We posted a quick link on this earlier in the week but would like to drill into it a little more here. In the discussions lately in the comments section, there have been a few readers that have made the point that eliminating oversigning will only lead to abuses to players further upstream, meaning that instead of cutting players after signing day players would be cut in December and January. It appears the NCAA is thinking along the same lines, which to be honest is very troubling because in order to subscribe to the notion that a rules change would only result in abuse further upstream you have to accept that player abuse is currently taking place with the use of oversigning, something many of you who have tried to defend oversigning have denied.
Because the effect of the new rule may not be apparent immediately, the Football Issues Committee decided to remain diligent about monitoring it.
“This rule has only been in effect for one year, and we want to take some time to see if that’s the perfect number,” said committee chair Nick Carparelli. “Certainly, the committee will continue to monitor it, and we can re-evaluate to see if there is a more appropriate number if necessary.”
The rule change that they are monitoring, in case you are unaware, is the recent additions of 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 from proposal 2009-48 which only limit the number of NLI's to 28 between NSD and May 31st. Rules that Andy Staples said were not worth the paper they were written on.
We don't believe this is about finding the right number. This is about a shift in the cultural mindset of the schools that abuse oversigning the most. As we have mentioned a few times, the Big 10 Conference established its rules on oversigning back in the 1950's and it is our belief that over time the mindset of the member institutions has been shaped by those rules resulting in oversigning not being an issue in that conference. As you can see by analyzing the numbers, the type of attrition that many think will be moved upstream by today's oversigners, such as this example from Huston Nutt, is not an issue in the Big 10; if it were you would see that the Big 10 would have a much higher number of players signed each year, and yet, of all the BCS schools the Big 10 ranks last in the average number of players signed.
So what is the solution? Leadership. When the SEC university presidents meet in June for their annual conference meetings, they absolutely must demand that their athletic departments stop oversigning and they must create a culture that does not accept the kind of roster attrition we see from the oversigning schools. Maybe they find that in a number or in a set of rules, or maybe they find that by hiring coaches that are more known for their ethical treatment of players and ability to develop them instead of their ability to recruit or find loopholes in the NCAA by-laws.
Another area covered in the NCAA press release was the practice of grayshirting, which the NCAA is also going to start monitoring. This too has become a controversial topic with Florida's President calling it morally reprehensible.
Susan Peal, who administers the National Letter of Intent program, said the Collegiate Commissioners Association (the program’s governing body) doesn’t support grayshirting. The program has a policy that nullifies the National Letter of Intent if an institution or coach asks the student-athlete to grayshirt. However, if a student-athlete decides to delay enrollment, the national letter remains valid. Determining the instigator of the decision can be difficult.
According to the press release, Susan Peal appears to agree with Florida's president, and although she doesn't call it morally reprehensible, it is clear that she does not support grayshirting due to the fact that it can nullify the NLI. One area where this is a concern is that some coaches are purposely oversigning and telling many of the kids they recruit that there is a possibility that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt if the numbers don't work out. As August rolls around and the numbers begin to shake out, the coaches that have oversigned and told recruits that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt can play their ace in the hole and attempt to avoid public backlash by stating that they told the recruit up front that a grayshirt might be POSSIBLE. Our question is, did they also tell them that they are offering something that the NLI program does not support because of the risk it poses to the recruit or are they telling them that grayshirting is normal and there is nothing to worry about? Based on the comments of the players and parents that have found themselves in a grayshirt situation it is clear that everyone is not on the same page.
Our position is that we are against coaches telling a handful of recruits that they MIGHT have to grayshirt if the numbers don't work out and we are against coaches oversigning knowing they have a handful of players they can push back if they need to via the grayshirt. Grayshirt offers should only come after a school has filled all of their available openings, it should be petitioned for with transparency at the conference or NCAA level, and there should be something in writing that guarantees the recruit that they will have spot in the following class. Grayshirt offers, if any, should be the last offers given out because all of the current openings in the class are taken. It is unethical to go around giving out offers that come with a grayshirt clause. NLI doesn't support the grayshirt practice and recruits that are being told by a football coach that they MIGHT have to take a greyshirt should be very cautious when considering that kind of offer. Hopefully we will see some reform here and the grayshirt process with either go away or become heavily regulated. We would hate to throw the baby out with the bath water just because you have a handful of coaches out there offering kids conditional grayshirt offers simply to keep them away from other schools.