Red Herring Alert!!! It’s Not About 28 or 25, It’s About 85!!!!!

The last two days of quotes and responses from SEC coaches, athletic directors, and now university presidents and the president of the NCAA Mark Emmert, have made one thing crystal clear, they either do not fully understand the issue of oversigning or they are using the hard cap of 25 as a red herring to divert the average fan's attention away from the real number that counts, 85

University of South Carolina President, Harris Pastides said today that he hopes that whatever the SEC does that the NCAA will force the rest of the country to follow along.  First off, his comments indicate that the competitive advantage aspect of the oversigning issue is much more important than the ethical treatment of players.  Secondly, Harris Patides obivously knows nothing about how the Big 10 Conference handles oversigning, because if he did he would realize that they have been 50+ years ahead of the curve on this issue.

"We'd love the SEC to play a lead role in doing the right thing," Pastides said. "We would hope the NCAA would adopt whatever we would do. That's where our ADs and coaches are. They don't want us to be so far out in front that we're the only league that clamps down on that."

NCAA President Mark Emmert, who met with SEC presidents and chancellors today, said it's possible the league's position on oversigning could become national legislation.

"It's certainly an issue that's more important to the SEC right now than other conferences," Emmert said. "So if they come out with a good position, it may well be one that could become a national standard."

"We certainly know that our football advocates would prefer there's a so-called level playing field," Pastides said. "I think the challenge is do we go first and hope (the nation) will follow? And what if we go first and they don't follow? Do we go back to 28? Nobody sees that happening."


The lead role???  Are you kidding.  The Big 10 Conference banned the practice of oversigning in 1956 and only relaxed its rules slightly in 2002 to allow for 3 over a school's limit with tons of transparency.  The SEC is not taking the lead role here folks, they are playing catch up ball.

The key element that is lost on so many involved in this topic is that you have to address this at the 85 total limit, not the annual 25 limit.  If a Big 10 school has 16 roster openings to get to 85 on national signing day then they can sign up to 19 new recruits, provided there is proper documentation and approval from the conference office.  That's it, they can go three over the limit of 85.   

If the NCAA tried to force a hard cap at 25, a school with 16 openings could still sign 9 over the 85 limit by signing a class of 25.  How does that address or even curb oversigning?  It doesn't.

Setting a hard cap that remains static every year is not the answer, and it will never be the answer because the number of openings each year fluctuates.  Schools are allowed to have 85 scholarship players every year; some years schools will have 16 openings some years schools will have 25.  Therefore the limit needs to fluctuate with the amount of legitimate openings at national signing day and it should be based on getting to 85, not 25.

But what about attrition after national signing day?  The vast majority of that can be mitigated, as rules tighten on oversigning so will the recruiting practices.  Fewer borderline kids will be recruited because the expectation on STUDENT-athletes will be that they have to be prepared for college, remain eligible academically while in college, and not just gifted athletically.  A lot of the attrition that we see post national signing day is forced attrition due to oversigning, so all of that will be gone.  The rest, coaches will just have to deal with.  They can award a 1 year scholarship to a deserving walk-on and fill the slot next year with a new recruit they expect to have for 4-5 years.  This is a perfectly workable solution that eliminates the exploitation of players through the oversigning loophole.

When you demand excellence from student-athletes you will get it (just ask schools that are already doing it: ND, NW, PSU, Vandy, etc), but when you have a system that says to the student-athlete that they don't have to be prepared for college when they come in, they don't have to take classwork seriously when they get there and they don't have to keep their nose clean because they can easily be replaced via oversigning, you have a system that goes against everything college athletics is supposed to be about, which is the enrichment of the educational experience through competition in athletics.  We didn't make that up by the way, that is supposed to be part of the mission of the NCAA.

As fans and alumni, we should demand more from university presidents, they should demand more from athletic directors, they should demand more from coaches, and coaches should demand more from student-athletes.  To do otherwise by exploiting a loophole such as oversigning in order to run through kids in search of the best football talent is what is really hurting kids.

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  1. I don’t care for a hard limit of 25. It may not be the norm, but there are some instances where teams can sign over 25 and not even reach the 85 scholarship limit. In these instances, schools would actually be forced to undersign by the SEC’s proposed legislation. “Sorry, son. I know you want to attend our university, and we want you to attend, but the SEC rule prohibits us from giving you an LOI even though we have room for you under the NCAA’s 85 limit and 25 initial counter limit (due to back counting).”

    If it passes, I think you’ll see SEC schools doing what you saw Illinois do this year past year to get around the 28 signing limit – tell a few verbal commits that they can’t sign LOIs but promise them scholarships at some point after they enroll. It’s a way for schools to get around any limits placed on # of LOIs, but it’s potentially very risky for the SA.

  2. yawn…

    example, when Michigan and Ohio State get chewed up by NCAA, they will eventually be needing 35 scholarships to get them back to 85….3 to 4 years in a row.

    but when this happens, you guys will be ok with it.

  3. If the student athlete wants to take the risk, and not sign an LOI and join a school, they have that right. They know the risks however, and know of the choices. Thats much better than getting sandbagged at the last moment. I think we all can agree on that.

    • That’s an interesting and unexpected view. However, I’m not sure that one case (Elliot Porter) is worse than the other (blueshirt who doesn’t get the scholarship that he was promised). Both involve recruits being misled or lied to by coaches. But if the latter ever happens at an SEC school, I’ll expect your view to be, “Hey, he knew the risk”.

      • No. If a student does not sign anything and volunteers to blueshirt, he knows what he is getting in to. He also knows the risks. He can also still be recruited by other schools. Others schools can still actively recruit him, and he can go somewhere else. He still has a bit more freedom to change schools.

        • If it were SEC schools utilizing this practice (which has tremendous potential for abuse at the expense of SAs) instead of a Big Ten school, I seriously doubt that this would be your attitude.

          If a players knows that his scholarship is 1 year renewable and he gets cut by a school, is that ok because he knew what the risks were?

  4. Re: The correlation between oversigning and dumbing down the CFB athlete.

    PSU and Vandy both have a multi-year APR of 972. As does LSU, a “chronic oversigner”. The differences your argument assumes aren’t there in the one metric which should show such discrepancies. Yes, Arkansas and Ole Miss have 937′s, but Michigan, Minnesota, and MSU have 928, 938, and 935. In fact, Alabama and Mississippi State exceed Michigan and Michigan State by 49 points in APR, slightly less than they exceeded them on the field during bowl season.

    I agree with you in principle, but once again, I’m just stunned that you think the B1G has achieved the dream. They’re as far afield on this one as the SEC. And the ACC, for that matter. Three conferences, 36 schools, an average APR per conference separated by all of two points.

    The results that you claim will appear with adoption of these rules have not yet appeared in the one conference which has already adopted them. Care to explain?

    • Well said In the Middle. Put another way, Alabama’s APR is higher than seven Big 10 teams (Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State).

      A slight correction (assuming you are referring to the football APR), LSU’s is 966 which puts them ahead of the same seven Big 10 teams, and ties them with Indiana.

      Clearly a team like Ohio State should be extremely proud of their football success combined with an extremely strong 985 APR, but let’s not make this something it is not. At the end of the day, we are talking about a majority of players who would never be admitted to these schools if not for football. Ohio State, like any SEC school, recruits players so that they can win, and not because the world needs another 25 Sports Management Majors.

  5. The 25 limits the ability of coaches to oversign. Can you not see a positive step when it’s right in front of you? I do not accept the premise that attrition is always bad for the student athlete. I was curious when you would get smug in the aricle and it happened right here… “When you demand excellence from student-athletes you will get it “. You should write a book on integrity.

  6. Gee, I am astounded that the SEC didn’t invite Josh to their meetings so that he could “explain” to them where they’re wrong on these issues. Clearly the whole reason these discussions are taking place is that he personally prompted them, so why not bring him in as the expert?

    Is it because they have no way of getting in touch with him due to his need for anonymity? Maybe you could go there with a bag over your head and a voice scrambler?

    And while we’re on the subject, why is it that your buddy from Indiana can identify himself and not fear reprisal, but you can’t?

    Maybe the SEC presidents are waiting to read Josh’s most recent posts re the lack of acceptability of the SEC’s proposals before they vote today? Yeah, that must be it.

  7. I’m not always the most logical person, but I do admit that the current SEC proposals have me a bit confused. It seems to me that there are two mutually exclusive options with regards to oversigning. First, Joshua could be correct in his position that oversigning is harmful to student/athletes. If this is true, then all conferences or even the NCAA, should move to adopt regulations at least as strict as those in currently in place in the Big Ten. Alternatively, Nick Saban could be correct and oversigning is a blessing that opens up opportunities to prospective student athletes. If this is true, it may be even more useful to open branch campuses of North Alabama and Georgia Southern in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge. This could ease some of the logistical problems of transfers and “help” these student/athletes even more.

    The SEC proposal that reduces the annual cap from 28 to 25, is a compromise that seems to endorse the pro-oversigning position since it does not address the core issue of signing more athletes than available slots (when only 16 slots are available, 25 is barely better than 28 or even 37). On the other hand, the language of the rhetoric (“… play a lead role in doing the right thing”) seems to endorse the anti-oversigning position. Which side are they on? If oversigning is wrong it should be abolished. If it is beneficial it should be encouraged. The SEC seems to be saying that oversigning is wrong, but then instituting a rule to help sustain the practice. Is this move policy or PR?

    • When JoePa won’t release a QB because he won’t be able to replace him and he’s worried about depth, that’s taking advantage of the student athlete too. People should be able to transfer and sit out a year if they want. Attrition can be healthy. It can also be unhealthy. Nothing is as black and white as Joshua makes it seem.

  8. I know very little about President Pastides, but the man does seem to have a grasp of the obvious. He seems to understand that it would be foolish for the SEC to apply rules to itself that are more restrictive than those others apply to themselves.

  9. I agree with this site that oversigning is a problem that needs to be handled. But, a major conference just took a MAJOR step in the right direction, and you still complain. At least it’s progress. Why not put a positive spin on it for a change??

  10. Well it looks like the votes are in. Amazingly, the SEC presidents did not adopt the “Josh plan”. I guess that will subject us to another year of the same Saban quotes?

    Unless the NCAA passes some new rules when they have their summer meetings, and I think the SEC would have been made aware if such a thing were imminent, then I’m curious as to what purpose this website hopes to serve. Your impact has been felt, and changes were made. They may not suit you, but steps were taken.

    Short of posting the same stuff again and again, what else is there for you to do here?

  11. This is so dumb!!! Reducing the number from 28 to 25 is not the way to go. It may in fact prohibit schools like Georgia and Florida to reach 85. I can’t comprehend why SEC can’t handle this issue the right way.

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