Oversigning.com
7Jul/1112

More Ohio State

In trying to track down Ohio State's numbers, which by the way would be 1,000 times easier to do if Ohio State would release them or the B1G office would release them, we decided to see if Kevin Noon, Managing Editor & Publisher at the Ohio State Rivals site Buckeye Grove could help shed a little light on last year's numbers at year end.  Here is his play by play for the scholarship numbers from the end of last year to the addition of this year's class.

The team ended with 80 scholarship players last season... (not including the walk-ons getting the one year).

Players that left:
17 seniors (that adds Moeller back into the mix) (63)

Dionte Allen goes against the count for 1 year (64)
Longo leaves March 9th (63)
DiLillo leaves (can't date it... he had 4 years on schollie, was mutual) (62)

Seven players enroll (Cash, Shazier, Heuerman, B. Miller, T. Brown, R. Tanner, J. Hale) (69)
Jackson leaves (68)
Pryor leaves (67)
Ohio State has 15 more players enroll (D. Smith, Spencer, Vannett, Bobek, Underwood, Carter, Farris, Hayes, S. Miller, Bennett, Crowell, C. Grant, D. Grant, Gambrell, Haynes) (82)

Even if there is a question as to when Jackson and Pryor go into the count there is no way that it goes above 84.. let alone 85... Longo was gone before Spring quarter and DiLillo was out of the program after the bowl game as well... even if we do count him for winter quarter.

http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1036745

Here is our take on the numbers based on what Kevin has provided us,  how we look at rosters, and how we define oversigning:

(Note: the senior class listed above would have been the signing class of 2007 in which there were 15 guys signed.  3 of that 15 were no longer with the team at the start of the 2010 season: Clifford, Scott, and Pentello.  The rest are divided up into the senior and junior classes above based on redshirting.)

We start with the number 64.  That is the number listed above after the 17 seniors leave from the pool of 80 and you add the FSU transfer (80-17=63 + FSU transfer = 64).  That is the pre-NSD number, but that number does not include the departure of Dilillo who was not on the team at the end of the 2010 season despite still being on scholarship, according to Noon.  So that takes the number to 63

Prior to NSD, on January 20th, Sam Longo announced he was transferring. http://www.thebuckeyebattlecry.com/2011/01/breaking-sam-longo-to-transfer/ now the number 62 prior to NSD.

On NSD Ohio State signed 24 (23 for this class and 1 as a grayshirt signee for next year). 62+23 = 85 plus Cardale Jones who was a grayshirt signee.  Technically you could say that Ohio State went over by 1, but the 1 that they went over would not result in forcing anyone out of a scholarship because it technically doesn't count until next year.  The 1 over was clearly for next year -- how you view that is up to you, if you want to call it oversigning you can, by our definition it is, but clearly it doesn't result in anyone being pushed out.  Now had Jones announced at the end of July that he is taking a grayshirt then things would have been fishy.

Update: Cardale Jones signed a letter of intent but with the understanding that he would enroll at Fork Union in the fall and then rejoin Ohio State in January of 2012 on scholarship.  It is unclear as to when his LOI became void, but it had to in order for him to enroll at Fork Union.  This is slightly different than him enrolling at Ohio State for the fall and paying his own way.  With Jones being released from his LOI, he is allowed to be recruited by anyone and can go anywhere he wants should he decide after Fork Union that he doesn't want to go to Ohio State.

http://www.cleveland.com/buckeyeblog/index.ssf/2011/02/glenville_qb_cardale_jones_and.html 

After NSD you have Jackson, Pryor, and Price leave the pool of 85 which is why you see Ohio State currently at 82 here:  http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1176611.

This still leaves Adam Griffin.  He is included in the numbers above, but as we mentioned earlier, he was a walk-on freshman last year that was given the scholarship saved for Seantrel Henderson and when he didn't sign it went to Griffin.  From Griffin:

News of you signing with Ohio State was kind of a shock to most fans. How did the process unfold and how did the opportunity to become a Buckeye come about?  "Things unfolded pretty randomly. I called coach Tressel and asked to walk-on. Then, he called me back with a scholarship."

http://www.elevenwarriors.com/2010/02/catching-up-with-adam-griffin.html

We don't know the details of Griffin's situation, but it is reasonable to think that he gets to remain on scholarship provided there is always room.  Now technically, by our definition of oversigning, if Ohio State were to go over by one and then release Griffin from his scholarship we would call it oversigning. 

This is as close as you will ever come to getting the numbers nailed down without having the official numbers from Ohio State.  Obviously, Nic Dilillo's status was the missing piece.  Being that he was not on the team at the end of the 2010 season and was not invited to spring ball, it is reasonable that both he and Ohio State knew that his scholarship would be filled by someone in the 2011 recruiting class and that is probably what Ohio State reported to the Big 10 office when they turned in their recruiting budget for 2011.  If Dilillo comes out and says he felt he was pushed out to make room or that he was treated unfairly, we'll certainly report it, just like the James Jackson situation, but to date there have been no reports on Dilillo to our knowledge.

Special thanks to Kevin Noon at Rivals for providing the scholarship chart and the time to bounce emails back and forth.

Filed under: Big 10 12 Comments
1Jul/111

James Jackson and Ohio State

In case you haven't heard, James Jackson, former Ohio State WR, was quoted in an article written by AP writer, Pat Eaton-Robb as saying, "Ohio State had an oversigning issue."

Jackson, a wide receiver, says he was asked to transfer after last season, two years into his college career.

"They had an oversigning issue," Jackson said. "They had to free up a few scholarships, and coach (Jim) Tressel told me I probably wouldn't play and maybe Ohio State wasn't the place for me."

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=13929839

Obviously, that sounds pretty bad if it is true.  Even if it isn't true, it is pretty clear that Jackson was unhappy about how things went down at Ohio State.   In a nutshell, Jackson thought when he committed and signed with Ohio State that it was a 4-5 year commitment by both parties and, as the AP story illustrates, Jackson was obviously not aware of the "fine print" of the scholarship agreement.

While oversigning seems to have grabbed the headlines, in talking to Rusty Miller who helped Pat Eaton-Robb on the story, it's clear that the intent of the story had nothing to do with oversigning.  From Rusty Miller via email:

"Our story dealt with legislation in Connecticut and California dealing with making the fine print on scholarships clearer to both sides. It had absolutely nothing to do with oversigning. We won't be doing another story on this, unless the legislation proceeds or becomes a law. But the oversigning part won't be repeated, since James Jackson won't ever be interviewed again."

"I don't think there's any fire here to go with the smoke. It was just the kid who called it oversigning: Not Tressel, nor Smith nor Ohio State.  Jackson probably doesn't even know what oversigning is."

Jackson's HS coach also believes that what happened to Jackson had nothing to do with oversigning:

"I know James wasn't an oversigning, but I do believe it was a roster management deal."

So the million dollar question is, if the story had nothing to do with oversigning why start the story off with an accusation from a former player of oversigning against one of the few schools in the country with a spotless oversigning record?  This is all very confusing to be honest, as MGoBlog points out here:

If Tressel said he wasn't going to play and should think about a transfer but Ohio State was willing to sign the scholarship papers if he stuck around, that seems like a reasonable thing to do. The implication in the article is that they wouldn't.  But it's never directly stated and it seems that even Jackson said something to the effect that they would have, except then he says they wouldn't.  So… great job, Pat Eaton-Robb, you've confused the hell out of everyone.

http://mgoblog.com/content/unverified-voracity-concerned

My guess is that the oversigning quote was too good to pass up.  The only problem is that it was inaccurate and took away from what the AP article was really all about.

Ohio State's track record on oversigning has been spotless.  There are only 4-5 BCS schools that have signed fewer players since 2002, and when asked if Ohio State oversigned their 2010 recruiting class, Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner Compliance, at the Big 10 office,  said:

"My information is that they did not oversign and never were in an oversigned position."

When Ohio State was asked if they oversigned, this was their response:

"Ohio State did not over-offer or oversign for the 2011 football season. Each year available scholarships are calculated based on the number of slots available through exhaustion of eligibility, graduation, departures to professional teams, student-athletes known to be transferring and known situations where aid will not be renewed by Ohio State for various reasons. Once all these factors are considered, Ohio State then offers National Letters of Intent."

And lastly, the numbers.  Since NSD Ohio State has lost three scholarship players: James Jackson, Ejuan Price, and Terrelle Pryor.  In addition, 2011 signee Adam Griffin, is listed on the chart, but it is unclear if his scholarship was renewed since he was a walk-on that was given the scholarship that was left over from Seantrel Henderson not signing with Ohio State.  

These numbers are from the Ohio State rival site, http://ohiostate.rivals.com/content.asp?SID=917&CID=1176611, not Ohio State.

Big 10 Office and Ohio State were asked for official numbers and it appears that a FOIA request will be required in order to get them, which is very frustrating.  Schools across the country, Ohio State included, make it very public as to who they sign every year.   Yet when summer roles around and the media starts asking questions about numbers everyone wants to go into a shell and stonewall.

Regardless, should we get the official numbers from Ohio State we will do a follow up on this story.

For the time being, let's take oversigning off the table and talk about the AP article and what really went wrong with James Jackson and Ohio State.

The AP story was supposed to be about the new legislation that just passed in Connecticut and how it might have been beneficial to kids like James Jackson who didn't understand that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.

It is simply mind-boggling that student-athletes are still not aware that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.  If you believe James Jackson, not only did he not know scholarships had to be renewed every year, he believed that he would be on scholarship for the next 4-5 years, "no matter what" as he puts it.

"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," said Jackson, who now attends Wayne State, a Division II school in Michigan. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else.

"I don't necessarily feel used, and maybe coach Tressel was right, maybe Ohio State wasn't right for me," he said. "But this would have helped me out by maybe knowing that before."

Where in the world did he get that idea from?  Did Jim Tressel tell him that during recruiting?

According to Jackson's HS football coach, Jim Tressel did just that, as did everyone that recruited James Jackson.

"Not once in any visit to any school was the 1 year renewable stuff brought up.

James had offers and I set in on talks with Michigan, UCLA, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Notre Dame and not a one explained that it is a 1 year renewable scholarship. Instead they talked about anything but that and 4-5 years was said by all of them.

When you make a commitment to an athlete or any individual you owe them your commitment. To deliberately say we are making a 4-5 year commitment to you and come back and say "well, he just not fitting in" it isn't right. He never failed a drug test, put himself in academic trouble, missed workouts, just apparently did not fit in. It is a practice to assume that these athletes know that it is a 1 year renewable and they don't."

This is where it gets ugly.  Jackson's HS coach is right, if schools are selling a 4-5 year commitment, then they should honor it, period.  The NCAA really needs to step in right here and do something about this.  The state legislation is a move in the right direction, but it is not enough.  There are way too many kids that don't understand that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.

The NCAA should create a certification program that requires recruits to be certified by the NCAA for recruitment.  The certification would consist of the recruit passing a standardized exam certifying that the recruit has an understanding of the recruiting process and is prepared to handle the challenge of evaluating scholarship offers.  At the bare minimum, it would at least make sure that every kid recruited would know that scholarships are only good for one year.  They are already doing this for the academic side of the process with the clearinghouse for academics, why not incorporate a certification process through a standardize exam and bylaws that state that schools cannot contact a recruit that is not NCAA certified for recruitment?  Seems like a worthwhile use of all the money they are making.

So did Ohio State refuse to honor the commitment they sold James Jackson?  That is the burning question.  It's pretty clear that he was not the victim of a massive numbers crunch and just another kid run off in order to make the numbers work.  There is something more to the story.   This was a good kid who kept his nose clean, and who by all accounts did what he was supposed to do inside the classroom and out.

Most likely Jackson was either not good enough to see any playing time or he truly wasn't fitting in with the team, but according to Ohio State's policy those are not valid reasons for non-renewals.  As the AP article states, Ohio State and Gene Smith deny forcing Jackson to transfer:

"Our policy is as James Jackson stated: As long as a student-athlete maintains his/her academic standing, behaves appropriately, and handles his/her responsibilities, he or she will retain their scholarship."

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=13929839

The confusing part about the AP article is that it appears there is a missing quote because Smith's statement mentions that Jackson states Ohio State's policy, but the AP article doesn't give the context in which Jackson would have mentioned Ohio State's policy.

I asked Jackson to clarify this and he declined to comment:

"I don't want to do anymore interviews on this matter or in the near future. I just want to focus on my task at hand and to continue being the best person, student and athlete I can be. I'm sorry but I just do not want to speak on this issue."

I also asked Jackson's coach to clarify whether or not Jackson was given the option to continue on scholarship or if he was told that he would not be renewed, his response:

"My understanding is they told him he would not fit in and he should transfer. He was not invited to spring ball and taking off all communication.  Now that I think of it, to my understanding they told him he had until June 30th otherwise he would no longer have a scholarship.  I believe he was given no
other option."

And that is the end of the road.  Neither Ohio State nor Jackson will comment further on the story.  At the end of the day, James Jackson is no longer at Ohio State and he thought when he was recruited and committed to Ohio State that he would be there until he graduated, if not longer.  He never says on record that Ohio State absolutely would not renew his scholarship, but his HS coach believes that to be the case, and meanwhile, Ohio State is denying the claim stating their policy is basically to renew kids that are doing the right things.  It's pretty much a stalemate.  Ohio State has a pretty good record of player relations, especially avoiding oversigning and giving scholarships to walk-ons that will never see the field, but Jackson's coach is pretty adamant that Jackson was cut.

My personal belief is that unless something happened to Jackson when his position coach, Darrel Hazell left for the Kent State job and he simply didn't respond well to the new position coach, there simply isn't a logical reason for him to not be at Ohio State right now other than what the coaching staff told him.

By NCAA rules and by Big 10 Conference rules, Ohio State did nothing wrong.  It is completely within the rules for a school to decide to not renew a scholarship based on athletic performance and ability, and according to the Big 1o Conference Office, Ohio State did not oversign so there was no reason to push someone out because of numbers.

James Jackson was told two things by the coaching staff:
1. He probably wouldn't play.
2. Maybe Ohio State is not the right place for him.

What those two things most likely meant were:
1. You're not good enough to play.
2. You don't fit in with the guys on the team.

The question is whether or not it is right for a school to not renew someone based on those two factors.  The first one is obvious, no school should ever not renew a kid simply because he didn't live up to expectations or he is not good enough to play.  He was good enough when Ohio State recruited him and enticed him with talk of 4-5 year scholarships and they should honor that, period.  To not do so is flat wrong.  The second one is a little more tricky.  If a guy doesn't fit in it could be a problem, both for the him and for the team, but "not fitting in" is a very vague term, and it is probably used for this very reason.

If James Jackson wanted to stay at Ohio State he should have been allowed to stay, period.  As his HS coach said:

When you make a commitment to an athlete or any individual you owe them your commitment.

That commitment was broken between Ohio State and James Jackson, and while we can't track down the exact reason why the fact remains that Jackson is no longer at Ohio State and that is a shame.   The whole story is a shame.  At best it's a story of a kid getting a shot to make a mark at Ohio State and things simply didn't work out so he was forced to move on and at worst it's a story about a kid being chewed up and spit out by the college football machine.  Neither are appealing.

Filed under: Big 10 1 Comment
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
19Dec/1030

Ohio State vs. Arkansas

Based on Ohio State's average recruiting class size, 19.8, Arkansas has the advantage of having accepted nearly 2 full recruiting classes of signed letters of intent more than Ohio State.   Most notably, the DT, OL, WR, and those recruited under ATH, appear to be where Arkansas has recruited more players.

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 30 Comments
16Sep/1029

Jim Tressel Awards 3 Walk-On Players Scholarships

Jim Tressel announced today that three walk-on players will be awarded with scholarships:  Ricky Crawford, Chris Malone, and Scott Sika. 

Sika has already graduated and will get an entire year of his graduate degree paid for by Ohio State.  Crawford and Malone are set to graduate this year.  Odds are that none of these guys see significant playing time, this is simply a reward for their dedication, hard-work, and character, and is the net result of Jim Tressel's recruiting philosophy, which is based on signing the number of kids you have room for on National Signing day and then awarding scholarships to walk-on players based on the shortfall between the number of guys signed and the 85 limit.   We outlined this method of roster management a while back--the contrast to this style is to signed 26-28 recruits instead of 17 and instead of adding walk-on players to the scholarship roster you cut lesser performing or injured scholarship players to get down to 85.

In contrast, this is the polar opposite of the recruiting styles of coaches such as Nick Saban and Les Miles, who purposely sign at least 8-10 more players than they have room for and then get rid of whoever they have to get rid of via medical hardships, transfers to lesser schools, or just flat pulling a scholarship, like Les Miles did to Elliott Porter this year, in order to get down to 85 players by the NCAA deadline in August. 

Tressel has had this philosophy since the beginning of his time at Ohio State and has never once oversigned a class and has awarded over 40 walk-on players with scholarships in his time at Ohio State.  You have to admit that it is pretty remarkable how he has been able to keep Ohio State in the National Championship picture despite working against such a disadvantage in terms of the numbers.  When you look at the numbers you see that Ohio State and Texas were very evenly matched in terms of numbers and the performance on the field against each other.  USC is a little different story given that they are currently on probation because of recruiting violations.  That leaves Florida, LSU, and Alabama, teams that have run through players at alarming rates, but who have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success.   

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


Tressel has some interesting comments regarding the scholarship awards given to the three walk-on players.  The link below is about an 8 minute clip and his comments on this topic come around 2/3 of the way through.  He mentions that it is one of the neat things he gets to do and wishes he had 10 scholarships to give out to walk-on players every year.

http://www.the-ozone.net/flash/10-11/10-09-16/10-09-16-Tressel.html

Filed under: Big 10 29 Comments
4Aug/10151

Saban Gets Down to 85 on the Last Day

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

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

Update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: SEC 151 Comments
3Aug/108

LSU’s March to 85 is NOT Over

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

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

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

              

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The March to 85 - LSU

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


Now add Elliot Porter to the list.

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

"There are 28 new Tigers, although some of them will not qualify academically (which will keep LSU within the NCAA one-year maximum of 25 new scholarships) and many will never contribute. 'It's a fact that only about a third of the guys you sign will end up starting, because if you get it going, you sign someone the following year that's better,' DiNardo said. 'There will be injuries, transfers, failures. There always are.'"

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

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

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

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

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

When asked about the 2002 recruiting class..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 8 Comments
2Jun/10112

The March to 85 – Blake Sims

Just a quick post, but word just came out that Blake Smith will delay his enrollment until next year pending some academic work that he needs to do over the summer.  This puts the number at 5.  Here are the casualties thus far:

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

Update 6/2/2010: Just to put this year into context with the previous years, here is what we have been sent on 07, 08, and 09.  We just added 2010.  Supposedly there are more guys that need to be added to the 2009 list but we haven't received those yet.

Attrition

2007 (25 Players Signed) 2008 (32 Players Signed) 2009 (27 Players Signed) 2010 (26 Players Signed) 2011 (22 Players Signed +2 GS)
Crump - quit football Johns - arrested, cocaine Dial - grades, juco Grant - not renewed Glenn Harbin - baseball
Elder - armed robbery Bolton - grades* Moore - grades Sikes - not renewed Demetrius Goode - transfer
Fanuzzi - transfer Hood - MLB P. Hall - transfer Div II McKeller - medical hardship Petey Smith - transfer
Hester - transfer Jackson - transfer Burnthall - quit team Jackson - transfer Brandon Moore - transfer
Lett - medical hardship Lawrence - transfer Fanney - transfer Sims - din't qualify Corey Grant - transfer
McGaskin - grades Lewis - grades Cardwell - not renewed Pharr - medical hardship Arron Douglas - died
Murphy - grades* Matchett - medical hardship Higgenbotham - transfer So. Ala Talbert - medical hardship Robby Green - released
Ricks - grades Neighbors - bryant scholarship Kirschman - not renewed Woodson - not renewed Kerry Murphy - medical hardship
Tayler - transfer Preyear - kicked off team Hester - medical hardship   Kendall Kelly - medical hardship
Farmer - transfer Ray - MLB     Wes Neighbors - medical hardship
  Smith - transfer      

We'll have more on this later when we have more time.

Important Side Note:  Brian Davidson, from NCSA (National Collegiate Scouting Association) has contacted us regarding future opportunities to cross link sites and help educate each other on this topic of oversigning.  We're going to pursue that with them and hope to have something more on that soon.  In the meantime, we encourage our readers to visit their site.  http://www.ncsasports.org/

Filed under: SEC 112 Comments
29May/1078

On the Clock

    

In a previous post, we responded to Alabama fans that were outraged by our March to 85 piece by giving them a homework assignment.  The assignment was for them to bring us a BCS school that needs to shed more than 6 scholarship commitments between now and August when the NCAA will required that all teams have their rosters down to 85 players.   It took a little bit of time, but we finally had a reader post a list of schools that he claims are over the limit and needs to shed players. 

Here's the list from the Alabama fan:

"You want other programs? Here ya go….

LSU currently has 91 players on scholarship (Need to cut 6)
Miami currently has 91 players on scholarship (Need to cut 6)
Texas A&M currently has 90 players on scholarship (Need to cut 5)
Washington currently has 88 players on scholarship (Need to cut 3)
Nebraska currently has 87 players on scholarship (Need to cut 2)

Texas was at 88 players on scholarship, had 2 transfer, and now needs to cut 1 more."

Okay, so where do we start?  First, let's get a table of the recruiting numbers for each of these schools in one place so we can easily look at them together here.  This is everything from 2002 - 2010; we'll narrow this down to the numbers we need for this investigation a little later in this post.

On The Clock

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 29 224 24.89
Miami ACC 24 24 28 17 22 19 33 19 28 214 23.77
Texas A&M B12 23 24 28 25 23 18 24 28 23 216 24
Washington PAC10 21 27 23 13 22 27 26 19 31 209 23.22
Nebraska B12 21 19 20 32 22 27 28 20 21 210 23.33
Texas B12 28 18 20 15 25 24 20 20 22 192 21.33

Done. 

Now, how do we figure out who went over the limit this year by accepting more signed letters of intent then they had room for given the number of scholarship commitments they had on National Signing day?  The math is really simple, but finding the actual roster numbers for the previous year online can be difficult, which is why we are asking you, the fans of these schools, to participate and help us determine if your team went over the limit.  We could do it on our own if all of these teams has a sweet online depth chart application like Notre Dame has available here; make sure you click on Roster Chart when you open the link (side note - if we had any sense at all we would build an application like this to house roster data for all 64 BCS schools and then charge a fee to access it - but as it is we barely have enough time to keep up with blog and our real lives). 

Regardless, we have the number of players signed to each recruiting class (see table above), therefore, all we need now is to know exactly how many players were on scholarship on National Signing Day.  Typically, this is the previous year's total number of scholarship players (which will vary from school to school because not all schools are always at 85 every year) minus graduating seniors with no eligibility left and minus juniors who have declared for the NFL draft by the deadline on January 15th.  We refer to this number as the "recruiting budget."

Until we can get those numbers, let's just look at how many players each school has signed over the last 5 years.  We're going to subtotal 2007 - 2009 and then add 2010 to that number and call it the subtotal for 2007-2010.  We are also going to show you the 2006 numbers, which would represent the 5th year senior classes for these schools.  It is very likely that each of these schools will have a few 5th year guys on their roster.

On The Clock - Numbers for 2006 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2006 2007 2008 2009 (07-09) 2010 (07-10)
LSU SEC 26 26 26 24 76 29 105
Miami ACC 22 19 33 19 71 28 99
Texas A&M B12 23 18 24 28 70 23 93
Washington PAC10 22 27 26 19 72 31 103
Nebraska B12 22 27 28 20 75 21 96
Texas B12 25 24 20 20 64 22 86

For comparisons sake, now let's look at a few teams that we have investigated in the past and that we know are not over the limit.

Not On The Clock

Teams Conf. 2006 2007 2008 2009 (07-09) 2010 (07-10)
Georgia SEC 28 23 24 20 67 19 86
Vanderbilt SEC 25 14 21 18 53 24 77
USC PAC10 27 18 19 18 55 20 75
Stanford PAC10 18 19 17 22 58 23 81
Penn State B10 24 21 14 27 62 20 82
Ohio State B10 20 15 20 25 60 18 78
Northwestern B10 17 19 20 18 57 17 74
Notre Dame Ind. 28 18 23 18 59 23 82

And then finally, here is Alabama.  Still above those on the clock and way, way above those not on the clock.

Alabama

Teams Conf. 2006 2007 2008 2009 (07-09) 2010 (07-10)
Alabama SEC 23 25 32 27 84 29 113

(Important: It should be noted that the 2007-2010 numbers do not include the 5th year guys from 2006.  Therefore, schools that are under 85 in this column are either short-handed or they have a number of 5th year guys; schools that are way over 85 either have no 5th year guys or they have a few and the numbers are even worse.)

Before everyone gets all up in arms, there is more to this than just these numbers and this is where it gets really time consuming in trying to investigate oversigning.  From 2006 to 2010 a lot of things happen to the rosters, some things are legitimate and some things are not.  The numbers above are the numbers signed; we still need to know who left the team and who still remains from the 2006 class, which will give us the total number of scholarship players at the end of the 2009 season.  From there we can subtract the graduating seniors and early entries into the NFL.  That will give us our recruiting budget for the 2010 class. 

We're not asking that you guys hunt down the back story to every single transfer (although that would be nice), all we really need is the total scholarship commitments at National Signing Day, which is what we described above.  Once we have those numbers we will add the number for the 2010 class and see if it is over 85.

So there it is, we have provided a nice starting point for investing the schools Alabama fans have claimed are also guilty of oversigning players.  Now we just need your help to finish up the investigation.  Please post anything you have here and we'll continue to discuss.

Filed under: Big 10, Big 12, PAC 10, SEC 78 Comments
29Mar/106

Medical Hardship Scholarships

During our investigation into Alabama's attrition, codenamed "The March to 85," we have stumbled across two things that have really baffled the life out of us, medical hardship scholarships and the Bryant scholarship program.  But before we dive off into the Bryant scholarship topic, we want to recap the medical hardship scholarship process that moves an injured football player from his football scholarship onto a "medical hardship" scholarship so that he can finish his education on scholarship but not have it count against the limit of 85 players.  Plus we want to share the story of Zeke Knight.

To the best of our knowledge medical hardships are handled on a university by university basis, meaning that each school's medical team determines, on their own, which players are deemed medically eligible to play or not.   This is not something that is regulated by the NCAA, and to the best of our knowledge a player can not hire a doctor on his own or challenge a medical ruling by the school's doctors. 

Once the school's medical team deems you as medically ineligible that is pretty much it; it then becomes a decision by the head coach as to whether or not the player should be released from his football scholarship to free it up to be used on a new recruit or to allow the player to continue to contribute in whatever limited capacity for which he is medically cleared.  In some cases there is no question that the coach has absolutely no say in the decision.  However, as we pointed out earlier, Mike D'Andrea remained on football scholarship and continued to rehab and work with the team at Ohio State for 3 years after his initial injury - and although he never saw the field again, he graduated with his class and worked with the team in whatever capacity he was cleared to and given the nature of his injuries we can only imagine that at times he couldn't do much more than walk around on crutches and attend team meetings or film review sessions. 

Alabama's Zeke Knight on the other hand was placed on medical hardship scholarship and released from his football scholarship, but didn't believe that he should have been removed and filed a request to transfer to a smaller school in hopes of continuing to play out his career. 

"In a very heartfelt speech, Coach Saban thanked Zeke, but said he could no longer play at Alabama for medical reasons.

He said:

"Zeke is a fine young man and we appreciate all that he has done for this program.  Zeke did a great job for us as a starter and, more importantly, is on track to graduate in August. I would like nothing more than to have him with us for one more season on the football field... I wish him and his family nothing but the best. Zeke Knight will always be a part of the Crimson Tide family."

With that, he graduated from Alabama and wasn't sure where to turn with eligibility left. He needed to figure out what it was he had and how to take care of himself. He took some time off to get well and regain medical clearance. Knight said, “I felt like I might as well go back for one more year and eliminate all the questions about me being able to play.” Knight said he considered several options. After a year away from football, a host of skeptical cardiologists, neurologists and other doctors examined him. After hours of testing Zeke to see if he was able to play the sport he loved again, on July 30, 2009, they completely cleared Zeke to play football. His APO was resolved and the clinical neurological examination did not reveal any localizing cranial, motor, sensory or reflex deficits.

What to do? “It kind of dawned on me a little bit, like maybe I was meant to finish my last year in Tuscaloosa,” Knight said. After all, he now bled Crimson and had so many friends in Tuscaloosa.

His new Coach, said it best, “People had doubts that he could play anymore. It was a life-threatening situation for him. He made it through, and we got one more (year of eligibility by the NCAA)... I take my hat off to the young man.” After seeing him play, his coach bragged, "It helps us to get Ezekial Knight. He’s a real experienced linebacker that’s going to really bring something to the table for me... I’m very impressed with him. I can see why he played at the University of Alabama. That guy, to me, is a top-round draft choice. He’s an amazing football player... Zeke is a quiet leader. He doesn’t say very much on the field, but he’s always working to get better.” Stats were not well tracked at Stillman, but Zeke had around 8.5 sacks, second in the nation in Division II. He had around 42 tackles, 3 forced fumbles (2 returned by teammates for touchdowns), and 1 interception.

He finished well and now Zeke Knight is looking towards proving that, like Tedy Bruschi, he has the (healed) heart... and courage of a Knight. He is ready for the next level, with only his past as his present obstacle."

http://site.zekeknight.com/About.html 

This is an emotional topic and an emotional story, no question.  There is also no question that anyone could argue that the University of Alabama was simply doing what they thought was best for Zeke Knight given his health condition, and after all, if something were to happen to Zeke, the University doctors could be liable for putting him at risk.  You could walk that argument into a court of law (or public opinion) and win every single time without breaking a sweat.

There is, however, another side to this story, one that is going to sound like we are trying to spin Zeke's story into a tale of blatant player abuse, one that probably makes it sound like Nick Saban has no heart and is a ruthless, cold-blooded killer.  We don't believe any of those things.  Nick Saban at his worst is only guilty of being a high-paid coach who is being paid millions of dollars to win football games, championships specifically, nothing more, nothing less.  It's up to each individual to determine whether or not they think that Saban will win at any cost or whether or not he discards players in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.  We happen to think he does by the way, but that is just our opinion. 

The other side of Zeke Knight's story is that the year he was released from his football scholarship and placed on a medical hardship scholarship was also the same year that Nick Saban signed 32 new recruits to Alabama and was facing a tremendous numbers crunch in order to get his roster down to 85 players or face penalties from the NCAA.  Nick Saban and Alabama were also coming off of a dismal 7-6 season and it was imperative that Saban improve the team immediately to justify his salary, which at the time was one of the highest in college football.

Zeke Knight was not alone in the list of players that were removed from football scholarships in order to get the roster down to 85, several others were removed for various reasons as shown above.

In addition to Alabama being in a numbers crunch, it probably didn't help Knight's case any that Saban had signed 4 linebackers that year, 1 five star and 3 four star, and freshman linebacker Rolando McClain was bursting onto the scene as a future star.

Honestly, if not the for the oversigning and the mandatory roster cuts as a result of oversigning, we probably wouldn't scrutinize things like this so much, but when you have a coach and program that are habitual abusers of oversigning one can't help but find situations like Zeke Knight's extremely intriguing or suspicious.  Let's put it this way, if Saban took regular numbers and didn't need to cut players in order to get his roster down to 85 and avoid NCAA violations, and Zeke Knight was still released from his football scholarship, we would be much more inclined to think that Knight's departure had nothing to do with roster cuts.  In fact, we would probably be writing a piece on what a stand up guy Saban was for protecting Knight at the risk of roster shortfalls and depth problems at his position - we would be commending Saban for recruiting by the numbers in the spirit of maintaining a level playing field and not abusing loopholes, and for putting his own career at risk in order to do the right thing both by the game of college football and by Zeke Knight.  But that's not what happened, instead Saban over-stuffed his roster with scholarship commitments and had no choice but to pick 8-10 guys to cut from the team.  It is that simple.

Moving players to a medical scholarship, in legitimate cases, is a win win scenario, the player gets to continue his education for free and it lessens the likelihood of APR penalties for the school because as long as the player continues his education and graduates the school is in the clear; it also frees up the player's football scholarship so that it can be given to a new recruit.  Seems harmless.

We found several cases of legitimate medical hardship cases, but for some reason, medical hardship scholarships and oversigning seem to go hand in had at Alabama, and other schools such as North Carolina; whereas you just don't see or hear about it anywhere else around the country.  We did some digging on Ohio State's medical hardship cases and found about 4 or 5 over the last ten years; Saban has that many in 2 or 3. 

The only thing we know to do is to somehow get oversigning removed (for real) and then let's see if the medical hardships continue, and if they do then we know they were legit; the only downside, for guys like Saban, is that once you do away with oversigning, the medical hardships become holes in the roster that lead to depth problems.

Filed under: Coaching, SEC 6 Comments
27Mar/106

Mike D’Andrea, No Medical Hardship Scholarship

If you can't already tell, we've been bitten by the medical hardship scholarship bug.  If anyone out there can help shed some light on the topic it would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime we are going to look for cases of players who we know were injured badly enough to be unable to continue to contribute to the team on the field, yet remained on football scholarship and remained part of the team. 

Despite how warn and fuzzy it feels to hear that an injured player is given a free ride to continue his education as long as he leaves the football team to free up a scholarship for another player, we believe that guys in this situation, unless they simply can't walk, should be allowed to stay with the team, work hard at whatever capacity they can, and continue to earn their scholarship by working as hard as they can, instead of just kicking them to the curb with a free meal ticket in order to avoid APR penalties, but then again, we believe in commitment and teaching guys commitment by sticking with them through injuries and continuing to mold and shape them through the 4 most life-altering years of their lives.  Of course we're not getting paid $4 Million Dollars a year to win football games either, though. 

Maybe for some coaches the pressure to win is so great that they don't have a problem talking a kid into leaving the team and taking a medical hardship scholarship (which we still don't understand how it works other than the player has to leave the team and he gets his education paid for).

First stop, Mike D'Andrea, former #1 linebacker recruit from the 2001 recruiting class.

 "Mike D’Andrea (6-3, 248, Sr.) – D’Andrea was the third member of the shining 2001 recruiting class that included Clarrett and Zwick (and, of course, Smith) but, so far, Mike’s career at OSU has been plagued with bad luck and injuries. A man-child as a freshman, D’Andrea worked hard and saw some playing time backing up Matt Wilhelm but had shortened sophomore and junior seasons. His junior season ending with knee surgery. He sat out all of last year and seems to be struggling to get back in health for this season. If he can get everything together and stay healthy, OSU will be thick at middle linebacker."

http://menofthescarletandgray.com/2006/07/19/2006-defensive-preview-linebackers/

Why was Mike D'Andrea not given a medical hardship scholarship so that Ohio State could replace him with a new recruit?  Simply put, because that is not how Jim Tressel rolls.  He doesn't oversign and he doesn't abuse the medical hardship scholarship thingy.  Instead, Mike D'Andrea finished his degree while on a football scholarship and watched the last 33 football games of his college career from the sidelines, with no real hope of ever seeing the field in a meaningful way. 

Here's a nice summary of Mike D'Andrea's time at Ohio State: http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=10399&draftyear=2007&genpos=ILB 

Obviously there is a fine line between protecting a player that is truly at risk and abusing a loophole to make room for an overstuffed roster.  It's hard not to be suspicious of medical hardships that come during spring and summer practice and conditioning when a roster is oversigned and no matter what players have to be released or the school will face NCAA violations for being over the limit of 85. 

Simply put, we would not be so suspicious of medical hardships that Nick Saban and Butch Davis dole out if their rosters weren't so heavily oversigned.  Even if you submit to the notion that the medical hardships are legit, the fact that they oversigned ahead of time still leaves us feeling as though they are taking advantage of a loophole.  We'll state this again, coaches should have to prove where a scholarship is coming from before it is given out.  If a player is going to take a medical hardship then his scholarship shouldn't be given out until he is officially removed from the team. 

What football player do you know of that suffered career-ending injuries but remained on football scholarship and remained with the team until they finished school?  We want to know!

Filed under: Big 10 6 Comments
13Mar/1016

Saban’s March to 85 Continues, Grant and Sikes Leave Team

Quick recap: We addressed Alabama's recruiting numbers and the situation they are in this year (same as the last two years and the same as almost every year while Saban has been in the SEC) in an earlier post, here.  Basically, Alabama had 66 players returning on scholarship on signing day and they signed 29 recruits to LOI's.  66 + 29 = 95.  11 of the 29 enrolled early and counted towards last year putting the roster at 77, thus leaving 18 in this class but only enough room for 8 to stay under the 85 limit.  Therefore, 10 players have to hit the bricks.  With the loss of Grant and Spikes, that number is now down to 8.  Robby Green, previously thought to have been booted from the team for rules violations, is still on the roster for now.  He is awaiting due process...

Details on Sikes and Grant here:

The loss of Sikes is a complete non-issue. Hey was a greyshirt signee from several years back under Mike Shula, and never made any impact whatsoever. He never caught a single pass in his career, nor did he ever play a meaningful snap. The height of his career was playing special teams in a few games in 2007, but he redshirted in 2006 and did not play in a single game in 2008. This past year in the Crimson Tide's national championship run, the only playing time he saw was some mop-up duty against Chattanooga. He was a good kid and it is certainly good to see him get his degree -- both for him personally and for us (APR purposes) -- but he was just never a meaningful contributor in any real sense, and frankly I'm not even sure that he was still on scholarship towards the end.

With Terry Grant, however, it was a different story. He was the highly-touted tailback signee in 2006 out of Lumberton, Mississippi -- though in hindsight, it was clear that Rivals dramatically overrated him -- and at one time he seemed to have a relatively bright career in front of him. Of course, though, that was before surgeries for a sports hernia, and it was also before the arrival and emergence of players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Glen Coffee, Eddie Lacy, and Jeramie Griffin. You hate to see it for the young man, but as I mentioned yesterday, it is simply the harsh reality for some by having a roster so loaded with talent and depth.

Interestingly enough, though, it seems that Grant didn't necessarily just give up football, but instead is probably looking to go out the way of the medical scholarship.

http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2010/3/13/1371415/spring-practice-news-and-notes

The article above mentions having a roster loaded with talent and depth, but neglects to mention that it is also a roster that is oversigned.

Saban comments on Grant:

"He's been injured two years in a row," Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Grant, who had two surgeries for a sports hernia.

"He decided because of injuries -- he's already graduated -- that he would not come back for his fifth year. He does qualify for a medical, if we need to do that, so he can continue academically. ..."

We're not exactly sure what "qualifying for a medical" means, but we assume that it is some sort of hardship case that enables players to remain in school on some sort of scholarship, but it frees up a scholarship for football--we would like to know more about this.  Also, not sure what "if we need to do that" means either; does that mean if Grant is unhappy about being cut and wants to stay in school they will give him the "medical?"  

Grant and Spikes both used red-shirts already and still have 1 year of football eligibility left, despite already finishing their undergraduate degrees.  The bottom line here is that although they both have eligibility left it is clear that they will not see the field due to the depth at their positions, and the fact remains that due to Saban's oversigning, 10 players have to leave the team. 

The fact that both players have graduated eliminates any APR implications for Alabama and makes the story a little less egregious; but it now raises another interesting point.  Schools avoid APR penalties by making sure players don't leave the team with either not graduating or not transferring to another school.  We find it very interesting that Alabama's graduation rate was the second highest of any BCS Bowl team this year.  You see where we are going here, don't you.  With a higher rate of graduation you have a larger pool of players to "cut" without facing APR penalties.  Probably a bit of a stretch on our part, but it should be noted that Alabama traditionally hasn't had high graduation rates.

What is the issue here?  The issue is that without oversigning Saban would not have 10 extra new recruits (from a top 5 recruiting class mind you) to squeeze into his roster and guys like Grant and Sikes would probably still be on the team.  Does anyone really believe that Grant and Sikes walked into Nick Saban's office, unaware of the numbers crunch, and told the coach they just decided not to return?  If Saban had not oversigned then we would believe a scenario like that, but given the fact that players have to go or Alabama will face NCAA penalties, it is highly unlikely that these two guys just happened to quit football on their own accord.  Also, without the extra 10 players in this recruiting class, would Saban be so willingly to let a player like Grant leave the team or would he encourage him to use the last year of his eligibility?

"Spring is a time where we're going to fiddle around with the roster a little bit," Saban said. "Depth chart means nothing in the spring. Mostly it's for organizational purposes."

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4991170

What a luxury to have several extra guys in the bank during spring evaluations and practice.  Saban calls it "fiddling" we call it oversigning, but of course he makes $4 Million a year and we write this blog for free; guess the joke's on us.

Here's what would have happened if Saban was required to announce his recruiting budget before signing day and had been permitted to only take enough recruits to stay within his budget.  Saban would have announced 66 returning scholarship players and he would have been given 19 scholarships to offer, not 29.  In addition, had Saban announced 66 and signed 19 AND Grant and Sikes still left, then Saban would have been faced with a scholarship shortfall, similar to the kind of shortfall Lloyd Carr was talking about here:

"I think it's a positive change from the standpoint of being able to be on the same playing field with a lot of the teams in other conferences," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "Especially when you look at our bowl hookup with the SEC in the Citrus and Outback Bowl, it's an important rule. I can remember going to bowl games with 77, 76 guys on scholarship against a team with 85 ... In bowl games against conferences that have an advantage of doing that, Big Ten teams were at a severe disadvantage."

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2008/01/stricter_scholarship_rules_put.html

We've posted this before, but it is the perfect example of how recruiting classes should be managed and bears repeating here.  Tressel's recruiting method is in sharp contrast to Saban's approach.  In the video below, Tressel is upfront about the number of vacancies and explains the importance of not going over the limit, or even to the limit.  His method rewards walk-on players for sticking it out 4 or 5 years, whereas Saban's method simply discards those that are not able to produce anymore to make room for new players.  

Both methods are within the NCAA rules, but Tressel's method is also within Big Ten Conference rules which do not allow gross oversigning, whereas Saban, residing in the SEC, does not face those same rules.  There is no way a coach in the Big 10 would get away with signing 10 players more than they have room for on signing day, but in the SEC it's just another day at the office because like it or not attrition is simply a way of life. 

More on Tressel's class: At the time of this video (National Signing Day) Tressel was still waiting to hear from Seantrel Henderson, the #1 player in the country and the 2nd OL that he hoped to sign in the class, and Ohio State was sitting at 18 players signed to fill their 20 vacancies.  Shortly after this video, Henderson opted to go with USC and Tressel was left with very little or no options at the OL position they wanted to fill with two prospects.  Therefore, with 20 vacancies and 18 players signed, Tressel's class was done - 2 short of 85.  A week or so later Tressel awards a scholarship to Archie Griffin's son, a relatively unknown prospect who originally wanted to walk on.  This leaves Tressel with 1 scholarship in the bank either for another walk-on or for next year; this is a total night and day difference from Saban's situation where he has 10 players too many and needs to start dropping bodies to avoid NCAA rule violations. 

Essentially, when you look at the 19th scholarship in Tressel's class, he traded the #1 player in the country for a walk-on, but he almost had to - he didn't have three other OL signed because had they all made it academically that would have put him over the limit and he would have to cut players to make room, players like Garrett Hummel and Ryan Schuck who will never see the field at WR with all the depth at that position or a guy like Tyler Moeller who suffered a possible career-ending head injury off the field (Moeller's career story is almost identical to Terry Grant's, both red-shirted and both had a lot of potential, the difference is that Moeller will get his shot to come back and use his last year of eligibility, whereas Grant, due to Saban's oversigning and need to shed players will not); conversely, with the departure of Grant and Sikes, Saban just traded out two spots with new recruits from a top 5 recruiting class for two guys that would have never seen the field this year.  That is a drastic difference.

Nevertheless, the march continues and the number is at 8.  We're waiting for the announcement of a gray shirt or academic casualty next.

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 16 Comments
3Mar/102

Feedback!

If you haven't read the news, Michael over at Braves & Birds - The Atlanta Sports Blog has been reading our site and decided to write an essay on the topic of oversigning and the nature of our website.  Michael is an Attorney from Atlanta, Georgia, we on the other had are not attorneys (we didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn, but we're going to give this a go anyways), but we did we bounce emails back and forth with Michael and he seems like a personable guy, not to mention he has been blogging since we were in diapers. 

So let's take a look at the article.

"I've been reading Oversigning.com over the past few weeks and enjoying the discussion. The authors there take a much harder line on oversigning than I would and at times, their writing devolves into unhinged attacks on the SEC from every angle. (Comparing endowments? Really?) In those instances, they come across as excuse-making Big Ten fans who want to justify the fact that SEC teams have won more national titles in the past four years than Big Ten teams have won in the last forty."

Yeah, we're pretty hardcore on the topic of oversigning.  People write about it from time to time, especially during the off-season and around signing day, but we are the first and only website completely dedicated to the topic.  Why?  Two reasons: 1.) During the 2007 during the National Championship game, we saw a graphic that showed the number of players signed in each of LSU's and Ohio State's previous 5 recruiting classes: LSU 28, 26, 13,  26, and 26 = 119 and Ohio State 16, 24, 18, 20, and 15 = 93.  A difference of 26 players, or essentially an entire recruiting class.  That raised an eyebrow.  It was the first time we could remember a broadcast ever showing those kind of numbers.  2.) A couple of months later we saw Nick Saban on ESPN battling it out with a local sports reporter over his recruiting numbers which led us to this link.  That raised a second eyebrow.  The thing that really got us going was Nick Saban saying:

"It's none of your business.  Aiight?  And don't give me this stuff about the fans need to know, because they don't need to know."

Something about that has always bothered us.  It wreaks of someone having something to hide. 

Unhinged attacks on the SEC.  Have we attacked the SEC, probably so, has it been unhinged, no not really.  If we were attacking the ACC for oversigning, then it would be considered unhinged, but to take the conference with the worst problem with oversigning to task is not unhinged attacking in our opinion.  Calling out the SEC for running off Georgia Tech, Tulane, and Sawenee isn't really all that unhinged either, in our opinion, it's more like factual history.  The post regarding endowments was a follow up on two fronts: 1.) Texas joining the Big 10, and 2.) The SEC running off academic universities because of disagreements on athletic competition, specifically football, and how that has left them poorly positioned in terms of adding a powerhouse like Texas who wouldn't consider joining the SEC back in the 90's because of the poor academic standards.  Again, those are facts, not unhinged attacks. 

Click the link to continue reading >>>

Filed under: Feedback Continue reading
22Feb/100

Attrition

We found the list below posted over at shaggybevo.com.  Basically, this is Nick Saban's attrition since 2007 (this is not all of it, just what was listed at shaggybevo.com). 

Attrition

2007 (25 Players Signed) 2008 (32 Players Signed) 2009 (27 Players Signed) 2010 (26 Players Signed) 2011 (22 Players Signed +2 GS)
Crump - quit football Johns - arrested, cocaine Dial - grades, juco Grant - not renewed Glenn Harbin - baseball
Elder - armed robbery Bolton - grades* Moore - grades Sikes - not renewed Demetrius Goode - transfer
Fanuzzi - transfer Hood - MLB P. Hall - transfer Div II McKeller - medical hardship Petey Smith - transfer
Hester - transfer Jackson - transfer Burnthall - quit team Jackson - transfer Brandon Moore - transfer
Lett - medical hardship Lawrence - transfer Fanney - transfer Sims - din't qualify Corey Grant - transfer
McGaskin - grades Lewis - grades Cardwell - not renewed Pharr - medical hardship Arron Douglas - died
Murphy - grades* Matchett - medical hardship Higgenbotham - transfer So. Ala Talbert - medical hardship Robby Green - released
Ricks - grades Neighbors - bryant scholarship Kirschman - not renewed Woodson - not renewed Kerry Murphy - medical hardship
Tayler - transfer Preyear - kicked off team Hester - medical hardship   Kendall Kelly - medical hardship
Farmer - transfer Ray - MLB     Wes Neighbors - medical hardship
  Smith - transfer      


* = guys who were resigned later so they get counted twice by websites like oversigning.com.

Quit - 1, kicked off - 2, Other Scholly - 3, Transfer - 7. MLB - 2, Grades - 8

Couple of things to note here:

1. Where would Alabama have been had they taken normal numbers and still suffered the same attrition?  Or would they have had the same amount of attrition?  Those are the primary questions.  Had Alabama signed a normal amount of players (18-21) and still had kids transfer out, commit armed robbery, and fail to make their grades, there would be gaping holes in the roster that would have crippled the program for years.  

Let's break it down by class:  let's say in 2007 Alabama signs 21 guys and suffers the attrition of 10 players, that puts that class at 11 players; in 2008 let's say Alabama signs 25 in order to make up for the attrition the previous year, but suffers the attrition of 11 players, that puts them at 14 players.

The last time Alabama had back to back season with less than 20 players you have to look at 2002 and 2003, 19 & 19; that was the last time they were unable to sign extra players because of scholarship reductions.  Here's their record: 2002: 10-3, 2003: 4-9, 2004: 6-6, 2005: 10-2, 2006: 6-7. 2007: 7-6.  Could you imagine if they had to deal with only 11 & 14 players in back to back classes because of all the attrition?  They wouldn't win a game.

2. How did Nick Saban miss on all these guys - he is regarded as one of the best recruiters in the country?  Or, is it that Saban just runs through more players and the cream rises to the top?  That has to be the case because we have already documented that he signed roughly 35-51 more players than Brown, Tressel, and Carroll.

3. Why does this even happen?  Schools all over the country such as Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas, USC, etc. do not need to do this.  Is it because the available talent pool is prone to that much more attrition and without oversigning to cover for it Alabama would be dead in the water, or is it because they prefer to go through more guys just to keep them away from the competition?  Our historical research showed that they used to do it (oversign) for both reasons.  

And for those that argue "those extra guys don't count because they didn't make it into school or they transferred out," we say, if they don't count then why sign them to begin with?  Take normal numbers and deal with the attrition - why should Alabama, or any school for that matter because this is not about singling out Alabama this goes for any school, be allowed to subsidize its attrition while other schools take normal numbers and either avoid attrition by taking better quality (academic and character) guys or "take it in the chops," as Nick Saban would say, meaning if they have attrition then they have a hole in the roster until they can fill it with the next recruiting class.  How is it that these other schools only take 18-22 guys every year and still compete on the same field for the national championship as a team that takes 28-32 and culls down their roster?  You can thank the NCAA for allowing the oversigning loophole to exist, then you can thank the conference commissioners and athletic directors for allowing their schools to exploit the loophole, and finally you can thank the multi-million dollar coaches who exploit it.   Hopefully one day you can thank us for helping to eliminate this from college football all together.

Bottom line: Either Alabama takes extra players to cover the expected attrition because they have to given the pool of players they have to select from, which means if they took regular numbers they might not be able to field a team, or Alabama takes extra players in order to have a larger pool of players to pick from thus pushing out lesser quality players by way of medical hardships, transfers, poor grades, violation of team rules, or armed robbery.  Those are the only two reasons and neither of them are appealing.  Anyone who thinks otherwise either doesn't get it or has an agenda.

Update:
One last comment on this.  If Alabama (and other SEC schools) truly take more signees because the pool of players they have to select from dictates that they need to take extra to account for the mass numbers that won't make it academically, isn't that an indication of a much bigger problem?  And what kind of message is it sending to kids?  Shouldn't the message be: "if you want to play football here you need to be squared away academically or we can't even afford to look at you as a prospect."

Filed under: Coaching, SEC No Comments
12Feb/101

Texas, Big 10 Birds of a Feather

 

Do not fall out of your chair, that is unless you have been living in a cave lately and haven't heard the news about the possibility of Texas joining the Big 10.  When the Big 10 announced that conference expansion is a topic on the table for discussion, the Internets went wild.  In fact, Frank the Tank's Slant has devoted more time to it than we ever thought about devoting to the topic of oversigning.  If you haven't been to his Blog, go there.  It's a great read and Frank really does his homework. 

Frank put together a Big 10 Conference Expansion Index, based on a scale of 1-100 with 100 being the highest possible score, in which he categorized and ranked potential candidates to join the Big 10.

http://frankthetank.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/the-big-ten-expansion-index-a-different-shade-of-orange/ 

In his index, Frank has Texas as the leader with an index score of 96; second in his index was Notre Dame at 91.

We're not going to go into all of the details of Big 10 expansion or whether or not we think Texas would consider joining the Big 10; Frank has more than covered all the bases and if you really want to know more about it you should check out his blog and read it.

We just want to add one thing to the discussion in terms of recruiting.  In looking closely at Texas' recruiting numbers (which is an indication of how they run their program), they would fit right in with the Big Ten.  Since 2002 Texas has a total of 192 commitments with an average of 21.33 per year.  That would put them right in line with Michigan (195, 21.67), Penn State (183, 20.33), and Ohio State (180, 20.00), all of which rank towards the bottom of the Big 10 in terms of total numbers taken each year.  In case you haven't noticed, we tend to like programs that keep their numbers in check.  To see more of these numbers, click here.

Texas takes the lowest number of players in the entire Big 12 Conference; it's almost as if they are out of place with regards to where their numbers are in comparison to the rest of the conference.  This tells us several things:

  • They are not running players through their program; meaning they take very few risks on borderline academic players and they don't oversign players only to push out the lesser talented or injury-prone players to make room for new recruits. 
  • We believe that how you manage your roster is like a calling card for what kind of program you run.  Texas has a pretty good calling card when you consider the success they have had on the field and the number of recruits they do it with.  Compare Texas to Alabama for just a second: since 2006, Alabama has taken LOI's from 136 players to Texas' 110.  Where did those other 26 players go?  Did they ever make it into school at Alabama or were they cut from the team to make room for Saban's classes of 32 and 27?
     
  • Strong academics.  Texas has the best academics in the Big 12 (by a long shot) and they would fit right in with the Big 10.  But how do low recruiting numbers = good academics?  Maybe it's the other way around, good academics = lower recruiting numbers.  Just look at our conference charts linked above.  The schools with lowest recruiting numbers tend to have better, if not the best academics in their conferences.  Here are some schools at the bottom of each of their conferences in terms of the number of recruits signed each year: Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Stanford, and Texas.  Now compare that to the list of names at or near the top of the conferences: Auburn, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Kansas State, etc.

Missouri is another school that seems to be in the middle of the Big 10 expansion conversation.  Not that a decision like this would depend on the number of recruits a school normally takes, but we did find it interesting that Missouri, if added to the Big 10, would be at the top of the board with the highest number of recruits per year.  In fact, they would be tied dead even with Purdue at a 218 recruits since 2002 and a yearly average of 24.22.

Our hats off to Texas for running their program the right way and always making sure to stay within their recruiting budget.  We think Texas would be an awesome addition to the Big 10, obviously they are match for each other in terms of academics, and we hope it happens.  If the 3 games against Ohio State and the Rose bowl thriller against Michigan are any indication, Texas joining the Big 10 would really make things interesting.

Hook 'em Horns!