Updated with new numbers.
Here is what appears to be the final shake down on Alabama's post NSD attrition this year. Much like last year, Alabama is one of the few teams in the country to lose double-digit players post NSD. Quick, name another school that has lost 21 scholarships players between NSD and August over the last 2 years. That's an entire recruiting class. And 6 of those 21 were medical hardships. Here is the attrition for Alabama between National Signing Day and the August deadline to get to 85 players for the last two years. Any way you slice it that is a lot of attrition. For comparison's sake, Penn State has had 2 players leave their program over the last two years during this period of time.
2011 The March to 85 - Alabama
|Player||Position||Reason for leaving after NSD|
|Glenn Harbin||Defensive Line||Decided to play baseball; Link|
|Demetrius Goode||Running Back||Transfer to North Alabama; Link|
|Petey Smith||Linebacker||Transfer to Holems CC; Link|
|Brandon Moore||Defensive Lineman||Transfer to East Mississippi Community College; Link|
|Corey Grant||Running Back||Transfer to Auburn; Link|
|Keiwone Malone||Wide Receiver||Transfer to Memphis; Link|
|Robby Green||Defensive Back||Transfer to California University of Pennsylvania ; Link|
|Darrington Sentimore||Defensive Lineman||Transfer to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Link|
|Arron Douglas||Offensive Lineman||Died during offseason; RIP, hate having to list him here.|
|Kerry Murphy||Defensive Line||Medical Hardship|
|Kendall Kelly||Defensive Back||Medical Hardship|
|Wes Neighbors||Defensive Back||Medical Hardship|
2010 The March to 85 - Alabama
|Player||Position||Reason for leaving after NSD|
|Terry Grant||Running Back||Scholarship not renewed|
|Travis Sikes||Wide Receiver||Scholarship not renewed|
|Rod Woodson||Safety||Scholarship not renewed|
|Star Jackson||Quarterback||Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.|
|Deion Belue||Defensive Back||Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO|
|Alfy Hill||Linebacker||Academically Ineligible; future unknown|
|Taylor Pharr||Offensive Lineman||Medical Hardship|
|Milton Talbert||Linebacker||Medical Hardship|
|Darius McKeller||Offensive Lineman||Medical Hardship|
|Ronnie Carswell||Wide Receiver||Greyshirt|
|Wilson Love||Defensive End||Greyshirt|
*Wilson and Love are still with the team, they grayshirted. They left for 1 year but returned the following.
So does this end the 2011 March to 85? Right now it looks like 10 scholarship players are gone since NSD with 2 more suspended indefinitely waiting to be "processed." Regardless, despite Alabama not releasing official scholarships numbers, we are able to piece together a few bits of information that make the numbers a little clearer:
1. The number of players signed this year 22 + 2 grayshirt commitments from last year = 24
2. The number of players that left last year (3 JR to NFL + 8 SR to Graduation + 1 Pre-NSD Transfer) = 12
3. The number of scholarship players that have left since NSD (see above) = 12
When you add the number of players that have left since NSD to the number of players that left last year due to going to the NFL early or exhausting their eligibility you get 24. That's pretty damn close to exactly the 24 they signed.
Saban did mention that that Alabama was not at a full 85 last year, which we still have a hard time understanding because 2 guys grayshirted because their wasn't enough room. Regardless, let's say there was still room for 1 or 2 under the 85 limit last year.
There are only two possible explanations for the numbers:
1. Saban did not oversign: because when he signed 24 it took him to 85 (which if you remember on NSD when Saban told the media they signed what they had room for) and the 10 departures since NSD have created 10 openings, which have not been filled by walk-ons, and Alabama will go into the season with 73 scholarship players.
2. Saban did oversign: because with only 12 departing players on NSD and only a couple of open scholarships from last year there is no way he had room for 24 guys and it took X number of the 10 players leaving since NSD in order for him to get back down to 85. If Saban did oversign, then this is a prime example of how the new "roster management rules" for oversigning in the SEC are ineffective. Even with signing 24, which is 1 under the 25 enrollment limit, it is very possible that Alabama oversigned -- the only way they didn't is if they played last year with 73 scholarship players, which would mean the 12 under 85 from last year + the departure of 12 to the NFL and graduation would then justify the 24 they signed to get to 85. Then in which case, with the 12 departures since NSD, Alabama would be at 73 going into this season. Which in turn raises the question as to why 3 guys are being moved to medical hardship scholarships when there could be football scholarships that are left unused -- don't those guys deserve better for their sacrifice, especially when the room is there?
In summary, we might not have Saban's scholarship numbers, but we feel pretty confident that we have his number down pat by now. This is the second year that we have been able to forecast the amount of attrition to take place after NSD almost to the exact number. Last year we nailed it on the number, this year we said 11 and there has been 12 thus far. Not too shabby considering we don't have his numbers.
The only person that can clear this up is Nick Saban and he has the perfect opportunity to do it tomorrow at SEC Media Days. All he has to do is come clean on his scholarship numbers.
Sherman, a 5-foot-4 backup wide receiver who served as the team’s primary kickoff returner last season, said he first learned his position with the team might be in jeopardy a little more than a week ago. His fears were confirmed Tuesday in a meeting with Spurrier.
“They just said they got better players over the last year,” Sherman said. “Everybody they recruited committed and that never happens. And then everybody qualified (academically) and that never happens.”
Holloway goes on to dispute South Carolina's claim that everyone has qualified, but regardless, the explanation that South Carolina gave Sherman sure sounds like the definition of oversigning, but without the real numbers it is hard to be 100% sure he was cut to make the numbers work.
Based on Sherman's comments in this article, which are slightly different than his comments to us regarding whether or not he knew his scholarship was a 1 year renewable deal, it sounds like he knew that his scholarship was year-to-year and that everyone on the knows they are competing for a spot.
Sherman confirmed that. He said he was aware that his scholarship was a year-to-year deal, not a four-year pact between school and student-athlete. He said players at South Carolina are also aware that they are competing for their roster spots.
”It is what it is,” Sherman said. “It’s a business. I don’t think it’s fair, but it’s not my call.”
An astute observation for a 21-year-old. It is a business and it’s not fair. Those are the realities of big-time college athletics. But need they be?
That’s a question the NCAA needs to answer for itself. Does it want to be an organization that allows its student-athletes to stand defenseless against the steamrolling, win-at-all-costs machinery? Currently constructed, it’s a system in which rising seniors can have their financial aid pulled out from under them, or freshmen who already enrolled in classes can be told they’re no longer part of the team, not because they failed a class or got in trouble, but because the coach at their school treats a scholarship like an expiring contract and there’s a hot new free agent he’s got to make room for.
This leaves us with the debate over whether or not scholarships should be long-term details (4-5 years) like they used to be before coaching salaries skyrocketed and media/TV coverage turned into a 24/7/365 circus, or should we allow coaches to treat players like free-agents? In the NFL, free-agents actually have an agent and the power to negotiate their best deal. Could you imagine that in college?
As of press time, LSU is currently committed to 90 scholarship players for the 2011 season, including 24 signees for the incoming recruiting class.
To make matters worse, the Tigers are on a self-imposed two-scholarship reduction resulting from recruiting violations by former assistant coach D.J. McCarthy.
Consequently, LSU must meet marks of 83 and 23, respectively – which means seven players total, including at least two from the 2011 class, must go before fall camp.
Who those seven may be remains a mystery. LSU is keeping quiet on the subject.
“There’s a lot that could change before the team reports to camp and the start of the fall semester,” associate athletics director Michael Bonnette told Dig. “There’s nothing that we can say at this point regarding the number of players on the roster because those numbers are fluid and could change.”
This is one of the more baffling elements to oversigning and roster management in general. Schools go way out of their way to make sure everyone knows exactly who they sign on national signing day. It's all part of the hype and the fanfare. Alabama takes it so far as to run a webcam on the fax machine and post the names of the players as their signed LOI's come in and schools around the country hold special press conferences to highlight the players and introduce them to the media, but when asked later in the summer, as the deadline to get to 85 approaches, schools and coaches stonewall and don't want to comment on anything, and that is not just SEC schools, Ohio State did the same thing when we asked them to share their numbers. Obviously there are certain things they are prohibited from commenting on, but there is nothing to stop them from sharing numbers.
The other troubling part is that LSU's athletic director believes a lot can change between now and the start of fall camp. Fall camp is only a couple of weeks away, shouldn't rosters be settled by now or at least settled to the point where there is an explanation for the numbers?
Regardless, it's obvious that there are some spots that will need to be cleared up between now and the deadline for LSU to get to their max limit of 83.
On a somewhat positive note, it does appear that LSU tried to improve its communication with the players a little bit. This is still not enough as most agree that grayshirt offers really need to be explicit, agreed upon on NSD, and shouldn't depend on the enrollment of another recruit falling through or a roster cut to make space. For example, Ohio State and Cardale Jones agreed to a grayshirt offer when Cardale signed in February and despite 3 slots opening up since that time, Jones is still going to grayshirt. This is because the main reason behind his grayshirt was to create separation between him and the others at his position, not because Ohio State wanted to sign him and keep him away from other teams while waiting for a slot to open up in the current class. This was planned grayshirting; LSU is using the grayshirting as a buffer to make sure they don't go over 85. Nevertheless, it is an improvement over how they treated Elliott Porter.
Still, even subtracting those five, LSU would need to axe two more scholarships in total to reach 83. Who those two will be is anyone’s guess, but LSU is promising they won’t repeat the same mistakes that they did with Porter last year.
“We’ve been very transparent with the kids this year,” Alleva said to Gannett Sports. “Around February, we told a few kids who may be grayshirted, and that’s okay. I think it’s a bad thing if you surprise the kid. It was accidental last year with Les (and Porter), but I didn’t like it.”
Overall Cody did a great job of explaining oversigning and providing a great update on LSU's situation. It would be nice if the NCAA would step in and regulate the grayshirt process so that it is clearly defined on NSD and so there is insurance for the student-athlete that his spot be available next January and also so that recruits that sign on NSD are not asked at the last minute to take a grayshirt because the school doesn't have the numbers.
Based on this string of twitter messages, South Carolina appears to be putting the screws to Bryce Sherman. There is a 99.9999% chance that the "behind the scenes" stuff is oversigning and the numbers crunch. In reading South Carolina sites, there really isn't another reasonable explanation.
This is yet again another example of coaches not being honest and upfront with kids, but who can blame them with the pressure to win and the money involved being so great that they don't have a choice, right? All it takes is one school in a conference to abuse oversigning and next thing you know nearly everyone else is having to do it in order to compete. It's a slippery slope that often leads to stories like Bryce Sherman.
The guys over at GarnetAndBlack.com have it right, Bryce Sherman deserves better than this.
However, at the same time, Sherman was committed to this football program. After he earned his scholarship and worked hard to retain it, we owed him better than this. Now, after pouring his soul into the program, he'll have to pay out for his final year of college, simply because he wasn't going to get much playing time and because we signed more players than we had room for. Presumably, it's too late for him to find some other school that will give him a scholarship, considering that we waited until this late to cut him. His options are limited.
Why does this happen???
The answer is simple. South Carolina, by current SEC rules and NCAA rules, is allowed to sign up to 28 players in a single class regardless of where that puts them with the 85 limit. This opens the door for abusing the numbers and abusing kids like Bryce Sherman. Most likely, South Carolina signed more than they had room for and they had to wait until now to find out who is going to be eligible. Why?
“It's also different recruiting in a lot of the SEC states than it is in other parts of the country in that coaches are dealing with a larger pool of at-risk students academically. Granted, it's not politically correct to say that, and coaches are hesitant to say it publicly. But just about all of them deal with it in the SEC, and often it's a guessing game down to the last minute about whether a handful of players in each class are going to qualify academically.”
By allowing Steve Spurrier to oversign and by scholarships being only 1 year renewable contracts, kids like Bryce Sherman are being held hostage and kept in the dark until the coaches find out who from the incoming class is going to qualify. If everyone qualifies then someone has to go, and in the end, a good, unsuspecting kid who has done everything that has been asked of him is cut loose by a coaching staff and school that has made money of his efforts and dedication while operating as a tax exempt entity with the stated purpose of providing higher education. And the kicker, that tax exempt entity (the university) is governed by another tax exempt entity with the stated purpose of ensuring that athletics are integrated into the educational process for the sole purpose of enhancing the educational experience.
Everything about this situation is wrong and the new SEC rules on oversigning are not going to stop it completely because the SEC did not address oversigning by capping the annual signing limit at the number of signed LOI that it takes to get to 85 when you combine the signed LOI with the number of players on scholarship when the LOI is signed.
The NCAA has got to step in and put a complete end to these scenarios, even if it takes completely restructuring the scholarship program. Next year's Bryce Sherman is counting on them to live up to their mission statement.
Adam Krohn of the Gainesville (Ga.) Times has spent the past few months speaking with major players in the game of college football in regards to oversigning.
Highlights include interviews with Big Ten associate commissioner for compliance Chad Hawley, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity, NCAA official Cameron Schuh, and a high school prospect who turned down an offer from Ole Miss. and local high school coaches also weigh in on the issue.
The story will hit the Web on July 16.
According to Andrew Gribble, at GoVolsXtra, in the short Signing Day video linked below, Orta was not a last minute throw in to the 2011 recruiting class and that Orta had been a long time Clemson commitment that Tennessee was able to flip at the last minute and get to sign a LOI on NSD. Gribble never mentions anything about a grayshirt and in fact, he thought that Orta had a real shot at seeing playing time early.
Here is a quick video of Orta just shortly after signing with Tennessee. Note: again there is no mention of grayshirting.
The last article written on Orta, also from GoVolsXtra, indicates that Tennessee is in an oversigned position and will need to make roster space in order to get down to the 25 annual limit. It also indicates that there have been no announcements regarding plans to grayshirt any players, for any reason.
With that, 27 of the Vols’ 28 2011 signees are enrolled in classes and with the program. NCAA bylaws allow just 25 to be on scholarship for the upcoming season, but UT is able to have 26 because it was able to back-count one spot from the 2010 class.
Freshman defensive back Geraldo Orta, who has been enrolled since the first session of summer semester, underwent surgery Friday for his second shoulder surgery since December.
If the surgery renders Orta incapable of playing in 2011, the Vols will have two fewer additions than anticipated for their rebuilding secondary, but could now have an easier decision to make with whom to grayshirt.
Coach Derek Dooley has not announced any plans to grayshirt any members of his 2011 class, but if all 27 remain qualified and eligible when fall semester begins, one player will have to fully separate himself from the team until January.
In May, Orta told GVX247.com that he would probably redshirt the 2011 season because of a surgery he had in December.
“I hit someone on the sideline, and my arm was up at a 90-degree angle, and it popped out,” Orta told GVX247. “I stayed in the game. I played the whole season. I never really thought about coming out.
“They told me that if it happened again, just go ahead and have surgery or whatever, but they had confidence that therapy (during the season) would help it a lot.”
Based on some of Orta comments on his twitter account http://twitter.com/#!/Orta26, he seems a little upset and distraught:
Wes Rucker http://twitter.com/#!/wesrucker247 says that Tennessee hasn't confirmed anything yet, but it looks like Orta will be grayshirting. He also mentioned that Orta had surgery on Friday.
@TheMarchTo85 That it looks like he'll be grayshirting (just had surgery), but UT hasn't confirmed anything.
This situation seems very cut and dry. First of all, in this particular scenario we are dealing with the NCAA's annual limit of 25 new enrollees per class, so we don't have to waste time trying to figure out if Tennessee has room under the 85 limit, which is always a lot harder to do. According to the article above, Tennessee signed 28 and only had room for 26, meaning they had room to back count 1 to last year's class plus they had room for 25 more under both the 85 total limit and the annual 25 limit. Therefore, all we have to look at is the current class and the status of the 28 guys they signed on NSD.
It appears that Tennessee is in the same position as LSU was two years ago when they signed more than they projected having room for and everyone qualified, which they didn't expect, and which also led to Elliott Porter being asked to grayshirt despite already being on campus and having no idea that they were going to ask him to grayshirt.
We have asked Orta to comment, but he has yet to respond.
There is something serious wrong with this situation. Everyone that visits this site, whether you are pro-oversigning or anti-oversigning, agrees that when it comes to grayshirting there must be an agreement on or before NSD. Last minute grayshirts to clear space, either for the annual 25 limit or the total 85 limit, is wrong, and it is EXACTLY what Florida President, Bernard Machen was referring to as morally reprehensible when he wrote this article.
As Wes Rucker mentioned, this has not been confirmed by Tennessee yet, but if they do push a grayshirt offer on Orta this late in the process they should be crucified for it. Regardless, if the numbers above from the GoVolsXtra article are right, even if Orta doesn't grayshirt, someone else is going to have to go in order to get to 25.
As soon as we know more on this story we will share it. For now we're in a holding pattern as we wait to see what Tennessee does.
That puts us at six over the limit (I'm taking the cautious route here, acknowledging the self-imposed two-scholarship reduction, though I'm not sure exactly how that will play out). Of everything I've mentioned above my guesses are that Fordham won't be on scholarship, one or two of the freshman won't qualify and a couple of the guys will take medical hardships (Kellen Theriot being the main candidate), which will get us right into the 83 we need. All in all, the roster is in pretty healthy shape, otherwise.
Earlier this week we did a quick Q&A with Cody Worsham, Sport Editor at DigBatonRouge.com for an LSU story he is working on. Worsham is interested, as are many, to see how the final numbers are going to work out for LSU this year. We'll post a link when he runs his article.
You've been warned. Oversigning in College Baseball is just as bad if not worse than it is in Football. Here is just a small taste from Arkansas' Baseball Coach, Dave Van Horn:
Q: In your opinion, what does it take for a Big Ten school to get up to par with SEC schools and the nation's elite?
A: They need to commit to it. They need to commit to it 100 percent and put some money into it. They need to let them oversign a little bit because they know they'll lose kids in the draft. I know they can't, and to me that's ridiculous. If a kid in your program is a junior and projected to go in the first round, you should be able to recruit a guy to replace him. If he comes back, it works out. It's crazy that they don't do that. They need to straighten that out.
Q: Your program has been hit hard by the draft in the last two years. Is oversigning a more critical factor than people realize?
A: Yes. It's ridiculous. We signed 16 kids this year, and 13 of them got drafted. It's just the way it is. We should have the freedom to do what we need to do, and we do. The Big Ten doesn't. If they only have so much money available for seniors, that's all they get. You're never going to be able to compete with southern schools if you don't let them oversign. They have good players, but they don't have enough depth.
In trying to track down Ohio State's numbers, which by the way would be 1,000 times easier to do if Ohio State would release them or the B1G office would release them, we decided to see if Kevin Noon, Managing Editor & Publisher at the Ohio State Rivals site Buckeye Grove could help shed a little light on last year's numbers at year end. Here is his play by play for the scholarship numbers from the end of last year to the addition of this year's class.
The team ended with 80 scholarship players last season... (not including the walk-ons getting the one year).
Players that left:
17 seniors (that adds Moeller back into the mix) (63)
Dionte Allen goes against the count for 1 year (64)
Longo leaves March 9th (63)
DiLillo leaves (can't date it... he had 4 years on schollie, was mutual) (62)
Seven players enroll (Cash, Shazier, Heuerman, B. Miller, T. Brown, R. Tanner, J. Hale) (69)
Jackson leaves (68)
Pryor leaves (67)
Ohio State has 15 more players enroll (D. Smith, Spencer, Vannett, Bobek, Underwood, Carter, Farris, Hayes, S. Miller, Bennett, Crowell, C. Grant, D. Grant, Gambrell, Haynes) (82)
Even if there is a question as to when Jackson and Pryor go into the count there is no way that it goes above 84.. let alone 85... Longo was gone before Spring quarter and DiLillo was out of the program after the bowl game as well... even if we do count him for winter quarter.
Here is our take on the numbers based on what Kevin has provided us, how we look at rosters, and how we define oversigning:
(Note: the senior class listed above would have been the signing class of 2007 in which there were 15 guys signed. 3 of that 15 were no longer with the team at the start of the 2010 season: Clifford, Scott, and Pentello. The rest are divided up into the senior and junior classes above based on redshirting.)
We start with the number 64. That is the number listed above after the 17 seniors leave from the pool of 80 and you add the FSU transfer (80-17=63 + FSU transfer = 64). That is the pre-NSD number, but that number does not include the departure of Dilillo who was not on the team at the end of the 2010 season despite still being on scholarship, according to Noon. So that takes the number to 63.
Prior to NSD, on January 20th, Sam Longo announced he was transferring. http://www.thebuckeyebattlecry.com/2011/01/breaking-sam-longo-to-transfer/ now the number 62 prior to NSD.
On NSD Ohio State signed 24 (23 for this class and 1 as a grayshirt signee for next year). 62+23 = 85 plus Cardale Jones who was a grayshirt signee. Technically you could say that Ohio State went over by 1, but the 1 that they went over would not result in forcing anyone out of a scholarship because it technically doesn't count until next year. The 1 over was clearly for next year -- how you view that is up to you, if you want to call it oversigning you can, by our definition it is, but clearly it doesn't result in anyone being pushed out. Now had Jones announced at the end of July that he is taking a grayshirt then things would have been fishy.
Update: Cardale Jones signed a letter of intent but with the understanding that he would enroll at Fork Union in the fall and then rejoin Ohio State in January of 2012 on scholarship. It is unclear as to when his LOI became void, but it had to in order for him to enroll at Fork Union. This is slightly different than him enrolling at Ohio State for the fall and paying his own way. With Jones being released from his LOI, he is allowed to be recruited by anyone and can go anywhere he wants should he decide after Fork Union that he doesn't want to go to Ohio State.
After NSD you have Jackson, Pryor, and Price leave the pool of 85 which is why you see Ohio State currently at 82 here: http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1176611.
This still leaves Adam Griffin. He is included in the numbers above, but as we mentioned earlier, he was a walk-on freshman last year that was given the scholarship saved for Seantrel Henderson and when he didn't sign it went to Griffin. From Griffin:
News of you signing with Ohio State was kind of a shock to most fans. How did the process unfold and how did the opportunity to become a Buckeye come about? "Things unfolded pretty randomly. I called coach Tressel and asked to walk-on. Then, he called me back with a scholarship."
We don't know the details of Griffin's situation, but it is reasonable to think that he gets to remain on scholarship provided there is always room. Now technically, by our definition of oversigning, if Ohio State were to go over by one and then release Griffin from his scholarship we would call it oversigning.
This is as close as you will ever come to getting the numbers nailed down without having the official numbers from Ohio State. Obviously, Nic Dilillo's status was the missing piece. Being that he was not on the team at the end of the 2010 season and was not invited to spring ball, it is reasonable that both he and Ohio State knew that his scholarship would be filled by someone in the 2011 recruiting class and that is probably what Ohio State reported to the Big 10 office when they turned in their recruiting budget for 2011. If Dilillo comes out and says he felt he was pushed out to make room or that he was treated unfairly, we'll certainly report it, just like the James Jackson situation, but to date there have been no reports on Dilillo to our knowledge.
Special thanks to Kevin Noon at Rivals for providing the scholarship chart and the time to bounce emails back and forth.
In case you haven't heard, James Jackson, former Ohio State WR, was quoted in an article written by AP writer, Pat Eaton-Robb as saying, "Ohio State had an oversigning issue."
Jackson, a wide receiver, says he was asked to transfer after last season, two years into his college career.
"They had an oversigning issue," Jackson said. "They had to free up a few scholarships, and coach (Jim) Tressel told me I probably wouldn't play and maybe Ohio State wasn't the place for me."
Obviously, that sounds pretty bad if it is true. Even if it isn't true, it is pretty clear that Jackson was unhappy about how things went down at Ohio State. In a nutshell, Jackson thought when he committed and signed with Ohio State that it was a 4-5 year commitment by both parties and, as the AP story illustrates, Jackson was obviously not aware of the "fine print" of the scholarship agreement.
While oversigning seems to have grabbed the headlines, in talking to Rusty Miller who helped Pat Eaton-Robb on the story, it's clear that the intent of the story had nothing to do with oversigning. From Rusty Miller via email:
"Our story dealt with legislation in Connecticut and California dealing with making the fine print on scholarships clearer to both sides. It had absolutely nothing to do with oversigning. We won't be doing another story on this, unless the legislation proceeds or becomes a law. But the oversigning part won't be repeated, since James Jackson won't ever be interviewed again."
"I don't think there's any fire here to go with the smoke. It was just the kid who called it oversigning: Not Tressel, nor Smith nor Ohio State. Jackson probably doesn't even know what oversigning is."
Jackson's HS coach also believes that what happened to Jackson had nothing to do with oversigning:
"I know James wasn't an oversigning, but I do believe it was a roster management deal."
So the million dollar question is, if the story had nothing to do with oversigning why start the story off with an accusation from a former player of oversigning against one of the few schools in the country with a spotless oversigning record? This is all very confusing to be honest, as MGoBlog points out here:
If Tressel said he wasn't going to play and should think about a transfer but Ohio State was willing to sign the scholarship papers if he stuck around, that seems like a reasonable thing to do. The implication in the article is that they wouldn't. But it's never directly stated and it seems that even Jackson said something to the effect that they would have, except then he says they wouldn't. So… great job, Pat Eaton-Robb, you've confused the hell out of everyone.
My guess is that the oversigning quote was too good to pass up. The only problem is that it was inaccurate and took away from what the AP article was really all about.
Ohio State's track record on oversigning has been spotless. There are only 4-5 BCS schools that have signed fewer players since 2002, and when asked if Ohio State oversigned their 2010 recruiting class, Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner Compliance, at the Big 10 office, said:
"My information is that they did not oversign and never were in an oversigned position."
When Ohio State was asked if they oversigned, this was their response:
"Ohio State did not over-offer or oversign for the 2011 football season. Each year available scholarships are calculated based on the number of slots available through exhaustion of eligibility, graduation, departures to professional teams, student-athletes known to be transferring and known situations where aid will not be renewed by Ohio State for various reasons. Once all these factors are considered, Ohio State then offers National Letters of Intent."
And lastly, the numbers. Since NSD Ohio State has lost three scholarship players: James Jackson, Ejuan Price, and Terrelle Pryor. In addition, 2011 signee Adam Griffin, is listed on the chart, but it is unclear if his scholarship was renewed since he was a walk-on that was given the scholarship that was left over from Seantrel Henderson not signing with Ohio State.
These numbers are from the Ohio State rival site, http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1176611, not Ohio State.
Big 10 Office and Ohio State were asked for official numbers and it appears that a FOIA request will be required in order to get them, which is very frustrating. Schools across the country, Ohio State included, make it very public as to who they sign every year. Yet when summer roles around and the media starts asking questions about numbers everyone wants to go into a shell and stonewall.
Regardless, should we get the official numbers from Ohio State we will do a follow up on this story.
For the time being, let's take oversigning off the table and talk about the AP article and what really went wrong with James Jackson and Ohio State.
The AP story was supposed to be about the new legislation that just passed in Connecticut and how it might have been beneficial to kids like James Jackson who didn't understand that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.
It is simply mind-boggling that student-athletes are still not aware that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts. If you believe James Jackson, not only did he not know scholarships had to be renewed every year, he believed that he would be on scholarship for the next 4-5 years, "no matter what" as he puts it.
"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," said Jackson, who now attends Wayne State, a Division II school in Michigan. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else.
"I don't necessarily feel used, and maybe coach Tressel was right, maybe Ohio State wasn't right for me," he said. "But this would have helped me out by maybe knowing that before."
Where in the world did he get that idea from? Did Jim Tressel tell him that during recruiting?
According to Jackson's HS football coach, Jim Tressel did just that, as did everyone that recruited James Jackson.
"Not once in any visit to any school was the 1 year renewable stuff brought up.
James had offers and I set in on talks with Michigan, UCLA, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Notre Dame and not a one explained that it is a 1 year renewable scholarship. Instead they talked about anything but that and 4-5 years was said by all of them.
When you make a commitment to an athlete or any individual you owe them your commitment. To deliberately say we are making a 4-5 year commitment to you and come back and say "well, he just not fitting in" it isn't right. He never failed a drug test, put himself in academic trouble, missed workouts, just apparently did not fit in. It is a practice to assume that these athletes know that it is a 1 year renewable and they don't."
This is where it gets ugly. Jackson's HS coach is right, if schools are selling a 4-5 year commitment, then they should honor it, period. The NCAA really needs to step in right here and do something about this. The state legislation is a move in the right direction, but it is not enough. There are way too many kids that don't understand that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.
The NCAA should create a certification program that requires recruits to be certified by the NCAA for recruitment. The certification would consist of the recruit passing a standardized exam certifying that the recruit has an understanding of the recruiting process and is prepared to handle the challenge of evaluating scholarship offers. At the bare minimum, it would at least make sure that every kid recruited would know that scholarships are only good for one year. They are already doing this for the academic side of the process with the clearinghouse for academics, why not incorporate a certification process through a standardize exam and bylaws that state that schools cannot contact a recruit that is not NCAA certified for recruitment? Seems like a worthwhile use of all the money they are making.
So did Ohio State refuse to honor the commitment they sold James Jackson? That is the burning question. It's pretty clear that he was not the victim of a massive numbers crunch and just another kid run off in order to make the numbers work. There is something more to the story. This was a good kid who kept his nose clean, and who by all accounts did what he was supposed to do inside the classroom and out.
Most likely Jackson was either not good enough to see any playing time or he truly wasn't fitting in with the team, but according to Ohio State's policy those are not valid reasons for non-renewals. As the AP article states, Ohio State and Gene Smith deny forcing Jackson to transfer:
"Our policy is as James Jackson stated: As long as a student-athlete maintains his/her academic standing, behaves appropriately, and handles his/her responsibilities, he or she will retain their scholarship."
The confusing part about the AP article is that it appears there is a missing quote because Smith's statement mentions that Jackson states Ohio State's policy, but the AP article doesn't give the context in which Jackson would have mentioned Ohio State's policy.
I asked Jackson to clarify this and he declined to comment:
"I don't want to do anymore interviews on this matter or in the near future. I just want to focus on my task at hand and to continue being the best person, student and athlete I can be. I'm sorry but I just do not want to speak on this issue."
I also asked Jackson's coach to clarify whether or not Jackson was given the option to continue on scholarship or if he was told that he would not be renewed, his response:
"My understanding is they told him he would not fit in and he should transfer. He was not invited to spring ball and taking off all communication. Now that I think of it, to my understanding they told him he had until June 30th otherwise he would no longer have a scholarship. I believe he was given no
And that is the end of the road. Neither Ohio State nor Jackson will comment further on the story. At the end of the day, James Jackson is no longer at Ohio State and he thought when he was recruited and committed to Ohio State that he would be there until he graduated, if not longer. He never says on record that Ohio State absolutely would not renew his scholarship, but his HS coach believes that to be the case, and meanwhile, Ohio State is denying the claim stating their policy is basically to renew kids that are doing the right things. It's pretty much a stalemate. Ohio State has a pretty good record of player relations, especially avoiding oversigning and giving scholarships to walk-ons that will never see the field, but Jackson's coach is pretty adamant that Jackson was cut.
My personal belief is that unless something happened to Jackson when his position coach, Darrel Hazell left for the Kent State job and he simply didn't respond well to the new position coach, there simply isn't a logical reason for him to not be at Ohio State right now other than what the coaching staff told him.
By NCAA rules and by Big 10 Conference rules, Ohio State did nothing wrong. It is completely within the rules for a school to decide to not renew a scholarship based on athletic performance and ability, and according to the Big 1o Conference Office, Ohio State did not oversign so there was no reason to push someone out because of numbers.
James Jackson was told two things by the coaching staff:
1. He probably wouldn't play.
2. Maybe Ohio State is not the right place for him.
What those two things most likely meant were:
1. You're not good enough to play.
2. You don't fit in with the guys on the team.
The question is whether or not it is right for a school to not renew someone based on those two factors. The first one is obvious, no school should ever not renew a kid simply because he didn't live up to expectations or he is not good enough to play. He was good enough when Ohio State recruited him and enticed him with talk of 4-5 year scholarships and they should honor that, period. To not do so is flat wrong. The second one is a little more tricky. If a guy doesn't fit in it could be a problem, both for the him and for the team, but "not fitting in" is a very vague term, and it is probably used for this very reason.
If James Jackson wanted to stay at Ohio State he should have been allowed to stay, period. As his HS coach said:
When you make a commitment to an athlete or any individual you owe them your commitment.
That commitment was broken between Ohio State and James Jackson, and while we can't track down the exact reason why the fact remains that Jackson is no longer at Ohio State and that is a shame. The whole story is a shame. At best it's a story of a kid getting a shot to make a mark at Ohio State and things simply didn't work out so he was forced to move on and at worst it's a story about a kid being chewed up and spit out by the college football machine. Neither are appealing.