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
14Jul/1120

Latest on LSU’s Roster

As mentioned earlier in the week, Cody Worsham at Dig Magazine has been working on a piece on LSU and oversigning. 

As of press time, LSU is currently committed to 90 scholarship players for the 2011 season, including 24 signees for the incoming recruiting class.

To make matters worse, the Tigers are on a self-imposed two-scholarship reduction resulting from recruiting violations by former assistant coach D.J. McCarthy.

Consequently, LSU must meet marks of 83 and 23, respectively – which means seven players total, including at least two from the 2011 class, must go before fall camp.

Who those seven may be remains a mystery. LSU is keeping quiet on the subject.

“There’s a lot that could change before the team reports to camp and the start of the fall semester,” associate athletics director Michael Bonnette told Dig. “There’s nothing that we can say at this point regarding the number of players on the roster because those numbers are fluid and could change.”

http://digbatonrouge.com/article/gray-areas-2426/

This is one of the more baffling elements to oversigning and roster management in general.  Schools go way out of their way to make sure everyone knows exactly who they sign on national signing day. It's all part of the hype and the fanfare.   Alabama takes it so far as to run a webcam on the fax machine and post the names of the players as their signed LOI's come in and schools around the country hold special press conferences to highlight the players and introduce them to the media, but when asked later in the summer, as the deadline to get to 85 approaches, schools and coaches stonewall and don't want to comment on anything, and that is not just SEC schools, Ohio State did the same thing when we asked them to share their numbers.  Obviously there are certain things they are prohibited from commenting on, but there is nothing to stop them from sharing numbers.

The other troubling part is that LSU's athletic director believes a lot can change between now and the start of fall camp.  Fall camp is only a couple of weeks away, shouldn't rosters be settled by now or at least settled to the point where there is an explanation for the numbers?

Regardless, it's obvious that there are some spots that will need to be cleared up between now and the deadline for LSU to get to their max limit of 83.

On a somewhat positive note, it does appear that LSU tried to improve its communication with the players a little bit.  This is still not enough as most agree that grayshirt offers really need to be explicit, agreed upon on NSD, and shouldn't depend on the enrollment of another recruit falling through or a roster cut to make space.  For example, Ohio State and Cardale Jones agreed to a grayshirt offer when Cardale signed in February and despite 3 slots opening up since that time, Jones is still going to grayshirt.  This is because the main reason behind his grayshirt was to create separation between him and the others at his position, not because Ohio State wanted to sign him and keep him away from other teams while waiting for a slot to open up in the current class.  This was planned grayshirting; LSU is using the grayshirting as a buffer to make sure they don't go over 85.  Nevertheless, it is an improvement over how they treated Elliott Porter.

Still, even subtracting those five, LSU would need to axe two more scholarships in total to reach 83. Who those two will be is anyone’s guess, but LSU is promising they won’t repeat the same mistakes that they did with Porter last year.

“We’ve been very transparent with the kids this year,” Alleva said to Gannett Sports. “Around February, we told a few kids who may be grayshirted, and that’s okay. I think it’s a bad thing if you surprise the kid. It was accidental last year with Les (and Porter), but I didn’t like it.”

Overall Cody did a great job of explaining oversigning and providing a great update on LSU's situation. It would be nice if the NCAA would step in and regulate the grayshirt process so that it is clearly defined on NSD and so there is insurance for the student-athlete that his spot be available next January and also so that recruits that sign on NSD are not asked at the last minute to take a grayshirt because the school doesn't have the numbers.

Filed under: SEC 20 Comments
9Jul/111

LSU Scholarship Numbers

Based on these two links from LSU fan sites, LSU is still 6 over the 85 limit.

That puts us at six over the limit (I'm taking the cautious route here, acknowledging the self-imposed two-scholarship reduction, though I'm not sure exactly how that will play out). Of everything I've mentioned above my guesses are that Fordham won't be on scholarship, one or two of the freshman won't qualify and a couple of the guys will take medical hardships (Kellen Theriot being the main candidate), which will get us right into the 83 we need. All in all, the roster is in pretty healthy shape, otherwise.

http://www.andthevalleyshook.com/2011/7/5/2260235/the-great-scholarship-quandary-of-2011

http://saturdaynightslant.com/site/content/roster-breakdown-football.html

Earlier this week we did a quick Q&A with Cody Worsham, Sport Editor at DigBatonRouge.com for an LSU story he is working on.  Worsham is interested, as are many, to see how the final numbers are going to work out for LSU this year.  We'll post a link when he runs his article.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
31Jan/1115

Official LSU Numbers Thread

Let's get to the bottom of LSU's numbers.  This is the list of Seniors from last year.  15 Seniors with 4 of them listed as Squad Team players, which are typically not on scholarship.  According to this list of current scholarship players, none of the guys on the list below are on that list, so there are no 5th seniors on the roster.

Now, the according to the list above there are 71 current players on scholarship.  That list of 71 includes 3 of the now 22 recruits in LSU's 2010 class.  Those three have already signed and enrolled.  That means there are 14 openings (85-71=14) and still 19 verbal commitments (rivals has 22 listed with 3 of them already signed).  However, LSU has been docked 2 scholarships because of recruiting violations, so that puts them at 12 openings against 19 verbal commitments.  (Note: the 71 above would include juniors leaving early for the NFL).

Couple of things to note here.  1. It was being assumed that LSU was at 85 max last year when they turned away Elliot Porter, but it might have been that they were up against the 25 max for the class and not the 85 limit.  2. LSU might have had a couple of guys leave the team during the football season that would have had an affect on their final scholarship numbers at the end of the season.

Regardless, if you subscribe to them having 71 guys currently on scholarship then there is still an issue with their numbers.  As mentioned, they have 22 verbal commitments, 3 of those have signed, that leaves 19 verbal commitments to 14 openings minus the reduction of 2 for the NCAA violations, which puts the budget at 12.

Based on this it appears that LSU is 7 over the limit, not 9.  Updates and comments welcome.

Filed under: SEC 15 Comments
29Jan/1128

Saturday Morning Reading

Jon Solomon with an excellent piece on oversigning.  Here is a reader response to Jon's article.  It is amazing how widespread this mentality is regarding student-athletes and college athletics.

You have to over sign to keep the freeloaders off the teams, leave it to you Bugsy to try and cause a stir. You're getting as bad as your twin Scarbo.

You take a kid like Tyler Love, he's never made one single contribution to that team is it right that he continues to have a free ride? He was a 4 or 5 star prospect. Nothing but dead weight. B. J Scott he couldn't find a spot on the either. Is it fair for him to just sit there? I think not, give him chance to play somewhere else, and make room for a new player.

Why don't you take a trip to Afrika, Bugsy, I hear the lions are hungry on the Serengeti Plain.

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/01/solomon_oversigning_day_leads.html

LSU Reveille with an interesting piece on LSU's scholarship numbers.  They point out that LSU is facing a scholarship reduction of 2 this recruiting class because of recruiting violations.  This means they can only have 83 total on scholarship this year and can only sign 23 this year.  As we pointed out, they had an extremely small senior class of around 11-13 guys.  By the time you take away the 2 scholarships from the NCAA penalty, they have room for a legitimate 8-11.  Let's say there is some wiggle room and the number is 15.  Right now they have 21 verbal commitments and according to the article they plan on taking a full 23. 

http://www.lsureveille.com/sports/lsu-docked-scholarships-faces-recruiting-dilemma-1.2449091

Filed under: Quick Links 28 Comments
8Jan/1188

Tressel on Oversigning

This is a video we posted a long time ago of Jim Tressel talking about his 2010 recruiting class.  Oversigning.com has had over 4 Million hits since its creation last February, but the vast majority of that traffic has been in the last 6 months or so, and as with any blog site content often rolls off the front page and gets buried in the archive somewhere.

With National Signing Day approaching, we thought we would revisit Jim Tressel's press conference from last year that took place just days after sign day.  The video below is about 8 minutes long, but we are only concerned with the first 2-3 minutes.

In the video, Tressel announces to the media that Ohio State had 20 vacancies they could fill with the current recruiting class.  That number, no doubt, was based on the number of seniors graduating and the number of juniors leaving for the NFL early, plus any scholarships that were banked from the previous year.

Tressel explains that one thing you never want to do is go over the limit but in order to sign everyone they wanted to sign they would have had to sign 30 guys.  The limit he is talking about is not the limit of 25 guys per class, he is talking about the 85 limit.  It is important to note that he treats signatures as enrolled players.  When he says "right now we are at 18" he is referring to having 18 kids signed not 18 kids enrolled.  Ironically, one of the kids he signed did not make it into school and that scholarship was given to a deserving walk-on for his senior year. 

The 19th player he had hoped to sign was Seantrel Henderson.  Ohio State did not land Seantrel and since they were not able to sign more than they projected to have room for they couldn't heavily recruit Seantrel and several other top OL prospects for fear of landing more than they would project having room for or having to turn someone away after an offer had been given.  Ohio State could have easily pursued 5 OL and found some pour soul(s) to cut on the bottom end of the roster, but that didn't happen and won't happen under Big 10 recruiting rules.

Notice there is no mention of medical hardships, grey shirts, cuts, transfers, etc.  Notice that he doesn't get upset with the media for asking questions about his numbers, in fact he is as transparent as the NCAA will allow him to be with regards to roster management.

Let's compare that to Nick Saban's current recruiting class, ranked #1 in the country.

Saban has roughly 8 scholarship seniors and he announced this week that 3 Juniors are leaving early for the NFL.  That is roughly 11 scholarship openings.  Let's be generous and say there are 15 openings.  His class right now has 22 verbal commitments plus two players that accepted a grey shirt offer from last year and are expected to enroll this year.  That makes 24 total scholarship commitments this year and only 15 at most openings.  There was no room to back count players to last year's class so everyone is going to count towards this year.

But Nick Saban is not finished recruiting yet.  National Signing Day has not arrived and Nick Saban is still pursuing recruits such as #1 ranked DE Clowney. 

Defenders of Saban's recruiting practices and even Saban himself will probably tell you that they have a plan and that everything is on the up and up with the NCAA.  What they won't tell you is that his plan is to exploit every known loophole in the NCAA rule book for recruiting.  Players will be moved to medical hardships, transferred, or asked to greyshirt in order to make room to get down to 85, room he didn't have when he accepted their signed letter of intent. 

There is something drastically wrong when a coach like Jim Tressel has 1 greyshirt and maybe 2 medical hardships in 10 years at Ohio State and Nick Saban has 12 medical hardships in 4 years and is looking at giving out 10 greyshirt offers this year.  It's a problem and it's real.   And LSU is no different - it's not just Alabama.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 88 Comments
6Jan/1154

Alabama with Verbal Commitment #22 and #1 Recruiting Class

Alabama picked up verbal commitment #22 last night from Xzavier Dickson and they now have the #1 ranked class according to Rivals.com.  http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/commitments/2011/Alabama-73

That commitment seems to have ushered in the departure of another commitment as one of the 22 is now headed to JUCO. http://alabama.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1173085&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

It cannot be stressed enough how much of an advantage it is for Saban to not have to work withing a projected recruiting budget like he would if he were recruiting in the Big 10 conference.  With a senior class of roughly 8-10 players and no more than 4 Juniors jumping to the NFL early, the reasonable recruiting budget for Alabama should be somewhere around 14-15 players, which is what you would expect when a school has such a small senior class.  If you go back and look at schools such as Ohio State, you will occasionally see a small class of 15 or so recruits.  That is the normal cycle of recruiting when you are not allowed to oversign.

Ohio State signed 16 recruits in 2003, 15 in 2007, and 19 in 2010.   See the pattern there; every three or four years you have a small class if you are not oversigning every year.

Alabama on the other hand going back to 2005 has had 32, 23, 25, 32, 27, 29, and is at 22 this year. 

Alabama is not done recruiting yet as there are still a few players on their board and national signing day is not here yet.   The good news is that at least the SEC will stop them at 28; even though they are already way, way over their projected budget. 

Must be nice to just go out and get 25-28 new players every year, despite what you have room for, and never get so much as a phone call from the conference office asking where you are going to put everyone.

Mike Slive and the University Presidents of the SEC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to continue, but to them, maybe this is just a way of life...after all, this has been going on in the SEC since the days of Bobby Dodd and Georgia Tech being an SEC member institution.  At least they had the dignity to take a stand and leave.

Filed under: SEC 54 Comments
20Dec/1090

Tony Gerdeman on the Competitive Equality aspect of Oversigning

Tony Gerdeman touches on the competitive equality issue with Oversigning and gives you a game by game break down of the bowl games and the recruiting numbers, something that the ESPN OTL piece shied away from in their piece on oversigning this weekend instead electing to focus on the human element of the practice and how in the opinion of one attorney, Donald Jackson, the actions of some of the coaches that oversign are close to meeting the elements for common law fraud.

http://www.the-ozone.net/football/postseason/oversigning.html

Clearly, the lives altered so that coaches and schools can prosper is the core issue here, however, you can not minimize the impact oversigning has on the playing field - it is an undeniable truth that the SEC has a huge advantage over the rest of college football due to the conference's reluctance to get serious about stopping oversigning.  It's not the only reason for the SEC success, but it plays a major role in the depth and strength of the conference, not to mention the advantage being able to sign more than you have room for gives you in the Rivals and other recruiting rankings. For example, right now Alabama has 20 verbal commitments, when in actuality, under Big10 recruiting rules, they would only have room for somewhere around 12 recruits given they only have roughly 8 seniors on scholarship and don't anticipate more than 4 juniors going pro early.  Therefore, if Alabama were bound to Big 10 recruiting rules they would have somewhere around 12-14 verbal commitments right now, not 20.  Do you think they would have the second best recruiting class in the country with only 12-14 commitments?  No, they wouldn't.  However, given the fact that they are able to skirt recruiting rules Big 10 schools follow they are able to load up on recruits and lure more blue chip players to be a part of their #2 ranked class.

Not only does this help a school like Alabama, it keeps other schools who have legitimate room from getting those players.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 90 Comments
29Nov/1017

Wall Street Journal – Round 2 with Alabama

Typically, this is the off season for oversigning.com as there is just not a lot of news during the football season and it's usually pretty quiet until the football season ends and the recruiting season takes center stage.  However, the Wall Street Journal seems to be busy interviewing former Alabama players regarding their departures from Alabama on the heels of Nick Saban's bloated recruiting classes.  The general thinking here at this site is that Nick Saban and Alabama (along with other SEC schools) grossly oversign their roster and find media-friendly ways to get their roster down to 85 scholarship players by the final day before NCAA violations for being over the allowable limit.  Obviously, this is done to gain a competitive advantage by sifting through more players to find the best possible players, among other reasons.

We chronicled this journey last year in our March to 85 as Saban went over his projected budget by 10 recruits and sure enough 10 scholarship players hit the bricks.  There were 3 medical hardships, a couple of academic casualties, some grey shirt players, and then the mysterious story of Star Jackson.  We were told that Star Jackson left because he wanted to go somewhere and start - he believed he had enough talent to start for another school and wanted to get more playing time in hopes of having an NFL career.  He ended up at Georgia State as the 3rd string quarterback.

Jackson's stats at Georgia State: 5/10 passing for 42 yards and 8 rushes for 17 yards for the year!!!

Does anyone honestly believe that Nick Saban would let a 3rd string QB at Georgia State take up a QB scholarship at Alabama?

Regardless, as mentioned above, the WSJ has been poking around the Alabama program and questioning former players who have left the program recently and what they are hearing from former players is not exactly complimentary.  In a previous piece, they spoke with former Alabama players who were placed on medical hardships who went on record saying they thought they were pushed out in order to make room for new recruits; one player even referred to it as a loophole that was being taken advantage of by Alabama.

Round 1: Alabama's Unhappy Castoffs

Round 2: Former Players Say Saban Twisted the Truth

 

In their latest piece, the WSJ spoke with 3 of 4 players who were announced to have been released by Alabama for violation of unspecified team rules.  Turns out there is no record of any rule violations and the players claim they left on their own free will and that Saban said they broke team rules to save face in recruiting.

The three players said they believe Mr. Saban falsely portrayed the circumstances of their departures to protect the image of his program. Mr. Saban had previously come under scrutiny by the media for offering scholarships to more incoming recruits than the school could accommodate under NCAA scholarship limits. This relatively common practice, which is known as "oversigning" is not prohibited by the NCAA. It allows a coach to improve his roster by giving him a larger pool of talent to choose from. But it also eventually forces the coach to get rid of a few scholarship players he no longer wants—which can put him at risk of scaring away future recruits.

If Mr. Saban had said the players decided to transfer because they didn't believe they would have a chance to play at Alabama, the players said, it would have provided ammunition for rival coaches competing for the same recruits. But if the players were seen as disciplinary cases, they said, Mr. Saban's recruiting methods wouldn't be viewed as the problem. Mr. Saban, Mr. Preyear said, "was just making himself look good for the media, and making us look bad."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704243904575630593438793612.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_editorsPicks_1#articleTabs%3Darticle

Stay tuned in on this topic as it is very likely that the WSJ is not finished with the topic of oversigning or the University of Alabama.  With recruiting season approaching and schools like Alabama and LSU already positioned to oversigning in large numbers given their relatively small senior classes, we anticipate a good bit of news on the oversigning front in the coming months.  Of course, all of that could be avoided if SEC coaches simply state up front before national signing day what their number of openings are (85 - [# of Seniors + # of Juniors going to the NFL early]) and then sign what they have room for on National Signing Day.

Filed under: SEC 17 Comments
10Oct/1016

Interview with Tim Hyland

A few months back, oversigning.com was approached by Tim Hyland at about.com to do a question and answer session on the topic of oversigning and about the creation of this website.  This interview was prior to the Wall Street Journal's piece on Alabama's players admitting they felt a little bitter about being pressured into taking medical hardship scholarships to free up roster space for oversigned recruiting classes.  Had that story broke prior to our interview session with Tim Hyland, it probably would have been included in one of the answers.

Be that as it may, here is the link to the interview. 

http://collegefootball.about.com/od/rulesofthegame/a/Oversigning-College-Footballs-Hidden-Problem.htm

 If we had to summarize the interview and give a bulleted list of the points we were trying to make it would look something like this:

  • Nick Saban's comments about the fans not needing to know about his recruiting numbers or how he plans to get down to the 85 limit is what really sparked our interest in this entire topic.  This article is what started it all.
  • SEC by far signs the most players and abuses the oversigning loophole the most.  When you see one team from one conference sign 15, 20, 17, and 19, and then another team from another conference sign 32, 23, 25, and 32, something is wrong with the system.  To be clear, this is an SEC issue with the exception of a few other programs throughout the entire country.
  • The purpose of this site is to raise awareness to the topic of oversigning and hopefully help get it removed from college football.  
  • Oversigning is not a rules violation, which is part of the problem.  It is a by-product of the NCAA's 25/85 scholarship limits and their recruiting by-laws.  Oversigning is a loophole that is being exploited.
  • Oversigning creates a competitive advantage by allowing coaches access to a larger pool of players, hedge against academic and medical attrition, and ensure that they maximize the full 85 scholarships by forcing out lesser players to transfer to lesser schools or pressure kids into taking medical hardship scholarships to free up roster space, much of which we saw at alarming rates this preseason.
  • It is our opinion that no coach should have to "get down" to 85 scholarships after national signing day.  They should sign what they have room for and encourage who they have to stay and get better (unless the kid is a criminal or not making the grades) by coaching them up and making men out of them instead of just throwing them off on another coach - after all they thought enough of them when they signed them.  Coaches are paid millions of dollars to evaluate talent, why should we give them an out if they miss on a guy? Why should we allow them to get rid of student-athlete simply because they don't pan out to be as good as a coach thought they would be?  If a coach has a shortfall due to unexpected attrition, then he can give those scholarships to deserving walk-on players in their 4th or 5 th year as a reward for all their hard work.
  • Lastly, we hope the NCAA takes a long hard look at the oversigning issue and revamps some of their recruiting by-laws to include a lot more transparency in roster management.  The LOI should be a two way binding agreement.  Perhaps scholarships need to go back to being 4 year deals instead of one.  Each school should only be able to sign what they have room for on National Signing Day.  There needs to be an exit interview for all players transferring and especially all players placed on medical hardship scholarship in order to determine if they felt like they were wrongly pushed in that direction. We will know when this problem has been solved when we see teams like Alabama and LSU, who both have very, very small senior classes on scholarship and are only losing roughly 8-12 scholarship guys next year, sign classes in the 8-12 range  - as it stands right now they are both on track to sign 20+, and you can rest assured that we will see all kinds of crazy stories next spring between signing day and August when both teams shove guys off in order to make room for the new load of recruits.  

Thanks again to Tim Hyland for his interest in the topic of oversigning and for reaching out and giving us the opportunity to answer some questions.  If you haven't visited his blog, we encourage you to - Tim does a great job covering college football.

Filed under: Feedback 16 Comments
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
26Sep/109

Paul Finebaum Interviews WSJ’s Darren Everson

Those of you who are really passionate about the topic of oversigning and interested in hearing more about the Wall Street Journal article Alabama's Unhappy Castoffs should find Paul Finebaum's (a sports talk show host on Sirius Satellite Radio) interview with the author of the article, Darren Everson, interesting. 

The Darren Everson interview comes around the 20 minute mark in the link below.

 http://www.finebaum.com/media/archives/show/20100924_PFRN_Hour4.mp3

One thing that we found interesting was that it was Phil Steele's list of "players lost for the year" that triggered Everson to do a little more investigative work on the specific topic of medical hardships.  Everson states in the interview that Alabama's numbers, and a couple of other teams, really stood out; Alabama having 3 medical hardships in one year and roughly 12 since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa stood out to him and prompted him to take a closer look.

Obviously, Everson was well aware of the numbers crunch for Alabama over the last couple of recruiting seasons, and he mentions that he was interested to see if there was a connection between the medical hardships and the roster crunch. 

Everson made a couple of phone calls to players and as it turns out some of the guys he interviewed, not all of them willing to go on record out of fear of possible backlash from what they have to say, said that they feel as though they were pushed in the direction of taking a medical hardship to free up a scholarship for a new recruit, AND that they thought that not only did it happen to them, but that they thought it was something the coaching staff did to other players as well.  It's important to note that a few players did go public with their comments, but it would really be interesting to hear what those who wouldn't go public had to say - sure wish the NCAA could interview those players and find out their side of the story. 

Part of the problem here is that the by-laws and the process for handling medical hardships are somewhat of a grey area, even the NCAA by-laws are a little vague.

15.5.1.3 Counter Who Becomes Injured or Ill.  A counter who becomes injured or ill to the point that he or she apparently never again will be able to participate in intercollegiate athletics shall not be considered a counter beginning with the academic year following the incapacitating injury or illness.

15.5.1.3.1 Incapacitating Injury or Illness. If an incapacitating injury or illness occurs prior to a prospective student-athlete’s or a student-athlete’s participation in athletically related activities and
results in the student-athlete’s inability to compete ever again, the student-athlete shall not be counted within the institution’s maximum financial aid award limitations for the current, as well as later academic
years.

One key word for us is the word PARTICIPATE.  What do you define as participation?  To us it could be defined as doing everything with the team except contact drills, scrimmages, or playing, which would leave individual drill work, film study, team meetings, etc.  There are ways to participate in intercollegiate athletics without actually playing on the field on game days...walk-ons and scout team guys do it every week.

This is yet another example of the NCAA writing vague by-laws that speak to the spirit of the rules instead of the factual details that need to be monitored and regulated.  No different than the by-laws for signing players.  The NCAA is trying to give schools and players enough room to protect the student-athlete, but they leave enough room for crass coaches interested in winning above all else to exploit the loopholes and gain a competitive advantage, use youngsters like pieces of meat, and lower the overall ethical standards of the game.

Solutions:

There are a couple of solutions to this problem (abusing medical hardships and pushing kids to accept them in order to get an oversigned roster down to 85, which is clearly what Alabama, LSU, and UNC have done over the last 4 years). 

1. The NCAA should hire a third-party medical team to provide a final exit examination so that some of these mysterious medical conditions can be investigated.

2. The NCAA should create an exit interview for players who transfer or who are asked to take a medical hardship scholarship.  An exit interview, where players can speak freely about what they were told or asked of by the coaching staff would have revealed that there are players at Alabama that have been pushed into taking a medical hardship in order to free up room and avoid NCAA penalties for going over the 85 scholarship limit.

3. Make the medical hardship scholarships count towards the 85 limit and make guys continue to earn their financial aid.  Unless a student-athlete is paralyzed from the waist down, there are plenty of things they can do to earn their scholarship and help the team. 

4. Eliminate the motivation to use this loophole.  If you eliminate oversigning then you can drastically cut down or eliminate all together situations where coaches are looking to push innocent players off the football team in order to make room for better players.

Common Arguments and More from the Paul Finebaum Radio Show: 

1. This happens everywhere, what's the problem?  No. This does not happen everywhere, according to Darren Everson there were 25 Medical Hardships in the SEC and 12 of them were Alabama's.  But that's not the real issue, it's the combination of three things that makes it an issue, and those of you that want to argue against this to really pay attention here:  A.) It's the higher than average number of medical hardships, B.) combined with a motive to issue those hardships (being oversigned and needed to cut players to get down to 85, and most importantly, C.) combined with the FACT that you have ALABAMA players ON RECORD stating that they think they were pushed into the medical hardship IN AN EFFORT TO WORK THE RECRUITING NUMBERS OUT and BRING IN BETTER PLAYERS.

If you take away those 3 factors then there is nothing wrong with the medical hardship, in fact, it is great and should be preserved.

2. This is just another example of northern media out to put down the SEC.  No, it's not.  This is a widely recognized issue that has been addressed by media outlets around the country.  That is nothing more than a lame excuse.

The sports editor of the Tuscaloosa News, Cecil Hurt, tried to use that as an excuse or a reason as to why this is an issue, he even went so far as to say that this is all coming from the Big 10 in response to losing to the SEC all the time.  Cecil Hurt is very well respected, but he is slightly off in his comments.  If anyone has been affected by oversigning in terms of competitive advantage it has been the ACC who signs the fewest number of players of any BCS conference and has a miserable record against the SEC.   His comments are at 32:20 in the link below.

http://www.finebaum.com/media/archives/show/20100924_PFRN_Hour2.mp3

3. This is all not true.  Typical argument from a delusional fan that is willing to do whatever it takes to defend his team or coach.  Finebaum actually had a guy call in and take this position with him, to which Finebaum responds with the following...go to the 3:45 mark in this link and listen to this argument.  

http://www.finebaum.com/media/archives/show/20100924_PFRN_Hour2.mp3

4. This freaking article is a bunch of crap - you could write this article about any of the 119 teams.  Another insane argument posed to Finebaum in the link above at the 21:00 minute mark.

5. This is not against the rules. Yes, medical hardships are not against the rules, but does anyone like the idea of a school abuse them to gain an advantage?  Probably not.

Note: The site to the links for the audio is temporarily down; will probably be up again soon.  Be sure to come back and check out the audio, it's well worth it if you enjoy discussing this topic.

Filed under: SEC 9 Comments
23Sep/1059

Medical Hardship Scholarship Abuse

Hannah Karp and Darren Everson at the Wall Street Journal have decided to probe the Alabama football program and the topic of medical hardship scholarships.  The results are interesting.

At least 12 times since coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007, Alabama has offered players a "medical" scholarship, according to public statements made by the team. These scholarships, which are allowed under NCAA rules, are intended to make sure scholarship athletes who are too injured to play don't lose their financial aid. A player who receives one of these scholarships is finished playing with that team.

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?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth#articleTabs%3Darticle

The article is pretty much in line with everything we have been saying here on this topic, except this time it's actual former Alabama players saying the things we have said instead.

In light of the admission from former Alabama players that they felt pressured to take the medical hardship scholarships to free up scholarships, are we really still supposed to believe that guys like Star Jackson transfer completely on their own free will and that there is no pressure whatsoever from the coaching staff to move guys out in order to make the 85 limit every year.

To be fair, Alabama is not alone here, LSU and UNC are just as bad when it comes to abusing the bogus medical hardship scholarship loophole.

"Alabama isn't the only school that has given players medical scholarships. Including the Crimson Tide, the 12 members of the Southeastern Conference have given at least 25 of these scholarships to football players in the past three years. Ultimately, it's the school's decision whether a player is healthy enough to play football."

No one is forced against their will to take a medical hardship, some players said they were pressured, some said they were not pressured.

In some cases, the players who took these scholarships say they didn't feel pressured. Charles Hoke, a former Alabama offensive lineman who took a medical scholarship in 2008 because of a shoulder problem, said the choice was left entirely up to him and was based on the many conversations he had with the team's doctors and trainers over the course of his junior year.

Others who took these scholarships say they believe the school is violating the spirit of the rule. Mr. Kirschman, the linebacker, said he injured his back in April 2008 but continued practicing with the team through the spring of 2009. That May, he was approached by coaches and trainers and asked to take a medical scholarship.

"I wasn't playing significant minutes, but I was personally upset because I did anything coach asked, I was a team player, I had a 4.0 average," said Mr. Kirschman, who played in two career games, both in 2008, and is now working full time as a robot programmer at Mercedes.

But that doesn't mean all of the players were happy about it.

On the surface this looks like the perfect little loophole to get around oversigning.  These kids are given a scholarship to continue their education, so the coaches can sell them on that, plus the coaches can work the "it's for the good of the team and your school, which you'll still be able to attend" angle, which is much more appealing than, "hit the bricks we don't need you and we need to make room for better players." 

Couldn't this be looked at as giving players money to go away instead of giving them money to come?  "Hey, we'll give you $20-30K in the form of paid education and perks such as game tickets if you'll just leave your football scholarship so we can give it to someone else, and by the way, you'll need to sign this medical waiver so the NCAA doesn't slap us with rules violations and probation." 

Mr. Kirschman said the school offered in the summer of 2009 to pay for his graduate degree in business—an offer he accepted—and that he still gets some of the same perks as players. "I still get game tickets, which is nice," he says.

Mr. Kirschman said the decision to take the medical scholarship was ultimately his, and that he decided to do it to open up a scholarship for the good of the team. But he said he felt he was pressured. "It was pushed," he said. "It was instigated for several players."

In today's day and age, it's becoming increasingly harder to give players money and gifts on the front-end to entice them to come to a school without someone noticing, so why not give it on the back end to make room for better players.  That is what this is all about.  You don't build the kind of teams LSU, Alabama, and UNC have, as quickly as they have, without making as much room as possible for new, better players.

Just like the oversigning abuse, this is an issue that is being exploited by certain schools and it needs to end.  You would think the schools that abuse these loopholes would take more pride in just competing straight-up without having to bend every rule in the book or exploit every loophole, but that is obviously not the case some places.   What good is winning a National Championship if you oversigned 40+ guys in a 4 year period and ran off a bunch of kids in the process?  And shame on the conference commissioners, athletic directors, and university presidents that allow their coaches to do this kind of stuff to innocent kids.

Filed under: ACC, SEC 59 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
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