We All Know who Bernie Machen is Talking About


In Division I college football this practice is known as "grayshirting" and, unfortunately, there are universities that sanction this activity. The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have. These schools play roulette with the lives of talented young people. If they run out of scholarships, too bad. The letter-of-intent signed by the university the previous February is voided. Technically, it's legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.

Associated with "grayshirting" -- and equally disgusting -- is the nefarious practice of prematurely ending student-athletes' scholarships. Some are just not renewed even though the student-athlete is doing what is asked of him.

Some students are mysteriously given a "medical exemption" which ends their athletic careers -- and makes another scholarship available for the football coach to hand out.

To be clear, greyshirting is not the core issue here...it is the ethics and lack of a moral compass that leads to the, as Machen describes it, disgusting practice of pushing kids into medical hardships or cutting them from their scholarship.  There is a particular coach in the SEC who is selling the greyshirt model and that same coach has had just as many or more medical hardships (13) than the rest of the SEC combined in the last 4-5 years.  That is not by accident and it appears that Mr. Machen has had enough of it.

We believe that when handled properly, with complete transparency and extra care given to protect the student-athlete, there are unique situations that constitute a greyshirt opportunity.

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Florida President, Bernie Machen, Blames SEC University Presidents for Oversigning Issue


"I don't think the rule we passed is going to solve the problem," Florida President Bernie Machen says. "There are still universities that will oversign and it's going to end up with a student athlete being left out. I think we either have to get the universities to be more serious about it, or the league and the NCAA are going to have to pass more stringent punishments for those who do oversign."

SEC associate commissioner Greg Sankey says a working group of conference athletics directors formed last August will study the issue further and present possible solutions at the SEC's annual meeting in early June. Machen blames SEC presidents for allowing oversigning to continue at some league schools.

"Every (SEC) president sat at the table when we had that discussion," says Machen, referring to the 28-player rule. "For some reason, some of them are not stepping up and stopping it. Imagine what would happen if in the general student body admission process, the same thing happened. If you admit a student in early February then you tell them in early July that we're not going to have a spot for you. The public wouldn't stand for it, and I don't believe, if we put enough sunshine on this, the public will allow this to happen, in intercollegiate athletics." Though oversigning isn't a new problem, increased attention — including the website oversigning.com, which tracks the worst offenders — has brought greater scrutiny.

The only take we have on this is that oversigning has been a problem in the SEC that dates back 40 years FOURTY YEARS; do we really need to continue to "study" it?  There is a simple answer to this problem - have Mike Slive pick up the phone and call Jim Delany and ask for a copy of the Big 10 rules that govern and monitor oversigning.  Surely Jim will send them right over; they have been on the books since 1954.

And hats off to Bernie Machen for stepping up and saying the right things.

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Florida Gators Stay Under 85, Barely

After doing a little more homework on this story we have updated the entire entry below...apologies for the confusion.

Defensive tackles Gary Brown and Edwin Herbert were both recently "cut" in order to keep Florida under the 85 limit. 


Gary Brown was recently arrested for slapping a woman at a party on campus and was dismissed shortly after; Edwin Herbert was a JUCO transfer who played in 1 game in 2009 and has transferred to a division II school.  By Herbert transferring Florida avoids APR penalties, but given that Brown has not graduated, his departure could hurt Florida's APR score in the future. 

The departure of these two players is timely to say the least as Florida was facing a numbers crunch (surprise, surprise) to stay within the 85 player limit.  Damn it, either SEC coaches have the ability to see into the future or they just know its coming, attrition that is.  And what a luxury it must be to be able to oversign ahead of time to account for the attrition they don't know about yet, such as Brown. 

Here's the deal.  Brown's arrest came after signing day, which means that Florida did not know Brown would be leaving due to his arrest when Florida finished its recruiting class and was two over the limit.  Sound familiar?  Saban did the same thing at Alabama when he oversigned by 10-11 and then had a string of off-season arrests which magically enabled him to stay under the 85 roster limit.

This is where Brian Cook's proposed rule of proving where a scholarship is coming from before signing a letter of intent would come in handy.  Right now coaches have all the cards.  They can sit back and wait and see who they are able to land in recruiting first and then if necessary cut a lesser player to make room for a better one.  Coaches that do this need to be called on the carpet for it.   And don't even think about giving us this BS about the one-year renewable scholarship deal - that is a one-sided agreement at best.  If you are going to play that card and attempt to justify cutting players because scholarships are only good for one year, then you have to be willing to swallow the fact that players do not have the same option - they are not able to leave after one year with no strings attached.  If a player wants to leave on his own he has to sit out a year, period.  And if you are so in favor of the one year rule and have no problem cutting players, then why not endorse players being able to act as free-agents and play wherever they want whenever they want?

Florida signed 27 recruits this year, some of which enrolled early and counted towards last year's numbers.  However, Florida must have had 60 players returning on scholarship on signing day because 60+27=87, which = 2 over the 85 limit; we're working to confirm their roster numbers now and will update this when we have those numbers.   Most likely it wasn't the 25 per year limit that forced Florida to drop players, it was the 85 roster limit.

A confirmation tweet from Palm Beach Post writer, Ben Volin.

"The Gators were 2 over the scholarship limit after Signing Day, but that problem has been resolved. DTs Gary Brown & Edwin Herbert are gone."


It also just so happens that Florida signed 3 stud defensive linemen in 5 stars Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, and 4 star Leon Orr.  So the writing was on the wall for Herbert.  But we have to ask, which one is it, dumb luck or calculated future planning?  Florida either got lucky to have, by sheer coincidence, signed 3 mega recruits at a position they were going to have attrition at but didn't know it at the time of signing the new recruits, or they just said the hell with it and signed all they could get away with and figured there would be a few months to sort the bodies out. 

Either way, the whole damn thing stinks if you ask us.  Unless we are blind or just ignorant, this appears to be a system that depends on a certain number of players failing in order for the coaches and universities to succeed.  By coaches constantly oversigning they are putting extra undo pressure on their rosters and putting themselves in a position to have to cut players.  The math here is simple.  If Florida takes the 25 recruits they had room for on signing day and Brown gets arrested and Herbert decides on his own that he wants to transfer, then Florida should be left with two open slots for next year and they will just have to get by until then.  But by oversigning, there is no real impact by the loss of these two players, instead, Florida actually avoids penalties for going over the 85 limit. 

The real frustrating part is that it has already been proven that oversigning is completely unnecessary - Texas, USC, and Ohio State, just to name a few, have all won National Championships without once oversigning and cutting players or subsidizing attrition by taking extra recruits ahead of time.  If they can do it, damn it, so can Florida, Alabama, LSU, and the rest of the SEC teams.  Or can they?  Could it really be that without oversigning players every year SEC team rosters would be such that they would not be able to remain as competitive?  Look at Auburn's numbers.  From 2002-2010 they signed 83 more players than their last bowl opponent, Northwestern.  What if they took the same number of players as Northwestern over that time period (170 instead of 253) and instead of signing 83 more, they lost 83 to academic ineligibility or off the field character issues...how in the world would they field a team, seriously?

Of course in the eyes of some all of this can be explained and there is nothing here to see, so move along please.

"This case illustrates the fact that quality coaches are always going to have a plan for making it under the cap. There is little doubt that Meyer would've kept these guys if he could. Florida, like most other major football programs, budgets to give out 85 scholarships every year, and it really does them very little good to save the money. If the player is not causing problems and there is even an outside shot he could turn into a contributor, you might as well keep him around. The limit changes that, though, because once you hit the cap, those guys who might turn into something by their senior year are keeping you from having the younger kids who could be something right away or in a year or two with a couple left on scholarship.

Meyer had a plan. Pursue a certain number of players and, depending on how many of them he got, some cuts might have to be made. It would have been suicide for him to offer a single scholarship before he had a prioritized list of which players were on the chopping block and how many commits he'd need before he had to start throwing off dead weight. 

As has been true throughout this over-signing debate, the math is immutable: if the limit is 85 and your current roster plus the new scholarships you promise exceeds that number, someone has to get cut. The faulty reasoning, however, is in assuming that cutting a player is somehow immoral or unacceptable.

The idea that a player is owed 5 years worth of free tuition and a spot on a roster because he, at one point, signed a letter of intent is laughable, and this is an example of how stories like this should play out: a few relatively unsurprising roster moves drawing little in the way of commentary or righteous indignation. 

Brown and Herbert might have gotten five full years of free education, but they got more than most folks get and, just like with Academic scholarships, these grants don't come no-strings-attached. "


The comments and justification for oversigning and cutting of players by Pete Holiday are so ignorant that they don't even warrant a response.  This is college athletics, or at least it was, not professional sports.

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