Today was, by far, the busiest day for oversigning news since national signing day. As you already know, the SEC coaches met today in Destin, Florida and briefly discussed how to divert the attention away from oversigning by having Steve Spurrier announce that he and a few other coaches think they should pay 70 players on each team $300 per game. Didn't see that coming did you? We didn't either, but nicely played by the old ball coach.
“They can give it to their parents for travel, lodging, meals. Maybe they could take their girlfriend out Sunday night or Saturday night and so forth,” Spurrier said. “A bunch of our coaches felt so strongly about it that we’d be willing to pay. Seventy guys, 300 bucks a game. That’s only $21,000 bucks a game.
“I doubt it will get passed. But as coaches, we make all the money, as do universities and television, and we need to give more to our players. That was just something we need to get out there.”
It's statements like that from Spurrier that remind us that coaches should stick to the X's and O's of football and leave the rest to school administrators, conference commissioners, and the NCAA.
Back to what we learned today.
Yes, the SEC coaches did meet today, and yes, they did discuss the topic of oversigning and conducted a vote on the proposal drawn up by the SEC athletic directors and approved by the conference commissioner, Mike Slive.
Typically that indicates an undefeated regular season and a trip to the SEC championship game for the right to win the next National Championship, on this day, however, it meant that all 12 SEC coaches are against the new legislation that would attempt to curb oversigning and address the other roster management areas that have become a concern.
Not that we expected them to vote in favor of the new legislation, but for those of us who are against oversigning and want to see it removed from college athletics there is still hope. The coaches are not going to be the ones giving the final vote, and for good reason because if that were the case Houston Nutt would vote to set the signing limit at 80, Spurrier would vote to pay players out of his own pocket, and Saban would vote to have the bump rule reinstated. We have no idea what Les Miles would vote for because it is impossible to figure out what goes on under the hat.
Instead, the university presidents will get the final vote on Friday and that will be the one that counts. If we had to guess, the coaches already know which way this is going to go and they are just making sure all of their fans know that they did not vote to have restrictions placed on their recruiting habits. Kind of sets up nicely down the road should the new legislation pass and have the affect that Saban thinks it will have on the conference:
"In my opinion," Saban told ESPN.com, "it (cutting signee numbers) would really affect the quality in our league."
For all of the tough talk on oversigning that Mark Richt has been giving lately and all of the praise he has received for said tough talk, when he voted in favor of the status quo today it could only mean one of two things:
1. He already knows the outcome (that the presidents are going to vote in favor of it) and he doesn't want to piss the rest of the other coaches off by being the one guy who voted in favor of the new legislation, or...
2. He has been talking out of both sides of his mouth in order to project a certain image.
Either way, Richt missed a golden opportunity to be regarded as the second coming of Bobby Dodd and we are moving him out of the list of people against oversigning. It would have been perfectly acceptable for Richt to say that the same thing Muschamp said today, but instead Richt went back on his previous stance by saying he's okay with oversigning as long as everyone knows what's going on up front. We have always had a lot of respect for Mark Richt on this site for his previous stance on oversigning -- it would have been nice for him to take a stand, publicly, in front of his peers.
"We don’t over-sign," Muschamp said. "That’s a policy we have at the university. We’ve been successful, so it’s not an issue for us."
We'll be moving Muschamp to the "against oversigning" list.
This should probably go in a separate post, but we'll put it here to help curb the outrage from Alabama fans. Saban raised some very interesting points today with his remarks to the media after the meeting where he blamed them for the increased scrutiny saying:
"You all are creating a bad problem for everybody," Saban told reporters. "You're going to mess up kids' opportunities by doing what you're doing. You think you're helping 'em but you're really hurting 'em. It took one case where somebody didn't get the right opportunity. You need to take the other 100 cases where somebody got an opportunity."
So let's get this right, by the media analyzing what is going on with oversigning and documenting the stories of guys like Elliott Porter, Steven Wesley, and Chris Garrett, just to name 3, and how those kids were completely screwed by oversigning, it is now responsible for creating a problem for EVERYONE. Really?
The general consensus of the media is that oversigning has to go, both for reasons of ethical treatment of players and competitive equality. Georgia's AD and Florida's President both support this position and have done so publicly, so it's not just the media.
Essentially what Saban is saying is that to not oversign is harmful to kids -- those are his words. That should be taken as a direct shot at the Big 10 Conference and its coaches -- in Saban's view they are hurting kids and robbing them by not oversigning.
Ironically, Saban coached in the Big 10 for several years and there is no record of Saban lobbying to put an end to the injustice and harm that not oversigning was doing to kids while he was in the Big 10. And based on how strongly he feels about this injustice, it's odd that he hasn't started a campaign to rid the rest of college football of the injustice of not oversigning kids. Surely if he feels this strongly about it he would call out coaches around the country for not oversigning, "look guys, you are ruining lives by not doing this -- you can't do this to the kids, it's not right!!!!"
That's what he is selling -- are you buying? We're not.
Oversigning was probably never even on Saban's radar until he landed at LSU and found out what a powerful tool it is for roster management. Gerry DiNardo didn't realize what a constraint the B1G rules were until he came to Indiana from LSU -- he was the one that lobbied to have the rules relaxed in 2002 so that he could oversign by 3, not Saban.
Regardless, Saban wants everyone to believe this is a problem created by the media; he's dead wrong, this has been an issue for decades, the media is just finally bringing it to the forefront.
SEC University Presidents
It all comes down to the university presidents. In 1964 the SEC university presidents were faced with the exact same dilemma, yes we've been down this road before, oversigning is not something that just starting being an issue here recently, and they voted in favor of not changing the rules for oversigning. The numbers were slightly different back then, but the general principles were the same. Coaches were signing way more guys than they had room for and then kicking the ones they didn't want to the curb.
The SEC presidents at the time were torn over the issue with the vote being split down the middle.
A vote was to be taken by the presidents of the colleges on the issue, and Dodd made it clear, Tech would have to leave the SEC unless the rule was changed. Dodd said he would live with 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 recruits per year as long as he did not have to chase any of his players off.
The presidents were split six for Dodd’s position and six against. Bear had promised Dodd he would get his president to vote for Dodd’s position, which would have changed the rule.
When the meeting was held, Bryant did not show up and the Alabama president voted against Dodd’s position and the 140 Rule was upheld. Tech’s president immediately walked to the podium and announced Tech was withdrawing from the SEC. Bryant never told Dodd why he reneged on his promise."
The SEC Presidents have an opportunity to send a message and right the wrongs that have taken place since that decision in 1964. Oversigning is not an issue that Nick Saban created, it's a systemic problem that is as old as the conference and has resulted in countless kids like Elliott Porter and Chris Garrett getting screwed out of their scholarships to make way for new, better players.
On Friday we'll find out who really is in control of the SEC, the coaches or the Presidents. For the sake of college football let's hope it's the Presidents and they vote to push through the new legislation.