“We just don’t do it,” Johnson told the Journal-Constitution. “It makes it hard sometimes to hit your target number but it is what it is. I don’t see how you can do that to kids, weed out guys for whatever reasons. No matter what anybody says, if you’re oversigning, some of that has to happen on occasion.”
That last sentence is pretty damning coming from a coach. When asked whether or not teams who practice oversigning gain a competitive advantage, Johnson replied:
"Sure they do,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just like you take 25 kids every year and then cut the ones you don’t want.
“You do the math. You have 85 scholarships. If you’re signing 28 every year for four years, instead of 85, you have 112. It doesn’t add up. So something is happening to those guys along the way. It just doesn’t add up. You’re losing them left or right academically or for whatever reasons.”
Johnson's solution is a simple one, and not too far off from what we proposed here. It's based on the number 85.
“Everybody has 85 scholarships; When you recruit a guy, and he says he’s coming, you give him a scholarship and he signs it,” Johnson told the Journal-Constitution. As soon as he signs it, he counts—he’s one of your 85. If you want to sign a kid who may or may not make it schoolwise, that’s on you. You will have to try to find someone else in August if he doesn’t make it.
“It would stop all this craziness, hat shows, verbal commitments, and all the foolishness that goes on with it. If the guy says they’re coming, put the papers in front of him and let him sign. When you’ve got 85, you’re through.”
Our proposal required that each coach declare his openings under the 85 cap on January 15th so that everyone knows exactly how many slots are available for each school, along with provisions and reform in the areas of non-renewals and transfer/sit out rules, but the principles are the same, which is to work within the bounds of 85 scholarships.
The equation is simple: # of guys returning on January 15th + # of guys signed = 85
Other coaches agree with Johnson that it is a competitive advantage. On May 26th, Saban had this to say about the proposed oversigning legislation before it passed and whether or not oversigning affects the quality of SEC teams:
"In my opinion, it would really affect the quality in our league," Saban said. "You can't know the attrition from signing day until August, which guys who're going to be fifth-year seniors that decide they don't want to come back and play football. Well, you can't count those guys. You're going to have to tell those guys they're going to have to decide in January.
Then again, on June 10th, after the legislation passed despite a 12-0 vote by the coaches against the new legislation, Saban had this to say:
"I don't really feel that it's going to create any management issues that's going to affect the quality of play," Saban calmly said Thursday before his annual charity golf tournament that benefits his "Nick's Kids" program. "I think it's all good."
So which one is it? Before the ruling Saban said it would affect the quality, after the ruling he said it wouldn't. Sounds like someone is craw-fishing.
Many have argued that the coaches always know which guys are going to transfer and that is why they oversign ahead of time. Saban's comments refute that by saying that you can't know the attrition from signing day until August. If you can't know the attrition, why should you be allowed to sign more than you have room for? And when you do and guys leave, how are we supposed to believe that they weren't encouraged to leave because there isn't enough room? The bottom line has always been that when you oversign in February guys have to leave, period. So if you are making the decision in February that guys have to leave, why don't we force coaches to identify those guys in January, give them due process through a clearinghouse, and sign what they have room for under the 85?
The reason coaches like Saban don't want this is because they want the extra evaluation period. They want to bring in the new recruits in the spring and summer and evaluate them against guys they consider to be on the bubble.