“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.”
With the SEC meetings in June on the horizon and the topic of oversigning at or near the topic of the agenda, perhaps Mike Slive and the Athletic Directors of the SEC should use the oversigning time machine and rewind the clock back to the SEC meetings of 1964. That was the year Georgia Tech took a stand against the practice of oversigning and eventually left the conference because it would not change its recruiting rules to prevent the abuses taking place relative to signing more players than there was room for, which subsequently led to players being run off the team and out of school.
It is absolutely amazing that 47 years later this is one of the hottest topics going into the conference meetings and still an issue in the SEC. Granted, Georgia and Florida are not threatening to leave the SEC if Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Auburn don't stop oversigning, but it is clear that the battle lines have been drawn and just like in 1964 the conference remains strongly divided on the practice of oversigning.
The Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine recently wrote a wonderful article on the 1964 SEC meetings with a blow for blow account of what happened and why GT really left the SEC -- oversigning. Here is just a snippet of the article; we highly recommend you read the rest of the article.
Over the years, many have debated the reason for Tech’s departure from the SEC. Some will argue that Tech athletics had begun to slip and were no longer able to compete with the other conference teams. Others will point to a running feud with the University of Alabama as the cause. Still others will suggest that Tech wanted to be an independent all along, hoping to become the Notre Dame of the South. Tech was losing a lot of revenue generated from TV and bowl rights because of conference sharing rules. As an independent, Tech would be able to keep all the money it earned.
The true reason was over something called the 140 Rule — and Bobby Dodd’s determination to have it changed.
The SEC 140 Rule placed yearly caps on football and basketball scholarships at 45 and limited the total number of scholarships each school could offer to 140. Even with the normal attrition expected from academic dropouts and other issues, simple math shows that if a school recruited its full allotment of players each year it would be over the 140 maximum.
Instead of recruiting a smaller number of athletes each year to manage the 140 maximum, many SEC schools would simply cut the scholarships of players who had not performed to expectations. Atlanta’s afternoon newspaper, The Atlanta Journal, reported “Dodd’s chief complaint with the 140 has been the alleged practice of some schools ‘running off’ recruiting mistakes to make room for new signees.”
We have long believed that the practice of oversigning is tolerated in certain areas because of a cultural mindset that believes it's okay to treat student-athletes as pawns or pieces of meat. This is the same mindset that believes in winning at all costs because bragging rights are more important than ethics. It should be noted, both from a historical perspective regarding GT's decision to leave the SEC in 1964 because of the oversigning issue and from a contemporary perspective from the recent comments from Florida's President and Georgia's Athletic Director condemning the practice of oversigning that this is not a North vs. South issue. This is an issue about ethics in recruiting and the sides are Right and Wrong, not North and South. The Big 10 Conference put its rules in place in 1954 to deal with oversigning, 10 years prior to GT leaving the SEC, and there is no record of the Big 10 having an influence on that decision in 1964. Likewise, very little is being said publicly by Big 10 officials on this topic. Chad Hawley has provided comments and a few coaches have answered questions on the topic or provided commentary, but by and large the Big 10 Conference is not pushing its rules onto the SEC. Instead, the SEC is right back where it was 47 years ago, heavily divided along the battle lines of oversigning, and this time it is Georgia instead of Georgia Tech that is taking a stand with Florida at its side.
Correction: The SEC Presidents and Athletic Directors meet in early June, not July as previously stated above.
We are still working on the cup standings and we are working on a piece about Saban's comments regarding his numbers. We are having a hard time believing that with the addition of 24 new players (22 recruits that signed this year + 2 grayshirts from last year) that Alabama is exactly at 85 right now, which is what he implied by saying what they signed is what they had room for right now.
Saban said Alabama has signed the number of players that it could.
"We could add one or so to that, if the opportunity presents itself in the future," he said...
A cursory check of the roster shows 14 seniors, 6 of which were on the scout team, 3 juniors leaving for the NFL, and 1 transfer prior to signing day. That is a departure of 12 scholarship players. In order for Alabama to be full right now, they had to have been under the 85 cap by 12 last year. If they were under the cap of 85 by 12 then why did two players grayshirt on the last day before the deadline last year? It just doesn't add up. We're going to break it all down in a separate post.
In the meantime, here is a break down of the class signings for all BCS conferences. No surprises here. The conference with all those teams ranked in the top 15 in recruiting had the most players signed by a landslide. Again, where would all those teams rank if they were restricted to only taking what they have room for like everyone else?
2011 Recruiting Numbers - Players Signed - Big 10, SEC, ACC, Pac12
|Illinois||27||South Carolina||30||Florida St||29||USC||29|
|Ohio State||23||Tennessee||27||Virginia||26||Oregon St.||24|
2011 Recruiting Numbers - Players Signed - B12 & Big East
|Big 12||Signed||Big East||Signed|
|Kansas State||25||West Virginia||22|
Hannah Karp and Darren Everson at the Wall Street Journal have decided to probe the Alabama football program and the topic of medical hardship scholarships. The results are interesting.
At least 12 times since coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007, Alabama has offered players a "medical" scholarship, according to public statements made by the team. These scholarships, which are allowed under NCAA rules, are intended to make sure scholarship athletes who are too injured to play don't lose their financial aid. A player who receives one of these scholarships is finished playing with that team.
Three Alabama players who've taken these exemptions say they believe the team uses the practice as a way to clear spots for better players by cutting players it no longer wants. These players said they believe Mr. Saban and his staff pressure some players to take these scholarships even though their injuries aren't serious enough to warrant keeping them off the field.
"I'm still kind of bitter," said former Alabama linebacker Chuck Kirschman, who took a medical scholarship last year. Mr. Kirschman said Mr. Saban encouraged him to accept the scholarship because of a back problem that he believes he could have played through. "It's a business," Mr. Kirschman said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."
The article is pretty much in line with everything we have been saying here on this topic, except this time it's actual former Alabama players saying the things we have said instead.
In light of the admission from former Alabama players that they felt pressured to take the medical hardship scholarships to free up scholarships, are we really still supposed to believe that guys like Star Jackson transfer completely on their own free will and that there is no pressure whatsoever from the coaching staff to move guys out in order to make the 85 limit every year.
"Alabama isn't the only school that has given players medical scholarships. Including the Crimson Tide, the 12 members of the Southeastern Conference have given at least 25 of these scholarships to football players in the past three years. Ultimately, it's the school's decision whether a player is healthy enough to play football."
No one is forced against their will to take a medical hardship, some players said they were pressured, some said they were not pressured.
In some cases, the players who took these scholarships say they didn't feel pressured. Charles Hoke, a former Alabama offensive lineman who took a medical scholarship in 2008 because of a shoulder problem, said the choice was left entirely up to him and was based on the many conversations he had with the team's doctors and trainers over the course of his junior year.
Others who took these scholarships say they believe the school is violating the spirit of the rule. Mr. Kirschman, the linebacker, said he injured his back in April 2008 but continued practicing with the team through the spring of 2009. That May, he was approached by coaches and trainers and asked to take a medical scholarship.
"I wasn't playing significant minutes, but I was personally upset because I did anything coach asked, I was a team player, I had a 4.0 average," said Mr. Kirschman, who played in two career games, both in 2008, and is now working full time as a robot programmer at Mercedes.
But that doesn't mean all of the players were happy about it.
On the surface this looks like the perfect little loophole to get around oversigning. These kids are given a scholarship to continue their education, so the coaches can sell them on that, plus the coaches can work the "it's for the good of the team and your school, which you'll still be able to attend" angle, which is much more appealing than, "hit the bricks we don't need you and we need to make room for better players."
Couldn't this be looked at as giving players money to go away instead of giving them money to come? "Hey, we'll give you $20-30K in the form of paid education and perks such as game tickets if you'll just leave your football scholarship so we can give it to someone else, and by the way, you'll need to sign this medical waiver so the NCAA doesn't slap us with rules violations and probation."
Mr. Kirschman said the school offered in the summer of 2009 to pay for his graduate degree in business—an offer he accepted—and that he still gets some of the same perks as players. "I still get game tickets, which is nice," he says.
Mr. Kirschman said the decision to take the medical scholarship was ultimately his, and that he decided to do it to open up a scholarship for the good of the team. But he said he felt he was pressured. "It was pushed," he said. "It was instigated for several players."
In today's day and age, it's becoming increasingly harder to give players money and gifts on the front-end to entice them to come to a school without someone noticing, so why not give it on the back end to make room for better players. That is what this is all about. You don't build the kind of teams LSU, Alabama, and UNC have, as quickly as they have, without making as much room as possible for new, better players.
Just like the oversigning abuse, this is an issue that is being exploited by certain schools and it needs to end. You would think the schools that abuse these loopholes would take more pride in just competing straight-up without having to bend every rule in the book or exploit every loophole, but that is obviously not the case some places. What good is winning a National Championship if you oversigned 40+ guys in a 4 year period and ran off a bunch of kids in the process? And shame on the conference commissioners, athletic directors, and university presidents that allow their coaches to do this kind of stuff to innocent kids.
Now that word has come out that Steven Wesley did not have grade issues and did not violate "unspecified team rules" you have to wonder why he won't be reporting to fall camp for Miami this year. Actually, no you don't. It's simple. Miami was in a numbers crunch because they OVERSIGNED their class this year and then with the late additions of Latwan Anderson and Seantrel Henderson they had to do something in order to free up scholarship space.
We don't have an account on the Miami message boards, but if any of you do and would like to share the general buzz from the fans please do so in the comments section.
According to his facebook page, Wesley was all set to go to fall camp - all indications are at this point that his dismissal from the team was unexpected. As posted here from one of our readers...
Per Steven Wesley Facebook:
Steven Wesley: "To clear all the rumors no im not academicly inelgible nor did i get kicked off the team for any off the field issues,its more to it then that but if you dont have nothing good to say about people you dont say nothing at all so ill leave it at that. But i wont be playing football at the U next season but i appreciate all the support from the fans that was given."
This makes two guys in just a couple of weeks that have been flat out sent packing because of scholarship numbers where the schools, LSU and Miami, were both guilty of oversigning.
Best of luck Steven, we sure hope you find somewhere to finish your college education and get your degree. We created this site so that guys like you wouldn't get screwed like you did. Hopefully one day the rules will change and schools will no longer be able to oversign and push players out simply because they want to make room for the next big recruit. The University Presidents and Athletic Directors that allow this to happen should be ashamed of themselves - they are supposed to be in the business of educating kids, not running farm teams for the NFL.
It has been confirmed that at least one of the two players suspected of being cut to make room for Seantrel Henderson and Latwan Anderson is now officially gone from his dream school. As mentioned below, Miami is deep at Wesley 's position and he was suspected of coming in "not as well conditioned physically" by those close to the program. Translation: we don't care about you because there is someone new we like better at a position of greater need and in order to have that person we have to get rid of someone. Otherwise, if we really cared about you we would do whatever it takes to get you in the right condition and continue to develop you and we wouldn't take more players than we have room for which is ultimately what is forcing our hand to get rid of someone. We know we promised you and your parents that we would take care of you for the next 4-5 years and make a man out of you, but with all this pressure to win and all this money they pay us to win we just can't afford to risk missing out on a guy like Seantrel Henderson or Latwan Anderson.
University of Miami senior defensive end Steven Wesley has been dismissed from the Hurricanes football team, a source close to the situation said Saturday.
The source would neither confirm nor deny whether Wesley's dismissal was related to academics. Another source said Wesley was not as well conditioned physically as expected by the program, but did not cite that as the reason for his dismissal.
The Hurricanes, which finished 9-4 last year and begin fall camp Thursday, are deep on the defensive line, including at end. Senior end Allen Bailey and junior Adewale Ojomo go into camp as the projected starters. Wesley, 6-2 and 250 pounds, graduated from Bartow High School. He would have been going into his fifth season. He was expected to be part of the rotation.
He redshirted as a freshman in 2006, but played in 33 games over the past three seasons, starting 17 of them.
Last season, Wesley had 17 total tackles and three sacks in 11 games. He started six. His final numbers as a Hurricane: 44 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, 11 quarterback hurries, three sacks and one pass breakup.
At Bartow High, Wesley was rated by rivals.com as the No. 15 defensive end nationally.He chose UM over Ohio State, Mississippi and Alabama.
In the 2010 UM media guide, Wesley said said he chose Miami because he ``wanted to be part of such great tradition and it's been a dream come true.''
We mentioned a while back that it seemed really odd that Miami signed 5 star football recruit, Latwan Anderson to a track scholarship without the football coaching staff ever "officially" speaking with him. Everyone knows that the minute Anderson does anything football related he becomes a counter towards the 85 limit, so conventional wisdom says the track scholarship was just to get him on campus while the coaching staff figures out who to cut in order to make room for him. Miami, as we discovered earlier, is at full capacity with regards to scholarships.
Since then the #1 recruit, Seantrel Henderson has decided to leave USC and showed interest in Miami. He has since signed a letter of intent with Miami and he too is pretty much waiting for a scholarship spot to open up.
It appears that the oversigning gods are smiling down on the Da U because magically two players have appeared on the radar as possible candidates for not coming back, despite having eligibility left and expecting to return next year.
The NCAA needs to create a lot more transparency with regards to the signing process. Miami should have to prove that they have a scholarship available before they accept the commitment of a new recruit - if that were the case Henderson and Anderson would be looking to other teams who have legit room for them.
If you don't already know about Seantrel Henderson, go here. If you know the back story, then you know that he was the #1 overall recruit in last year's class and he decided to sign with USC, despite all of the writing on the wall and every opportunity to go to virtually any school in the entire country. Let that set in for a second, here is a kid who could pick any college in the ENTIRE country and he just happened to pick one that went on probation just shortly after he signed with them. That sucks.
But there is a silver lining for Seantrel. He has been granted a release from his LOI at USC and is now free to reopen his recruitment and sign with someone else.
It is rumored that Seantrel is considering Miami as his destination. When we heard this we were a little shocked because A.) Miami doesn't have any room under the 85 scholarship limit, and B.) the last guy they signed, Latwan Anderson, never even spoke to the football staff because he was being recruited and signed to a track scholarship.
If Seantrel is headed to Miami, where are they going to put him? I guess he could throw a shot put for a little while until a football scholarship opens up.
Update 6/1/2010: This appears to be a very popular post. It has been linked to a lot of websites over the last few days, and judging by the comments associated with the sites that have linked to it there appears to be some misconceptions as to what these numbers mean. Here are couple of things to know before looking at the original post and the numbers.
1.) The table below is not a listing of teams from worst oversigners to least (we never said it was by the way). It is simply the number of players that signed letters of intent (referred to as "commits") for each BCS school, sorted by the highest number of players signed to the lowest. Granted, there is a strong connection between having a high number of players signed and oversigning. However, not all teams that have high numbers are guilty of oversigning. One reason for this could be the use of JUCO players that only have 2 years of eligibility, another reason could be consecutive years of attrition during the regular season or after national signing day on classes that were not oversigned. For example, if a team has room for 23 guys and they take 22 and then 5 guys transfer during the spring, the team will go into the fall short 6...if this happens a couple of years in a row you could see teams with a high average number but yet never oversigned. They too have a problem but it is not oversigning.
2.) In order to determine if the numbers below indicate that a school oversigned, you need to understand what oversigning really is. It is not just having really high numbers every year and it is not having more than 25 in a single class. Oversigning is the practice of accepting more signed letters of intent on National Signing Day than you have scholarship openings for under the 85 limit when you accept the signed letters and then depending on attrition between signing day and the NCAA deadline in August to get down to 85. This is where we have pointed to Alabama as the easiest to understand example of oversigning. They had 66 players on scholarship on NSD, leaving only room for 19 new recruits; instead of signing 19 new recruits they accepted letters from 29 players. So while Alabama has lower total numbers below, they were actually more guilty of oversigning than Auburn. Auburn's issue is that they have had so much attrition (mostly academic) that they, despite having signed more players than anyone in the country, are always playing catch up. This too is a problem, but it's a slightly different breed of cat. How they have managed to avoid APR penalties is proof that the system for APR is flawed.
3.) Determining which teams oversign is time consuming process and requires some investigation. You can't just look at the numbers below and say that all the teams that have signed more than 85 players are guilty of oversigning. In order to determine who oversigned you have to look at the the 2009 team roster at National Signing Day and determine how many players are on scholarship when the new letters are accepted. This number is typically the number of scholarship players on the 2009 roster minus graduating seniors that have exhausted their eligibility minus any players that have declared for the NFL draft by the deadline on January 15th. Once you have that number you subtract it from 85 and that gives you the recruiting budget for the next class. Lastly, compare how many players a team signed to how many they had room to sign, and that is how you determine who oversigned. It's not an easy process and it is part of the reason why few people really understand this process and how the numbers really work. There will be those that point to the 1-year scholarship rule, but they fail to realize that scholarships are not renewed until July first, therefore, players with eligibility remaining are still on scholarship on signing day.
4.) The real purpose for the numbers in the table below was to show how many players were signed by each school in hopes of shedding light on the schools that are doing a good job of retaining players and keeping their numbers in check, as well as showing the schools that go through a lot more players. Yes, there are some that are guilty of oversigning, but don't go away from this article thinking that everyone over 85 has oversigned because they haven't and don't come away thinking that this is a list of oversigning teams from top to bottom.
Back to the original post:
The results below should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this site or knows anything at all about oversigning, but we thought we would post them anyways. The chart below shows the average number of players signed per team by each conference for 2006-2010 and the table below the chart shows all of the BCS teams and their numbers (note the total and average columns in table are just for 2007-2010 so that you can get an idea of what each school has done in just the last four recruiting classes).
There is really not a lot to say here that hasn't already been said. However, these numbers do give us a pretty good indication of exactly who is doing the best job of recruiting and retaining players at a high rate. The NCAA needs to do something to rein in some of these schools that are simply abusing the spirit of recruiting student athletes. Although there is a NCAA By-Law that states that football scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts, we all know the true spirit of scholarship athletics is to recruit players with the intention of developing them over a 4-5 year period and making sure they graduate from your school. These numbers make it pretty clear who is operating within that spirit and who is simply running through players with a win at all costs mentality.
Recruiting Numbers 2007 - 2010
|Teams||Conf.||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||07-10 Total||07-10 Average|
Note regarding data above: The Total and Average columns are for 2007-2010; we included 2006 numbers just to show how many players were signed prior to the current 4 year rosters. The theory here is that if a team signed 115 players in four years, like Ole Miss did, and signed 30 the year prior to that, you have to imagine that they have a few 5th year guys who red-shirted. So in addition to 115 new players in 4 years, you should have a handful of 5th year guys as well. This just further exposes the oversigning of players relative to taking 5th year guys into account.
We ran a search on the most powerful search engines in the world for the following string "what is a medical hardship scholarship" in hopes of learning more about this mysterious scholarship that injured football players are being awarded in lieu of their football scholarship. The only thing we found that was related to football were links to articles about two different schools, Alabama and North Carolina.
One article we found, regarding how Butch Davis magically converted 12 roster openings into 24 and 29 scholarship commitments into 24, shows that Davis put 3 players on medical hardship in a single season.
"Butch Davis promised it would work out.
With Angelo Hadley's exit from the UNC football program before he got there, the Tar Heels coach was right. His over-recruiting strategy balanced out in the end.
What was once a 17-scholarship discrepancy is likely to work out to an even 24 signees to 24 available scholarships.
Rewind to December — UNC had 29 commitments with 12 seniors departing the program."
The rest of the article goes on to explain exactly how 12 scholarship slots turned into 24. Basically, 4 players graduated with a year of eligibility left but were not given a renewal of their scholarships, 3 players were given a medical hardship scholarship (we still don't know what that means, who controls it, who monitors it, etc), 4 players were dismissed from the team, and 1 player left early for the NFL.
Kind of ironic that Nick Saban and Butch Davis are considered two of the best recruiters in the country, despite their long list of kids that have been cut from their teams or placed on medical hardship scholarships.
A reader from the original article is calling BS on UNC's use of medical hardship scholarships:
"14 kids have left the UNC football team since 2002 due to medical reasons. 14!!!!!!! How are all these kids getting hurt so badly to have career ending injuries? A lot of these aren't even during games. As the poster said above, that's just slime ball tactics. You tell a kid who's not that great that if he keeps his mouth shut, he still gets school paid for. Not saying that all cases are the same, but 14?? My God.
What about that world renowned hospital right beside the stadium?
And for comparison's sake - even with the ridiculous injuries NC State has had in recent years (Remember when they had < 60 scholarship players available to play last year at one point due to injuries??), students have received 2 medical hardships since 2002.
14 >> 2."
He's right, what kid in his right mind would turn down a free ride just to leave the team, especially if he is either injury prone or not good enough to see the field. To guys like Nick Saban and Butch Davis this is like the holy grail to solving roster issues and helping make room for all those players they oversign without facing APR issues; because you see, if a player remains in school and makes progress toward his degree, then the school is safe. Without APR would these kids get medical scholarships or would they be kicked to the curb, or would they have to remain on football scholarship until they finish school and just do what they can to help the team and earn their degree?
Thanks to the Michigan State board for linking up this gem.
The Hurricanes oversigned for the 2010 recruiting class with 29 players. The NCAA limit is 25 players. Since Miami doesn't have any scholarships remaining for football, Anderson will sign a track letter of intent, playing football as a walk-on.
Anderson says to The Miami Herald:
"It was a little strange not talking to the football coaches during my visit,'' Anderson said. "But the track coaches basically talked for them because they're close to them and know the situation. I like the family thing at UM and the way the football and track teams work together.''
If there is any silver lining here, at least Miami didn't sign the kid to a football scholarship and cut a lesser player. Anderson was the #2 ranked overall "athlete" in this recruiting class and somehow he signs a track scholarship and will walk-on to play football.
Here are all the schools from the BCS conferences (and Notre Dame) and their recruiting numbers for 2002 - 2010. We previously had this broken down by conference, but finally got around to putting all the data into one table for easy reference. This table is sortable so knock yourself out.
All BCS Schools
And so does ESPN's ACC blogger, Heather Dinich. They both agree that the oversigning loophole is an issue that needs to be addressed and that it primarily exists in the SEC.
"Some were quick to criticize Butch Davis’ class of 28 last year, but that’s nothing compared to how the SEC has recruited. The SEC has combined for 34 recruiting classes with more than 25 players each. Mississippi State did it each of the past five years. Alabama did it four of the past five, as have Arkansas and Auburn. Only one school in the SEC – Vanderbilt – has kept its classes at 25 or under."
"If you are good at math, you may note that 39, 30 and 28 all are more than 25, the NCAA-mandated limit that has applied to FBS schools since 1992. But a few years ago, some very shrewd coach (no one is sure whom) noticed that the rule says that no more than 25 signees may enter the university in the fall term. It says nothing about how many players may sign with the university in February.
It is a loophole that a coach can drive a championship through. National champion Alabama, for instance, has announced 29 signees on each of the last two signing days."
We really love this comment:
"We spent some time trying to analyze what happens in each signing class," SEC associate commissioner Greg Sankey said. "Folks got so concerned that it became an issue that crystallized last spring."
The SEC athletic directors suggested that the signing limit from signing day through May 31 be set at 30. The presidents agreed upon 28. The NCAA also adopted the 28-man limit, although few schools outside the SEC have signed more than 25.
"Spent some time trying to analyze what happens in each signing class" - what a joke. Oversigning has been an issue in the SEC for the better part of its existence. Any SEC official who can't see what is going on is either an idiot or understands exactly what is going on and doesn't have the balls to do anything about it. The rule that needs to come down from the SEC office is a rule that requires SEC coaches to report the number of returning scholarship players prior to national signing day, and with that number the SEC office can assign a max number to each school and not allow anyone to take more than they have room for, period. If a school reports 68 returning scholarship players, they get a budget of 17 scholarships to give out and the message to the coaches should be, "here's your number, make each commitment count."
The SEC implementing the "Houston Nutt Rule" limiting schools to signing 28 commitments to a single class has zero teeth and is a complete joke. Besides, the Big 10 has had that rule for years, so it's not like they came up with something new that no one else has been doing, plus oversigning has never been an issue in the Big 10 anyways.
Now that everyone is glued to recruiting class rankings on signing day (which wasn't the case before rivals.com and scout.com) it has put a spotlight on the number of kids each school signs; before then all of this was pretty much under the radar for the average fan. With both websites displaying numbers from 2002-2010 we finally have enough data in one place to analyze and see if there is a trend or not.
We're not going to say that we scooped ESPN on this one (they have mentioned it before in previous years)...but both of these articles did come out a few days after we put up our first recruiting chart on this website.
Let's hope it continues to come up in the mainstream media.
The fascinating history between Georgia Tech and the SEC is pretty well documented, but perhaps a lot of college football fans, especially those outside of the southern states or those under the age of 40, have forgotten the whole story behind GT and the SEC. Georgia Tech was a founding member of the SEC and remained in the conference for 69 years until differences between Georgia Tech and the SEC could not be resolved.
More on GT's relationship with the SEC:
More on Georgia Tech's history as a football program:
We felt in order for this site to have any credibility we needed to go back in time and establish an understanding of oversigning and its historical meaning; we needed to find its roots. Thus far, all roads lead to the southeastern portion of the country - but don't worry, we're not done looking. So before you jump to any conclusions regarding this site, we ask that you take a moment to realize that we do our homework on this topic, we're not just making things up as we go along.
And for those of you who think that oversigning is just some new made up term for something that just started since the 85 scholarship limit, you would be wrong. Oversigning is an issue that is as old as the SEC conference and played a major role in Georgia Tech's decision in 1963 to withdraw from the conference.
"Another issue of concern for Dodd was Alabama's and other SEC schools' over-recruitment of players. Universities would recruit more players than they had roster space for. During the summer practice sessions, the teams in question would cut the players well after signing day thus preventing the cut players from finding new colleges to play for. Dodd appealed the SEC administration to punish the "tryout camps" of his fellow SEC members but the SEC did not. Finally, Dodd withdrew Georgia Tech from the SEC in 1963. Tech would remain an independent like Notre Dame and Penn State (at the time) during the final four years of Dodd's coaching tenure."
We're considering a new annual award to the coach who runs off the fewest number of players to make room for new recruits, a sort of anti-Saban Cup award; we'll call it The Dodd Cup award. On a serious note, Georgia Tech fans should feel honored and proud to have a man like Dodd as a part of their rich history. We're big GT & Bobby Dodd fans here at oversigning.com. Bobby Dodd & GT were fighting the war on oversigning way before we were in diapers.
Many will say that GT left the SEC because of the riff(s) between GT head coach Bobby Dodd and Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, but in the book "Dodd's Luck," Bobby Dodd claims it was the 140 rule. See this excerpt below:
"Bobby Dodd insisted there was no other reason he left the SEC, other than the 140 Rule. The 140 Rule stated a college program could only have 140 football and basketball players on scholarship at any one time. The teams were allowed to sign up to 45 players a year, but could not exceed the 140 Rule.
Dodd would not allow any of the football players choosing Tech to be dismissed from Tech, because they were not good players. Dodd said, “it is not the recruits fault for not making the squad, it was the coaches fault for misjudging their talents”. If a recruit came to Tech, he would stay on a football scholarship until he graduated.
Dodd would sign about 30-32 players a year to meet the guidelines, but the other schools in the SEC were offering 45 scholarships a year. Those players, not good enough to fall under the 140 Rule, had their scholarships withdrawn and sent packing before the end of each year. Dodd insisted, the recruiting of athletes by this method amounted to nothing more than a tryout for a scholarship.
Dodd thought it unfair and would not withdraw scholarships from his players. He wanted the SEC to limit the amount of scholarships to about 32 per year. This would keep the other schools from offering 45 scholarships, picking the best, and sending the rest packing.
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."
History goes on to show that Bryant and the Alabama football program went on to have one of the greatest runs in college football history. From 1963 until Bryant's retirement Alabama won192 games, with 11 ten win season, 12 SEC championships, and 5 National Championships. It would have been interesting to see how things would have panned out had the SEC voted in favor of reform on oversigning and GT stayed in the SEC. Alabama and GT never played again and probably never will didn't play again until 1978 and only played 6 times (1978-1984).
Dodd also indicated that the stiffer academic requirements played a role in Georgia Tech's departure from the SEC.
"I just could not compete with those damn state universities. And Auburn is just as easily a state university. They could take these same boys we couldn't take, who wanted to come and play for me. And it just broke me down. I couldn't beat'em. You can just outcoach'em some of the time, brother. Better football players will beat you."
Link to a condensed version of Dodd's book: http://www.stingtalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4395.html
It's hard to believe that 47 years after Georgia Tech left the SEC because of oversigning and discarding players that it is still an issue and the SEC still leads the country in the number of players signed.
Of course now the rule is 85/25, back then the rule was 140/45. Does anyone else get the feeling that no matter what the numbers are they will always be pushed to the limit in the SEC? We're just shocked that Vanderbilt (which has normal recruiting numbers) hasn't pulled a GT and withdrawn from the conference. When you think about it, is there another school in the country that is more out of place in their conference than Vanderbilt?
Draw your own conclusions...
Conference Comparisons 2002 - 2010
|Average # of Total Recruits Signed Per School:||227||219||215||208||199||199|
|Total Players Signed:||2,727||2,629||1,737||2,084||2,196||2,394|
|Highest Single School Total:||253||243||235||235||218||225|
|Lowest Single School Total:||191||192||201||170||170||174|
|# of Times Over 25 in Single Class:||54||37||23||28||18||22|
|# of Times 28 or More in Single Class:||33||24||14||14||5||10|
|# of Back to Back Classes of 25 or More:||35||24||11||8||6||5|
The ACC is now on the board. When putting all of this together we really didn't know what to expect; we knew that the SEC signed a lot of players, but we had no idea just how many and we certainly didn't expect such a wide margin between SEC and the ACC. The numbers are staggering.