Oversigning.com
16Jul/119

The Times, Gainesville Takes a Closer Look at Oversigning

Adam Krohn takes a loser look at the issue of oversigning.  http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/173/article/53185/ 


Photo by SCOTT ROGERS; Photo illustration by Colin Dunlop | The Times

Adam's piece includes comments from various sources on the topic ranging from university presidents to high school recruits.  Here are a couple of highlights:

1. Comments from Chad Hawley on the competitive advantage aspect of the differing oversigning rules, including him mentioning that if the SEC takes their new rules national that the B1G might attempt to do the same.

2. Comments from the University of Georgia's President and Athletic Director regarding oversigning and the possibility of redefining what a scholarship is both in terms of communicating the language and the length of the agreement. 

3. Comments such as these from high school recruits and high school coaches:

Chaz Cheeks, a recent East Hall graduate who signed with Georgia Tech, said concerns of oversigning factored into him eliminating Ole Miss from his list of school choices.

“(East Hall football coach Bryan Gray) and I sat down and looked at all of the offers on the table, the pros and cons of each school,” Cheeks said. “Coach said (Ole Miss) was throwing out offers to everyone, and they probably weren’t the best situation for me to go into. Having a spot wasn’t something I wanted to worry about.”

Cheeks said he had greater concerns — like making sure he was academically eligible to attend college — than to have to worry about if his offer still stood once he made it to campus.

“I was just thinking of myself and what I had to do,” Cheeks said. “For those that do get oversigned and have to be let go, I think that’s real messed up on the school’s part. They’ve got to be more careful.”

It's great to see some high school coaches and players starting to gain a level of awareness regarding oversigning but there is still a lot of work to do.  Check out the rest of the article here: http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/173/article/53185/

Filed under: Big 10, Quick Links, SEC 9 Comments
7Jul/1112

More Ohio State

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.

http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1036745

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.

http://www.cleveland.com/buckeyeblog/index.ssf/2011/02/glenville_qb_cardale_jones_and.html 

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."

http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2010/02/catching-up-with-adam-griffin.html

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.

Filed under: Big 10 12 Comments
1Jul/111

James Jackson and Ohio State

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."

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=13929839

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.

http://mgoblog.com/content/unverified-voracity-concerned

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."

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=13929839

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
other option."

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.

Filed under: Big 10 1 Comment
5Jun/1191

Weighing in

I'm always disappointed when the discussions of oversigning and the impact on young men's lives turns into childish rants and character assassination. You all know that Joshua and I speak for ourselves and have differing opinions about many issues. However, we agree on the most important issue: the college sports machine should not chew up and spit out young men on athletic scholarships whose only failing is their ability (or inability) to compete on the field with the team that recruited him so aggressively.

We are not too concerned with kids who are gaming the system or who prove themselves to be thugs, criminals, or miscreants. And we're not too concerned with kids who have parents and families that are capable of helping their son survive and thrive in this pressure-packed environment. We're concerned about the kids in the middle. The ones who have done nothing wrong, are doing well in school, who are good teammates and good kids.

The NCAA's current rules about oversigning, scholarship terms, eligibility, and compensation for college expenses put these kids in an environment where coaches can and do exploit them for personal gain in salaries, bonuses, and new employment contracts.

I know that this exploitation goes on in every college football conference if not in every program. It doesn't matter to me if it happens every day or just once in a while. The problem is that the NCAA's rules allow it to happen at the discretion of the coaches.

Oversigning and "roster management" goes on everywhere and it's wrong. Nowhere else in our society could an employer  1)terminate an employee without cause and 2) retain the power over where that employee can get his next job, and 3) dictate that if the terminated employee chooses to work for a direct competitor the terminating coach can dictate the employee not work for an entire year!

Surely we can all agree that this very real situation is wrong and the NCAA's rules need to be changed to make this impossible. The loopholes (like offering more LOIs than the school has openings for new players under the 85 schollie rule) MUST be stopped.

My recommendations?

  1. Create 2 types of schollie: a 5-year no-cut, no-trade deal with transfer limitations and a 1-year deal with no transfer limitations.
  2. Limit new signees to the exact number of openings being created by graduation/ineligibility/voluntary transfers/etc.

Yes, my suggestions put more burden on the coaches and will result in less than 85 scholarship kids on each roster each year. But if that's what it takes to stop the exploitation then so be it. Those coaches get paid plenty of bucks to win without doing it by exploiting kids.

4Jun/1127

Major Announcement!!!

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. 

Continue reading...

11Mar/1160

Chad Hawley on how the Big 10 Monitors Oversigning

Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, was kind enough to take a few minutes and explain to us exactly how the Big 10 Conference monitors oversigning, and what he has shared with us shines a new light on a few things we were not aware of, things that, in our opinion, actually make the recruiting process much more restrictive than just limiting oversigning.  We were aware that there was an audit prior to national signing day to determine the number of scholarships available and that schools had to establish their budget prior to signing day, but we had no idea that Big 10 schools were limited in the number of offers they could give out in addition to being limited to oversigning by 3.  

As outlined in step 1, the Big 10 limitation is triggered by the issuance of an offer, not by the acceptance on the part of the prospect.  Therefore, Big 10 schools are required to establish a budget number for how many OFFERS they can give with an exception of no more than 3 over what they have room for under the 85 limit at any one time.  Mr. Hawley notes that several institutions overoffered, but as of right now there is only 1 institution that is oversigned.  Therefore, despite having the option to oversign by 3, of the 12 member institutions, only 1 has oversigned. 

In reading between the lines just a little here (we should probably ask a follow up question on this), it appears that the number of offers a Big 10 institution can issue is controlled by the conference office.  Step 2 indicates that there is a little bit of wiggle room in total number of overoffers, but that there can be no more than 3 at one time.   It would be interesting to see just how many are given out over the course of a recruiting class.  However, given that you can only have 3 over the budget number at a time and that you would have to wait until a recruit turns the offer down to issue a replacement, it's hard to imagine that schools would be offering way more than they have room for under the 85 limit.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Hawley's email:

Several of our institutions overoffered, but as of now I'm aware of only one institution that actually oversigned.  We'll take the official inventory after the signing period ends.  

This is how our monitoring process works:

Step 1 (Prior to the signing period):  An institution notifies us of the number of scholarships available and whether they intend to use the exception to overoffer. [I think I may have explained this previously, but in case I haven't, our rule is triggered by the offer of aid, not the acceptance on the part of the prospect.  In other words, technically our exception is that an institution my overoffer by 3.]

Step 2 (Prior to/throughout the signing period):  An institution that overoffers submits the name(s) of the prospect(s) who received the offer(s) that exceeded the institution's limit.  Per our rule, there may be no more than 3 outstanding overoffers; if an institution offers beyond the original three names submitted, the institution must indicate why it is permissible to issue an additional overoffer (e.g., "This additional offer is permissible because an offeree signed with another institution, which reduced the number of outstanding overoffers to two").   

Step 3 (After classes have begun in the fall):  An institution that ultimately oversigned has to account for every signed prospect--did they enroll, and if not, why?  In addition, the institution has to account for every student-athlete who received a scholarship the previous year.  These SAs will fall into 4 basic categories: 

  1. Renewal-counter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, and count against the limit of 85)
  2. Renewal-noncounter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, but do not count against the limit of 85--e.g., exhausted eligibility SAs and medical noncounters)
  3. Nonrenewal-graduate (SAs who were not renewed because they graduated)
  4. Nonrenewal-other (This category would include SAs who have--for example--transferred, quit, turned professional, or knew they were getting aid for just one year)

For any SA who is categorized as "nonrenewal-other," the institution has to provide not just the reason the SA was "nonrenewal-other," but also information regarding that SA's history at the institution (including academic history), who initiated the nonrenewal (the SA or institution), whether a hearing for nonrenewal of aid was requested, and finally the SA's present status (i.e., does he remain enrolled at the institution, is he enrolled elsewhere, etc.).

This is pretty interesting stuff because many of you who debate this topic in the comments section were talking about controlling the number of scholarships offered. 

Mark Richt has some very strong words about schools offering scholarships like candy:

One of the hardest things for us to do is to evaluate and nail down who you’re going to go after, especially in our own state. A lot of the out of state teams will just come in and just offer like mad. They’ll come in and just offer like candy. Quite frankly I’m not going to name names of schools, but a lot of them will do that just to get in the fight and if the kid commits too soon and they’re not sure they want, they’ll just tell them that’s not a committable offer. Whatever the heck that means?

http://dogbytesonline.com/richt-says-11-class-his-most-talented-and-best-bunch-41855/

Perhaps when the SEC meets this summer to discuss oversigning they can look at some of the guidelines and rules the Big 10 has set forth to eliminate the abuse and consider adopting them.  We are certain that Mark Richt would appreciate a limitation on the number of offers that can be issued.

In addition to controlling the number of offers, step 3 also provides some insight as to the transparency required when oversigning actually occurs, as well as requiring a full account of every SA that received a scholarship the previous year.

Mr. Hawley has indicated that would be glad to try and answer any follow up questions.  We have a few of our own, but wanted to get feedback from our readers before sending our own questions.

Filed under: Big 10 60 Comments
11Mar/1144

Addressing the Jim Tressel Situation

In light of the recent developments with Ohio State and Jim Tressel, we felt the need to address the Jim Tressel issue and how it relates to this site and the topic of oversigning.

First and foremost, this site is dedicated to the topic of oversigning.  We have stated that from day 1 and we have not wavered from that topic; we have overlapped into some gray areas that are indirectly connected to oversigning, but we have never entered into discussions on topics that are exclusively outside the realm of oversigning.  Period. 

There is no denying that we have been very strong supporters of Jim Tressel and how he manages the recruiting process and the roster numbers.  On many occasions we have used his numbers and video of his comments regarding the topic as an example of how the process should be handled, and even more so we have praised his efforts to avoid oversigning at all costs by awarding scholarships to deserving 5th year walk-ons.  That has not changed.  Regardless of how you feel about what transpired in the recent events surrounding the NCAA investigation, it has absolutely no bearing on the facts that pertain to how he has conducted himself in the recruiting process and with regards to oversigning. 

Simply put, Jim Tressel's track record on recruiting, roster management, and oversigning has been impeccable, no one can challenge that, and we are not going to throw the baby out with the bath water.  What Tressel did has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of oversigning and therefore nothing will change here with regards to how we feel about how he manages his roster and what he does to avoid the abuses of oversigning. 

That said, it is fully understood that the debate on oversigning is often times a debate about ethics.  It is also fully understood that to engage in a conversation about ethics in one area and yet ignore or defer comment on unethical behavior in another area can be deemed as irresponsible and misconstrued as having an agenda.  That is not the case here.  This site is about having a linear discussion about oversigning in order to have it eliminated.  We will gladly take whatever criticism comes with this narrowed approach, but at the same time we hope that our readers understand that the most effective way to address the oversigning issue is to stay on point.

This site has been instrumental in leading to reform in the area of oversigning and that work will continue until it is finished.  The reason for this site's success is the narrowed focus on a singular topic (oversigning), and while that comes with the flaw of not being able to expand into other areas, such as the Tressel situation or any number of other topics that come up on a daily basis, it is vital to the success of the site and will be maintained. 

Filed under: Big 10 44 Comments
3Mar/1161

High School Coaches Speaking Out

Well there goes the argument that nothing nefarious is going on with oversigning because otherwise we would hear High School coaches speak out and call out the schools that are wronging their kids.   Walter Banks apparently felt that South Carolina, in an effort to reduce the oversigning they were projected to have, screwed one of his kids, Jordan Montgomery, by pulling his scholarship offer at the last minute without warning.

Josh Kendall, who covers South Carolina football for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported in a story that was published on Wednesday that Montgomery’s coach at South Lake High, has declared that the Gamecocks’ coaches are “no longer welcome” at the school.

“I cannot look a kid and their parent in the face and say you can trust what a University of South Carolina coach says,” South Lake coach Walter Banks told Kendall.

I’d provide a link to the story but all of The State’s online content is behind a pay wall. But if you’d like to read more about it I certainly think it’s worth it. Just go to GoGamecocks.com.

http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/2011/03/03/ten10-major-recruiting-scandals-threaten-college-football/

South Carolina is no longer welcome at South Lake High School because Walter Banks doesn't feel that a kid or his parents can trust a coach from the University of South Carolina, and the entire reason for that mistrust is because South Carolina coaches were engaging in the practice of oversigning, and as is often the case kids are getting screwed because of it.

South Carolina is not the only University that has lost the trust of High School coaches.  Although Purdue pulling its offer from AJ King had nothing to do with oversigning, it shows that there is an increasing lack of trust between high school coaches and college coaches.

“They flew A.J. up there to Purdue, everybody wowed him, told him they loved him and all that,” said King’s high school coach, Sean Callahan. “Then, after he came home, they pulled him, without ever talking to our doctors, without ever talking to our trainers.

“It’s completely unprofessional. In all my years as a coach, I’ve never, ever seen something done to a kid like this.”

And Callahan’s letting ‘em know it. He’s banned Purdue from recruiting his high school.

http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/02/01/purdue-pulls-scholarship-offer-from-wr-high-school-coach-muy-enojado/

What Purdue did was horrible, but it is not germane to the oversigning issue which is the focus of this site, and therefore has not been covered in detail.  Purdue was not in a numbers crunch and the reason for pulling the offer does not appear to have anything to do with being oversigned and having to make numbers work; Purdue simply decided they didn't want to honor their commitment to King based on his injury and the way that they handled it was completely unprofessional and we're glad to see King's high school coach blast them for it.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 61 Comments
13Feb/1169

Competitive Advantage and Ethics, Two Sides of Oversigning

The topic of oversigning is somewhat complicated, the numbers are hard to track, especially when a school redacts them from public documents, the terms used in the recruit game are hard to understand (greyshirt, redshirt, count forward, count back, medical hardships, medical redshirts, etc), and the NCAA bylaws combined with the NLI process can make the whole world of recruiting hard to truly understand.  Most fans simply follow rivals.com and the other recruiting sites to see where their team is ranked and give very little thought to how rosters are managed and whether or not coaches are abusing the oversigning loophole or any other loophole.

This site has been the epicenter of the oversigning debate since it was launched roughly a year ago.  Since being discovered by Stewart Mandel in May of 2010, its popularity and traffic has grown to the tune of 200,000+ unique readers and 6.6 million page visits.

This is why I love the Internet. I must confess, I was not aware of oversigning.com until receiving this e-mail. (I've since seen it referenced numerous places.) Hats off to the authors. They've done a tremendous job of shedding light on a largely under-covered topic through meticulous research and easy-to-digest data. They seem most concerned with the overlooked human consequence of this practice: coaches quietly cutting loose underperforming or injury-riddled veterans to make room for a new crop of recruits. Currently, the site is closely monitoring Alabama, which, as of the most recent post, still had 91 scholarship players on its projected 2010 roster, in its "March to 85."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/stewart_mandel/05/26/best-conference/1.html#ixzz1DrZKoh9s

 Since that time, the topic of oversigning has been one of the more talked about topics in college football outside of conference realignment and the Cam Newton story.  As National Signing Day drew near, the oversigning drumbeat got louder and louder and the attention escalated to the point where coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners, and university presidents were all weighing in on the topic.   The Paul Finebaum Show, a syndicated sports talk show based in Birmingham, Alabama and broadcast on Sirius and XM radio, talks about it almost daily, and in the last couple of weeks there have been days when the topic dominated the entire 4 hour show. 

Needless to say the topic is viral, as it should be.  It's a topic that is years and years overdue for the spotlight.

For those of you who are new to oversigning, there is plenty of material on the topic readily available all over the Internet.

In the past year of following and writing about this topic, we have found that there are two main components to the oversigning debate: competitive advantage and ethics.

Competitive Advantage:

Where most people get lost in this argument is in that they think that the team that oversigns the most is automatically the better team.  Often times people will say, Huston Nutt is the most notorious oversigner in the country - he signed 37 in one class, if it was such and advantage why doesn't he win the National Championship every year?  Well, it's not that simple.  You have to look at when the attrition takes place in order to determine if a coach is upgrading his roster by signing more guys than he has room for, having those guys qualify and enroll, and then having upperclassmen or guys already on the roster pushed out via transfers, medical hardships or simply not renewing their scholarship, OR, if a coach is signing a bunch of guys that won't qualify and have to go to JUCO which ultimately has no tangible bearing on the roster in the short term, a practice commonly known as signing and placing.  Nick Saban and Les Miles would be the former, Huston Nutt would be the latter, and that is perhaps why we see a difference in the results on the field, not to mention Saban and Miles are simply better coaches, much better.

There is absolutely no question that oversigning creates a competitive advantage against schools that are prohibited from the practice or elect on their own, as does Georgia in the SEC, to not exploit the loophole.

Oversigning provides coaches with the opportunity to hedge their bets against attrition, gives them leverage in the recruiting process by not being as restricted in terms of the number of players they can pursue, and gives coaches a mulligan should they miss on a recruit.   We wrote a post a while back comparing the numbers for National Championship Coaches

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00

The first thing that jumps off the screen is that despite being out of college football for 2 years (2005 & 2006), Nick Saban still signed 193 recruits, which is second only to Les Miles his successor at LSU when Saban left in 2005.  Saban also has the highest average recruits per year at 27.50.   In 7 years, Nick Saban has never signed less than 25 recruits in a single year.

Let's compare that to the same set of years (2002-2004 & 2007-2010) for the coach with the lowest numbers, Jim Tressel.  Tressel signed 142 players in the same years that Saban signed 193 recruits.  That is a difference of 51 players over the same period of time, 7 years.  That is mind boggling to say the least.

Note: we would add Gene Chizik to the table above, but he only has two recruiting classes as a head coach: 2010: 32 and 2011: 24. 

Ken Gordon at The Columbus Dispatch asked former Head Coach of LSU, Gerry DiNardo, about the competitive advantage of oversigning:

"At LSU, I could do whatever I wanted," said DiNardo, now an analyst for the Big Ten Network. "The athletic director trusted me. If I signed 30, he knew I would be at 25 when I had to be. There was always a way to manage to numbers."

Then in 2002, when DiNardo was hired by Indiana, he was in for a shock. The Big Ten had the most restrictive rules against oversigning of all the major conferences.

The NCAA allows 85 scholarship players. DiNardo found that he could sign only the number of players that would bring him to 85. Not only that - he could offer only 20 scholarships.

What that meant was that if any of the 20 players he offered went elsewhere, he was short of 85 that season.

"The Big Ten puts itself at a competitive disadvantage," DiNardo said. "You would never be at 85. When I got to Indiana, the numbers were awful. We had 50-some players on scholarships. My only chance to catch up was to oversign."

Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said, "It's like in bowling, if your opponent gets three balls instead of two."

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2011/02/13/rules-on-oversigning-put-big-ten-at-a-disadvantage.html?sid=101

The analogies are endless, but the point remains, having the freedom to play fast and loose with the numbers when competing against schools that play conservative and tight with the numbers creates a competitive advantage.   Jim Tressel, being the senator that he is, took the high road when questioned about it:

This doesn't bother Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, though. The way he looks at it, the majority of his games are against Big Ten schools working under the same rules.

"I don't think (oversigning) is a crisis-type thing," he said. "I don't see it happening in our league that much. Sometimes in a bowl game we compete against another conference, but I've never thought we had an unfair bowl matchup because of that."

But he did make it very clear where he stands on the issue:

Tressel said his staff tries to keep the lines of communication open, so he usually has a good idea who might transfer. But in general, Tressel is in philosophical lock-step with the Big Ten. Where others consider it a competitive disadvantage, he looks at it from the perspective of making sure he treats recruits fairly.

And that means ensuring he doesn't have to sweat out a summer like DiNardo did.

"We're probably conservative in more ways than just play-calling," Tressel said, referring to offering relatively few scholarships. "We've ended up under 85, because we don't want to overcommit.

"To me, the worst nightmare would be if you have got to tell someone, 'We can't fit you.' You're talking about a young kid's life."

Ethics

The direction of the ethical side of the oversigning debate became pretty apparent to the general public when University of Florida President, Bernie Machen, called the actions of other SEC members morally "reprehensible," "disgusting," and "nefarious."  Those are STRONG words from an SEC President aimed directly at other SEC member institutions who are notorious for oversiging.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/ncaa/01/31/bernard.machen.letter/index.html

When it comes to the ethics side of oversigning you have to look at several areas: 

1. Honesty in recruiting.
2. The spirit of the NCAA rules vs. The Written Bylaws.
3. College football being "Big Business" instead of Tax-Exempt Institutions of Higher Learning.

With the increased attention on recruiting rankings, college football's second season has become more competitive than ever, especially in the SEC where the recruiting battles are just as hard fought and nasty as the actually games on the field.  Greg Doyle recently wrote about this very topic. 

Honesty in recruiting:
How honest are coaches being with recruits?  Are they telling them upfront that they plan to oversign the roster and that there might not be space for them?  Why are we seeing guys who commit and then on signing day are surprised with greyshirt offers, or even worse after signing day and after they have moved onto campus?  Is it unethical for a coach not to prepare for roster management and ensure that there is never a need to push someone out?  After all, most coaches make more than the smartest, most-credentialed professors on campus, surely they should be able to manage their roster in such a way that doesn't force them to push a greyshirt on an unsuspecting kid or push out an upperclassmen. 

Recently, Nick Saban alluded to a possible ethics issue with recruiting in the SEC when he compared how coaches in the SEC react to a verbal commitment to how coaches in the Big 10 reacted to verbal commitments when he was in the Big 10.  Paraphrasing, he said that in the SEC when a guy commits verbally he becomes a target for other schools, but during his time in the Big 10 when a guy commits verbally he was off limits unless the recruit approached another Big 10 school, in which case the coach that was approached would contact the coach the player was originally committed to and discuss the matter.  If coaches in the SEC are not handling verbal commitments ethically, according to Saban, which he admitted he was just as guilty of because of the competitive nature of recruiting in the SEC, are they handling roster management ethically with regards to the oversigning? 

Just today, Sports by Brooks published an article called: Player's Parents Outrage Illuminates Nutt's Deceit, in which he claims any credibility that Houston Nutt had left in recruiting has been driven off of a cliff.

http://www.sportsbybrooks.com/players-parents-outrage-illuminates-nutts-deceit-29491

The Spirit of NCAA Rules:
Obviously, there is a loophole in the recruiting bylaws with regards to the number of players that can be enrolled each year and the total number of players allowed on scholarship each year.  25 new players can enroll and no more than 85 can be on scholarship at one time; 25*4=100 plus any redshirt seniors obviously doesn't even come close to the 85 limit.  However, the NCAA used those numbers to provide a little bit of cushion and probably had no idea that some coaches were going to use that cushion as a way to manage their roster like a professional football team.  The Spirit of the NCAA bylaws for recruiting is that if you have 17 openings for new scholarship players then you should sign and enroll 17 new players, not 25 and push 8 guys out the door. 

The NCAA bylaws are enormous and they grow every year.  Much of that growth is in response to coaches abusing the spirit of the existing rules, such as the Huston Nutt "28 rule" because of his abuse of the signing process and the Nick Saban "bump rule" because of his abuse of bumping into recruits while visiting their coaches. 

In the Big 10 Conference, there is not a problem with oversigning.  Although schools are allowed to send out 3 extra NLI than they have room for under the 85 limit, most coaches avoid doing it at all costs.  Why??  Because they like competing at a competitive disadvantage?  Probably not.  They probably avoid it because they all know oversigning is a dirty little trick that is played with numbers in order to gain an advantage and it comes with the price tag of messing with the lives of young people.  The Big 10 Conference has embraced the spirit of the signing process by developing a culture devoid of oversigning.  It didn't happen overnight--the rules on oversigning have been on the books in the Big 10 Conference since 1954.

College Football as Big Business:
Often times, supporters of oversigning will point to the 1 year renewable scholarship and infer that college football has become big business and schools need to manage their rosters like NFL teams.   That argument falls on deaf ears because despite the growth of college football these are still institutions of higher learning, governed by an organization with a mission statement that states athletics only exist to enrich the educational experience and that the educational experience is paramount, and they enjoy a tax-exempt status that the NFL does not enjoy.  Somewhere along the line, there is a disconnect between the spirit of the NCAA's mission statement and what certain schools are doing in blatantly managing their rosters like an NFL team.  How ethical is it for a coach or school to hide behind the tax-exempt status of an institution of higher learning while attempting to run a NFL style team with roster cuts and an injured reserved list; at least in the NFL guys on the IR have half a shot at making it back.

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 69 Comments
12Feb/1138

Jay Paterno on Oversigning

http://www.statecollege.com/news/local-news/jay-paterno-recruiting-rankings-hype-drive-ncaa-oversigning-655356/

Recruiting is now valued as a second season for football coaches. After a difficult season, one of the best defenses a coach can mount is a class ranking among the top five or top 10. It creates a public perception that your program is on the rise.

The pursuit of recruiting rankings has led to over-signing—the more you sign, the more points you get. Over-signing is signing more players than the NCAA allows in a given year.

At the major college football level, NCAA rules allow you to enroll no more than 25 new scholarship players a year. The NCAA also limits the total number of scholarship players on your team to 85.

Those are hard caps and are non-negotiable. The limit is the limit--or is it?

There are three accounting tricks used to get around the limit. For years, one of the tricks was to have a player graduate early and start in January. You could essentially back-date that player to the previous class (unless you signed the limit the previous year).

The second trick is pushing a few players back to the following January, essentially moving that scholarship to the following year.

The third trick is to sign players who will not make the NCAA’s initial academic eligibility standards, and stash them in a junior college so that no one else can sign them. It is a game of keep-away. It also explains how one school was able to sign 37 players in 2009 (the highest number of signees in the last 10 years). 

Recently, there has been some media discussion about the ethics (or lack thereof) in continually over-signing. Over the past 10 years, an average of nine of the top-20 rated Rivals teams over-signed.  One particular team has signed 143 players the past five years (an average of nearly 29 per year) and 275 over the past 10 years.

Now, I am no math major, but I do believe even Enron’s accounting firm would have a hard time making those numbers fit the NCAA’s rules.

But even with all the evidence, the tough questions remain unasked. During one network’s signing-day coverage, they interviewed four coaches who had over-signed in a two-hour window. Not once did anyone interviewing the coaches ask for the math equation that makes 27 or 29 or even 31 fit into 25.

Filed under: Big 10 38 Comments
6Feb/1115

BCS Conference Signings

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...

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/02/saban_defends_practices_of_ove.html

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

B1G Signed   SEC Signed   ACC Signed   Pac12 Signed
Illinois 27   South Carolina 30   Florida St 29   USC 29
Iowa 23   Arkansas 30   Clemson 29   Wash St. 25
Ohio State 23   Tennessee 27   Virginia 26   Oregon St. 24
Minnesota 22   Mississippi 27   UNC 25   Washington 23
Indiana 21   Georgia 25   BC 23   Oregon 23
Michigan State 21   Auburn 24   GT 22   Cal 22
Wisconsin 20   Kentucky 24   VT 21   Arizona 21
Michigan 20   LSU 22   NC State 20   Colorado 19
Nebraska 19   Miss State 22   Duke 20   Utah 19
Northwestern 17   Alabama 22   Maryland 20   Stanford 19
Penn State 16   Vanderbilt 21   Miami 16   UCLA 16
Purdue 15   Florida 18   Wake 14   ASU 13
Total 244   Total 292   Total 265   Total 253
Average 20   Average 24   Average 22   Average 21


2011 Recruiting Numbers - Players Signed - B12 & Big East

Big 12 Signed Big East Signed
Ok State 27   Syracuse 26
Texas Tech 27   Cincinnati 24
Kansas 26   Rutgers 24
Kansas State 25   West Virginia 22
Iowa State 22   USF 21
Texas A&M 22   Pitt 20
Texas 22   Louisville 19
Baylor 19   UConn 16
Missouri 17      
Oklahoma 17      
         
         
Total 224   Total 172
Average 22   Average 21.5

4Feb/1175

Quick Numbers Comparison B1G and SEC

Just some quick numbers while we work on the cup standings and getting caught up on all the activity this week.

The SEC signed 47 more players than the Big 10 this year.  With the average Big 10 class sitting at 20 recruits, that is enough extra recruits for 2.35 Big 10 schools; in other words, the 291 recruits the SEC signed would be enough to supply roughly 14.5 Big 10 schools with the conference average class size.  With each school averaging 4 more players, if you extend that for 4 years, each SEC school would have signed on average 16 more players over a four year period, which is just slightly less than the average recruiting class size in the Big 10.  So basically, the SEC is working their way through 5 recruiting classes in 4 years.  Guys don't pan out, some don't qualify, some run into the Nick Saban medical hardship machine, and others decide that Georgia State is where they always dreamed of playing.  It would be one thing if this was an anomaly, but the historical data shows that this has been the case for some time.

2011 Recruiting Numbers - Players Signed - Big 10 & SEC

B1G Signed   SEC Signed
Illinois 27   South Carolina 30
Iowa 23   Arkansas 30
Ohio State 23   Tennessee 27
Minnesota 22   Mississippi 27
Indiana 21   Georgia 25
Michigan State 21   Auburn 24
Wisconsin 20   Kentucky 24
Michigan 20   LSU 22
Nebraska 19   Miss State 22
Northwestern 17   Alabama 22
Penn State 16   Vanderbilt 21
Purdue 15   Florida 18
Total 244   Total 292
Average 20   Average 24

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 75 Comments
2Feb/1183

Today in a Nutshell

Coaches around the country were asked about their recruiting classes and their numbers.   Here is what a couple had to say about their numbers:

Things are hectic right now around here...hope to have the cup standings updated soon as well as a collection of comments from coaches around the country.  We hear Mark Ritch had some interesting things to say.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 83 Comments
25Jan/11140

Oversigning and the Big 10 Conference

 Andy Staples caught our attention with this particular portion of his recent article on oversigning:

The Big Ten has no issue with oversigning because it banned the practice in 1956. The conference actually loosened its rule in 2002 to allow schools to oversign by three players, but even that rule is drastically different from the NCAA rule now in effect. According to Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley, schools are allowed three over the 85-man limit, not the annual 25-man limit. If, for example, Michigan ends a season with 20 open scholarship spots, then Michigan may sign 23 players. No more.

If a Big Ten program chooses to oversign, Hawley said, it then must document exactly how it came under the 85-scholarship limit. That way, coaches are less likely to cut a player who has done nothing wrong other than fail to live up to his recruiting hype. "If you've oversigned, you're going to have to report back to the conference," Hawley said. "Come the fall, you're going to have to explain how you came into compliance."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/andy_staples/01/24/oversigning/index.html#ixzz1C6y4Shy0

Back in March of 2010, we wrote that there was a rule change in 2002 that allowed Big 10 schools to accept 3 LOI over the 25 limit, provided they had room to back count the players to the previous year and provided they proper documentation to the conference office regarding the 3 extra recruits.  What we failed to comprehend was that the 3 over the limit applied to the 85 limit, not the 25 limit.  To confirm this and get further clarification, we contacted associate commissioner, Chad Hawley for further explanation, to which he provided the following:

The Big Ten exception in football is that an institution may oversign by 3.  Our rule isn't based on the NCAA limit of 25 initial counters, it's based on the number of scholarships available.  Using your example, if an institution has 65 countable scholarships returning, the institution could sign up to 23. 

When we approved limited oversigning in 2002, part of the deal was that institutions that did oversign would need to provide "sunshine" to allow for peer review.  This reporting includes identifying the individuals who received the offers that created the oversigned situation.  In addition, institutions that actually oversign would need to provide a person-by-person accounting for how the institution comes into compliance with the NCAA limit of 85; this includes reporting on not only the new signees, but also the status of each student-athlete who received countable aid in the previous academic year.          

Over the years, a few institutions have used the exception to oversign, but what we've seen is that the majority do not use the exception.

That last line is the most crucial.  Despite having an exception available to oversign by 3, the majority do not use the exception.  One could argue that the reason the exception is not being used is because of the transparency in the process and any foul play, such as bogus medical hardships or forced transfers, would find its way to the light.  Regardless, the exception is there provided there is a legitimate situation that would justify its use.

Football is the only sport in which the exemption is allowed.

Why can't the SEC adopt these rules?  Is it the portion of the rules regarding transparency and peer reviews that have kept the SEC from adopting the Big 10 rules or is it the fact that it provides a clear cut advantage that they do not want to lose?  What the Big 10 is saying with their rules is that they are willing to give a little bit of wiggle room but everything is transparent and monitored (and the net result has been minimal use of the exception to sign 3 extra).  Those are the things that will end oversigning, transparency and monitoring,  not increasing the scholarship limit or changing the agreement from 1 year to 4 years.  It's time to have every SEC school open the books and operate with transparency.  When a school like Alabama or LSU has an ultra small senior class (8-11 seniors) yet has 21+ verbal commitments and looking to add more, the conference office and the rest of their peers should be all over it demanding an explanation and demanding transparency; instead the SEC gives its members the green light to run a muck of the spirit of the rules.  Shame on them and shame on the University Presidents that allow it to continue despite the strong outcry for change in the national media.  Schools don't have to wait on the NCAA to change the rules; they can make a moral decision to start doing the right thing immediately and have their Athletic Directors instruct their coaches not to oversign, period, starting immediately - there is no rule that says they have to oversign!!

Simply put, if LSU or Alabama were in the Big 10 they would be allowed to accept around 13-15 signed LOI and they would have to explain, in detail, the 3 over they limit they would be and there had better not be any bogus medical hardships that push kids off the football team or yanking  of scholarships like Les Miles did to Chris Garrett.  What kind of affect would that have on their highly rated recruiting classes right now?  Sure makes you wonder.  Alabama and LSU are both sitting at 21 verbal committments and both will land more on national signing day. 

Look no further than Penn State who, with similar numbers as Alabama and LSU in terms of departing seniors, only has 15 verbal commitments.  Wonder what they would be ranked if they had 21 verbals and were looking to be in on the nation's top players still left on the board on national signing day.

Filed under: Big 10 140 Comments
24Jan/11118

Oversigning Making the Rounds – Andy Staples with a Great Article

Andy Staples is not new to the topic of oversigning.  In his latest article on the topic, he calls into question the teeth, or lack thereof, behind the NCAA rules for signing players.  As Staples points out, the NCAA has now placed a limit on the number of players that can be signed at 28, however, what good is a limit of 28 when a school only has room for 15-18?  They still have the opportunity to go over the 85 limit, drastically.

So now that a nationwide rule governs signee totals, the morally shaky practice of oversigning should end. Shouldn't it?

Not even close. The rule isn't worth the paper on which it's printed, and everyone in college football knows it.

The NCAA rule was sponsored by the SEC, home to some of the nation's most notorious oversigners. The SEC passed its own rule in 2009, and that rule was in place last year when Auburn signed 32 players and LSU signed 29. Thanks to a lingering numbers drought in the Loveliest Village on the Plains following coach Tommy Tuberville's 2008 ouster, Auburn managed to squeeze every academically qualified player onto the roster. That wasn't the case at LSU, where coach Les Miles already had tried to clear the decks by cutting quarterback Chris Garrett. Miles misjudged how many of his academically shaky signees would qualify, and by summer's end, Miles had two more qualified newcomers than he had available scholarships.

Tommy Tuberville sheds some major light on the competitive advantage aspect of oversigning with his comments:

Tuberville, now the coach at Texas Tech, doesn't need to see any numbers to know oversigning offers a competitive advantage. "Sure it is," he said. "But hey, nobody told [the Big Ten] they had to do that."

Tuberville, who coached at Ole Miss before Auburn, believes oversigning can benefit certain players. It's no coincidence that most of the schools that engage in oversigning are either in states or border states that allow junior college football. A coach will sign players he knows have no chance of qualifying academically and then place those players in junior colleges. In return, the junior college coaches will feed the best of their players back to the FBS programs when those players are ready to transfer. Tuberville believes the practice allowed some players to reach college when they might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

"I always liked to oversign seven or eight just to sign kids, to motivate them, and then we're going to put you in junior college," Tuberville said. "Once you sign, then we can continue to call you and motivate you to go to class, get your grades higher. Then you go to junior college, and you'll be in a lot better shape. Now, you're not going to be able to do that."

One of the signees Tuberville's Auburn staff placed in a junior college was defensive tackle Nick Fairley. After a stint at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Wesson, Miss., Fairley went to Auburn, where he helped the Tigers win a national title. He now is considered the top prospect in the 2011 NFL draft by many analysts.

Memo to Tommy Tuberville, you're right, no one had to tell the Big 10 that they had to ban oversigning, they already knew it was bad for the student-athletes and decided to be proactive instead of reactive.  Being that the Big 10 banned oversigning in 1956, 8 years before Georgia Tech decided to leave the SEC because of oversigning, you would think that the SEC would have figured out that this was bad for student-athletes and not worth the human expense to allow it to continue.  Nonetheless, here we are 55 years later and still trying to get the SEC to come to its senses and put some real teeth into its oversigning rules.

One of the major contributing factors to the oversigning issue, and why it is so prevalent in the SEC, is the academic aspect of recruiting a student-athlete and the JUCO farm system the resides in the Southeastern portion of the country.  As Tuberville mentions, when he was at Auburn, he would sign 7-8 extra and place them in JUCO in hopes that maybe one day a guy like Nick Fairley would come back. 

Here's a news bulletin, Nick Fairley is not going to Notre Dame, Michigan, USC, Penn State, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, etc., etc.  Academically he would have not been admitted into Notre Dame - Notre Dame has never had a JUCO player, ever.   Yet the BCS wants everyone to believe that their National Championship is legitimate and that everyone is competing for it on a level playing field - guess what, they are not, and oversigning along with the JUCO farm systems of the south play a major role in explaining why the playing field is not level.

Go read the rest of Andy's article; it's a great piece of work done by a true professional.  This might be the site that is at the epicenter of the oversigning topic, but it takes guys like Andy Staples, Stewart Mandel, Bruce Feldman, Bob Ley, and the countless others with real mainstream media pull to move the needle, and right now it is really moving.  Now we need the local beat writers to really hound the coaches to explain their numbers when signing day comes around.

Filed under: Big 10, NCAA, SEC 118 Comments
14Jan/1167

Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner of the B1G Conference on the Topic of Oversigning

This morning, we received a forwarded copy of this email from Mr. Hawley from one of our readers and we were able to confirm that it did originate from Mr. Hawley, and that we had his blessing to share his thoughts on the topic of oversigning with the rest of our readers.

From Mr. Hawley:

I appreciate your interest in the issue of oversigning. As you may know, the Big Ten is philosophically opposed to the practice of oversigning in all sports, and our long-standing rules in this area reflect as much. Consequently, we are pleased to see that the conversation regarding oversigning appears to be picking up steam nationally. We’ll continue to monitor that conversation, and when given the opportunity, we will continue to share our position that our approach better serves student-athlete welfare.

I do believe that we are heading in the right direction nationally. For example, there is now an NCAA rule in football—effective for the first time this year—that limits the number of prospects who may sign National Letters of Intent with an institution (28 during the regular signing period). In general, the NCAA rule is not as restrictive as Big Ten rules, but again, it’s a step in the right direction—we voted in favor of the rule and will continue to vote similarly in the future.

I can’t say whether the day will come when NCAA rules prohibit oversigning in any or all sports, but we obviously would welcome such a day. Continued pressure from the media and the public certainly help the cause.

I hope this is helpful to you. Again, thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

Chad Hawley
Associate Commissioner

Things are moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work left to be done.  Setting the cap at 28 does not eliminate the problem, as we have seen in the SEC, but is a move in the right direction.  It should be noted that the SEC, the biggest offenders of oversigning, does not have supplemental rules in place to safeguard their student-athletes from oversigning and situations such as what Elliot Porter and Chris Garrett went through this past year.

The associate commissioner has been gracious enough to extend an invitation for further questions and we are working on that now and will share his response as soon as possible.  In the meantime, we thought this was relevant and worthy of sharing.

Filed under: Big 10, Feedback 67 Comments
8Jan/1188

Tressel on Oversigning

This is a video we posted a long time ago of Jim Tressel talking about his 2010 recruiting class.  Oversigning.com has had over 4 Million hits since its creation last February, but the vast majority of that traffic has been in the last 6 months or so, and as with any blog site content often rolls off the front page and gets buried in the archive somewhere.

With National Signing Day approaching, we thought we would revisit Jim Tressel's press conference from last year that took place just days after sign day.  The video below is about 8 minutes long, but we are only concerned with the first 2-3 minutes.

In the video, Tressel announces to the media that Ohio State had 20 vacancies they could fill with the current recruiting class.  That number, no doubt, was based on the number of seniors graduating and the number of juniors leaving for the NFL early, plus any scholarships that were banked from the previous year.

Tressel explains that one thing you never want to do is go over the limit but in order to sign everyone they wanted to sign they would have had to sign 30 guys.  The limit he is talking about is not the limit of 25 guys per class, he is talking about the 85 limit.  It is important to note that he treats signatures as enrolled players.  When he says "right now we are at 18" he is referring to having 18 kids signed not 18 kids enrolled.  Ironically, one of the kids he signed did not make it into school and that scholarship was given to a deserving walk-on for his senior year. 

The 19th player he had hoped to sign was Seantrel Henderson.  Ohio State did not land Seantrel and since they were not able to sign more than they projected to have room for they couldn't heavily recruit Seantrel and several other top OL prospects for fear of landing more than they would project having room for or having to turn someone away after an offer had been given.  Ohio State could have easily pursued 5 OL and found some pour soul(s) to cut on the bottom end of the roster, but that didn't happen and won't happen under Big 10 recruiting rules.

Notice there is no mention of medical hardships, grey shirts, cuts, transfers, etc.  Notice that he doesn't get upset with the media for asking questions about his numbers, in fact he is as transparent as the NCAA will allow him to be with regards to roster management.

Let's compare that to Nick Saban's current recruiting class, ranked #1 in the country.

Saban has roughly 8 scholarship seniors and he announced this week that 3 Juniors are leaving early for the NFL.  That is roughly 11 scholarship openings.  Let's be generous and say there are 15 openings.  His class right now has 22 verbal commitments plus two players that accepted a grey shirt offer from last year and are expected to enroll this year.  That makes 24 total scholarship commitments this year and only 15 at most openings.  There was no room to back count players to last year's class so everyone is going to count towards this year.

But Nick Saban is not finished recruiting yet.  National Signing Day has not arrived and Nick Saban is still pursuing recruits such as #1 ranked DE Clowney. 

Defenders of Saban's recruiting practices and even Saban himself will probably tell you that they have a plan and that everything is on the up and up with the NCAA.  What they won't tell you is that his plan is to exploit every known loophole in the NCAA rule book for recruiting.  Players will be moved to medical hardships, transferred, or asked to greyshirt in order to make room to get down to 85, room he didn't have when he accepted their signed letter of intent. 

There is something drastically wrong when a coach like Jim Tressel has 1 greyshirt and maybe 2 medical hardships in 10 years at Ohio State and Nick Saban has 12 medical hardships in 4 years and is looking at giving out 10 greyshirt offers this year.  It's a problem and it's real.   And LSU is no different - it's not just Alabama.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 88 Comments
2Jan/1175

OTL Video

20Dec/1090

Tony Gerdeman on the Competitive Equality aspect of Oversigning

Tony Gerdeman touches on the competitive equality issue with Oversigning and gives you a game by game break down of the bowl games and the recruiting numbers, something that the ESPN OTL piece shied away from in their piece on oversigning this weekend instead electing to focus on the human element of the practice and how in the opinion of one attorney, Donald Jackson, the actions of some of the coaches that oversign are close to meeting the elements for common law fraud.

http://www.the-ozone.net/football/postseason/oversigning.html

Clearly, the lives altered so that coaches and schools can prosper is the core issue here, however, you can not minimize the impact oversigning has on the playing field - it is an undeniable truth that the SEC has a huge advantage over the rest of college football due to the conference's reluctance to get serious about stopping oversigning.  It's not the only reason for the SEC success, but it plays a major role in the depth and strength of the conference, not to mention the advantage being able to sign more than you have room for gives you in the Rivals and other recruiting rankings. For example, right now Alabama has 20 verbal commitments, when in actuality, under Big10 recruiting rules, they would only have room for somewhere around 12 recruits given they only have roughly 8 seniors on scholarship and don't anticipate more than 4 juniors going pro early.  Therefore, if Alabama were bound to Big 10 recruiting rules they would have somewhere around 12-14 verbal commitments right now, not 20.  Do you think they would have the second best recruiting class in the country with only 12-14 commitments?  No, they wouldn't.  However, given the fact that they are able to skirt recruiting rules Big 10 schools follow they are able to load up on recruits and lure more blue chip players to be a part of their #2 ranked class.

Not only does this help a school like Alabama, it keeps other schools who have legitimate room from getting those players.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 90 Comments
19Dec/1030

Ohio State vs. Arkansas

Based on Ohio State's average recruiting class size, 19.8, Arkansas has the advantage of having accepted nearly 2 full recruiting classes of signed letters of intent more than Ohio State.   Most notably, the DT, OL, WR, and those recruited under ATH, appear to be where Arkansas has recruited more players.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 30 Comments