Oversigning.com
2Mar/1186

Oversigning Time Machine

With the SEC meetings in June on the horizon and the topic of oversigning at or near the topic of the agenda, perhaps Mike Slive and the Athletic Directors of the SEC should use the oversigning time machine and rewind the clock back to the SEC meetings of 1964.  That was the year Georgia Tech took a stand against the practice of oversigning and eventually left the conference because it would not change its recruiting rules to prevent the abuses taking place relative to signing more players than there was room for, which subsequently led to players being run off the team and out of school.

It is absolutely amazing that 47 years later this is one of the hottest topics going into the conference meetings and still an issue in the SEC.  Granted, Georgia and Florida are not threatening to leave the SEC if Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Auburn don't stop oversigning, but it is clear that the battle lines have been drawn and just like in 1964 the conference remains strongly divided on the practice of oversigning. 

The Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine recently wrote a wonderful article on the 1964 SEC meetings with a blow for blow account of what happened and why GT really left the SEC -- oversigning.  Here is just a snippet of the article; we highly recommend you read the rest of the article. 

Over the years, many have debated the reason for Tech’s departure from the SEC. Some will argue that Tech athletics had begun to slip and were no longer able to compete with the other conference teams. Others will point to a running feud with the University of Alabama as the cause. Still others will suggest that Tech wanted to be an independent all along, hoping to become the Notre Dame of the South. Tech was losing a lot of revenue generated from TV and bowl rights because of conference sharing rules. As an independent, Tech would be able to keep all the money it earned.

The true reason was over something called the 140 Rule — and Bobby Dodd’s determination to have it changed.

The SEC 140 Rule placed yearly caps on football and basketball scholarships at 45 and limited the total number of scholarships each school could offer to 140. Even with the normal attrition expected from academic dropouts and other issues, simple math shows that if a school recruited its full allotment of players each year it would be over the 140 maximum.

Instead of recruiting a smaller number of athletes each year to manage the 140 maximum, many SEC schools would simply cut the scholarships of players who had not performed to expectations. Atlanta’s afternoon newspaper, The Atlanta Journal, reported “Dodd’s chief complaint with the 140 has been the alleged practice of some schools ‘running off’ recruiting mistakes to make room for new signees.”

http://gtalumnimag.com/?p=5889

We have long believed that the practice of oversigning is tolerated in certain areas because of a cultural mindset that believes it's okay to treat student-athletes as pawns or pieces of meat.  This is the same mindset that believes in winning at all costs because bragging rights are more important than ethics.  It should be noted, both from a historical perspective regarding GT's decision to leave the SEC in 1964 because of the oversigning issue and from a contemporary perspective from the recent comments from Florida's President and Georgia's Athletic Director condemning the practice of oversigning that this is not a North vs. South issue.  This is an issue about ethics in recruiting and the sides are Right and Wrong, not North and South.  The Big 10 Conference put its rules in place in 1954 to deal with oversigning, 10 years prior to GT leaving the SEC, and there is no record of the Big 10 having an influence on that decision in 1964.  Likewise, very little is being said publicly by Big 10 officials on this topic.  Chad Hawley has provided comments and a few coaches have answered questions on the topic or provided commentary, but by and large the Big 10 Conference is not pushing its rules onto the SEC.  Instead, the SEC is right back where it was 47 years ago, heavily divided along the battle lines of oversigning, and this time it is Georgia instead of Georgia Tech that is taking a stand with Florida at its side.

Correction: The SEC Presidents and Athletic Directors meet in early June, not July as previously stated above.

Filed under: ACC, SEC 86 Comments
6Jan/1154

Alabama with Verbal Commitment #22 and #1 Recruiting Class

Alabama picked up verbal commitment #22 last night from Xzavier Dickson and they now have the #1 ranked class according to Rivals.com.  http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/commitments/2011/Alabama-73

That commitment seems to have ushered in the departure of another commitment as one of the 22 is now headed to JUCO. http://alabama.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1173085&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

It cannot be stressed enough how much of an advantage it is for Saban to not have to work withing a projected recruiting budget like he would if he were recruiting in the Big 10 conference.  With a senior class of roughly 8-10 players and no more than 4 Juniors jumping to the NFL early, the reasonable recruiting budget for Alabama should be somewhere around 14-15 players, which is what you would expect when a school has such a small senior class.  If you go back and look at schools such as Ohio State, you will occasionally see a small class of 15 or so recruits.  That is the normal cycle of recruiting when you are not allowed to oversign.

Ohio State signed 16 recruits in 2003, 15 in 2007, and 19 in 2010.   See the pattern there; every three or four years you have a small class if you are not oversigning every year.

Alabama on the other hand going back to 2005 has had 32, 23, 25, 32, 27, 29, and is at 22 this year. 

Alabama is not done recruiting yet as there are still a few players on their board and national signing day is not here yet.   The good news is that at least the SEC will stop them at 28; even though they are already way, way over their projected budget. 

Must be nice to just go out and get 25-28 new players every year, despite what you have room for, and never get so much as a phone call from the conference office asking where you are going to put everyone.

Mike Slive and the University Presidents of the SEC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to continue, but to them, maybe this is just a way of life...after all, this has been going on in the SEC since the days of Bobby Dodd and Georgia Tech being an SEC member institution.  At least they had the dignity to take a stand and leave.

Filed under: SEC 54 Comments
5Oct/1044

Don’t Blame the Coaches

Here is a decent column written by Gary Laney, sportswriter for The Advocate, and although the overall tone of the column is one that excuses the actions of the coaches, Laney does admit oversigning is an issue in the SEC. 

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/100504484.html

He basically acknowledges that oversigning creates a competitive edge and that it's a problem specifically in the SEC, but he says don't blame the coaches in the SEC, blame the NCAA rules.

Increased costs come with increased expectations and increased pressure to win.

If Miles doesn’t oversign, Nick Saban will (and he does) and LSU will lose some competitive edge in the process. You can’t let that happen, not when 9-4 doesn’t do the trick.

That’s not an ethical defense of oversigning, nor is it a defense of how LSU handles oversigned players. The point is when you look at the context in which it happened — high pressure to win and rules that allow it — you should only be surprised if it doesn’t happen..

So I guess we should be surprised that it doesn't happen in the rest of the country?  Or should we not be surprised that it is happening in the SEC?

He's right about it being an advantage, and we are seeing it on the field with Alabama over the last few year and we saw it at LSU and other places, but not all the blame should go to the NCAA.  The athletic directors, university presidents, and the mighty Mike Slive are just as much to blame as anyone at the NCAA office -- this is happening under their watch and they could stop it completely.  That won't happen though.  This is a problem that dates back to the 1960's with the SEC and it would take extreme pressure for them to address it on their own without being forced by the NCAA.

As it has been mentioned here before, this (oversigning) was the reason behind Georgia Tech leaving the SEC.

From the book Dodd's Luck written in part by former Geogria Tech head coach Bobby Dodd...

Bobby Dodd insisted there was no other reason he left the SEC, other than the 140 Rule. The 140 Rule stated a college program could only have 140 football and basketball players on scholarship at any one time. The teams were allowed to sign up to 45 players a year, but could not exceed the 140 Rule.

Dodd would not allow any of the football players choosing Tech to be dismissed from Tech, because they were not good players. Dodd said, “it is not the recruits fault for not making the squad, it was the coaches fault for misjudging their talents”. If a recruit came to Tech, he would stay on a football scholarship until he graduated.

Dodd would sign about 30-32 players a year to meet the guidelines, but the other schools in the SEC were offering 45 scholarships a year. Those players, not good enough to fall under the 140 Rule, had their scholarships withdrawn and sent packing before the end of each year. Dodd insisted, the recruiting of athletes by this method amounted to nothing more than a tryout for a scholarship.

Dodd thought it unfair and would not withdraw scholarships from his players. He wanted the SEC to limit the amount of scholarships to about 32 per year. This would keep the other schools from offering 45 scholarships, picking the best, and sending the rest packing.

A vote was to be taken by the presidents of the colleges on the issue, and Dodd made it clear, Tech would have to leave the SEC unless the rule was changed. Dodd said he would live with 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 recruits per year as long as he did not have to chase any of his players off.

The presidents were split six for Dodd’s position and six against. Bear had promised Dodd he would get his president to vote for Dodd’s position, which would have changed the rule. When the meeting was held, Bryant did not show up and the Alabama president voted against Dodd’s position and the 140 Rule was upheld. Tech’s president immediately walked to the podium and announced Tech was withdrawing from the SEC. Bryant never told Dodd why he reneged on his promise.

Perhaps we need a modern day Bobby Dodd to step in and put his foot down.  Mark Richt would be our choice given that he does not oversign players -- maybe Urban Meyer has enough pull to get it done, he doesn't oversign any where near the level of Saban and Miles.

Filed under: SEC 44 Comments
15Jun/108

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 >>>>

Filed under: Rants, SEC Continue reading
16Feb/107

Feedback!

We love our readership here at oversigning.com and truly appreciate the time anyone takes to read this site, much less send a response.  Our readers have a voice, and with that an email from: Fury

"Your site would have more credibility if you had a clue. The reason the SEC signs so many, is because they are in a recruiting hotbead & THEY CAN.

You can talk about how many players are signed on signing day, but it is frivilous. You currently list Alabama as signing 29 this year & 27 last year, but you fail to recognize that THREE recruits are being counted TWICE in BOTH lists. Theses are players who delayed enrollment, and show up on multiple signing classes. This happens all the time, and shows that you all your statistics are incomplete, and not withstanding. The signess ABSOLUTELY DO NOT MATTER. Some signees don’t qualify, some aren’t on athletic scholarship, some delay enrollment for personal reasons, & some sign MLB contracts. The fact is, every school knows only 25 can enroll & only 85 are on scholarhip – AND THEY MAKE THOSE DEMANDS. EVERY scholarship at EVERY school is awarded on a 1 year basis that must be renewed. Football signees ARE NOT signing 4 year agreements, that is against the NCAA by-laws.

Furthermore, check out these numbers:

In ‘08, Bama signed 32, only 23 enrolled in the Fall to “count” on the ‘08 class. In ‘09, Bama signed 27, only 22 enrolled in the Fall to “count” on the ‘09 class."

So where do we start?  "The SEC signs so many players because THEY CAN" or "signees ABSOLUTELY DO NOT MATTER."  Or, "all of your statistics are incomplete."

We'll start with a bottom line:  There are no excuses for going over by 1 player, much less 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, or like back in Boddy Dodd's day, 20-25.    When you have 66 returning players you should sign 19, period.   And that doesn't mean you should gather a pool of 28 signed letters of commitment on signing day and narrow it down to 19 legit players by some date in the future.   

We address the other points after the jump.  Click the link to continue reading >>>

Filed under: Feedback Continue reading
14Feb/1030

Why Did Georgia Tech Leave the SEC?

The fascinating history between Georgia Tech and the SEC is pretty well documented, but perhaps a lot of college football fans, especially those outside of the southern states or those under the age of 40, have forgotten the whole story behind GT and the SEC.  Georgia Tech was a founding member of the SEC and remained in the conference for 69 years until differences between Georgia Tech and the SEC could not be resolved. 

More on GT's relationship with the SEC:
http://rootzoo.com/articles/view/NCAA-Football/Southeastern-Conference-SEC/The-Strangest-History-Georgia-Tech-and-the-SEC_9907

More on Georgia Tech's history as a football program:
http://wapedia.mobi/en/Georgia_Tech_Yellow_Jackets_football#1

We felt in order for this site to have any credibility we needed to go back in time and establish an understanding of oversigning and its historical meaning; we needed to find its roots.   Thus far, all roads lead to the southeastern portion of the country - but don't worry, we're not done looking.  So before you jump to any conclusions regarding this site, we ask that you take a moment to realize that we do our homework on this topic, we're not just making things up as we go along. 

And for those of you who think that oversigning is just some new made up term for something that just started since the 85 scholarship limit, you would be wrong.  Oversigning is an issue that is as old as the SEC conference and played a major role in Georgia Tech's decision in 1963 to withdraw from the conference. 

"Another issue of concern for Dodd was Alabama's and other SEC schools' over-recruitment of players.[11] Universities would recruit more players than they had roster space for.  During the summer practice sessions, the teams in question would cut the players well after signing day thus preventing the cut players from finding new colleges to play for.  Dodd appealed the SEC administration to punish the "tryout camps" of his fellow SEC members but the SEC did not. Finally, Dodd withdrew Georgia Tech from the SEC in 1963.[11] Tech would remain an independent like Notre Dame and Penn State (at the time) during the final four years of Dodd's coaching tenure."


We're considering a new annual award to the coach who runs off the fewest number of players to make room for new recruits, a sort of anti-Saban Cup award; we'll call it The Dodd Cup award.   On a serious note, Georgia Tech fans should feel honored and proud to have a man like Dodd as a part of their rich history.  We're big GT & Bobby Dodd fans here at oversigning.com.  Bobby Dodd & GT were fighting the war on oversigning way before we were in diapers. 

More on Bobby Dodd:
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1998
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Dodd

Many will say that GT left the SEC because of the riff(s) between GT head coach Bobby Dodd and Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, but in the book "Dodd's Luck," Bobby Dodd claims it was the 140 rule.   See this excerpt below:

"Bobby Dodd insisted there was no other reason he left the SEC, other than the 140 Rule. The 140 Rule stated a college program could only have 140 football and basketball players on scholarship at any one time. The teams were allowed to sign up to 45 players a year, but could not exceed the 140 Rule.

Dodd would not allow any of the football players choosing Tech to be dismissed from Tech, because they were not good players. Dodd said, “it is not the recruits fault for not making the squad, it was the coaches fault for misjudging their talents”. If a recruit came to Tech, he would stay on a football scholarship until he graduated.

Dodd would sign about 30-32 players a year to meet the guidelines, but the other schools in the SEC were offering 45 scholarships a year. Those players, not good enough to fall under the 140 Rule, had their scholarships withdrawn and sent packing before the end of each year. Dodd insisted, the recruiting of athletes by this method amounted to nothing more than a tryout for a scholarship.

Dodd thought it unfair and would not withdraw scholarships from his players. He wanted the SEC to limit the amount of scholarships to about 32 per year. This would keep the other schools from offering 45 scholarships, picking the best, and sending the rest packing.

A vote was to be taken by the presidents of the colleges on the issue, and Dodd made it clear, Tech would have to leave the SEC unless the rule was changed. Dodd said he would live with 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 recruits per year as long as he did not have to chase any of his players off.

The presidents were split six for Dodd’s position and six against. Bear had promised Dodd he would get his president to vote for Dodd’s position, which would have changed the rule.

When the meeting was held, Bryant did not show up and the Alabama president voted against Dodd’s position and the 140 Rule was upheld. Tech’s president immediately walked to the podium and announced Tech was withdrawing from the SEC. Bryant never told Dodd why he reneged on his promise."

History goes on to show that Bryant and the Alabama football program went on to have one of the greatest runs in college football history.  From 1963 until Bryant's retirement Alabama won192 games, with 11 ten win season, 12 SEC championships, and 5 National Championships.  It would have been interesting to see how things would have panned out had the SEC voted in favor of reform on oversigning and GT stayed in the SEC.  Alabama and GT never played again and probably never will didn't play again until 1978 and only played 6 times (1978-1984).

Dodd also indicated that the stiffer academic requirements played a role in Georgia Tech's departure from the SEC.

"I just could not compete with those damn state universities. And Auburn is just as easily a state university. They could take these same boys we couldn't take, who wanted to come and play for me. And it just broke me down. I couldn't beat'em. You can just outcoach'em some of the time, brother. Better football players will beat you."

Link to a condensed version of Dodd's book: http://www.stingtalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4395.html

It's hard to believe that 47 years after Georgia Tech left the SEC because of oversigning and discarding players that it is still an issue and the SEC still leads the country in the number of players signed. 

Of course now the rule is 85/25, back then the rule was 140/45.  Does anyone else get the feeling that no matter what the numbers are they will always be pushed to the limit in the SEC?  We're just shocked that Vanderbilt (which has normal recruiting numbers) hasn't pulled a GT and withdrawn from the conference.  When you think about it, is there another school in the country that is more out of place in their conference than Vanderbilt?

Filed under: ACC, History, SEC 30 Comments