The Wall Street Journal just released another article on oversigning written by Hannah Karp and Darren Everson in which Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, and Huston Nutt all attempt to defend oversigning, calling it necessary and helpful.
Spurrier admits that it is a competitive advantage to the SEC and that it is hurting the Big 10 a lot to not partake in the practice of oversigning. The crazy thing about Spurrier is that he didn't really have to rely on oversigning while at Florida.
Spurrier said oversigning is "helpful" because so many of the players in the state come from underprivileged backgrounds and may not qualify academically. He said the Big Ten, which has curbed oversigning for decades, is making a mistake by doing so. "I think that really hurts them a lot," Spurrier said. "They end up giving scholarships to a lot of walk-ons."
Petrino openly admits that they target 3-4 recruits that they know for sure are not going to qualify academically so they can place them in the JUCO farm system.
Petrino, the Arkansas coach, said he tries to follow a formula. He signs 19 players he knows are "academically gonna make it without being a load on our academic support staff," six guys who may or may not qualify, and three to four players who have "absolutely no chance" of qualifying. (He signs the last group so that "they feel a commitment to us," and stashes them in junior college for a few years.)
Nutt claims that we can't have a perfect world of signing 22 players every year. Big 10 coaches must be living in a fantasy world because they average around 22 players per year and have done so for a long time.
Houston Nutt, Mississippi's coach, signed 31 players in 2008, 37 in 2009, 25 last year and 28 last month. He said oversigning is sometimes "necessary," mainly to plug holes. This year, he said, two cornerbacks—Jermaine Whitehead and Floyd Raven—defected at the last minute. "Now I'm sitting here without two corners. You just can't have this perfect world of, 'We're gonna sign 22 this year.'"
Meanwhile, the High School coach of one of the players South Carolina pulled the plug on at the last minute is crying foul play.
Montgomery's high school coach, Walter Banks, said, "I told them this was foul. I didn't have a clue until 18 hours before signing day, and if they say anything else, they're lying."
The number one thing that stands out in this article is that the majority of recruits either don't care or don't know about all the ins and outs of the recruiting numbers -- they all think they are going to play and that they won't be the one to get cut. Obviously the lure of NFL cash and whatever the recruiters are selling is just too much for kids to look past.
In interviews conducted in the weeks since last month's signing day, when top high-school seniors make their college commitments, dozens of signees headed to some of the nation's most chronically oversigned schools were either unconcerned, or unaware, that these schools may have to cut some players to balance their lopsided books.
Offensive tackle Jonah Austin of New Orleans, who signed at LSU, said he wasn't aware that LSU is about 11 players over budget—and that it's not something he's thought much about. Cornerback Senquez Golson of Pascagoula, Miss., who chose Mississippi over Florida State, said that at the risk of sounding "cocky" he's not worried about being "run off" by coaches. "I don't think I'll be one of those players," he said.
Based on these comments, the conference meeting in July to discuss the topic of oversigning will be very interesting and probably very heated. Clearly not everyone in the SEC is on the same page with this issue. The topic of oversigning is a fundamental element of the cultural identity of a conference and for the SEC members to be so divided on this is really unbelievable. This is where the Big 10 Conference is reaping the benefit of banning this practice back in 1954; the decision to remove oversigning back then created a cultural mindset in the Big 10 Conference that oversigning is not accepted and therefore it is simply not an issue today. The SEC was faced with this same opportunity back then when Georgia Tech demanded that the SEC step in and put a stop to oversigning, the SEC did not and Georgia Tech left. Are the rest of the chickens coming home to roost? It appears that way.
Hannah and Darren have really done a great job covering this topic, we encourage everyone to go read the rest of the article -- things are getting very interesting.