Oversigning.com
6Aug/1170

Elliott Porter 2.0

According to this, and take it for what it's worth because it is not an official release from the University, it looks like LSU is in position to have to Elliott Porter someone because they appear to not have enough scholarships for everyone they signed.  This is despite the fact that they have already had a number of players leave for various reasons since NSD.

"LSU fall roster released. Chris Tolliver, Ryan St. Julien and Kellen Theriot are not listed."

http://twitter.com/#!/snslant/statuses/98832125003968512

In addition, 2011 signee Alzono Lewis did not qualify, which brings the total to at least 4 guys combined from the returning roster and the list of players signed in 2011 that will not make it to the roster with one player still pending the NCAA clearinghouse. 

Mickey Johnson signed with LSU in the 2011 class and is in the process of trying to clear the NCAA clearinghouse, and if he clears it is expected that he will join the team because he was not recruited as a greyshirt and there has been no talk of him taking a grayshirt.  Furthermore, Miles expects him to join the team when he clears the NCAA.

"We expect that he will clear," Miles said. "It's just a time issue. That being said, he might join us in August just before school starts.

The other missing recruit is wide receiver Alonzo Lewis of St. James. Miles said Lewis "would not be with us and may go the junior college route. We will still very much follow him."

http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2011/08/lsu_football_tigers_report_min.html

The guys over at www.andthevalleyshook.com don't believe there is room for everyone and should Mickey Johnson qualify there won't be room for him under the 85 limit. 

Les Miles manages scholarships about as well as he manages the game clock in the waning seconds of a tight game.  If it does turn out that LSU does not have room for Johnson and someone has to leave the program in order for LSU to stay under the 85 limit LSU should be banned from oversigning for life.  They should have to report their number of available spots on NSD to the NCAA and then only be allowed to sign what they have room for on NSD.  If someone leaves after NSD then they can sign another player to that scholarship after the player leaving has a cleared an exit interview with the NCAA.  That should be their punishment if they, for a second year in a row, have to pull a scholarship at the last minute or play games with the numbers to come in at 85.

Filed under: SEC 70 Comments
27May/1192

Nick Saban Joins Houston Nutt in the Fight to Keep Oversigning

It appears the battle lines are taking shape as the SEC meetings draw near.  On one side we have the chronic oversigners clamouring to come up with excuses as to why oversigning should remain in tact, reasons such as “It’s a very difficult job to try to manage, to keep two, three deep at every position” (Houtson Nutt), or  "oversigning is 'helpful' because so many of the players in the state come from underprivileged backgrounds and may not qualify academically" (Steve Spurrier), or  "I don't see it as a bad thing unless you're being dishonest or waiting until the last minute, which eliminates their visit opportunities with other schools" (Bobby Petrino).

Nick Saban added his name to the list of coaches that will fight to keep oversigning alive and well in the SEC on Thursday.

"The innuendo out there is that all these things are being manipulated in a negative way," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "But nobody has ever really brought to the forefront the positives by doing it the right way. People hang onto all the situations that aren't done the right way and act like in every situation that somebody is getting screwed in some sort of way, and that's just not the case."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=6593311

Shouldn't the situations like Elliott Porter, Chris Garrett, and Steven Wesley be the situations that everyone holds onto, not the positives?  Did he even mention any positives other than the competitive advantage aspect?  The stories of kids having their scholarship offers pulled the day before signing day by Spurrier and their High School coaches being irate about it, shouldn't that be what we hold on to? 

If just one kid gets screwed by oversigning, isn't it enough to seriously crack down on the practice?  Think about it in terms of the way the NCAA creates its rules.  Often times, an NCAA rule is created not because the area in question is nefarious, such as the rules regarding selling personal memorabilia, but rather because of the potential for abuse.  The rules regarding selling personal memorabilia are in place to prevent a booster from buying a jersey from a player for $100K, not because they don't want some kid selling his ring at a fraction of its value.  Even if you believe that oversigning only harms a few and only when not done right, shouldn't it be addressed in the same way as the rules regarding selling memorabilia?  What's more harmful, a kid getting a few extra bucks or some poor kid losing his scholarship at the last minute because a coach oversigned his class to bring in better talent so that he can keep making his millions of dollars?

Those positives that Saban refers to by the way are the competitive advantage that these coaches gain by exploiting this practice.  Nearly every coach that oversigns has stated that it provides them with an advantage.

"In my opinion, it would really affect the quality in our league," Saban said. "You can't know the attrition from signing day until August, which guys who're going to be fifth-year seniors that decide they don't want to come back and play football. Well, you can't count those guys. You're going to have to tell those guys they're going to have to decide in January.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=6593311

This is where the competitive advantage issue comes into play.  By oversigning, coaches can bring in a few extra guys and work them through the spring while at the same time working the 5th year guys that have eligibility remaining, and then after spring training is over coaches can make a decision as to whether or not they want to renew a 5th year guy who may or may not have graduated yet, knowing all along they have an ace in the hole and will end up with the best 85.  The coaches want their cake and eat it too. 

Why is it that 5th year guys can't make a decision as to whether or not they want to come back in January, but Juniors leaving early for the NFL can?  Are Juniors that much more prepared to make a life-altering decision than 5th year seniors?

Furthermore, if the question is whether or not they want to come back, isn't their participation in spring practice an indication that they would like to come back?  Just recently Alabama had a 5th year RB Demetrius Goode participate in spring practice, indicating he hadn't given up on football, but then after spring practice decided he wanted to go to UNA instead.  Perhaps he wanted playing time, fine.  But can't that decision be made in January at the same time Juniors make decisions to go to the NFL? 

On the other side of the battle line you have Florida and Georgia who have both been very outspoken about the abuses of oversigning and greyshirting.  Mark Richt has been especially outspoken about the abuses taking place:

Georgia coach Mark Richt is in the opposite camp. He said that it was an "awful thing to do" to bring in players to participate in the summer strength program and then ask some to leave or wait until January to sign based on which ones performed the best.

He didn't stop there, either.

"These other coaches have been oversigning, trying to make sure they never come up short of that 85 number," Richt said earlier this month at a Georgia booster club speaking engagement in Greenville, S.C. "But in doing so, have they done it in an ethical way?

"I'd say the answer is probably not."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=6593311

It has become extremely clear that the coaches that want to continue oversigning all want  you to believe that there is nothing wrong with the practice as long as it is done the right way.  Again, there is nothing wrong with selling your jersey for a few bucks, so long as you don't sell it to a booster for $100K, right?

At the end of the day it all comes back to the competitive advantage aspect of the argument and the pressure on these coaches to win.  These coaches are under more pressure to win than anywhere else in the country, so of course they want  you to believe their practice of oversigning is okay as long as it's done right, they can't afford to live without it based on the pressure to win.

Houston Nutt is already starting to feel the affects of the 28 rule, named in his honor, and he knows if further rules are passed that he could be in serious jeopardy of losing his multi-million dollar job, so of course he's fighting for the right to continue to exploit the spirit of the signing process and the loopholes inherent to the NCAA's 25/85 rule.

Quick Note Regarding the Medical Hardship Aspect of the new Legislation:

The new legislation that is on the table includes a proposal to address the issue of medical hardships and how those are being used to game the system and fudge the scholarship numbers.  As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, Nick Saban's medical hardship numbers are way above the norm, and then when former players were asked about those medical hardships and whether or not they felt pressured to take them the players revealed that they were pressured and that they thought the medical hardship was loophole used to bring in better players.

Three Alabama players who've taken these exemptions say they believe the team uses the practice as a way to clear spots for better players by cutting players it no longer wants. These players said they believe Mr. Saban and his staff pressure some players to take these scholarships even though their injuries aren't serious enough to warrant keeping them off the field.

"I'm still kind of bitter," said former Alabama linebacker Chuck Kirschman, who took a medical scholarship last year. Mr. Kirschman said Mr. Saban encouraged him to accept the scholarship because of a back problem that he believes he could have played through. "It's a business," Mr. Kirschman said. "College football is all about politics. And this is a loophole in the system."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703384204575509901468451306.html

That is THREE former players coming out and saying they believed the team used the medical hardships to clear roster space for better players, one of which says he's still bitter about it calling it a business and a loophole.

Here is what Nick Saban had to say about it.

Saban is also quick to defend the charge that he pressures players into taking medical redshirts or dismisses players who aren't contributing on the field in order to open up more scholarship room each year.

"First of all, I've never gotten rid of a player who didn't create his own circumstances for why he had to leave the program, whether it was academic, whether it was behavior, whether it was drug-related, whatever," Saban said. "Really, I've always given guys more rope than they deserve, and I think the innuendo out there is that I'm just picking and choosing which guys to run off, and people bring it up that I've medical-ed more people. Well, yeah, I medical them so they can stay in school and graduate, where other people just get rid of them. I don't make those decisions, either. The doctors make them, and we have great doctors."

In one breath Saban says, "I medical them so they can stay in school," and in the next breath he says, "I don't make those decisions, either.  The doctors make them, and we have great doctors."  Which one is it?  Who is making the final decision to issue the medical hardship?  Hard to believe everything is on the up and up when you have 3 players claiming they were wrongly pressured to take those medical hardships to clear roster space and another player calling it a loophole.

The new proposal on the table includes a measure for medical hardship monitoring, but is it enough?

Giving the SEC league office more oversight concerning those players placed on medical scholarship. In other words, the league would be involved in reviewing outcomes. A team doctor, trainer and athletic director would need to sign off on each case.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/23199/proposed-sec-oversigning-legislation

The new legislation would require 3 people to sign off on the medical waiver, does anyone in their right mind believe that a trainer or an athletic director are going to go against the decision of a doctor?  And if what we read above from Saban is true, it appears that he has great influence on whether or not a medical is issued to a player.  The details are still unclear, but you have to believe the athletic director would only be signing off on whether or not to grant the medical hardship or to just not renew the player -- if coaches are allowed to continue oversigning and continue to be in a numbers crunch, is there an athletic director out there that is going to refuse to sign off on a medical hardship and have his school face NCAA violations for going over the 85 limit?

Unless there are more details regarding the medical hardship oversight, what we have on the table doesn't appear to be anything other than window dressing in reaction to the WSJ piece on Alabama's medical hardships. 

We have a couple of suggestions: 1. many of these medical hardships are the result of a numbers crunch because of oversigning, eliminate the oversigning and you would see a drastic decline in the number of medical hardships issued by schools that oversign, 2. have the NCAA conduct an exit interview with the kids placed on medical hardship so that guys like the 3 Alabama players who told the WSJ that they thought they were being pushed out to make room for better players can tell the NCAA and have the NCAA conduct an investigation.

Filed under: SEC 92 Comments
13Feb/1169

Competitive Advantage and Ethics, Two Sides of Oversigning

The topic of oversigning is somewhat complicated, the numbers are hard to track, especially when a school redacts them from public documents, the terms used in the recruit game are hard to understand (greyshirt, redshirt, count forward, count back, medical hardships, medical redshirts, etc), and the NCAA bylaws combined with the NLI process can make the whole world of recruiting hard to truly understand.  Most fans simply follow rivals.com and the other recruiting sites to see where their team is ranked and give very little thought to how rosters are managed and whether or not coaches are abusing the oversigning loophole or any other loophole.

This site has been the epicenter of the oversigning debate since it was launched roughly a year ago.  Since being discovered by Stewart Mandel in May of 2010, its popularity and traffic has grown to the tune of 200,000+ unique readers and 6.6 million page visits.

This is why I love the Internet. I must confess, I was not aware of oversigning.com until receiving this e-mail. (I've since seen it referenced numerous places.) Hats off to the authors. They've done a tremendous job of shedding light on a largely under-covered topic through meticulous research and easy-to-digest data. They seem most concerned with the overlooked human consequence of this practice: coaches quietly cutting loose underperforming or injury-riddled veterans to make room for a new crop of recruits. Currently, the site is closely monitoring Alabama, which, as of the most recent post, still had 91 scholarship players on its projected 2010 roster, in its "March to 85."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/stewart_mandel/05/26/best-conference/1.html#ixzz1DrZKoh9s

 Since that time, the topic of oversigning has been one of the more talked about topics in college football outside of conference realignment and the Cam Newton story.  As National Signing Day drew near, the oversigning drumbeat got louder and louder and the attention escalated to the point where coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners, and university presidents were all weighing in on the topic.   The Paul Finebaum Show, a syndicated sports talk show based in Birmingham, Alabama and broadcast on Sirius and XM radio, talks about it almost daily, and in the last couple of weeks there have been days when the topic dominated the entire 4 hour show. 

Needless to say the topic is viral, as it should be.  It's a topic that is years and years overdue for the spotlight.

For those of you who are new to oversigning, there is plenty of material on the topic readily available all over the Internet.

In the past year of following and writing about this topic, we have found that there are two main components to the oversigning debate: competitive advantage and ethics.

Competitive Advantage:

Where most people get lost in this argument is in that they think that the team that oversigns the most is automatically the better team.  Often times people will say, Huston Nutt is the most notorious oversigner in the country - he signed 37 in one class, if it was such and advantage why doesn't he win the National Championship every year?  Well, it's not that simple.  You have to look at when the attrition takes place in order to determine if a coach is upgrading his roster by signing more guys than he has room for, having those guys qualify and enroll, and then having upperclassmen or guys already on the roster pushed out via transfers, medical hardships or simply not renewing their scholarship, OR, if a coach is signing a bunch of guys that won't qualify and have to go to JUCO which ultimately has no tangible bearing on the roster in the short term, a practice commonly known as signing and placing.  Nick Saban and Les Miles would be the former, Huston Nutt would be the latter, and that is perhaps why we see a difference in the results on the field, not to mention Saban and Miles are simply better coaches, much better.

There is absolutely no question that oversigning creates a competitive advantage against schools that are prohibited from the practice or elect on their own, as does Georgia in the SEC, to not exploit the loophole.

Oversigning provides coaches with the opportunity to hedge their bets against attrition, gives them leverage in the recruiting process by not being as restricted in terms of the number of players they can pursue, and gives coaches a mulligan should they miss on a recruit.   We wrote a post a while back comparing the numbers for National Championship Coaches

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00

The first thing that jumps off the screen is that despite being out of college football for 2 years (2005 & 2006), Nick Saban still signed 193 recruits, which is second only to Les Miles his successor at LSU when Saban left in 2005.  Saban also has the highest average recruits per year at 27.50.   In 7 years, Nick Saban has never signed less than 25 recruits in a single year.

Let's compare that to the same set of years (2002-2004 & 2007-2010) for the coach with the lowest numbers, Jim Tressel.  Tressel signed 142 players in the same years that Saban signed 193 recruits.  That is a difference of 51 players over the same period of time, 7 years.  That is mind boggling to say the least.

Note: we would add Gene Chizik to the table above, but he only has two recruiting classes as a head coach: 2010: 32 and 2011: 24. 

Ken Gordon at The Columbus Dispatch asked former Head Coach of LSU, Gerry DiNardo, about the competitive advantage of oversigning:

"At LSU, I could do whatever I wanted," said DiNardo, now an analyst for the Big Ten Network. "The athletic director trusted me. If I signed 30, he knew I would be at 25 when I had to be. There was always a way to manage to numbers."

Then in 2002, when DiNardo was hired by Indiana, he was in for a shock. The Big Ten had the most restrictive rules against oversigning of all the major conferences.

The NCAA allows 85 scholarship players. DiNardo found that he could sign only the number of players that would bring him to 85. Not only that - he could offer only 20 scholarships.

What that meant was that if any of the 20 players he offered went elsewhere, he was short of 85 that season.

"The Big Ten puts itself at a competitive disadvantage," DiNardo said. "You would never be at 85. When I got to Indiana, the numbers were awful. We had 50-some players on scholarships. My only chance to catch up was to oversign."

Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said, "It's like in bowling, if your opponent gets three balls instead of two."

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/sports/stories/2011/02/13/rules-on-oversigning-put-big-ten-at-a-disadvantage.html?sid=101

The analogies are endless, but the point remains, having the freedom to play fast and loose with the numbers when competing against schools that play conservative and tight with the numbers creates a competitive advantage.   Jim Tressel, being the senator that he is, took the high road when questioned about it:

This doesn't bother Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, though. The way he looks at it, the majority of his games are against Big Ten schools working under the same rules.

"I don't think (oversigning) is a crisis-type thing," he said. "I don't see it happening in our league that much. Sometimes in a bowl game we compete against another conference, but I've never thought we had an unfair bowl matchup because of that."

But he did make it very clear where he stands on the issue:

Tressel said his staff tries to keep the lines of communication open, so he usually has a good idea who might transfer. But in general, Tressel is in philosophical lock-step with the Big Ten. Where others consider it a competitive disadvantage, he looks at it from the perspective of making sure he treats recruits fairly.

And that means ensuring he doesn't have to sweat out a summer like DiNardo did.

"We're probably conservative in more ways than just play-calling," Tressel said, referring to offering relatively few scholarships. "We've ended up under 85, because we don't want to overcommit.

"To me, the worst nightmare would be if you have got to tell someone, 'We can't fit you.' You're talking about a young kid's life."

Ethics

The direction of the ethical side of the oversigning debate became pretty apparent to the general public when University of Florida President, Bernie Machen, called the actions of other SEC members morally "reprehensible," "disgusting," and "nefarious."  Those are STRONG words from an SEC President aimed directly at other SEC member institutions who are notorious for oversiging.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/ncaa/01/31/bernard.machen.letter/index.html

When it comes to the ethics side of oversigning you have to look at several areas: 

1. Honesty in recruiting.
2. The spirit of the NCAA rules vs. The Written Bylaws.
3. College football being "Big Business" instead of Tax-Exempt Institutions of Higher Learning.

With the increased attention on recruiting rankings, college football's second season has become more competitive than ever, especially in the SEC where the recruiting battles are just as hard fought and nasty as the actually games on the field.  Greg Doyle recently wrote about this very topic. 

Honesty in recruiting:
How honest are coaches being with recruits?  Are they telling them upfront that they plan to oversign the roster and that there might not be space for them?  Why are we seeing guys who commit and then on signing day are surprised with greyshirt offers, or even worse after signing day and after they have moved onto campus?  Is it unethical for a coach not to prepare for roster management and ensure that there is never a need to push someone out?  After all, most coaches make more than the smartest, most-credentialed professors on campus, surely they should be able to manage their roster in such a way that doesn't force them to push a greyshirt on an unsuspecting kid or push out an upperclassmen. 

Recently, Nick Saban alluded to a possible ethics issue with recruiting in the SEC when he compared how coaches in the SEC react to a verbal commitment to how coaches in the Big 10 reacted to verbal commitments when he was in the Big 10.  Paraphrasing, he said that in the SEC when a guy commits verbally he becomes a target for other schools, but during his time in the Big 10 when a guy commits verbally he was off limits unless the recruit approached another Big 10 school, in which case the coach that was approached would contact the coach the player was originally committed to and discuss the matter.  If coaches in the SEC are not handling verbal commitments ethically, according to Saban, which he admitted he was just as guilty of because of the competitive nature of recruiting in the SEC, are they handling roster management ethically with regards to the oversigning? 

Just today, Sports by Brooks published an article called: Player's Parents Outrage Illuminates Nutt's Deceit, in which he claims any credibility that Houston Nutt had left in recruiting has been driven off of a cliff.

http://www.sportsbybrooks.com/players-parents-outrage-illuminates-nutts-deceit-29491

The Spirit of NCAA Rules:
Obviously, there is a loophole in the recruiting bylaws with regards to the number of players that can be enrolled each year and the total number of players allowed on scholarship each year.  25 new players can enroll and no more than 85 can be on scholarship at one time; 25*4=100 plus any redshirt seniors obviously doesn't even come close to the 85 limit.  However, the NCAA used those numbers to provide a little bit of cushion and probably had no idea that some coaches were going to use that cushion as a way to manage their roster like a professional football team.  The Spirit of the NCAA bylaws for recruiting is that if you have 17 openings for new scholarship players then you should sign and enroll 17 new players, not 25 and push 8 guys out the door. 

The NCAA bylaws are enormous and they grow every year.  Much of that growth is in response to coaches abusing the spirit of the existing rules, such as the Huston Nutt "28 rule" because of his abuse of the signing process and the Nick Saban "bump rule" because of his abuse of bumping into recruits while visiting their coaches. 

In the Big 10 Conference, there is not a problem with oversigning.  Although schools are allowed to send out 3 extra NLI than they have room for under the 85 limit, most coaches avoid doing it at all costs.  Why??  Because they like competing at a competitive disadvantage?  Probably not.  They probably avoid it because they all know oversigning is a dirty little trick that is played with numbers in order to gain an advantage and it comes with the price tag of messing with the lives of young people.  The Big 10 Conference has embraced the spirit of the signing process by developing a culture devoid of oversigning.  It didn't happen overnight--the rules on oversigning have been on the books in the Big 10 Conference since 1954.

College Football as Big Business:
Often times, supporters of oversigning will point to the 1 year renewable scholarship and infer that college football has become big business and schools need to manage their rosters like NFL teams.   That argument falls on deaf ears because despite the growth of college football these are still institutions of higher learning, governed by an organization with a mission statement that states athletics only exist to enrich the educational experience and that the educational experience is paramount, and they enjoy a tax-exempt status that the NFL does not enjoy.  Somewhere along the line, there is a disconnect between the spirit of the NCAA's mission statement and what certain schools are doing in blatantly managing their rosters like an NFL team.  How ethical is it for a coach or school to hide behind the tax-exempt status of an institution of higher learning while attempting to run a NFL style team with roster cuts and an injured reserved list; at least in the NFL guys on the IR have half a shot at making it back.

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 69 Comments
6Jan/1162

Time to Gear Up for the Oversigning Cup

When we started this blog back in February of 2010, we were unable to collect enough data on all of the schools to conduct a formal Oversigning Cup.  However this year, given the widespread attention now being given to oversiging (it has literally gotten to the point where you cannot read a sports article without seeing the word oversigning in there somewhere), we might, with your help, be able to conduct a formal Oversigning Cup and determine which schools go over the limit the most.

The formula is pretty simple, the hardest part and the most time consuming is looking at a roster and determine how many players are on scholarship at the end of the season (now) and how many are seniors that have expired their eligibility, but once you have that it is easy to figure out the rest.

The Oversigning Cup - 2011

School SPES Departures Budget # Verbals Cup Points Roster
Ole Miss* 85 15 15 29 +14 Link 1 2
Alabama 84 12 (8sr+3jr+1ts) 13 18 (+2gs+3Juco)=23 +10 Link
USC** 85 25 25 (-10) 25 +10 Link
LSU 85 12 (11sr+1jr) 12 21 +9  
Arkansas 85 20 (19sr+1jr) 20 28 +8  
South Carolina 77 18 26 (30) +5  
Miss State 85 19 19 24 +5 Link1 2
Clemson 83 20 (18sr+2jr) 22 24 +2 Link
Michigan State 85 17 17 18 +1  
Ohio State 83 20 22 21 (+1Juco) 0 Link1 2
Penn State 84 14 (11sr+3dp) 15 15 0 Link
Florida State 74 13 24 24 0 Link
Notre Dame 78 18 25 23 -2 Link
Miami 85 15 15 12 -3 Link 1 2
Florida 84 18 19 15 -4  
Auburn 84 25 (22sr+3jr) 26 22 -4  
Minnesota 74 14 25 20 -5 Link
Nebraska 85 23 (20sr+2md+1tr) 23 16 (+1gs+1ms)=18 -5  
Georgia 84 25 (19sr+2jr+2dc+1ts+1md) 26 21 -5 Link
Michigan 80 14 (13sr+1tr) 19 12 -7 Link 1 2
Iowa 85 29 29 20 -9  

Regarding the table above, here is what each column defines:

SPES: Scholarship Players at End of the Season: this is the total number of players on scholarship at the end of the season.  This is basically the year end roster from which we subtract and add players to in order to determine the amount of oversigning.

Departures: Graduating seniors with no remaining eligibility and Juniors that declare for the draft by January 15th.

Budget: The number of recruits that a school should sign based on 85 - (SPES - Departures).  Example, with an SPES of 84 and Departures of 18, the Budget would be 85 - (84-18) = 19

# of Players Signed: This is the total number of players that sign a national letter of intent in the current recruiting class.  Update: this field has been renamed to # Verbals until NSD gets here - at which time we will change it back.

Cup Points: The total number of signed letters that exceed the budget number.  This is the number of oversigned players.  This will also be the number of players that are cut, forced into transfers, medical hardships, greyshirts, or set a form letter from Les Miles.

Included above was South Carolina's numbers for this year (these are not official yet because players have not signed their letters of intent yet) based on information from another oversigning blog that has been created recently.

http://oversigningnotes.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/steve-spurrier-has-some-cuts-to-make/

The only way to make this happen is to have a lot of help from readers and people who are passionate about fixing this problem.  If you want to participate, simply post your numbers in the discussion thread below; all we ask is that you provide some sort of reference for your numbers.

Those of you who want to help the cause but aren't sure what you can do - this is your chance to pitch in - pick a team, maybe your own or maybe your rival, and investigate their recruiting numbers and practices - help gather the data and post it here and we will put it up on the board.

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
27Sep/1022

Bama, LSU on Track to be Oversigned in 2011

We've touched on this briefly in the past, but now that we are into the swing of the football season and the final team rosters are in place for 2010, it's time to start really keeping an eye on Alabama and LSU for the upcoming recruiting season.

Both Alabama and LSU face the same problem with the 2011 recruiting class, which is they have very, very small senior classes currently on the roster.  This is the net result of oversigning; basically the guys you see here are the ones who made it through 4 years or more of rosters cuts, being pushed into medical hardships or nudged towards transferring to a lesser school, and as you can tell the list is very short.

Typically, players with SQ next to their names are consider squad team players (walk-ons, non-letter men, and typically not on scholarship).

Alabama has a total of 14 seniors, with 8 non-SQ players; LSU has 15 total seniors, with 11 non-SQ players. 

So in doing a little bit of math it appears that Alabama has 8 scholarship seniors and LSU has 11.

In looking at the latest Rivals recruiting lists for verbal commitments for Alabama and LSU, we see that Alabama is currently ranked #2 with 18 verbal commitments and LSU is ranked #3 with 17 verbal commitments.

Those that follow recruiting know that there is now way either of these schools are finished with their recruiting classes - not by a long shot.  We know that LSU and Alabama will both have a few Juniors leave for the NFL early, but the gap between what they will have room for and what they are projected to sign is pretty damn big.

ALABAMA

LSU

Should be interesting to watch Saban and Miles cut the dead weight this coming year and keep the football factories running.

Filed under: SEC 22 Comments
21Aug/1039

NCAA Gives Alfy Hill the Les Miles Treatment

The sole purpose of this site has been to expose the oversigning loophole in the NCAA rule book to the masses, identify the coaches that abuse it the most, and follow the stories of the kids that get screwed in the process.  As we near 3 million hits since this site was created in February, it is pretty clear to anyone who can type the word "oversigning" into a google search box that we have delivered on those three objectives. 

For the last several months, we have closely followed Alabama and LSU as they were both identified as teams guilty of gross oversigning of their rosters.  During that time we were able to predict with a reasonable amount of certainty the number of players LSU and Alabama would have to lose in order to remain under the 85 scholarship limit by the August 1st deadline.   The main problem we have with LSU and Alabama oversigning is that nearly all of the attrition and roster movement below took place after they already accepted over 25 signed letters of intent from new recruits.  When schools accept those signed letters of intent the recruits that sign them are bound to the school but the school is not bound to the recruit.  As we saw with Elliott Porter, LSU screwed up the signing process so badly that they had to just pull the rug out from underneath Porter, who was already on campus, and send him packing because they didn't have scholarship room for him.  Simply put when you accept more signed letters of intent than you have room for when you accept them it's inevitable that someone is going to get screwed.

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

Player Position Reason for leaving after NSD
Terry Grant Running Back Scholarship not renewed
Travis Sikes Wide Receiver Scholarship not renewed
Rod Woodson Safety Scholarship not renewed
Star Jackson Quarterback Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.
Deion Belue Defensive Back Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO
Alfy Hill Linebacker Academically Ineligible; future unknown
Taylor Pharr Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Milton Talbert Linebacker Medical Hardship
Darius McKeller Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Ronnie Carswell Wide Receiver Greyshirt
Wilson Love Defensive End Greyshirt


With Alfy Hill's departure it opens a scholarship spot for Harrison Jones who just a couple of weeks ago was on the short end of the stick with regards to the scholarship numbers.  Jones was going to accept being greyshirted until January because due to Nick Saban's oversigning and the unknown status of so many of the players on Alabama's roster it appeared that there wasn't going to be room for Jones.   We'll have more on Alfy Hill in a minute.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


This is in sharp contrast to how a lot of other schools manage their scholarship numbers and the signing process.  As we have mentioned several times, the Big 10 Conference does not allow oversigning, even by 1, much less 8-10 every year.  The practice has not been banned by the ACC but in looking at their numbers it is clear that the coaches and schools in the ACC exercise constraint with the regards to the signing process and outside of North Carolina (Butch Davis) and Miami (Randy Shannon), the ACC has some of the lowest number of signed players in the country.  Same with the Pac 10+2, their numbers are consistently low. 

Outside of looking to get a competitive advantage by moving out lesser players for new recruits, fans of schools that oversign often site that one of the reasons for oversigning is that coaches often don't know who is going to be eligible and they use oversigning as a way to hedge their bets against the NCAA clearinghouse, after all the loophole in the NCAA rule book allows them to do so.

Case and point, Alfy Hill.  Hill was part of Alabama's oversigned class of 2010.  He was cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse, admitted onto campus, completed 3 courses of work, and is now being told that he is not eligible because after reviewing his high school transcript a second time, the NCAA has determined that a couple of his high school courses did not meet their requirements for eligibility.  Hill has now been released from his scholarship at Alabama and will have to go to JUCO or pay his own way. 

This is one of the most bizarre situations we have seen since we really started following oversigning.  Alfy Hill is getting screwed, as is Alabama, and it is completely the NCAA's fault.  The level of ineptitude and the lackadaisical nature of the NCAA is sickening.  The entire signing and scholarship management process that is under the care of the NCAA needs to be thrown out the window and there needs to be drastic reform in order to prevent more kids like Elliott Porter and Alfy Hill from getting screwed over.  The NCAA has managed to create a system so flawed and screwed up that potential student-athletes can get screwed from either side of the equation (Porter by LSU and Les Miles and Alfy Hill by the NCAA clearinghouse).

Between coaches like Les Miles and the NCAA does anyone know what the **** they are doing?  You have coaches signing more players than they have room for and then having to cut players in order to make room and you have a governing body who cannot accurately determine if a player is academically eligible in a timely manner and leaves a loophole in their bylaws that allows coaches to hedge their bets against their ineptitude.   It is almost like the NCAA is telling coaches, "since we are not efficient enough to tell you who is academically eligible in a timely manner so you know exactly how many players to sign or who to sign, just go ahead and sign as many as you want and sort it out later."  WTF???

The combination of coaches willing to oversign and ineptitude of the NCAA is a lethal combination that results in guys like Porter and Hill getting screwed.

This by no means excuses coaches that oversign.  They know the deal and they should at least keep their side of the street clean and some do - shame on the others that don't (Les Miles, Nick Saban, Houston Nutt, Randy Shannon, Butch Davis).  After all, it is these coaches and not the NCAA that are in the living rooms of recruits promising them and their parents that they will take care of them for the next 4 years. 

The bottom line is that the entire recruiting and signing process needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with a system that permanently closes the oversigning loophole and determines academic eligibility in an accurate and timely manner.   The new system should provide coaches with the exact number of players they can sign without going over their limit (which means the number for each team will be different every year based on who each team has graduating and leaving for the NFL early) and it should provide them with a list of players cleared to be signed.  They also need to make the letter of intent a two-way binding agreement, not a one-way agreement that only binds the recruit to the school.

Filed under: NCAA, SEC 39 Comments
14Aug/1049

Saban Wants a Level Playing Field

Nick Saban seems to have taken the lead on the issue with the player agents.  Last week he held a conference call with various representatives from college football, the NCAA, the agent community, and the NFLPA to discuss how to deal with rouge agents, citing his strong desire to maintain a level playing field for all of the agents as they recruit college players to become professional athletes and to make sure that those not acting within the spirit of the process are punished and penalized.  You see the professional agent industry is loosely regulated in that there are some clear cut laws/rules, but for the most part everyone is just hoping the agents operate with professionalism.  Remind you of anything?  In reality the recruiting process for college players to the NFL and their interaction with agents is very similar to that of college coaches with high school players.

“We’re all trying to put our heads together to figure out what we’re going to do to level the playing field so that everybody that’s in the agent community, which some of them are very professional, have the same opportunity to recruit players and that the bootleggers out there are guys that get punished and penalized,” Saban said.

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/08/12/10/A-New-Approach-to-Scouting/landing.html?blockID=289137&feedID=4354

Glad to know Saban is so concerned about maintaining a level playing field.  We can only assume that he is holding similar conference calls with the NCAA regarding oversigning.  The hypocrisy and irony of Nick Saban leading the charge to level the paying field for agents and making sure that those who act unethically are punished is the damnedest thing we have ever seen since we started this website.  Wait a minute, Les Miles trying to tell everyone that what he did to Porter was not a big deal was the damnedest thing we have ever seen, this takes second place though.

We suggest you take a look at the article above and watch the video.

When you compare how coaches in the Big 10 handle the signing process and only take what they have room for on signing day to how Les Miles and Nick Saban oversign their rosters by 9-10 players per year it's pretty clear to see that one group of coaches are doing it the right way with integrity and the other bunch is exploiting the system.  The issue with the agents is exactly the same - it comes down to have two groups of people in the same profession, one operates with integrity and ethics and the other is a bunch of bootleggers.

Filed under: Rants 49 Comments
13Aug/1030

Tony Gerdeman Got It, Few Others Did (Including Us!)

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.

Filed under: Quick Links, Rants, SEC 30 Comments
12Aug/1011

There is nothing wrong with Greyshirting, Les Miles

It appears that Les Miles has not taken the criticism he has received, which he was rightfully given, for the Elliott Porter debacle well and he has taken to defending the practice of Greyshirting players.   Here are a few of his comments...

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature.

“He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

The practice is common in the Southeastern Conference, but not allowed in other conferences, like the Big 10. CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel was particularly harsh with his critique in a column Sunday, calling Miles “a bad guy.” He had similar descriptions for others who oversign, calling Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt “despicable” and Alabama’s Nick Saban “two evolutionary stages below a lizard.”

Miles said he had not read the Doyel column but “I did get bits and pieces of that.”

“I can tell you no one is more critical of how I operate than me,” Miles said. “I can tell you the guys I visited with and I told, for the team, it might well be the best thing for you physically and might well be best for you and your health and by the count of numbers and scholarships, you might benefit the most by postponing your entrance into school."

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/100425914.html

Allows us to put on our Miles decoder and see if we can decipher what he said -- not sure we'll be able to make anything out of that last quote, though. 

First let us clear up some errors in Laney's original article.

1. The Big 10 has not banned greyshirting players; it is something that is watched very closely but it has not been banned.  Oversigning is not allowed, but greyshirting is allowed in the Big 10.

2. You'll have to read the entire article for this one, but in the original article the general tone is that the issue with Les Miles was the 25 scholarships per year rule and that by signing 27 he was two over the limit, hence the greyshirt offer.  While Laney is right, 25 per year is the limit and LSU was over with 27 eligible, the real issue here is the 85 limit and what took place prior to August deadline.  If you examine LSU's recruiting budget at signing day you can see that by signing 27 they were projected to be 9 over the 85 limit.  Therefore, in addition to the greyshirt offers that were declined there were a handful of other players that were removed in order to make room for 25 of the 27.  We happen to have a list handy.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


When you step back and look at the entire body of work in this recruiting class you can see just poorly Miles has managed the entire process.  The only conclusion you can draw about the series of events is that Les Miles simply signs the 25 max every year and sorts the bodies out later, and until this point it really hasn't bitten him in the ass.   We have a list handy for that as well.  This is every recruiting class for Miles since 2002; some of the numbers came from his time at Oklahoma State.  Roughly a 24 average with as many as 31 in a single class.  And for just about every one of those years there are handful of BS stories about how Les got the roster down either to the 25 for the year or 85 overall.

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00

Based on LSU's numbers at National Signing Day they should have signed 18 new recruits, not 27.  Had all 18 made it academically, like all 27 did, they would have all had a spot, Chris Garrett would be at LSU not Northeastern State or wherever he landed, and Elliott Porter, since he was an early verbal commitment, would be living on LSU campus partaking in LSU spring ball.  But then again, we all know the deal, you know, it's just business and all.  Plus, if Miles only signs the 18 he has room for he might miss out on a new recruit and another SEC school might get him, plus he won't have any extra players to hedge against unexpected injuries, where's the fun in that?

The Les Miles decoder tells us the following:

1. He only cares about the athlete portion of student-athletes.

2. He only reads bits and pieces of Doyel's columns.

3. He is a man with enough money to pay for his son's education and having to greyshirt would not be an issue for him.  Nothing like screwing a kid over and then telling the world that it wouldn't be a problem for him if it happen to his kids - no kidding Les, your son could go to any school in the country and you could stroke a check for the full 4 years and never even blink.  A four year education is rounding error on your balance sheet.  For the rest of the working stiffs and the underprivileged in this country who don't make $3MM  a year being a coach, having to pay for 1 semester of college can be an issue.

4. He told his players something about scholarship numbers and greyshirts, but we don't think he had any idea what he told them, when he told them, or who he told.  Reminds us so much of his explanation of the time out at the end of the LSU - Ole Miss game last year.

How can you seriously believe that he knows what is going on with regards to recruiting numbers after something like this: http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

The problem wasn't that he offered a greyshirt to Porter, it was how it was offered and when it was offered, and for Miles to come out and take exception with the criticism further proves that he has no clue that he did anything wrong.  Perhaps that empty suit Mike Slive should have a talk with him about managing scholarship offers and proper etiquette when dealing with potential student-athletes.

Now let us address the greyshirting and scholarship numbers for next year.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with greyshirting a player provided there is an understanding between the school and the player way in advance.  Obviously, we want the NCAA to do something about oversigning and our hope is that by closing the oversigning loophole we create transparency in the entire signing process, especially the greyshirt process.

So here is a scenario that we would like to see happen:

A school has 18 openings that can be filled on National Signing Day because that is their established recruiting budget for the year based on who they have graduating and who they have leaving early for the NFL.  Given the 18 LOI limit, the school is given the option to sign up to a certain number of greyshirt prospects (let's say 3 per year).  These three extra players are signed to a different type of LOI that explicitly states that the school has to honor their scholarship offer the following year but the players are free to accept scholarship offers from other schools and are not bound to the school offering the greyshirt. 

This keeps the school at or under the 85 scholarship limit, allows them to sign a few greyshirts for the next year to accommodate players that are willing and able to pay their own way until the next year and obviously really want to go to a certain school, and it eliminates the Elliott Porter scenario, which absolutely has to stop.

Now for the scholarship numbers next year.

Greyshirting creates a scenario where you are counting scholarships forward.  Let's take Alabama for instance; it appears that they have 3 potential greyshirt candidates this year that will join the team next year and count to next year's numbers.  Looking at Alabama's scholarship roster it also appears that they only have 9 scholarship seniors and 5th year guys who will be freeing up scholarship room for the next recruiting class (feel free to correct us on that Bama fans).  When you subtract the 3 greyshirt players from the number of scholarship seniors for next year the number of openings looks something more like 6).  According to Rivals Alabama already has 17 verbal commitments.  Let's say there are a 5 Juniors who jump to the league, that's only 14 scholarship openings.  Does anyone think that Saban is done recruiting for the year??? 

LSU is in the exact same situation, small senior class and already over committed (verbally at least) in terms of having verbal commitments from more recruits then they have room for next year.

And come next year we'll see all kinds of transfers and hear all kinds of stories attached to them, but at the end of the day it's all garbage because regardless of how many "mutual agreements to leave" we hear the bottom line is that in the business of college football, especially in the SEC, it's out with the old, injured, and less than, and in with the new.  After all, fans care just about as much about winning the recruiting national championship as they do about the BCS national championship.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 11 Comments
8Aug/1060

Most Common Arguing Points

Here are some of the most common arguing points people have tried to use in defense of the practice of oversigning (in random order):

1. The SEC banned oversigning when it created the Houston Nutt rule and set the limit to 28 signees per recruiting class, oversigning is no longer an issue.

Wrong.  The SEC did not ban oversigning with the Houston Nutt rule; it simply put a cap on the number of players that can be signed at 28.  Obviously, only 25 can be assigned to a single class per NCAA rules, which allows them to either back count 3 recruits to the previous year if they didn't take a full 25 the previous year or they can greyshirt 3 recruits and have them delay their enrollment until the following January and count towards the next year.  The problem is that 28 x 4 = 112 and you can only have 85 on a roster at a time.  The SEC rule lacks the supplemental rule of requiring coaches to prove that they have room for every signee they take at the time they accept a signed letter of intent that binds the player to the school and prevents them from going elsewhere until the school releases them.  This is the fundamental problem with oversigning -- coaches are binding players to their schools before they truly know if they have room for them or not.  If they knew that they would have room then we wouldn't have to wait until the last day before fall camp to see who is being cut. 

In the Big 10 conference, coaches are encouraged to establish their recruiting budget (number of openings for new signees) ahead of National Signing Day and stay within those limits; Big 10 coaches are allowed to sign up to 28 players to a single class, but they are required to petition the Big 10 office and prove that they have room for the 3 extra players and that signing the 3 extra players will not results in the removal of anyone currently on the roster with eligibility remaining.  They are also not allowed to accept a signed letter of intent for numbers 26, 27, and 28 until they receive permission from the Big 10 office and it is our understanding that the Big 10 office reviews the roster in question to make sure that there is room for those players before giving the coaches permission to accept those LOI.  And it is also our understanding that this is not the case with the SEC.

Prior to the Huston Nutt rule, teams in the SEC as a collective group averaged signing 29 recruits per year, which is off the charts high.  The new rule drops that number by 1.  For the conference with the biggest problem of oversigning, setting the limit to 28 helps, but it doesn't come close to solving the problem, and we saw that play out this year with LSU and Alabama who clearly oversigned their rosters and had to work until the last day before fall camp in order to get down to the 85 number.  LSU ended up removing/releasing 9 players between signing day and fall camp and Alabama 10.

Conference Comparisons 2002 - 2010

Comparisons SEC Big 12 BigEast PAC10 Big10 ACC
Average # of Total Recruits Signed Per School: 227 219 215 208 199 199
Total Players Signed: 2,727 2,629 1,737 2,084 2,196 2,394
Highest Single School Total: 253 243 235 235 218 225
Lowest Single School Total: 191 192 201 170 170 174
# of Times Over 25 in Single Class: 54 37 23 28 18 22
# of Times 28 or More in Single Class: 33 24 14 14 5 10
# of Back to Back Classes of 25 or More: 35 24 11 8 6 5


2. There is no law or rule against oversigning so therefore no one is doing anything wrong.

There is no law against adultery either, doesn't mean that it is not wrong.  Stupid argument and as irresponsible as Les Miles saying that his only obligation is to get his number down to 25 every year.

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

3. Oversigning gives more people a shot at a scholarship - if you take it away you are robbing kids of an opportunity to get an education.

This might be the most laughable of all the arguments in favor of oversigning.  First of all, we live in a society and a country where we are blessed with opportunity, and if there is someone who is driven enough to want to get an education they can get an education, without having to be a football star.  There are federal grant programs, student loan programs, academic scholarship programs, and a ton of companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs.  Anyone with enough physical ability to play football could go work at Walmart, McDonald's, or a number of other places and get their education partially paid for and take out student loans or a pell grant for the rest. 

When you oversign your roster that means that players have to leave in order to get the new players in.  There are only 85 scholarships that can be given out each year and very few coaches waste them.  As we explained earlier, there are two models of signing recruits, oversigning and undersigning.  In the undersigning model the "leftover" scholarships (usually 1 or 2, sometimes maybe more) are given to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship through hard work both on and off the field.  In the oversigning model, the same amount of scholarships are given out by a single school, but instead of signing within your budget and giving the leftovers to the walk-ons, coaches pushout  guys on the roster with eligibility remaining and bring in new, often times more talented players with more potential.  At the end of the day, the same number of players are being educated (85), but with the oversigning you have to shove out players and interrupt their education in order to educate someone else. 

The reason we say this is the most laughable argument is because the people that make this argument are clearly more concerned about losing the oversigning advantage than they are about educating young people.  This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to tug at the heartstrings of parents and policy makers, and the people that make this argument about oversigning enabling more kids to get an education are all about protecting oversigning and the clear advantages it has produced; they are worried about losing out a potential future star recruit, nothing more.  College football is a system where future stars are the lifeblood of the program because kids will only be around for 4-5 years; it is becoming more important to focus on the new incoming stars than it is developing the more senior players because by the time they develop they are gone.

4. Scholarships are 1-Year Renewable Contracts; we can cut whoever we want to cut and we are not doing anything wrong.

That is correct, scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts.  These contracts are set to be automatically renewed unless the coaching staff files paperwork to stop the renewal process. This was not always the case with scholarships, as up until 1973 scholarships were 4 year scholarships, not 1 year renewable agreements.

The one-year renewable scholarship, with a limit of five years of athletic aid, has been in place since 1973. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for academic and membership affairs, said the 37-year-old policy has not been a frequent topic of concern among member schools. He noted that NCAA rules require colleges to provide athletes who lose scholarships with an appeals option, typically consisting of a campus panel formed from outside the athletics department. But such arbitration is not common, he acknowledged.

Requiring Division I transfers to sit out a year before competing for a new school prevents coaches from recruiting players away from other schools, said Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2010-05-24-revoked-scholarships_N.htm

Basically, coaches want it both ways.  They want to be able to cut guys that are not living up to their expectations or to make room for someone new that has come along that has more promise, but they don't want the recruits to be able to leave on their own (hence the one-way binding letter of intent agreement) and they don't want other coaches to recruit kids away from their program (hence the rule that requires players to sit out a year if they transfer).  Sounds real fair.  It is our opinion that these changes are lockstep with the increase in coaching salaries and the revenue generated by the sport. 

The people that argue that scholarships are a one-year renewable contract and nothing is wrong are basically agreeing that the coaches should have all of the power to treat players like pieces of meat for their own personal financial gain.  We don't agree. These coaches are paid millions of dollars, the least they can do is not abuse loopholes like oversigning and exploit kids in the process.  If a coach is good enough he should be able to win without having to oversign players.

5. You don't know what you are talking about, coaches know ahead of time which players are going to transfer and that is why they oversign.

We got this argument with regards to Star Jackson.  The argument was that Saban knew that Jackson was going to transfer and that's why he signed Sims.  Our position is that if Saban (or any other coach in this situation) knew that Jackson was going to transfer, then why in the world was he out there competing for a roster spot in the Spring game?  If his replacement or another guy was signed to his scholarship and his transfer was a foregone conclusion, then why was he out there working so hard for a spot on the depth chart?  It just doesn't add up.  The truth of the matter is that these coaches are signing a handful of extra players because they know they have some wiggle room and they always have the upper hand in that they can simply elect to not renew a scholarship or in Les Miles' case just tell a kid there isn't room and he can greyshirt.  That is a problem, but it is not a problem that will be solved without legislation because regardless of how much Les Miles screws a kid over (Elliott Porter) there will always be more players that want to come to LSU then he has room for and there will always be the allure of coming to a division 1 school in hopes of making it to the NFL and making MILLIONS of dollars.  This will almost always override any reservations or concerns about getting screwed over during the recruiting process, therefore more legislation is needed to prevent these coaches from exploiting the oversigning loophole. 

Those are probably the 5 most common arguments that we encounter here on the site in our conversations elsewhere on the topic.  It should be noted that almost always these arguments come from people who are fans of teams that oversign.  Very seldom, maybe only a couple of times, have we heard any of these arguments come from fans of teams that don't oversign.  That in and of itself is pretty telling.  Just look at the comments here on our site and you can count the number of comments on one or two hands that advocate oversigning and are not fans or supporters of a school or conference that oversigns. 

Update: We left out one other very common arguing point, apologies.

6. Oversigning doesn't create a competitive advantage so what's the big deal.

This couldn't be any further from the truth, especially within the last several years.  Over the last several years the ability for coaches to evaluate players has decreased; the NCAA continues to decrease the amount of contact coaches can have with players (mainly out of fear of recruiting violations) which is making it hard for them to evaluate talent.  In addition, the NCAA continues to place more and more restrictions on the amount of time coaches can spend with players during spring and fall training camps and during the off season.  The  net result is college football has become less about developing talent and more about mining for the next "sure thing" 5 star recruit. 

When you oversign you have access to more opportunities to find that "sure thing" whether it be from landing a 5 star recruit or taking a chance on a borderline guy who turns out to be a stud.  It's a numbers game and obviously, given that most of the top tier schools can attract top tier talent, the more of it that you can go through to find the ones you really want the better you will be.

Nick Saban and Les Miles have used oversigning as the backbone of building National Championship teams over the last decade.  If you look at the chart below and look at the number of players signed by Saban (who had the highest average) and Tressel (who had the lowest average), in the years that Saban was in college football he signed roughly 193 recruits; Tressel signed roughly 142 in those same years.  That is a difference of 51 recruiting opportunities over the same period of time.  Any change there might be a couple more good players in that list of 51?  If the difference were 5-10 I don't think we could point at this being an issue, but 51?

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

Coaches Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Saban (03/09) SEC 26 28 26 0 0 25 32 27 29 193 27.50
Miles (07) SEC 28 31 19 13 26 26 26 24 27 220 24.44
Meyer (06/08) SEC 22 19 25 18 27 27 22 17 27 204 22.66
Brown (05) BIG12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33
Carroll (04) PAC10 22 28 19 19 27 18 19 18 20 190 21.11
Tressel (02) BIG10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00


Some people will say that this doesn't add up because if you look at Huston Nutt and how many he has signed he should be the greatest coach of all time.  Our response is that oversigning is masking just how bad of a coach he really is and that we could only imagine how bad his teams would be if he weren't running through players trying to find stud players like McFadden.  Oversigning makes average to below average coaches look pretty good and average to above average coaches great or National Champions.

Filed under: Rants 60 Comments
6Aug/1025

Les Miles Speaks, Problably Shouldn’t

Les Miles thought it might be a good idea to answer a few questions about the Elliott Porter situation and his scholarship numbers situation.

“You get to a time where you anticipate that your signing class might have room,” Miles said. “At several points in time, I figured that would be the case this year.”

Interesting.  Class might have room.  Figured that would be the case.  He probably thought he had time to clock the ball against Ole Miss last year too. 

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

Clearly Les Miles has no idea what he is doing here.  He believes that his only responsibility is to be within the 25 number.  I guess the 85 number doesn't count in his mind.  The LSU recruiting philosophy is to sign the max number of kids allowed every year and then make whatever roster cuts necessary to get down to 85.  Here are their numbers over the years.

LSU Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 27 222 24.66


Here is the deadwood shuffled out the back door this year to get down to 85.

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released

“The opportunity to offer a grayshirt to a guy (this late) is not exactly what I’ve ever done before, but I think the opportunity is a very good one,” Miles said. “If you look at it over time, it still keeps him on scholarship and still gives him all the opportunity for an LSU degree.”

Les, you told the kid he was going to be on scholarship, he was already in the dorm room.  It does not keep him on scholarship between August and January and he does not get to be a part of the team, something he was promised and something he had his heart set on and something he worked hard for during the summer.

And lastly, from Elliot Porter with the quote that proves that oversigning is wrong and what it is doing to kids is wrong.  Why? Because kids are being conditioned to this that this is just part of the deal that getting an education and playing college football is just business, not to mention others are getting FITHLY rich in the process while these kids get hung out to dry.

“I was hurt a little bit, but they have to do what’s best for the team,” Porter said. “It’s a business. (Miles) over-signed, made an honest mistake. He has to do what he has to do, and Elliott Porter has to do what he has to do.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

College football is not a business, well according to Porter it is at LSU.

Filed under: SEC 25 Comments
5Aug/101

Mike Slive, Empty Suit

The year before last when Huston Nutt signed 500 recruits to letters of intent and then rubbed the NCAA's and the SEC's nose in it by saying that there wasn't a rule that said he couldn't, Mike Slive and the SEC university presidents decided to take a hard stand on the practice of oversigning and banned it in the SEC, or at least that was the spin at the time.

SEC ADs had wanted the cap at 30. The presidents had other ideas. Coaches tend to oversign classes for two reasons: 1) To protect themselves against academic casualties; and 2) To stockpile players by placing signees into prep schools or junior colleges, with a good likelihood those players will come back to them.

"The presidents and chancellors view signing the letter of intent as a commitment to the institution for a student-athlete that is academically capable of being admitted and contributing athletically," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "From their point of view, there aren't other reasons to sign a kid. Obviously, coaches have their own reasons for doing things, and there's a litany of those."

http://blog.al.com/solomon/2009/05/sec_passes_limit_on_football_s.html

In light of that the SEC limit was set at 28 signees per class and the Huston Nutt rule was born.  28 x 4 = 112 but we'll come back to that later. 

So did the new rule instituted by the SEC chancellors, presidents, and commissioner make any difference in oversigning this year?  Well, Houston Nutt didn't sign 37 recruits and his farm system is dead, but a number of schools signed more than they have room for: Alabama had 10 more than they had room for and LSU had 9 more than they had room for when the accepted the signed letter of intent.  Both schools managed to get down to 85 before the deadline in order to avoid NCAA penalties.

Mike Slive's new rule lacks teeth.  The Houston Nutt rule was nothing more than window dressing to quiet the masses and enable the practice to continue.  Mike Slive, as the SEC commissioner, should required that each of his institutions prove where every accepted LOI has an available scholarship tied to it before it is accepted.  And he should prohibit schools from accepting signed letters of intent that bind a player to the school if the school can not show him on paper at the time the LOI is accepted that there is already room for that ONE-WAY COMMITMENT to the school.  By allowing his institutions to exploit the oversigning loophole he allowed guys like Les Miles to screw an innocent kid like Elliott Porter.  And that is why this site exists.

In the end, however, it is obvious that Mike Slive cannot do that; he serves at the pleasure of the SEC university presidents.  Hence the empty suit.  He wears it well though.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
4Aug/10151

Saban Gets Down to 85 on the Last Day

We'll have more on this later today, but Saban just announced that 1 player is transferring and two players are accepting a greyshirt and will delay enrollment until next year. We said months ago that Saban was over by 10 and that 10 players needed to go; until today we had 7 accounted for and today we got 8, 9, and 10.

The interesting part is that Alabama only has 9 scholarship players on their roster, and with two guys greyshirting this year that leaves only 7 openings for next year plus the juniors that leave for the NFL. Alabama currently has 16 verbal commitments for next year, so much like LSU, they are already over the limit and we will see the exact same thing next year that we have seen this year.

Update:

As we mentioned above, Saban announced earlier today that 3 guys won't be joining the team this fall, two of which have elected to greyshirt.  The one that is getting the most attention is Rod Woodson.  Here are some comments from Saban regarding Woodson and the situation:

"He will transfer and have an opportunity to do that," Saban said. "We were very helpful in trying to give him an opportunity someplace else. We wish him very well. He did a good job for us."

Multiple sources had previously indicated that academics could be an issue in Woodson's case. After the initial announcement, Saban later made it sound more like a dismissal from the team.

"I don't really feel it's a problem, when you have people in the organization who aren't accountable, how not having one would affect anything," Saban said. "We cannot make decisions about the future of players who aren't accountable for what they're supposed to do and not responsible to what they're supposed to do as a member of this team, regardless of what they issue is, behavioral, academic, football-related.

"We have a lot of good players on the team, and I would rather move somebody from another position to play where we don't have enough players than to allow somebody not to do the right things and be involved. I don't think we do anyone any good if we do that."

So did Woodson violate a written team rule or was he declared academically ineligible?  Doesn't sound like it.  Sounds like Saban simply didn't like what he saw out of Woodson, end of story.  Next.  Too bad Woodson didn't have an agent when he signed his letter of intent, maybe his agent could have negotiated a better contract for him when he signed.  That's where we are headed this this pattern, we all know it's coming. 

It is interesting that Saban refers to the University of Alabama as an "organization," he could have fooled us, we thought it was an institution of higher learning that enjoys a tax-exempt status because it exists to educate the masses.  Maybe we should start treating these schools like what they are, semi-pro "organizations," which flies directly in the face of every NCAA and University mission statement.

So here is what the final March looks like for Alabama:

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

Player Position Reason for leaving after NSD
Terry Grant Running Back Scholarship not renewed
Travis Sikes Wide Receiver Scholarship not renewed
Rod Woodson Safety Scholarship not renewed
Star Jackson Quarterback Transfer, Georgia State Div 1AA.
Deion Belue Defensive Back Academically Ineligible; headed to JUCO
Alfy Hill Linebacker Academically Ineligible; future unknown
Taylor Pharr Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Milton Talbert Linebacker Medical Hardship
Darius McKeller Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship
Ronnie Carswell Wide Receiver Greyshirt
Wilson Love Defensive End Greyshirt


Sometimes a diagram is better than wordy explanations; we put together two diagrams that best depict the difference between how Alabama and LSU are managing their rosters compared to programs like Penn State, Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Ohio State, and other brand name power schools.

The first is the OVERSIGNING MODEL which gives the coaching staff an extra period of time to evaluate the players and make decisions on how they are going to get down to the NCAA mandated 85 scholarship players.  This model results in mandatory roster cuts or non-renewal of the 1-year scholarship agreement.

The second is the UNDERSIGNING MODEL or the model where we have coaches who exercise constraint and ethics in the recruiting process and who are guaranteed not to have cut anyone in order to stay under the 85 scholarship limit. 

It doesn't get any more cut and dry than the two diagrams above, and as we documented this year with LSU and Alabama this is exactly what is happening right now.  Couple of things to note: both teams started with 66 players; one signed 29 and one signed 17; both ended up at 85.

At the moment what the oversigners are doing is legal because the NCAA doesn't not prohibit schools from oversigning, but we are of the opinion that they don't realize just how badly it is being abused.  It is our goal here to raise awareness about oversigning and help make the NCAA realize that they have to do something about the entire signing process - it is completely out of control and it is damaging kids.  Not to mention, the NCAA mission is..

Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/portal/ncaahome?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/ncaa/NCAA/About%20The%20NCAA/Overview/mission.html

Our proposed solution has been to create a system where schools are required to declare the number of openings they expect to have before National Signing Day and be limited that number of signed letters of intent.  This number, and bear in mind we are adhering to the NCAA's mission statement that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount, will the number of players that have graduated and any juniors who opt for the NFL early.  That is who should be replaced, not some 3rd string DL who doesn't have the potential of the next 5* stud recruit.

In addition, we recommend that the NCAA require schools to prove that there is a scholarship available before a letter of intent is accepted.  This will eliminate scenarios where coaches like Saban and Miles knowingly accept more letters of intent then they have room for when the accept them, knowing full well they have 6 months to make arrangements in order to get down to 85.  Let's be honest here, guys like Star Jackson and Rod Woodson were dead men walking the minute Saban oversigned his class...everything else is window dressing.  This will also eliminate situations like what we saw at Miami this year where they didn't have scholarship room for Seantrel Henderson when they accepted his LOI so they cut someone in order to make room after the fact. 

We know what you are thinking, "well that will just lead to guys getting cut before hand instead of after."  We have a plan for that as well, as mentioned by one of our best posters here, Mario.  Require that each player leaving a team go through an exit interview at the NCAA office where the NCAA can monitor when players are released from a scholarship and get their side of the story as well as the schools.

That only leaves one issue on the table - the 1 year renewable scholarship rule.  We are on record here numerous times that the 1-year renewal scholarship is something that needs to be addressed as well.  Granted, you need to have something in place in order to remove a player who doesn't meet the academic requirements or violates a university policy, but giving the coaches power to make judgement calls on this not the answer (and save of the BS about the appeal process and the review process by university officials outside of the athletic department). 

Bottom line, there is no reasonable excuse for allowing oversigning, especially when the results are what we have seen over the last couple of days at Miami, LSU, and Alabama.

Filed under: SEC 151 Comments
4Aug/1011

Elliott Porter Speaks

Elliott Porter made his side of the story public yesterday, which is a rarity because most guys that are cut like he was don't go public with the intimate details because they are still trying to find a place to land.  This is why you rarely hear a player come out publicly about being cut.  Porter, however, appears to be very upset with the situation and decided to speak frankly about what happened - kudos to him.  Here are a few of his comments and based on his side of the story Les Miles screwed him out of a scholarship at LSU.  

Elliott Porter woke up Tuesday morning planning on taking care of a few personal things and preparing for the start of pre-season camp in Baton Rouge, La., today. But a summons to Les Miles' office changed all of that.

"I got called to coach Miles' office. I had no idea it was coming," Porter said of his being asked by LSU to 'grayshirt' this season and re-enroll next year. "He just told me that they didn't have room for me. I moved out of my dorm today and I am now back home trying to figure everything out. It's been a rough 24 hours."

http://tennessee.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1109179&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

Porter goes on to make it clear that he understands now that football is just a business at LSU (see his comments after the jump).   The fact that these kids are being conditioned to think that college football is just a business is only going to lead to further problems down the road.  College football is not supposed to be a business, at least not according to the NCAA:

The NCAA espouses a collegiate model of athletics in which student-athletes participate in varsity sports as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.

The NCAA is committed to the highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship, diversity and inclusion, amateurism, competitive equity and excellence in the classroom. The Association also believes in presidential leadership as the guiding force in operating athletics programs. 

Sorry but we don't see anything in there about college athletics being a business.  Note to the NCAA: Elliott Porter was screwed out of his scholarship because of the loophole in YOUR by-laws that allows coaches to accept more signed letters of intent then they legitimately have room for under the 85 scholarship limit.  YOUR loophole allows coaches to hedge their bets against academic attrition and injuries, essentially giving coaches free rein to gamble with the scholarship numbers.

More after the jump >>>

Filed under: SEC Continue reading
3Aug/1010

Houston Bates got out early, why not Elliot Porter

Somehow this flew completely under the radar in April (Houston Bates being asked to take a greyshirt because LSU was over their number of scholarship openings), but Les Miles' ability to manage scholarship numbers looks to be worse than his decision making ability when it comes to calling time outs or spiking the ball.   Special thanks to reader "DP" for posting a link to the article, despite his position against this site. 

At least Houston Bates got out in April with enough time to find a new school, Elliot Porter on the other hand is going to have to look for a place at the last minute.   The only guess we can come up with is that Les Miles had "buyer's remorse" after signing Houston Bates and figured he could push him out early and not lose much (hate even typing that about a kid), and perhaps with Elliot Porter he was willing to wait a little longer in hopes that someone else wouldn't make it academically.  Regardless of what Miles' was thinking, its pretty clear that his recruiting philosophy is to sign the NCAA max every year and cut the roster down to 85 by any means necessary.  This year it just happened to include mailing a letter to a player stating his scholarship wouldn't be renewed, 3 medical hardships, 2 transfers, and asking two guys to greyshirt, one at the last minute in the first week of fall camp.

"The 6'3, 245 pound Bates was an early commitment to LSU in the 2010 recruiting class but got caught up in a numbers crunch.

LSU coach Les Miles asked Bates to gray-shirt for a year which did not sit well with Bates.

As a gray-shirt, Bates would have delayed enrolling for the fall semester at LSU before enrolling in the spring to allow LSU not to count Bates against its 2010 class. He was not interested in doing so."

http://www.neworleans.com/sports/lsu/373391-st-pauls-de-bates-signs-with-illinois.html

Now watch this video and listen to Les Miles' comments regarding his decision making process in the Ole Miss game last year.  You tell us if you think this is the same guy that would also not know how to manage his scholarship numbers and put kids like Elliot Porter and Houston Bates in bad spots.

http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

Filed under: SEC 10 Comments
3Aug/108

LSU’s March to 85 is NOT Over

We have been following LSU's journey to get their roster down to 85 players ever since one of our readers started posting the details of their roster situation a while back, and with the announcement that Chris Garrett was being cut from the team we thought that LSU's march to 85 was over.  Therefore, we started looking at LSU's recruiting for next year and that is when we noticed that Les Miles and LSU were getting a jump start on screwing players next year by already having more verbal commitments then they have room for next year.

Turns out we were wrong, forget about next year, Les Miles is not done screwing players from his current roster.  Word has come out today that Elliot Porter, who had this to say about his commitment to LSU...

"I stood face to face with Coach Miles and I committed,'' Porter said proudly Saturday evening shortly after meeting with Miles during an unofficial visit to the Baton Rouge campus. "I was blown away by the campus, blown away by the school. Just everything about it, I felt at home.''

              

http://highschoolsports.nola.com/news/article/-816132523422918078/shaw-lineman-elliott-porter-commits-to-lsu/

...has been asked to take a greyshirt because LSU does not have scholarship room for him because all 27 of the players they signed have made it academically.

Due to the fact that all 27 of LSU's signees are academically qualified, there would not be scholarships available for two players.

According to sources close to the situation, Archbishop Shaw High School lineman Elliott Porter will not be with the team when practice begins Thursday. Porter was asked to take a greyshirt. However, he did not want to be greyshirted. Porter asked for and received a release from his letter of intent.

Porter will be immediately eligible at any other school. A possible destination for Porter is Tennessee. Last year, Porter made 65 tackles. As a junior, Porter recorded 85 tackles, including 20 sacks. LSU intended to move Porter to the offensive line. Porter worked out with the team during the summer.

With Porter leaving, there are only two offensive linemen in the 2010 recruiting class - Evan Washington and Cameron Fordham. Washington enrolled in school last January and participated in spring practice.

http://lsu.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1109003&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

There are so many things wrong with this situation that we really don't even know where to start.  How does this even happen???  Why is this poor kid getting word at the last minute that there is not a scholarship for him?  At least Miles has enough sense to grant him a release from his LOI, but ask yourself, why is this poor kid bound to his commitment to LSU and LSU not bound to their commitment to him???  Why does he have to ask for a release AFTER they tell him that they are not going to give him the scholarship they promised him?

It would be one thing if this was the only situation to arise with LSU this year, but look at the list of attrition and the number of scholarships they have already had to cut in order to make room. 

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


Now add Elliot Porter to the list.

But this is nothing new at LSU, back in March we wrote a piece on Gerry DiNardo and his time at LSU and Indiana, and really nothing much has changed (sign as many as you can legally get away with and then do whatever you have to in order to get down to 85 by the fall).  Here are some of his comments regarding oversigning from an SI article a long time ago.

"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.'"

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1007746/1/index.htm

Perhaps DiNardo and Saban were a little better at using discretion when screwing players out of scholarship to make room for better players or when hedging their bets against academic eligibility, or perhaps there just wasn't enough media coverage of this aspect of college football recruiting.  There certainly wasn't an oversigning.com website back in those days.  

The most disturbing part about this whole story is that the schools and the coaches have all of the power and they dangle the NFL $$$ carrot out there to the recruits in order to get them to sign and to keep them from signing with someone else, and if they want to get rid of them at any time, for any reason, they can, and they do.  This is where the NCAA has got to step in and put an end to the games these coaches are playing with oversigning.  Sure, we understand that these guys are trying to ensure that they have a full roster, but at what price?  For all the MILLIONS of dollars these coaches make and given the fact that they are the adults, you would think that they would take the moral high ground and do the right thing ethically by these kids.  And where the hell are the University Presidents, Athletic Directors, and the NCAA on all of this???  They don't appear to have a problem with a coach accepting a signed LOI that binds the player to a school, only to rip it up and not honor it because he couldn't count to 85 and doesn't have enough room for everyone. 

Thankfully, not all coaches operate this way.  There are coaches who refuse gamble with lives of the kids they recruit by hedging their bets on academic eligibility and injuries.  Guys like Mark Richt, Jim Tressel, and several others around the country.

Jim Tressel was asked about recruiting numbers at the Big 10 Media Days this week, here are his comments:

When asked about the 2002 recruiting class..

"It was special, and it was 25 guys--which is an unusually high number."

25 unusually high???  Not for the SEC.  When asked about the size of his upcoming recruiting class...

..."21 or 22. That would be the lid. We never want to be in that predicament where we're close to being over, because all of a sudden you're not recruiting a guy that you said to him you're recruiting. And we've got some walk-ons that we try to help them out."

This is nothing new for Tressel, here are some of his comments regarding last year's class.  This was taken on National Signing Day.

How is it that Jim Tressel already knows EXACTLY how many spots he will have for the next recruiting class in August, yet some SEC coaches all seem to not know what their numbers will be until next August?  That's because Tressel is not gambling with his commitments and is not hedging his bets to gain a competitive advantage, something that is just a way of life in some places.

What LSU, Alabama, and other schools are doing is not only is poor taste, it cheats the game, not to mention the players that get screwed in the process.  We get all up in arms when a coach runs the score up on a weak opponent or does something cheap like call a last second time out from the sideline right before a kicker kicks a potential game-winning field goal.  We boo these acts because they cheapen the game and they are unsportsmanlike; oversigning is no different, at least for the time being until it is banned and then it will not just be unsportsmanlike, it will be illegal.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 8 Comments
9Jul/1020

The March to 85 is Over for LSU

We have come to the end of the road for LSU's March to 85.

Reader "Homework" who has been all over the LSU numbers for us sent this in this morning.  If anyone else has more information on the details of Garrett's release from his scholarship, please post them in the comments section.  It appears on the surface, just based on the rivals piece below, that Garrett was simply mailed a notice that his scholarship would not be renewed, which prompted him to ask for a release.  Not sure if that makes sense though; why would you need to ask for a release if you have not been renewed?  

Regardless, it sure was a nice gesture on Les Miles' part to allow him to go to Mississippi State if he wants.   It is total BS how these coaches/schools can controls kids, especially the ones that are being forced out.  We're basically seeing the professionalization of college football minus the players being able to exercise their full rights as a free agent once they get cut. 

We need to gather a little more information on Garrett's situation before we blast Les Miles, but at the moment the whole thing doesn't exactly look good.  We'll try to gather a little more on this story over the weekend and post an update.  Until then you have to ask yourself the question, had LSU been restricted from oversigning their roster would Chris Garrett be leaving the program?  Also, if you subscribe to the notion that Miles knew that he was going to cut Garrett back when he was oversigning his class and basically signing a new recruit to Garrett's scholarship, then why did he wait so long to send him the notice that he would not be renewed?  Honestly, it looks like Miles just goes out and gets as many players as he can get away with and then just figures out how to get the roster down to 85.

LSU coach Les Miles confirmed Thursday night that redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Garrett is leaving the football program.

Garrett had a meeting with Miles on Wednesday and asked for his release. Miles granted Garrett his release. Garrett cannot transfer to any Southeastern Conference school other than Mississippi State.

The family received certified mail last week which indicated that Garrett's scholarship would not be renewed. The head coach has the intent to have a discussion with the player and explain to him what needs to be done for him to remain in the program on scholarship.

http://lsu.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1101349

The March to 85 - LSU

Player Position Reason for Leaving
Akiem Hicks Defensive Tackle Removed from the team - was involved in NCAA investigation
Kyle Prater Linebacker Transfer
Jhyryn Taylor Wide Receiver Transfer
Thomas Parsons Fullback Medical Hardship Scholarship
John Williams Wide Receiver Medical Hardship Scholarship
Clay Spencer Offensive Lineman Medical Hardship Scholarship
Chris Garrett QB Cut - Scholarship Not Renewed
Houston Bates Defensive End Released from LOI in April; refused Greyshirt
Elliott Porter Offensive Lineman Asked to Greyshirt in AUGUST; refused Greyshirt; released


Had LSU been restricted to signing to their limit of 85 and still suffered the same attrition as above, they would be going into the season with 78 players on scholarship.  Instead they will lose these 7 guys and still come in at 85.  What a luxury for the coaching staff at LSU to be able to oversign with reckless abandon.

Filed under: SEC 20 Comments
17Jun/1017

LSU Gets Jump Start on Oversigning 2011 Class

I guess this blog came around at just the right time because there are some really great examples of the problems with oversigning popping up all over the Internet here lately.  As you know, we have started to focus on LSU a little more here lately now that our readers have started funneling information to us  (which is greatly appreciated).  Thanks in large part to their efforts, we have documented that LSU oversigned by 7 players this year, have cut 5, and are looking to depend on two recruits to not qualify academically to come out at 85 scholarships this August.

What we haven't documented is that LSU appears to be getting a jump start on oversigning for next year.

See the problem with oversigning is that you can only do it for so long and then eventually the numbers catch up with you.  Perhaps that is why we see coaches that oversign jumping from job to job and coaches that don't oversign tend to hang around a little longer in one place.

Case and point, LSU.   

LSU Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 27 222 24.66


As you can see, they have signed an average of roughly 24 players a year.  However, according to this article, LSU is only graduating 9 players next year, and yet they already have 11 verbal commitments.   And what's worse is that this appears to be a huge year for recruits in the state of Louisiana. 

So, as you gathered from the list, there's only nine players currently on scholarship who will definitely not be returning next season (Richard Murphy, Terrence Toliver, Joseph Barksdale, Pep Livingston, Drake Nevis, Kelvin Sheppard, Jai Eugene, Josh Jasper and Derek Helton).

With that in mind, we turn our attention onto the 2011 signing class. Currently, LSU sits at 11 commitments and counting. Obviously they will add more names, but even if the class stopped where it is, they'd be over the scholarship limit by two. In a banner recruiting year, this isn't good news.

Where will the scholarships come from?

http://www.andthevalleyshook.com/2010/6/17/1523018/the-2011-signing-class-and  

Given the competitive nature of the SEC and the fact that LSU is slipping further and further behind Alabama every year it is going to be gut wrenching for Les Miles and his staff to exercise constraint and only sign who they have room for on signing day and let all of the elite talent in Louisiana that they don't legitimately have room for go to rival teams in the SEC.

This is exactly the reason why the NCAA needs to step in and eliminate oversigning.  With the changes we have been advocating LSU would have to prove where the scholarships are going to come from before they sign a player - with only 9 players graduating and maybe 2 jumping to the NFL early, LSU stands to only be able to sign 11-12 players next year.  Does anyone honestly believe after signing an average of 24 players a year that they are just going to take 12 and let the rest go elsewhere?  Maybe they do, after all they did only sign 13 players one year, and if that happens we will be the first website to praise them for it and give credit where credit is due, but if signing day rolls around and there are 24 LOI on the fax machine you can bet we will be here to document the attrition, player by player.  Let's hope they do the right thing by the young men that have committed themselves to the university, after all Les Miles is a Michigan Man, he should know better, right?

Filed under: SEC 17 Comments
13Jun/105

It’s Legal, but is it Ethical?

At the end of the day, that is the fundamental question when discussing oversigning. By virtue of the way the NCAA by-laws are written and the structure of the 85/25 scholarship rules, there is no question that coaches, by NCAA rules, are allowed to sign as many players as they want (in fact the NCAA places no limits on the number of players that can be signed), as long as only 25 new scholarship players are added each year and no more than 85 scholarship players are on the roster at one time. Those that have been following this site already know all of this, as we have talked about it and debated it many times here.

For those just reading this site for the first time, we have taken a look at the restrictions some conferences have added to the signing process to prevent the practice of oversigning and we have looked at some conferences that until just recently have had no such restrictions and that blatantly oversign. There is no question that there are two schools of thought on this topic and that fans are just as passionate about this topic as they are about recruiting rankings and the games played on the field.

We ran across a wonderfully written article on oversigning and whether or not it is ethical at www.athlonsports.com.  If you follow this site and this topic then this is a must read article, as it touches on all of the main talking points when it comes to oversigning, including comments from high school coaches upset that their players were victims of oversigning, something that detractors of this site claim doesn't exist.  We're not sure when the article was written, but based on the comments from the coaches in the article our best guess is that this was written somewhere around 2003.

Let's take a closer look at the article (warning, this is a long, but very informative read - you might want to get a cup of coffee or something before you dive into this):

Click the link to continue reading >>>