. Saban is a very demanding coach who pushes his players extremely hard every single day. Not every player has the will to endure that level of work and stress for 4 years. The ones who can’t, choose to transfer.

      As for the higher number of medical hardships, it is my understanding that many schools choose not to utilize this option and for some reason choose to keep a player who is physicallly no longer able to play on a regular football scholarship (thus preventing someone else from being on scholarship). Other schools, like LSU and Alabama choose to utilize this very practical option provided by the NCAA when it is warranted. As long as the player decides that he wants to go on a medical scholarship, I can’t understand what is so wrong with the practice. Of course if you can show examples of players who were tricked or forced against their will to take a medical hardship, then that’s another story. Do you have any such examles or are you just making an assumption?

  21. “I agree that Alabama does have a higher player-initiated transfer rate than other schools. It is not however due to roster cuts. Saban is a very demanding coach who pushes his players extremely hard every single day. Not every player has the will to endure that level of work and stress for 4 years. The ones who can’t, choose to transfer.”

    Give me a break

  22. I forgot other division I coaches arent demanding at all…except maybe Miles and that is why those two teams have higher attrition rates then anyone in the nation. Compare…Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oregon and post their march to 85 just like Josh has posted LSU and Alabama. Oh wait, there is no march to 85 with those teams like the majority of teams. This is what you pro oversigning people dont realize, These teams have higher attrition rates because the ‘get rid’ of a player who is currently on the roster for a better predicted incoming player. We can argue this point all day, week, month, year and life but the bottom line is it’s unethical. No highschool kid should be treated like this and it will eventually stop once the NCAA moves on this.

    • Division 1 coaches are demanding, but in varying degrees. All Division 1 teams experience player initiated transfers, but in varying amounts. After 15 years as a head coach, Saban has a good idea of how many player initiated transfers he can expect each off season. He budgets that number into his next recruiting class. If there are fewer transfers than expected, then more signees greyshirt (the possibility of which was discussed with them before they signed). Sorry to disappoint some of you, but it’s just that simple.

      That’s ok buckeyeXB, keep thinking. I’m sure you’ll come up with an arguement eventually.

      • “Player initiated transfers” Sorry to disappoint some of you, but that’s just a crock of bullshit. Those “player initiated transfers” almost always come after spring camp where Saban has had an extra period of time to evaluate players. I have no problem with a player transferring, but these guys almost never announce they are transferring before signing day or when the new recruits arrive for spring ball.

        This myth you are pushing that Saban knows way ahead of time which players will voluntarily initiate their own transfers is total and utter bullshit just like all of your posts. In order to believe your bullshit we have to believe that Saban knew that Star Jackson was going to transfer back in April of 2009 when Sims verbally committed to Alabama, which flies directly in the face of the argument that most Alabama fans make that Jackson’s transfer had nothing to do with Sims committing to Alabama.

        • It’s funny that you call my posts bullshit (great way to run a site by the way) when you downright lied about what I wrote. Tell me, where did I say that Saban knows ahead of time which specific players are going to transfer? I said he has a good estimate of the average number of players that transfer each off-season based on his 15 years of head coach experience. Now I see why so many others have accused you of twisting the truth or downright lying to make your point.

  23. Perhaps a bit of free agency needs mixed in to the NCAA rulebook.

    Players receive a 1 year renewable scholarship, just as they do now. At the end of the season the coaches declare by some date (for arguments sake, Feb 1st) which players they will renew. Renewed players will remain bound to their current school just as they are now. If they choose to leave, they follow the current rules (sit out a year or go to FCS schools). Players which are released from scholorship or not renewed will then have the option to stay as a walk-on or become a ‘free agent’ (or leave athletics all together). Free agents will be able to transferr to any school w/o penalty.

    This would have some interesting effects. I don’t like the idea that the “Great States” could take the best free agents to help strengthen the one or two weak spots in the starting lineup and create 3 strings of starting caliber players. But I really like the idea that 3rd and 4th string players could transfer to “Little Univ.” where they will see an increase in playing time and make the “Little Univs” of the world more competitive.

    Perhaps coaches would release a depth chart and the top two strings would remain under current renewal policy. Players 3rd and below would be allowed to transfer freely if say, they are upperclassmen. Underclassmen would be expected to stay a second year. I haven’t really fleshed out my thoughts on this aspect.

    Ideally, the Great States will continue to build depth thru recruiting and talent development. Yet also be able to release underperforming players and allow them to be picked up by the less successful schools.

    The questions then turns to, how many LOIs can be accepted, how many scholarship players can be on the roster and are there annual limits to signees/releasees. I honestly have no idea what numbers would be ‘ideal’ but the goal should be to minimize the # of transfers as that disrupts the players’ educations. They should also look to create competitive balance across the schools and conferences. Allowing 200 scholorships would rob the lower tier teams of talented players. Too few scholorships would create a greater number of ‘free agents’ than would be desirable.


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