Myth: Removing Oversigning Removes Educational Opportunities

Nick Saban and other SEC coaches, as well as SEC fans, want you to believe that by removing their ability to oversign you are going to eliminate educational opportunities for recruits.  Hogwash.  What they are afraid of is having to tell a kid they want that they don't have room and then have that kid go to a rival school that does have room.

Removing oversigning doesn't eliminate educational opportunities, it realocates those opportunities in a way that prevents student-athletes that are already receiving the opportunity from losing it.  The real problem SEC coaches and fans have is the reallocation of those opportunities.  In order to believe that removing oversigning removes educational opportunities, you have to believe that if a recruit is unable to go to the school on the top of his list because they don't have room for him that he will not go to college at all and will have no other offers or opportunities at other schools.  Myth.

If a school has 27 openings, but can only sign 25 it will leave two scholarships that coaches will have to give to deserving 4th or 5th year walk-on players for one year until the next recruiting class comes around and they can sign a new recruit with the intention of keeping him for the next 4-5 years.

For some reason, fans seem to think that all walk-on players are rich and don't need a scholarship, and that they are just being used as tackling dummies for the fun of it.  Not true.  There are walk-on players that are every bit as needy as scholarship recruits; the only difference between the two groups is talent and in some cases there are walk-on players that are actually better than some that are on scholarship.

Scholarships will not be wasted, period.  In fact, some coaches say that the greatest joy they get is from being able to award a scholarship to a deserving 4th or 5th year senior as a reward for all their hard work, dedication, and doing things right in the classroom and off the field.

Filed under: Rants, SEC Continue reading

NCAA Ruling Based on the Spirit of the Rules?

The NCAA felt that Jeremiah Masoli's application to transfer from Oregon, where he was kicked off of the team for violation of team rules, violated the "spirit" of the NCAA transfer rules and thus they denied his application and are preventing him from playing at Ole Miss.

The spirit of the rules, huh.  Interesting.

So who over at the NCAA is in charge of determining violations of the spirit of the signing process?  Just wondering because clearly someone over at the NCAA headquarters tasked with monitoring the spirit of the signing process has been asleep at the wheel while schools like LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Miami, UNC and others rape the spirit of the signing process by constantly signing way more players than they have room for when they sign them, which ultimately leads to a laundry list of transfers, medical hardships, and players flat out getting screwed.

This shouldn't be surprise anyone as this is just the latest indicator that the NCAA is an overgrown, bureaucratic organization that is not capable of regulating college athletics or delivering on their stated mission of maintaining competitive equality while ensuring that the academic experience of the student-athlete is paramount in the integration of athletic competition to the college environment.

Filed under: Rants 4 Comments

Saban Wants a Level Playing Field

Nick Saban seems to have taken the lead on the issue with the player agents.  Last week he held a conference call with various representatives from college football, the NCAA, the agent community, and the NFLPA to discuss how to deal with rouge agents, citing his strong desire to maintain a level playing field for all of the agents as they recruit college players to become professional athletes and to make sure that those not acting within the spirit of the process are punished and penalized.  You see the professional agent industry is loosely regulated in that there are some clear cut laws/rules, but for the most part everyone is just hoping the agents operate with professionalism.  Remind you of anything?  In reality the recruiting process for college players to the NFL and their interaction with agents is very similar to that of college coaches with high school players.

“We’re all trying to put our heads together to figure out what we’re going to do to level the playing field so that everybody that’s in the agent community, which some of them are very professional, have the same opportunity to recruit players and that the bootleggers out there are guys that get punished and penalized,” Saban said.


Glad to know Saban is so concerned about maintaining a level playing field.  We can only assume that he is holding similar conference calls with the NCAA regarding oversigning.  The hypocrisy and irony of Nick Saban leading the charge to level the paying field for agents and making sure that those who act unethically are punished is the damnedest thing we have ever seen since we started this website.  Wait a minute, Les Miles trying to tell everyone that what he did to Porter was not a big deal was the damnedest thing we have ever seen, this takes second place though.

We suggest you take a look at the article above and watch the video.

When you compare how coaches in the Big 10 handle the signing process and only take what they have room for on signing day to how Les Miles and Nick Saban oversign their rosters by 9-10 players per year it's pretty clear to see that one group of coaches are doing it the right way with integrity and the other bunch is exploiting the system.  The issue with the agents is exactly the same - it comes down to have two groups of people in the same profession, one operates with integrity and ethics and the other is a bunch of bootleggers.

Filed under: Rants 49 Comments

Tony Gerdeman Got It, Few Others Did (Including Us!)

We attempted to correct some of the wrongs the "real" media has been putting out lately with its coverage of oversigning and reaction to Elliott Porter's story, but Tony Gerdeman has shown us that we too missed the mark.

Our general theme with regards to the Elliott Porter story and the media's coverage of it has been that most people are missing the point with regards to the numbers - most media outlets are focused on the fact that Les Miles signed 27 and it was 2 over the single year 25 limit, completely missing the bigger issue which was that LSU was over the 85 limit based on what they lost from graduation/early entry into the NFL and what they signed (27).  They should have signed 18 recruits, not 27.  18 was all they had room for under the 85 limit and had LSU resided in the Big 10 Conference and not the SEC they would have been required to sign 18 and would not have been allowed to sign 27.

However, in our haste to point out that everyone missed the boat with regards to the numbers, we glossed over how the mainstream media missed the target and the real root of the problem all together, OVERSIGNING.

Eagle-eyed Tony Gerdeman didn't miss it though.  Gerdeman has been on the right side of this topic from the very beginning.  He knows the deal and he understands what is really going on with these coaches in the SEC that exploit the oversigning loophole.  In his weekly installment of The Week that Was, Gerdeman comments on the article we mentioned above and adds a really great point that we totally missed.

The gist of the article is detailing the way Miles told incoming freshman offensive lineman Elliott Porter that he needed him to grayshirt—and this was after he was already moved into his dorms, which then forced Porter to ask for his release and try to find somewhere else to go to college.

But that's not what really bothered me about the article. We all know Les Miles has character issues—he went to Michigan for crying out loud, so I don't really feel the need to stoke that tire fire anymore than it's already burning.

My issue is with the way the practice of oversigning was just glossed over in the article, and how perhaps the most ethical way of dealing with oversigning was actually vilified.

Yeah, offering a grayshirt is a jerk move that late in the deal, but it very much beats getting cut. At least the student athlete was given a choice in the matter. Normally in the SEC, they aren't.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't recall the Big Ten ever outlawing grayshirting as the article indicated. You just never hear about it because it isn't used to fitting 27 players into 24 slots.

And it certainly isn't discussed half a year after national signing day.

We wrote a piece on greyshirting being okay, but we really missed the point that greyshirting was vilified more than the oversigning - the focus should be on the oversigning because without it there is no greyshirting of players.  This is like a drunk driver hitting another car and the victim dying on the way to the hospital because of a bumpy ambulance ride and everyone vilifies the medical staff and the ambulance driver while the drunk driver slides under the radar. 

Sounds crazy doesn't it? 

But that's kind of what happened.  Everyone was too busy looking at what Les Miles did with the greyshirt process and vilifying it, while the real culprit (oversigning) slid out the backdoor barely even noticed.   Heck, even oversigning.com, the only blog on the entire Internet dedicated solely to oversigning missed it because we were too busy correcting everyone for missing the real point behind the numbers (that it wasn't the 25 per year rule that was the problem it was the 85 total that was the problem).

Great work Tony!

In the end, the Elliott Porter story and how Les Miles handled everything should have taught everyone the following:

1. Oversigning is the real problem - if the SEC had a ban on oversigning this would never happen.

2. The greyshirt process is not the issue and is not the villian here.  When handled correctly and in the right situations, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a greyshirt opportunity.  We would like to see the NCAA add a few rules to further regulate the practice and create transparency, but in the end greyshirting is not to blame - oversigning is.

3. The main issue with LSU and Les Miles (outside of the piss poor way he pulled Porter's scholarship away from him at the last minute) was not that he went 2 over the 25 limit in a single class, but rather that he went 9 over the 85 limit on National Signing day when he accepted signed letters of intent that bound 27 new recruits to LSU in a ONE-WAY agreement that they can't get out of and at the time he only had 18 openings.  That is the core of the issue and that is oversigning.  LSU had room for 18 recruits, not 27, and had they signed 21 instead of 27 they would have still had a problem, despite not being over the 25 per year rule.

4. Oversigning causes kids to get screwed and it has got to stop.  This is the very reason why the Big 10 banned oversigning all together decades ago.

Filed under: Quick Links, Rants, SEC 30 Comments

There is nothing wrong with Greyshirting, Les Miles

It appears that Les Miles has not taken the criticism he has received, which he was rightfully given, for the Elliott Porter debacle well and he has taken to defending the practice of Greyshirting players.   Here are a few of his comments...

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature.

“He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

The practice is common in the Southeastern Conference, but not allowed in other conferences, like the Big 10. CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel was particularly harsh with his critique in a column Sunday, calling Miles “a bad guy.” He had similar descriptions for others who oversign, calling Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt “despicable” and Alabama’s Nick Saban “two evolutionary stages below a lizard.”

Miles said he had not read the Doyel column but “I did get bits and pieces of that.”

“I can tell you no one is more critical of how I operate than me,” Miles said. “I can tell you the guys I visited with and I told, for the team, it might well be the best thing for you physically and might well be best for you and your health and by the count of numbers and scholarships, you might benefit the most by postponing your entrance into school."


Allows us to put on our Miles decoder and see if we can decipher what he said -- not sure we'll be able to make anything out of that last quote, though. 

First let us clear up some errors in Laney's original article.

1. The Big 10 has not banned greyshirting players; it is something that is watched very closely but it has not been banned.  Oversigning is not allowed, but greyshirting is allowed in the Big 10.

2. You'll have to read the entire article for this one, but in the original article the general tone is that the issue with Les Miles was the 25 scholarships per year rule and that by signing 27 he was two over the limit, hence the greyshirt offer.  While Laney is right, 25 per year is the limit and LSU was over with 27 eligible, the real issue here is the 85 limit and what took place prior to August deadline.  If you examine LSU's recruiting budget at signing day you can see that by signing 27 they were projected to be 9 over the 85 limit.  Therefore, in addition to the greyshirt offers that were declined there were a handful of other players that were removed in order to make room for 25 of the 27.  We happen to have a list handy.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released

When you step back and look at the entire body of work in this recruiting class you can see just poorly Miles has managed the entire process.  The only conclusion you can draw about the series of events is that Les Miles simply signs the 25 max every year and sorts the bodies out later, and until this point it really hasn't bitten him in the ass.   We have a list handy for that as well.  This is every recruiting class for Miles since 2002; some of the numbers came from his time at Oklahoma State.  Roughly a 24 average with as many as 31 in a single class.  And for just about every one of those years there are handful of BS stories about how Les got the roster down either to the 25 for the year or 85 overall.

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

Based on LSU's numbers at National Signing Day they should have signed 18 new recruits, not 27.  Had all 18 made it academically, like all 27 did, they would have all had a spot, Chris Garrett would be at LSU not Northeastern State or wherever he landed, and Elliott Porter, since he was an early verbal commitment, would be living on LSU campus partaking in LSU spring ball.  But then again, we all know the deal, you know, it's just business and all.  Plus, if Miles only signs the 18 he has room for he might miss out on a new recruit and another SEC school might get him, plus he won't have any extra players to hedge against unexpected injuries, where's the fun in that?

The Les Miles decoder tells us the following:

1. He only cares about the athlete portion of student-athletes.

2. He only reads bits and pieces of Doyel's columns.

3. He is a man with enough money to pay for his son's education and having to greyshirt would not be an issue for him.  Nothing like screwing a kid over and then telling the world that it wouldn't be a problem for him if it happen to his kids - no kidding Les, your son could go to any school in the country and you could stroke a check for the full 4 years and never even blink.  A four year education is rounding error on your balance sheet.  For the rest of the working stiffs and the underprivileged in this country who don't make $3MM  a year being a coach, having to pay for 1 semester of college can be an issue.

4. He told his players something about scholarship numbers and greyshirts, but we don't think he had any idea what he told them, when he told them, or who he told.  Reminds us so much of his explanation of the time out at the end of the LSU - Ole Miss game last year.

How can you seriously believe that he knows what is going on with regards to recruiting numbers after something like this: http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

The problem wasn't that he offered a greyshirt to Porter, it was how it was offered and when it was offered, and for Miles to come out and take exception with the criticism further proves that he has no clue that he did anything wrong.  Perhaps that empty suit Mike Slive should have a talk with him about managing scholarship offers and proper etiquette when dealing with potential student-athletes.

Now let us address the greyshirting and scholarship numbers for next year.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with greyshirting a player provided there is an understanding between the school and the player way in advance.  Obviously, we want the NCAA to do something about oversigning and our hope is that by closing the oversigning loophole we create transparency in the entire signing process, especially the greyshirt process.

So here is a scenario that we would like to see happen:

A school has 18 openings that can be filled on National Signing Day because that is their established recruiting budget for the year based on who they have graduating and who they have leaving early for the NFL.  Given the 18 LOI limit, the school is given the option to sign up to a certain number of greyshirt prospects (let's say 3 per year).  These three extra players are signed to a different type of LOI that explicitly states that the school has to honor their scholarship offer the following year but the players are free to accept scholarship offers from other schools and are not bound to the school offering the greyshirt. 

This keeps the school at or under the 85 scholarship limit, allows them to sign a few greyshirts for the next year to accommodate players that are willing and able to pay their own way until the next year and obviously really want to go to a certain school, and it eliminates the Elliott Porter scenario, which absolutely has to stop.

Now for the scholarship numbers next year.

Greyshirting creates a scenario where you are counting scholarships forward.  Let's take Alabama for instance; it appears that they have 3 potential greyshirt candidates this year that will join the team next year and count to next year's numbers.  Looking at Alabama's scholarship roster it also appears that they only have 9 scholarship seniors and 5th year guys who will be freeing up scholarship room for the next recruiting class (feel free to correct us on that Bama fans).  When you subtract the 3 greyshirt players from the number of scholarship seniors for next year the number of openings looks something more like 6).  According to Rivals Alabama already has 17 verbal commitments.  Let's say there are a 5 Juniors who jump to the league, that's only 14 scholarship openings.  Does anyone think that Saban is done recruiting for the year??? 

LSU is in the exact same situation, small senior class and already over committed (verbally at least) in terms of having verbal commitments from more recruits then they have room for next year.

And come next year we'll see all kinds of transfers and hear all kinds of stories attached to them, but at the end of the day it's all garbage because regardless of how many "mutual agreements to leave" we hear the bottom line is that in the business of college football, especially in the SEC, it's out with the old, injured, and less than, and in with the new.  After all, fans care just about as much about winning the recruiting national championship as they do about the BCS national championship.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 11 Comments

Most Common Arguing Points

Here are some of the most common arguing points people have tried to use in defense of the practice of oversigning (in random order):

1. The SEC banned oversigning when it created the Houston Nutt rule and set the limit to 28 signees per recruiting class, oversigning is no longer an issue.

Wrong.  The SEC did not ban oversigning with the Houston Nutt rule; it simply put a cap on the number of players that can be signed at 28.  Obviously, only 25 can be assigned to a single class per NCAA rules, which allows them to either back count 3 recruits to the previous year if they didn't take a full 25 the previous year or they can greyshirt 3 recruits and have them delay their enrollment until the following January and count towards the next year.  The problem is that 28 x 4 = 112 and you can only have 85 on a roster at a time.  The SEC rule lacks the supplemental rule of requiring coaches to prove that they have room for every signee they take at the time they accept a signed letter of intent that binds the player to the school and prevents them from going elsewhere until the school releases them.  This is the fundamental problem with oversigning -- coaches are binding players to their schools before they truly know if they have room for them or not.  If they knew that they would have room then we wouldn't have to wait until the last day before fall camp to see who is being cut. 

In the Big 10 conference, coaches are encouraged to establish their recruiting budget (number of openings for new signees) ahead of National Signing Day and stay within those limits; Big 10 coaches are allowed to sign up to 28 players to a single class, but they are required to petition the Big 10 office and prove that they have room for the 3 extra players and that signing the 3 extra players will not results in the removal of anyone currently on the roster with eligibility remaining.  They are also not allowed to accept a signed letter of intent for numbers 26, 27, and 28 until they receive permission from the Big 10 office and it is our understanding that the Big 10 office reviews the roster in question to make sure that there is room for those players before giving the coaches permission to accept those LOI.  And it is also our understanding that this is not the case with the SEC.

Prior to the Huston Nutt rule, teams in the SEC as a collective group averaged signing 29 recruits per year, which is off the charts high.  The new rule drops that number by 1.  For the conference with the biggest problem of oversigning, setting the limit to 28 helps, but it doesn't come close to solving the problem, and we saw that play out this year with LSU and Alabama who clearly oversigned their rosters and had to work until the last day before fall camp in order to get down to the 85 number.  LSU ended up removing/releasing 9 players between signing day and fall camp and Alabama 10.

Conference Comparisons 2002 - 2010

Comparisons SEC Big 12 BigEast PAC10 Big10 ACC
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

2. There is no law or rule against oversigning so therefore no one is doing anything wrong.

There is no law against adultery either, doesn't mean that it is not wrong.  Stupid argument and as irresponsible as Les Miles saying that his only obligation is to get his number down to 25 every year.

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”


3. Oversigning gives more people a shot at a scholarship - if you take it away you are robbing kids of an opportunity to get an education.

This might be the most laughable of all the arguments in favor of oversigning.  First of all, we live in a society and a country where we are blessed with opportunity, and if there is someone who is driven enough to want to get an education they can get an education, without having to be a football star.  There are federal grant programs, student loan programs, academic scholarship programs, and a ton of companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs.  Anyone with enough physical ability to play football could go work at Walmart, McDonald's, or a number of other places and get their education partially paid for and take out student loans or a pell grant for the rest. 

When you oversign your roster that means that players have to leave in order to get the new players in.  There are only 85 scholarships that can be given out each year and very few coaches waste them.  As we explained earlier, there are two models of signing recruits, oversigning and undersigning.  In the undersigning model the "leftover" scholarships (usually 1 or 2, sometimes maybe more) are given to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship through hard work both on and off the field.  In the oversigning model, the same amount of scholarships are given out by a single school, but instead of signing within your budget and giving the leftovers to the walk-ons, coaches pushout  guys on the roster with eligibility remaining and bring in new, often times more talented players with more potential.  At the end of the day, the same number of players are being educated (85), but with the oversigning you have to shove out players and interrupt their education in order to educate someone else. 

The reason we say this is the most laughable argument is because the people that make this argument are clearly more concerned about losing the oversigning advantage than they are about educating young people.  This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to tug at the heartstrings of parents and policy makers, and the people that make this argument about oversigning enabling more kids to get an education are all about protecting oversigning and the clear advantages it has produced; they are worried about losing out a potential future star recruit, nothing more.  College football is a system where future stars are the lifeblood of the program because kids will only be around for 4-5 years; it is becoming more important to focus on the new incoming stars than it is developing the more senior players because by the time they develop they are gone.

4. Scholarships are 1-Year Renewable Contracts; we can cut whoever we want to cut and we are not doing anything wrong.

That is correct, scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts.  These contracts are set to be automatically renewed unless the coaching staff files paperwork to stop the renewal process. This was not always the case with scholarships, as up until 1973 scholarships were 4 year scholarships, not 1 year renewable agreements.

The one-year renewable scholarship, with a limit of five years of athletic aid, has been in place since 1973. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for academic and membership affairs, said the 37-year-old policy has not been a frequent topic of concern among member schools. He noted that NCAA rules require colleges to provide athletes who lose scholarships with an appeals option, typically consisting of a campus panel formed from outside the athletics department. But such arbitration is not common, he acknowledged.

Requiring Division I transfers to sit out a year before competing for a new school prevents coaches from recruiting players away from other schools, said Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.


Basically, coaches want it both ways.  They want to be able to cut guys that are not living up to their expectations or to make room for someone new that has come along that has more promise, but they don't want the recruits to be able to leave on their own (hence the one-way binding letter of intent agreement) and they don't want other coaches to recruit kids away from their program (hence the rule that requires players to sit out a year if they transfer).  Sounds real fair.  It is our opinion that these changes are lockstep with the increase in coaching salaries and the revenue generated by the sport. 

The people that argue that scholarships are a one-year renewable contract and nothing is wrong are basically agreeing that the coaches should have all of the power to treat players like pieces of meat for their own personal financial gain.  We don't agree. These coaches are paid millions of dollars, the least they can do is not abuse loopholes like oversigning and exploit kids in the process.  If a coach is good enough he should be able to win without having to oversign players.

5. You don't know what you are talking about, coaches know ahead of time which players are going to transfer and that is why they oversign.

We got this argument with regards to Star Jackson.  The argument was that Saban knew that Jackson was going to transfer and that's why he signed Sims.  Our position is that if Saban (or any other coach in this situation) knew that Jackson was going to transfer, then why in the world was he out there competing for a roster spot in the Spring game?  If his replacement or another guy was signed to his scholarship and his transfer was a foregone conclusion, then why was he out there working so hard for a spot on the depth chart?  It just doesn't add up.  The truth of the matter is that these coaches are signing a handful of extra players because they know they have some wiggle room and they always have the upper hand in that they can simply elect to not renew a scholarship or in Les Miles' case just tell a kid there isn't room and he can greyshirt.  That is a problem, but it is not a problem that will be solved without legislation because regardless of how much Les Miles screws a kid over (Elliott Porter) there will always be more players that want to come to LSU then he has room for and there will always be the allure of coming to a division 1 school in hopes of making it to the NFL and making MILLIONS of dollars.  This will almost always override any reservations or concerns about getting screwed over during the recruiting process, therefore more legislation is needed to prevent these coaches from exploiting the oversigning loophole. 

Those are probably the 5 most common arguments that we encounter here on the site in our conversations elsewhere on the topic.  It should be noted that almost always these arguments come from people who are fans of teams that oversign.  Very seldom, maybe only a couple of times, have we heard any of these arguments come from fans of teams that don't oversign.  That in and of itself is pretty telling.  Just look at the comments here on our site and you can count the number of comments on one or two hands that advocate oversigning and are not fans or supporters of a school or conference that oversigns. 

Update: We left out one other very common arguing point, apologies.

6. Oversigning doesn't create a competitive advantage so what's the big deal.

This couldn't be any further from the truth, especially within the last several years.  Over the last several years the ability for coaches to evaluate players has decreased; the NCAA continues to decrease the amount of contact coaches can have with players (mainly out of fear of recruiting violations) which is making it hard for them to evaluate talent.  In addition, the NCAA continues to place more and more restrictions on the amount of time coaches can spend with players during spring and fall training camps and during the off season.  The  net result is college football has become less about developing talent and more about mining for the next "sure thing" 5 star recruit. 

When you oversign you have access to more opportunities to find that "sure thing" whether it be from landing a 5 star recruit or taking a chance on a borderline guy who turns out to be a stud.  It's a numbers game and obviously, given that most of the top tier schools can attract top tier talent, the more of it that you can go through to find the ones you really want the better you will be.

Nick Saban and Les Miles have used oversigning as the backbone of building National Championship teams over the last decade.  If you look at the chart below and look at the number of players signed by Saban (who had the highest average) and Tressel (who had the lowest average), in the years that Saban was in college football he signed roughly 193 recruits; Tressel signed roughly 142 in those same years.  That is a difference of 51 recruiting opportunities over the same period of time.  Any change there might be a couple more good players in that list of 51?  If the difference were 5-10 I don't think we could point at this being an issue, but 51?

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

Some people will say that this doesn't add up because if you look at Huston Nutt and how many he has signed he should be the greatest coach of all time.  Our response is that oversigning is masking just how bad of a coach he really is and that we could only imagine how bad his teams would be if he weren't running through players trying to find stud players like McFadden.  Oversigning makes average to below average coaches look pretty good and average to above average coaches great or National Champions.

Filed under: Rants 60 Comments

Abuse Breeds Control

Andy Staples, writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote an excellent article on oversigning last year in the wake of Huston Nutt's 37 player class and subsequent thumbing of his nose at those who criticized the number of players he signed, given that he had 64 scholarship players set to return to Ole Miss and there was no way he would have room for all 37 players. 

Let's take a closer look at Andy's article.

First, regarding Nutt's position on his class of 37:

"I checked with [compliance director] David [Wells], and there's no rule that says that we can't sign 80," Nutt said at that Signing Day press conference. "All I know is we have to have 25 ready to go in August ready and eligible."

Is this the kind of coach with which you should entrust your child's signature on a letter of intent?  Seriously.  Fortunately, the SEC addressed the situation and placed a limit of 28 signed letters per class, but 28 * 4 != 85, so there is still room for improvement and further regulation. 

More from the article:

As long as programs keep their total at 85 scholarships and don't bring in more than 25 a year, the NCAA has no quarrel -- for now. The NCAA's Football Issues Committee discussed oversigning and grayshirting at its January meeting. The committee, which comprises coaches, athletic directors and conference administrators, agreed to monitor oversigning, but Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters, the committee's chair, said until the committee can get some hard data, it can't determine if oversigning is an issue that requires legislation.

"We don't know yet, because we don't know the numbers," Waters said. "If you look at it purely in principle, you're uncomfortable with it. But you've also got to ask if kids are being benefited by it. If they are, then you've got to find a way to not hurt those kids and at the same time make sure you maintain a level playing field."

As Waters noted, oversigning and grayshirting raise some ethical dilemmas. For instance, what happens when too many players have qualified academically and there is no scholarship available for a grayshirting player?

Clink link to continue reading >>>>

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It’s Legal, but is it Ethical?

At the end of the day, that is the fundamental question when discussing oversigning. By virtue of the way the NCAA by-laws are written and the structure of the 85/25 scholarship rules, there is no question that coaches, by NCAA rules, are allowed to sign as many players as they want (in fact the NCAA places no limits on the number of players that can be signed), as long as only 25 new scholarship players are added each year and no more than 85 scholarship players are on the roster at one time. Those that have been following this site already know all of this, as we have talked about it and debated it many times here.

For those just reading this site for the first time, we have taken a look at the restrictions some conferences have added to the signing process to prevent the practice of oversigning and we have looked at some conferences that until just recently have had no such restrictions and that blatantly oversign. There is no question that there are two schools of thought on this topic and that fans are just as passionate about this topic as they are about recruiting rankings and the games played on the field.

We ran across a wonderfully written article on oversigning and whether or not it is ethical at www.athlonsports.com.  If you follow this site and this topic then this is a must read article, as it touches on all of the main talking points when it comes to oversigning, including comments from high school coaches upset that their players were victims of oversigning, something that detractors of this site claim doesn't exist.  We're not sure when the article was written, but based on the comments from the coaches in the article our best guess is that this was written somewhere around 2003.

Let's take a closer look at the article (warning, this is a long, but very informative read - you might want to get a cup of coffee or something before you dive into this):

Click the link to continue reading >>>  


Slightly Off-Topic, But Still Relevant

The primary focus around here is oversigning, but from time to time you can't help but talk about academic standards and players qualifying when you talk about oversigning.  Those supporting oversigning often point to issues with finding enough guys to qualify academically to fill their roster.   We have mentioned here several times that we equate oversigning to hedging against attrition and how some schools have the luxury of doing it and some schools do not or will not.

Here is a prime example of how not being able to hedge can really bite you in recruiting.  Rich Rodriguez's prize recruit and the highest rated recruit for the entire Big 10 conference will most likely not play at Michigan this year, or next, or ever.  Demar Dorsey will likely not make it into school at Michigan this year, despite meeting the NCAA Clearinghouse requirements and being an NCAA qualifier.

Dorsey, the Big Ten's highest-rated recruit according to ESPN Recruiting, hasn't been allowed to enroll at Michigan, his high school coach Mark James told Corey Long.

"Demar is an NCAA qualifier with a 2.5 or 2.6 GPA and an 18 score on the ACT," said James. "But he hasn't yet been granted at Michigan."

Controversy surrounded Dorsey's commitment to Michigan when it was disclosed that he was arrested twice as a juvenile. He was acquitted on a charge of robbery with a deadly weapon in 2008 and had a previous charge of burglary dismissed.

James suggested that some of Dorsey's issues with his admission may stem from his previous transgressions with the law.

Both James and another source close to Dorsey told ESPN.com that Michigan's coaching staff is still working very hard to get him admitted.


This brings a lot of areas of discussion to the table:

1. How is Dorsey affected by this?  He signed a LOI to a JUCO as a backup plan, but you have to think the kid was excited about clearing the NCAA clearinghouse and going to Michigan.  Will he end up at another D1 school on scholarship?  Rodriguez's comments about JUCO players are pretty interesting; pretty much he is saying that if Dorsey goes to JUCO it is unlikely that he will be able to come back to Michigan because of the issues with credits from JUCO transferring to Michigan.  This sure sheds some light on the JUCO farm leagues in Mississippi.  

In November, he spoke about wanting to sign a junior college player or two but not getting his hopes up.

“There’s not a lot of transferrable credits for junior-college guys to come in here,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes people look at that as a quicker fix. That’s not going to really be an option for us just because of the academic differences.”

From the link above to the ESPN article.

Regardless, you have to feel for Dorsey who thought he was going to Michigan and is now looking elsewhere.  A lot of this can be solved by changing the signing process - one of our readers Mario, former linebacker at Alabama, has had some great insight and good ideas in this regard.

2. Are academic requirements really different across conferences and is it true that just because a guy clears the NCAA doesn't mean he will get into school?

3. How is Michigan going to be affected by this loss?  Had they been able to hedge their attrition by oversigning, would they have taken another player just in case?

4. What kind of competitive advantage is it to be able to oversign?

5. Does Rivals and Scout include the potential to qualify as part of their rating system??? Here we have the highest rated recruit for Michigan, and the Big 10, but at the end of the day, if he doesn't qualify how high should he really be rated?  If Rivals and Scout and all the other recruiting ranking services leave out academics or the ability to qualify it should be considered just as bad as if they left out a player's ability to read defenses or run a fast 40 time.  We see now why Randy Edsall was so livid about recruiting services.

6. Are part of Rich Rodriguez's problems at Michigan related in some way to the change in culture he is experiencing?  A guy like Dorsey would be lock to get into West Virginia, wouldn't he?

This could be a crushing blow to Michigan's secondary as Dorsey was expected to come in right away and help shore up a position of need.


Eamonn Brennan from ESPN Calls for Change

Brennan's article is focused more on oversiging (which he calls runoff) in college basketball, but he might as well be talking about football.

Click the link to continue reading >>>

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The 1 Year Renewable Excuse

One of the more popular excuses we hear from those who defend oversigning is that football scholarships are 1 year renewable scholarships.  However, the one thing most of those same people forget to mention or struggle to comprehend, and this is the very loophole in the NCAA by-laws that is being exploited, is that the deadline for scholarship renewal is July 1st, nearly 5 months after national signing day.  This enables coaches to sign as many players as they can get away with in February and then gives them 5 months to figure out who they don't want to keep come July. Institutional Obligation. The renewal of institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability shall be made on or before July 1 prior to the academic year in which it is to be effective. The institution shall promptly notify in writing each student-athlete who received an award the previous academic year and who has eligibility remaining in the sport in which financial aid was awarded the previous academic year (under Bylaw 14.2) whether the grant has been renewed or not renewed for the ensuing academic year. Notification of financial aid renewals and non-renewals must come from the institution’s regular financial aid authority and not from the institution’s athletics department. (Revised: 1/10/95) 

Click the link to continue reading >>>

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Total Control

Yesterday we mentioned that it is extremely hard and time consuming to investigate things such as oversigning.  While there is a ton of information on the Internet, if you look hard enough, there seems to be a void in the main stream media with regards to investigative reporting.  Sure ESPN has OTL, but whatever happened to the beat reporters who did more than write up a practice report and include a couple of meaningless quotes?

Paul Finebaum has a theory on this: 

"With the newspaper industry under siege and cutbacks literally being made at every corner, a reporter covering Meyer or anyone else really can ill afford to spend time in the doghouse. Otherwise, he or she will be left out in the cold when the pack goes on the next scavenger hunt for whatever scraps are still fed to those on the daily beat.

I spoke recently to an official at a major BCS school and he openly scoffed at the beat reporters covering his team. The person told me his school could completely cut off access to the reporters and still get practically the same message out to the public by delivering it themselves.

This isn't the good old days when most doors were wide open. Nowadays, there is such tight control over most programs that the average fan can learn almost as much sitting in front of computer in Muscle Shoals or Mobile, watching the press conferences live, or being force fed exactly what the school wants them to see and read.

Many beat reporters have been reduced to nothing more than stenographers. They are emailed releases which are posted on the Internet in quickly rewritten blogs. Sometimes, they are published verbatim. Rarely, if ever, does anything get out the school doesn't want out.

That's why the textbook investigation at Alabama went undetected for a year while the process played out -- including a secret appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. It was done so to protect recruiting and worked like a charm.

And by the way, this is all just fine with the fans who don't really know or can't tell the difference between a legitimate story and something sent out by a member of the school's publicity staff. People neither trust the media nor particularly like the media anymore. Some of this is self-inflicted. Most of this results from the times in which we live."


If you don't read anything else on this site, we encourage you to at least read Finebaum's full article linked above.  It might shed some light as to why we don't hear more stories about players being cut and oversigning.

The truth of the matter is that beat reporters should be posted outside of certain schools demanding answers on roster cuts and oversigning, but the reality of the situation is that none of them can afford to be cut off, such as the poor guy from the Orlando Sentinel who had to cower down to Urban Meyer and then was forced to accept a private apology. 

If a reporter almost gets banned from practice for quoting a player, could you imagine what would happen if he really took Urban Meyer to task on his practice of oversigning players or about the huge number of arrests by his players?  Forget about it, that guy would be done. 

The bottom line here is that the coaches and the schools are going to control what message gets sent out, and it's up to us as fans and followers of the sport to dig deeper for the facts and expose the truth.  Hopefully, in some way we can do that here with the topic of oversigning.  We're not professional writers and we're not being paid to do investigative work, but we care about college football and we can write whatever we want without fear of economic security.  And maybe with your help we can continue to put a spotlight on oversigning until it is completely removed.

Filed under: Rants 16 Comments

Night and Day

It is our belief that when the NCAA set the scholarship restrictions to 25 new players per year and 85 total on the roster they knew that it would be almost impossible for every school/team/coach to sign the exact number of players needed every year so that everyone comes out at 85 total scholarship players in August.  This is probably why they allowed walk-on programs continue so that schools/teams/coaches could allow X number of players to walk on (pay their own way) to the football team and if they work hard enough or become good enough they can be awarded with a scholarship.  This is what the NCAA would consider the buffer between recruiting new players and not over-committing and maintaining a roster of 85 scholarship players.  That is the true spirit of college football recruiting as laid out by the NCAA.  

However, we believe that this is as far as the NCAA is willing to take it in terms of trying to come up with numbers and rules that can apply to every region of the country.  Let's call that the NCAA baseline.  Given the baseline, conference commissioners and university presidents are free to establish additional rules and criteria with regards to recruiting numbers that help further shape and mold the overall mission or goal of their conference or university.  For example, in addition to the 85/25 rule, the Big 10 conference has established that no more than 28 recruits total be signed in a single class (meaning 3 can count back to the previous year if the recruit enrolls early and their is room in the previous class and 25 count to the current class which meets the NCAA rule of no more than 25 per class).  They also require that the additional 3 scholarships/LOI's have to be petitioned for and proof must be given that there is room for the 3 additional players without pushing anyone out.  Other conferences do not have these additional rules.  Therefore we have two drastically different method of roster management in college football:

Oversigning to gain a competitive advantage or subsidize future known and unknown attrition


Undersigning to avoid unnecessary roster cuts and operate within the spirit of recruiting and retaining student athletes

It doesn't get any more cut and dry than these two diagrams.  They are, as the title says, Night and Day.  In the case of oversigning, the incoming pool of players are quit often more talented, uninjured, and have much more upside than the pool of players in the attrition bucket.  Whereas in the undersigning diagram, we have smaller pool of more talented players and instead of dumping the less talented, we add those who have proven that although they might not have the athletic ability to be a 4 year scholarship player, they have the willingness to be a team player and have contributed to the team in other ways worthy of a scholarship reward at the end of their career.   Quite often, what those players do in the classroom and in the community mean just as much to the coach as what they do on the field, thus the reward.

Rewarding a walk-on player doesn't always happen though.  Sometimes coaches will bank those extra scholarships if there is not a worthy candidate in the walk on pool of players and use them next year.  This results in a shortfall of scholarship players. 

When you look at the oversigning diagram, specifically the "attrition" bucket, you see a list of things that no university president, educator, parent, or player really wants to go through or be associated with.  Conversely, when you look at the "addition" bucket in the undersigning diagram you have a situation where everything is positive; a player being rewarded for hard work.  There is also no question that the oversigning model is the easiest and fastest pathway to stacking a roster full of 85 scholarship players, of the variety that were recruited and sought after by other schools.  

So the next time someone asks you to explain oversigning or to compare and contrast it to normal recruiting practices, send them a copy of these diagrams or a link to this site.  There needs to be more awareness of oversigning and a higher level of understanding with regards to how teams are built through oversigning. 

Filed under: Coaching, Rants 3 Comments

APR – Academic Progress Rate

We're going to try and keep this post brief, but during our review of Michael's oversigning essay on his site, Braves and Birds, we couldn't help but think about the topic of APR - Academic Progress Rate.  APR is basically a way for the NCAA to attempt to determine if student-athletes are making academic progress towards graduation.  Here is press release from the NCAA on APR; warning, you are very likely to go cross-eyed while reading the press release.

Not trying to be cynical here, but something about the NCAA's APR system just doesn't seem right.  It's as if the NCAA is trying to put a number on something that you really can't put a number on...academic progress seems more like a subjective matter to us.  Is the NCAA concerned with student-athletes getting a quality education and a meaningful degree, or do they just want some sort of proof that college athletics are not a farm league for the NFL and NBA.

Dennis Dodd is not buying it either:

"And what is happening is not promising, even if you have a shred of skepticism in academic reforms. You can identify if you've ever chased a number -- sales quota, commission, etc. It's less about the process, more about getting to the number. It's easy to agree with Ridpath when he says some schools are more interested in chasing the 925 APR cutoff score than in meaningful degree programs."


What does this have to do with oversigning and Michael's essay???

Ole Miss was the only school in the SEC hit with scholarship reductions because of APR issues; with a score of 910 Ole Miss was penalized 3 scholarships in football for the 2010 recruiting class.  Schools must score 925 or above to avoid penalty.  Ironically, Ole Miss was one of only two BCS schools to be hit with APR penalties in football, Minnesota was the other school.


If the topic of oversigning had a twin brother from a different mother, it would be the topic of APR.  Much like playing tricky games with recruiting numbers to run through more players (either to get a competitive advantage or to subsidize academic and character-based attrition), we're almost certain there are tricky games being played with the APR numbers.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 1 Comment

More Tables, Cups, and Comparisons

After the jump there is a copy of our master table for the recruiting numbers from 2002 to 2010.  We have inserted a column to record the Fulmer Cup Points associated with each school.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Fulmer Cup, it was created by the brain-trust at EDSBS, Orson SwindleWiki!!! 

Now that we have that out of the way, disclaimer time: 

First, before anyone gets upset or questions our credibility for using the Fulmer Cup data, we know exactly what it is and we know that it is not a complete police blotter for every single school in the BCS.  No such thing exists.  It is however, fairly accurate for arriving at somewhat plausible generalizations.   For example, if a certain schools has high Fulmer Cup points, you could take the time and track down the police records and validate that there has been a fairly high level of crime associated with that school during the period in question. 

So the generalization goes as follows: higher points = higher criminal activity; lower points = lower criminal activity.  

Second, the awarding of points in the Fulmer Cup is done in such a way to determine which schools have the highest amount of criminal activity, not which school commits the worst crime.  If you want to know exactly how it works, go here

Third, Fulmer Cup points are only awarded to players on the roster who commit crimes during the off season.  This is very important for two reasons: 1.) this is usually when you see all of the attrition we talk about on this site, 2.) there could be crimes that happen during the season that would attribute to a school's profile of having a lot of criminal activity on the football team, but because it happened in the off season it didn't count.  Therefore, teams with 0 points might have had a problem during the season that is not reflected here.  Remember, the Fulmer Cup only tracks criminal activity during the off season.  That said, we will still work under the assumption that the Fulmer Cup points are a fairly accurate depiction of a school's profile.  If you disagree and have proof of a school with TONS of criminal activity during the regular season, send it in and we'll post it.  


The first thing we notice in looking at the numbers is that in the middle of our table there is no rhyme or reason to anything.  For example, Arizona State and Washington State, they both signed the EXACT same number of players during the 2002 - 2010 period, they are both in the same conference, and yet Washington State has 27 Fulmer Cup points and Arizona State has 0.  At first glance, you could look at that and draw the conclusion that there is absolutely no connection between oversigning and off season crime by the football players.

However, when you look at the top 10 teams and the bottom 10 teams the picture becomes very clear.  The top 10 schools combined for a total of 188 Fulmer Cup points, while the bottom 10 teams combined for 80 points, 38 of which came from one school Penn State.  Take out Penn State, the statistical anomaly, and you are looking at 188 points to 42 points.  Now we are getting somewhere.  And it makes sense. 

Click the link to continue reading >>>


But Alabama was on Probation

We continue to hear that Alabama was on probation and scholarship reductions in 2002-2003 and that is why their numbers are so high. 


We'll keep this brief and to the point.  If Alabama's numbers are so high because they were on scholarship reductions, then what were the schools listed underneath them on, double secret scholarship reductions?  We searched the Internet and couldn't find where the NCAA dropped the hammer on any of these schools for recruiting violations.  If you guys find something we missed let us know.

Alabama Comparison

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Alabama SEC 19 19 29 32 23 25 32 27 29 235 26.11
Notre Dame Ind. 18 21 16 15 28 18 23 18 23 180 20.00
Georgia Tech ACC 15 21 24 19 16 20 20 21 21 177 19.66
Wake Forest ACC 20 23 18 19 15 20 17 23 19 174 19.33
Stanford PAC10 16 26 12 17 18 19 17 22 23 170 18.89
Northwestern B10 22 22 15 20 17 19 20 18 17 170 18.89

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Alabama, Auburn, and Troy

We picked this up off the wire yesterday; appears the people in Georgia are taking notice of the people in Alabama when it comes to the number of recruits they sign (every fricking year). 


EDSBS picked up on it as well.

"AND SPEAKING OF THINGS THE NCAA SHOULD BE DOING RATHER THAN LEGISLATING SHIMMY: At least attempting to stop teams in the state of Alabama from signing an entire class more over a four year span than other teams?"


Our 2002 - 2010 data shows that Alabama, Auburn, and Troy University are among the nation's highest in recruiting numbers.

Auburn: 253 LOI's, 28.11 Average per year.
Troy: 248 LOI's, 27.56 Average per year.  
Alabama: 235 LOI's and 26.11 Average per year. 

(Alabama's numbers would be higher if not for the NCAA taking away scholarships due to, you guessed it, recruiting violations - color us shocked).

All three of these schools have higher numbers than anyone from the Pac10, Big10, Big East, ACC and 10 of the 12 teams in the Big 12. 

This can't be a coincidence.  It has to be a cultural mentality or something; we all know they love their football in Alabama, but come on...this is ridiculous.  Especially for Alabama.  You look at the numbers for all the other blue blood schools (Notre Dame, Texas, Ohio State, USC, Florida, etc.) and they all sign a lot less players.

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Recruiting Budgets Have Nothing to do with Money

Before we go any further, we want to make something crystal clear, when we refer to Recruiting Budgets on this site it has absolutely NOTHING to do with money.  Please see our definitions page for a detailed explanation of what we are referring to when we say "recruiting budget."

Seems as though someone has already misunderstood what we are talking about:

"The biggest issue I have with oversigning.com is that they play on the recruiting budget as if the money comes from tax dollars (they don't say it, but they imply the money is misappropriated)."


Clearly someone didn't take the time to read the entire site and grasp an understanding of what we are talking about. 

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