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.