Monday morning, Big 10 Conference Commissioner, Jim Delany, is scheduled to hold a press conference and announce that the Big 10 Conference is going to back to their pre-2002 rules on oversigning which bans the practice completely by working with a hard cap of 85, and he is going to demand that the NCAA make it a national rule.
Okay, he's not going to do that, but imagine if he did! Imagine the outrage around the country, especially down in SEC country if Jim Delany tried to do what Mike Slive just did, which was to push his rules on others by trying to make them national rules.
The pre-2002 rules in the Big 10 were originally created in 1956 and completely banned oversigning by limiting coaches to only being allowed to offer and accept as many scholarships as they had available under the annual maximum roster limit, in present day it is 85. So for example, if a school had 16 scholarship openings come National Signing Day, they could offer and receive 16 signed letters of intent for new scholarships, not 37 Houston Nutt, 16. Talk about making it hard on coaches. Talk about working at a competitive disadvantage. But they did it and they did it 50+ years ago because it was the right thing to do, regardless of what other conferences were doing.
SEC fans have long complained about the snooty northerners from the B1G claiming a moral high ground and looking down their nose while trying to push their ways on the south. Had Jim Delany done what Mike Slive did yesterday, it would be Civil War 2.0 in college football. You can't have it both ways SEC guys, you can't in one breath complain about Jim Delany and the B1G pushing their ways on others while claiming a moral high ground and then in another breath create new rules to deal with a problem that is most rampant in your conference and then demand that everyone else follow suit while claiming a moral high ground and labeling yourself as leaders. That's not how you arrive at a national rule that deals with oversigning. That is how you become hypocritical and lose the moral high ground argument.
Regardless, the mantra of this site from this day forward will be "how do we create a national rule that completely eliminates oversigning?" The Big 10 conference went without it for 50+ years; it can be done. We need to get back to it and it needs to be the nationwide standard, not this red herring the SEC is floating out there of a soft 25 annual cap that doesn't provide protection for the players when there are only 16 openings and a coach signs 25.
Each year, college football is becoming less and less of a regional sport. When dealing with the competitive advantage aspect of this issue, once you have ensured that there are no loopholes for exploitation, you have to find a way to make sure everyone is recruiting and signing the same amount of players. Up until 15 years ago, schools were only competing regionally to win their conference and go to an exhibition bowl game against another conference. Conferences had traditional bowl games that they went to every year and that was a reward for winning the conference. Times have changed, everyone is not competing for a spot at their traditional bowl as a reward anymore, everyone is competing for the 2 spots in the BCS national championship game and the remaining spots in the BCS bowl system. The money is bigger and the competition is nation-wide.
This is the great conundrum of college football. The NCAA, BCS, TV and advertising companies are all trying to take a regional sport and make it national. Very hard to do. Most national, professional sports only have about 30-35 teams total and are regulated entirely by one governing body. In college football you have 120+ teams and 3 governing bodies, NCAA, Conference, and University, and they all want to shape the rules to fit their region and their culture, while at the same time compete for the same championships and the same BCS money. This is a system unlike any other is sports.
The only solution to continue down the path of making college football a national sport instead of a regional one is to try and develop national rules; you don't do that by having a single conference declare they are creating rules for themselves and then demand that everyone else follow. SEC folks wouldn't stand for that for one second and the rest of the country shouldn't either. There needs to be national discussion that brings everyone to the table to agree on a set of standards regarding the signing process.
Jim Delany is not calling a press conference Monday, but he needs to call the Mark Emmert at the NCAA and reserve his rightful spot at the negotiations table on oversigning, as do all of the conference commissioners.
The last thing we need is for any one conference to be in control of oversigning policy creation on a national level, much less the one with the worst track record of abusing the practice. That would be like letting Ohio State dictate national policy on selling memorabilia for tattoos, right?