Wall Street Journal – Round 2 with Alabama

Typically, this is the off season for oversigning.com as there is just not a lot of news during the football season and it's usually pretty quiet until the football season ends and the recruiting season takes center stage.  However, the Wall Street Journal seems to be busy interviewing former Alabama players regarding their departures from Alabama on the heels of Nick Saban's bloated recruiting classes.  The general thinking here at this site is that Nick Saban and Alabama (along with other SEC schools) grossly oversign their roster and find media-friendly ways to get their roster down to 85 scholarship players by the final day before NCAA violations for being over the allowable limit.  Obviously, this is done to gain a competitive advantage by sifting through more players to find the best possible players, among other reasons.

We chronicled this journey last year in our March to 85 as Saban went over his projected budget by 10 recruits and sure enough 10 scholarship players hit the bricks.  There were 3 medical hardships, a couple of academic casualties, some grey shirt players, and then the mysterious story of Star Jackson.  We were told that Star Jackson left because he wanted to go somewhere and start - he believed he had enough talent to start for another school and wanted to get more playing time in hopes of having an NFL career.  He ended up at Georgia State as the 3rd string quarterback.

Jackson's stats at Georgia State: 5/10 passing for 42 yards and 8 rushes for 17 yards for the year!!!

Does anyone honestly believe that Nick Saban would let a 3rd string QB at Georgia State take up a QB scholarship at Alabama?

Regardless, as mentioned above, the WSJ has been poking around the Alabama program and questioning former players who have left the program recently and what they are hearing from former players is not exactly complimentary.  In a previous piece, they spoke with former Alabama players who were placed on medical hardships who went on record saying they thought they were pushed out in order to make room for new recruits; one player even referred to it as a loophole that was being taken advantage of by Alabama.

Round 1: Alabama's Unhappy Castoffs

Round 2: Former Players Say Saban Twisted the Truth


In their latest piece, the WSJ spoke with 3 of 4 players who were announced to have been released by Alabama for violation of unspecified team rules.  Turns out there is no record of any rule violations and the players claim they left on their own free will and that Saban said they broke team rules to save face in recruiting.

The three players said they believe Mr. Saban falsely portrayed the circumstances of their departures to protect the image of his program. Mr. Saban had previously come under scrutiny by the media for offering scholarships to more incoming recruits than the school could accommodate under NCAA scholarship limits. This relatively common practice, which is known as "oversigning" is not prohibited by the NCAA. It allows a coach to improve his roster by giving him a larger pool of talent to choose from. But it also eventually forces the coach to get rid of a few scholarship players he no longer wants—which can put him at risk of scaring away future recruits.

If Mr. Saban had said the players decided to transfer because they didn't believe they would have a chance to play at Alabama, the players said, it would have provided ammunition for rival coaches competing for the same recruits. But if the players were seen as disciplinary cases, they said, Mr. Saban's recruiting methods wouldn't be viewed as the problem. Mr. Saban, Mr. Preyear said, "was just making himself look good for the media, and making us look bad."


Stay tuned in on this topic as it is very likely that the WSJ is not finished with the topic of oversigning or the University of Alabama.  With recruiting season approaching and schools like Alabama and LSU already positioned to oversigning in large numbers given their relatively small senior classes, we anticipate a good bit of news on the oversigning front in the coming months.  Of course, all of that could be avoided if SEC coaches simply state up front before national signing day what their number of openings are (85 - [# of Seniors + # of Juniors going to the NFL early]) and then sign what they have room for on National Signing Day.

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  1. Speaking of former back-up QBs, whatever happened to Antonio Henton? Couldn’t find him on the Georgia Southern roster. Do you really think that Jim Tressel would let a Georgia Southern wash-out take up a scholarship spot at Ohio State? See what I did there?

    • Yeah you made an inaccurate analogy, good job. If you don’t think Alabama oversigns then there’s really nothing that can be done to convince you, because there’s plenty of evidence out there.

      • Don’t you think that Tressel would rather have a young QB with promise on the roster like Guiton or Graham than someone who obviously was never going to contribute significantly like Henton. And with Henton transferring, it just happened to open a roster spot for Guiton to slide into the next year. That sure was convenient, but I’m sure Tressel had no influence on Henton’s decision to transfer.

        • Vesper,
          man you are ridiculous! That a way to bounce around the fact Alabama oversigns big time every year and Ohio St. does not. If you are in denial about that then there is nothing that can be done.

        • Antonio Henton left because Terrelle Pryor chose to go to OSU and Henton didn’t want to compete for starting qb after Boeckman would’ve left. Your argument is irrelevant. Alabama oversigns. OSU doesn’t.

          • How is it irrelevant? Just because a team isn’t allowed to oversign because of a conference rule, doesn’t mean that that team can’t or won’t push an underperforming player out the door to make room on the roster for a more promising player in the next class. So I ask again, don’t you think that Tressel would rather have a young QB with promise on the roster like Guiton or Graham than someone who obviously was never going to contribute significantly like Henton?

  2. Well, considering Bill Curry thought Star was a great player, and called him the best QB at Alabama’s A-Day game, it seems Star thought he would walk into GSU and start right away.

  3. as for these players and issues, interesting that Alonzo Lawrence also ran into trouble at Southern Miss and isnt playing. Interesting the article makes no mention of his time at Southern Miss and his troubles there, i guess that wouldnt help make their case that he didnt break any rules.

    As far Prince Hall, he was suspended about 5 different times his freshman and sophomore year. He had trouble understanding that he had to follow certain rules. He eventually worked himself out of the doghouse each time, but he would do something to put himself right back into it.

    • Do you have a link showing that Lawrence “ran into trouble”? Or is this the BamaNation smear machine at work?

      Lawrence and Preyear did nothing wrong but attempt to stay at the University of Alabama.

  4. What I find interesting is that all three of the interviewed players said that they requested the transfer. Some even said that Saban asked them to stay or reconsider. Read that in the context of your next article, and your viewpoint that every transfer from Alabama is a “cut” player.

    • Of course they’re going to say that. It’s a pride thing.

      Follow the reports on Preyear throughout 2009. It’s very obvious what happened. He didn’t want to leave, so Alabama kicked him off scholarship and then smeared him (as with the others) with “undisclosed violations”.

  5. ‘Cause it’s the right thing to do?

    • John, you keep trying to compare red shirting with over signing. There is no comparison and you know it.

    • Ha.

      As a Southerner and SEC grad, I can assure you “the right thing to do” is the last thing predominantly old, conservative, white SEC football fans want. Especially if it’s mainly just some poor black kids like this being slandered.

      Sweet home Alabama. Same as it ever was.

  6. Oversigning = Performance Enhancing Drugs….SEC oversigning during their decade reign of crystal balls & gloating = ***MLB Steriod Era***…Lets collectively unite & get the SEC to understand their decade of gloating is tainted. It will no longer be tolerated as the integrity of cfb (playoffs/plus 1) moves forward rather the Pac 12, Big 10/12 & SEC leaders like it or not!

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