What is a recruiting budget??? A recruiting budget is the number of players a school should accept signed letters of intent from on National Signing Day in order to fill their roster to the 85 scholarship limit.
How is it calculated??? You calculate a recruiting budget by taking the total number of scholarship players on the roster at the end of the season. Then you subtract the graduating seniors and players who have exhausted their NCAA eligibility. You also subtract the number of players that declare for the NFL draft by the deadline of January 15th. Lastly, you take the remaining number and subtract it from 85 and that gives you the maximum number of players you should sign on National Signing Day or beyond.
Example: Team ends the season with 83 players on scholarship. 16 players have either graduated or exhausted their eligibility (83-16=67). 3 juniors declare for the NFL by January 15th (67-3-64). With 64 players remaining on scholarship, you have 21 slots open to fill in the next recruiting class (85-64=21).
Example and Comparison of Recruiting Budgets:
The quickest, and easiest to understand, example of a team going over their recruiting budget is Alabama's 2010 class of 29 (as listed on scout.com). With 66 returning players on scholarship and 29 players signed, Alabama has a total of 95 scholarship commitments.
Alabama could take their entire class of 29 if they weren't up against the 85 limit, but if everyone they signed this year qualifies they will be over by 10 (66+29=95). Obviously, Alabama probably should have signed 19 players this year, not 29. They will have between now and August to determine which 10 players will not be with the team. Here is an article with all of the details on their numbers for 2010. You will noticed that this article assumes that Alabama only signs 28, but according to scout.com Alabama signed 29 this year.
And just so you know, we're not picking on Alabama and we're not the only place where Alabama has been called out for oversigning.
Now, on the flip side of the oversigning coin, Notre Dame provides an excellent example of a program staying within their recruiting budget and not oversigning players. Going into the recruiting season this year, Notre Dame had 60 returning players on scholarship, and they signed 23. This puts them at 83 scholarship players, which is under the limit of 85. No one from Notre Dame's roster will have to be cut in order to make room for new recruits (as is the case with Alabama for the second year in a row).
In our opinion, Notre Dame's recruiting practices, with regards to how they manage their numbers, is what we would hope the schools that oversign would adopt. It's simply a matter of integrity -- there would be no need for this website or regulation by the conference commissioners or the NCAA if everyone operated like Notre Dame and other schools who do not oversign.
We're not putting Notre Dame on a pedestal here, they are just one of many schools who stay within their recruiting budget year in and year out. Just take a look at our chart and look at the teams near the bottom that average about 18-20 recruits per year; those schools are doing things the right way in our opinion. Here is a great link to web-based application for Notre Dame's recruiting classes and players.
Other schools are staying within their recruiting budgets as well:
Including two teams right in the heart of SEC country, Georgia and Vanderbilt. Being that those teams compete directly in a conference where the vast majority of other programs oversign or sign as many as humanly possible, they should be commended for operating above the fray and not running players through their systems.