We just received the message below from a reader by the name of John, located in Chicago, Illinois. And while we can recite NCAA By-Laws for football recruiting in our sleep, we are not that well versed, yet, in the recruiting By-Laws for other sports, such as basketball. We do know that basketball is now subject to the one-and-done rules which enables players to jump to the NBA after only one year in college, but in being completely honest we are not totally up to speed on basketball recruiting rules.
Regardless, what really matters here is that someone was compelled (outraged if you will) enough to write us about Tom Crean pushing players off the Indiana roster in order to make room for new recruits.
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When this site was created the sole focus at the time was analyzing college football recruiting numbers and investigating whether or not oversigning really existed and to what degree. Now that our site has received some exposure, we are receiving a lot of emails and a lot of links to articles and other sites that are talking about oversigning.
Today we received a link to a baseball blog and an interview with Indiana Head Coach Tracy Smith. Before we go into the interview with Coach Smith and his comments regarding oversigning, we want to point out that we know very little about baseball recruiting rules and simply haven't had time to expand our research into other sports. To be quite honest, we really had no idea that oversigning was such a big issue in football until we really started talking to people about it and investigating the numbers, and we didn't realize it even existed in baseball.
At least now there is a place where people all over the country can funnel information regarding oversigning, regardless of where it takes place and in what sports, and it can be collected and read in one place here at oversigning.com. In the end, our hope is that we are able to help coaches like Tracy Smith who recognize the issue with oversigning.
Thus far, we have been able to identify that oversigning affects college athletics in the following ways:
1. When abused, oversigning does a disservice to players by enabling coaches to discard unwanted players or players from a previous coach's program.
2. It contributes to the professionalization of college athletics (we received an email today to an article where Boise State's President speaks about the professionalization of college athletics - hope to have something up on that soon as well).
3. It creates a competitive advantage against schools that are not allowed to oversign.
Coach Smith speaks directly to item number 3 in his interview below:
However, what gets little discussion, and is probably this biggest reason the conference struggles to compete on a national level consistently is the fact that other conferences can over-sign. Teams in the Big Ten that recruit a significant number of high level talent have to lay back and wait to see how the draft plays out on how many guys they are going to lose.
Coach Smith goes on to mention that his conference has acknowledged that their teams are at a disadvantage and will now allow teams to oversign by 1 scholarship spread out over 2 players. Smith continues...
It does help, but when other schools are over signing by 6-8 scholarships, the playing field is not even close to being even. The part that drives me nuts is nobody talks about this issue. Everyone wants to talk about weather, and huge stadiums, etc., as being the things the hold our conference back, but it’s not. The issue of over-signing is the real problem.
My friends who coach at southern schools laugh when I tell them that we can’t over-sign kids until our underclassmen physically sign a contact. They are like, “how in the heck do you guys recruit?” I have my response down to a science now, I put my hands behind my back and say, “like this.”
That said, I am not saying I agree with over-signing to the level most southern do it, because it can create some ugly scenarios where kids are “run off.” Again, too many reasons and not enough time to respond. But what I would like to see is some consistency with regard to the issue of over-signing.
Here Coach Smith echoes something we believe needs to happen in college football:
I like the limits our conference has put on over-signing. Now, if we could get the rest of the country to buy into the Big Ten Conference’s rules, wouldn’t it be great? However, I say again, why would they? They are at too much of a competitive advantage under the current system to want to change.
As someone who is trying win every game I play, I guess I understand their position. But if the NCAA wants to do what is “right,” it will address the issue of over-signing, and adopt legislation that truly benefits our student-athletes all the while creating a more competitive environment for all of college baseball, not just some of it.
It really doesn't get any more cut and dry than this. These are comments from a Division 1 Head Coach, not an opinion from a blogger or some guy on a message board. Oversigning is a real issue and it is just a matter of time until the NCAA is forced to do something to close the loophole so many coaches and schools are exploiting.
There you go Coach Smith, this post was for you. Hope it helps and thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions on oversigning so openly, college athletics needs more coaches like yourself.
Thanks again to the reader who sent us this link - good stuff!!
We found a Sports Illustrated article from 1996 with some interesting comments from Gerry DiNardo. We can only imagine what a sobering experience it was when he came to Indiana and had to start recruiting by a different set of rules after spending 5 years at LSU.
If you remember, he was the coach that led the charge in 2000 to get the Big 10 to approve a rules change to allow Big 10 schools to sign an additional 3 players over the 25 per recruiting season limit, provided the coach could prove that he had room for 3 in his previous class.
"There are 28 new Tigers, although some of them will not qualify academically (which will keep LSU within the NCAA one-year maximum of 25 new scholarships) and many will never contribute. 'It's a fact that only about a third of the guys you sign will end up starting, because if you get it going, you sign someone the following year that's better,' DiNardo said. 'There will be injuries, transfers, failures. There always are.'"
DiNardo is right about the fact that once a coach get going and has some success he should be able to start landing better talent, and eventually these coaches are faced with a dilemma, sign as many of these better players as legally possible under the 25/85 rule and by exploiting the oversigning loophole of cutting guys between signing day and august or simply take what your roster budget will allow.
DiNardo was at Indiana for three years and those were the 3 highest years in terms of recruits. Despite signing a larger number of players, DiNardo was never able to put it together. Indiana never won more than 3 games in a single year during his time and he was fired.
We find this extremely interesting. One of the main things oversigning enables is for a coach to completely gut an existing roster and get his guys in faster; most of the time this is when you will see the most abuse of oversigning. There have been several coaches who have coached other places (Ron Zook, DiNardo, Saban, Rodriguez, etc) that were all somewhat successful (ranging from NC caliber success to mediocre success) in other conferences (which obviously have different recruiting rules), yet failed to get it done in the Big 10. Meanwhile, coaches that have had longer tenures in the Big 10 such as Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel, and Joe Paterno, and all who were accustom to the Big 10 recruiting rules, have won National Championships and were (in Carr's case) or continue to be very successful (in Tressel and Paterno's case). Our point here is that most new head coaches coming into the Big 10 are going to struggle if they have to come in and wade through 3-4 years of recruiting to get their guys in, instead of gutting the roster in 2-3 years by oversigning. This is not to diminish the actual coaching these guys do - some coaches are much better recruiters than they are coaches - but there is definitely something to all of this.
Here is a look at his numbers while at Indiana (2003, 2004, and 2005); kind of interesting that Indiana's numbers leveled out some after he left.
Indiana Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010
The article is actually a great read. Check it out.