ESPN Outside the Lines – Oversigning

ESPN OTL is airing a piece on oversigning this morning.  In fact, it will be on after the commercial break.  Looks like LSU is the focus of the piece; hopefully the other abusers are mentioned as well.

Update (link to the full length video now included):

Just watched the piece on oversigning.  Here is a link in case you missed it: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5935634&categoryid=2564308

Go watch the video, they really did a great job with it!!! 

Here is a link to the OTL facebook page in case you would like to get fan reactions to their story http://www.facebook.com/OTL#!/OTL?v=wall.

ESPN did a great job with the piece focusing mainly on the human element.  Thought they also did a great job presenting the hard to understand rules of the signing process and how it is that schools oversign.  By in large, LSU got the hammer in this piece, specifically for their handling of Elliot Porter and Chris Garrett.  Garrett gets an opportunity to tell his side of the story regarding how he was cut from LSU, Les Miles declined to be interviewed for the piece. 

All in all, ESPN did an excellent job - couldn't be happier with how they presented the information.  Hopefully, continued attention to this topic will result in serious rule changes that will eliminate the SEC's abuse of the loophole.

Great work ESPN - THANK YOU!!!!

Filed under: SEC 27 Comments

Georgia and Alabama

We stumbled across a nice little article over at DawgsOline.com on Georgia's scholarship situation and how it compares to a school like Alabama that oversigns. 

The discussion of oversigning and grayshirting and all of the tricks used to get to the magic number of 85 scholarship players isn’t new. It shouldn’t be easy to forget that these are young men with educations and futures at stake, but we do. Even the console game with the NCAA’s name on it demands that you outright “cut” players. I’d much rather my program undersign than oversign and have to yank or defer a scholarship, but there is definitely a tradeoff and a cost for not playing the game.

The advantage isn’t just the two or three players signed over the limit by another program. Remember that Georgia has at most now 80 players who were considered scholarship-quality when they signed, and the 87 or 88 at the other school all merited an offer. So the difference is more like seven or eight players versus a program that oversigned by a couple. Eight players from an 85-man roster is just under 10% of the team. It’s a third of a recruiting class for any given year.

Of course Mark Richt didn’t know that he’d be five scholarships under the limit. Owens and Banks had battled injuries for a while, but you can’t anticipate a medical disqualification. You can’t foresee the backup QB’s spring break indiscretions. It does seem to be a given though that there is some amount of attrition each year. Every coach has to play inventory manager and balance the 85 scholarship limit against his best guess at attrition. It’s clear though that some are more aggressive at chasing that limit, and it’s not hard to be cynical about how some of the “attrition” eventually comes about.

Again, I’d rather be a little under the limit rather than over because of the human element. It’s all business, but that’s not what coaches say when they’re in the living room. But we can’t ignore that under the current rules coming up five short of the limit isn’t all that great of a situation either. It’s a great story for the deserving walk-ons who see their effort recognized, but 80 scholarship players is borderline probation.


The cost for not playing the game (oversigning) that they are referring to is Georgia's 1-4 record vs. Alabama 5-0 record.

Kudos to Georgia and Mark Richt for standing tall and refusing to abuse the oversigning loophole, despite having to compete in a conference where oversigning is the order of the day.  And Kudos to DawgsOline for being on the right side of the fence here!

DawgsOline takes a rather conservative approach to the numbers by only comparing Georgia's situation to a school that oversigns by a couple; the results are much different when you compare them to a school like Alabama that is oversigning roughly 10 a year, as is LSU, Ole Miss, etc.

So not everyone in the SEC is willing to wallow in the slop with Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Huston Nutt, the three amigos of oversigning.

Filed under: SEC 102 Comments

Abuse Breeds Control

Andy Staples, writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote an excellent article on oversigning last year in the wake of Huston Nutt's 37 player class and subsequent thumbing of his nose at those who criticized the number of players he signed, given that he had 64 scholarship players set to return to Ole Miss and there was no way he would have room for all 37 players. 

Let's take a closer look at Andy's article.

First, regarding Nutt's position on his class of 37:

"I checked with [compliance director] David [Wells], and there's no rule that says that we can't sign 80," Nutt said at that Signing Day press conference. "All I know is we have to have 25 ready to go in August ready and eligible."

Is this the kind of coach with which you should entrust your child's signature on a letter of intent?  Seriously.  Fortunately, the SEC addressed the situation and placed a limit of 28 signed letters per class, but 28 * 4 != 85, so there is still room for improvement and further regulation. 

More from the article:

As long as programs keep their total at 85 scholarships and don't bring in more than 25 a year, the NCAA has no quarrel -- for now. The NCAA's Football Issues Committee discussed oversigning and grayshirting at its January meeting. The committee, which comprises coaches, athletic directors and conference administrators, agreed to monitor oversigning, but Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters, the committee's chair, said until the committee can get some hard data, it can't determine if oversigning is an issue that requires legislation.

"We don't know yet, because we don't know the numbers," Waters said. "If you look at it purely in principle, you're uncomfortable with it. But you've also got to ask if kids are being benefited by it. If they are, then you've got to find a way to not hurt those kids and at the same time make sure you maintain a level playing field."

As Waters noted, oversigning and grayshirting raise some ethical dilemmas. For instance, what happens when too many players have qualified academically and there is no scholarship available for a grayshirting player?

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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. 

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APR – Academic Progress Rate

We're going to try and keep this post brief, but during our review of Michael's oversigning essay on his site, Braves and Birds, we couldn't help but think about the topic of APR - Academic Progress Rate.  APR is basically a way for the NCAA to attempt to determine if student-athletes are making academic progress towards graduation.  Here is press release from the NCAA on APR; warning, you are very likely to go cross-eyed while reading the press release.

Not trying to be cynical here, but something about the NCAA's APR system just doesn't seem right.  It's as if the NCAA is trying to put a number on something that you really can't put a number on...academic progress seems more like a subjective matter to us.  Is the NCAA concerned with student-athletes getting a quality education and a meaningful degree, or do they just want some sort of proof that college athletics are not a farm league for the NFL and NBA.

Dennis Dodd is not buying it either:

"And what is happening is not promising, even if you have a shred of skepticism in academic reforms. You can identify if you've ever chased a number -- sales quota, commission, etc. It's less about the process, more about getting to the number. It's easy to agree with Ridpath when he says some schools are more interested in chasing the 925 APR cutoff score than in meaningful degree programs."


What does this have to do with oversigning and Michael's essay???

Ole Miss was the only school in the SEC hit with scholarship reductions because of APR issues; with a score of 910 Ole Miss was penalized 3 scholarships in football for the 2010 recruiting class.  Schools must score 925 or above to avoid penalty.  Ironically, Ole Miss was one of only two BCS schools to be hit with APR penalties in football, Minnesota was the other school.


If the topic of oversigning had a twin brother from a different mother, it would be the topic of APR.  Much like playing tricky games with recruiting numbers to run through more players (either to get a competitive advantage or to subsidize academic and character-based attrition), we're almost certain there are tricky games being played with the APR numbers.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 1 Comment