Oversigning.com
23Jun/112

The March to 85 Continues – Alabama

Looks like Bama Sports Report is going to take care of the heavy lifting this year with their complete breakdown of scholarship numbers for Alabama.  Just like last year, our numbers are nearly identical to their numbers.  They had Alabama at 96 on NSD (72 returning after seniors and juniors leaving early for the NFL declared and 24 signed including greyshirt rollovers from previous year), putting Alabama 11 over the 85 limit on NSD, which is the same number we have, 11 over.

On NSD, Nick Saban told the media that no one knows what his scholarship numbers are and that Alabama was not at 85 last year (which begs the question, why did he waste scholarships by not giving them to walk-ons to help pay for their last year?).  He also told the media that what he signed "was the number of players we could take" (see the 7:35 mark in this video for his exact words) on NSD implying that Alabama had room for everyone they signed and that any new attrition would open more spots for them to add guys later.  Alabama has officially added no one thus far, as Duron Carter's status is still up in the air and it's unclear if has signed with Alabama at this point, and 6 guys have left the program since NSD.

Interesting side note: Saban does talk for a few minutes about how he wishes certain aspects of the "business" were more like they were when he was in the Big 10 Conference, specifically in regards to recruiting a player that has already verbally committed to another school.  Those comments come immediately after his comments mentioned above and are worth a quick listen. 

Here is what the March to 85 looks like:

2011 The March to 85 - Alabama

Player Position Reason for leaving after NSD
Glenn Harbin Defensive Line Decided to play baseball; Link
Demetrius Goode Running Back Transfer to North Alabama; Link
Petey Smith Linebacker Transfer to Holems CC; Link
Brandon Moore Defensive Lineman Transfer to East Mississippi Community College; Link
Corey Grant Running Back Transfer to Auburn; Link
Keiwone Malone Wide Receiver Transfer to Memphis; Link
Robby Green Defensive Back Transfer to California University of Pennsylvania ; Link
Darrington Sentimore Defensive Lineman Transfer to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Link
Arron Douglas Offensive Lineman Died during offseason; RIP, hate having to list him here.
Kerry Murphy Defensive Line Medical Hardship
Kendall Kelly Defensive Back Medical Hardship
Wes Neighbors Defensive Back Medical Hardship

 
Back to the oversigning.  If Saban is telling the truth and he signed "the number of players we could take" then he should have been at 85 on NSD.  Since that time, 6 guys have left their scholarships with 4 more rumored to follow.  Meaning, either Alabama is going to go into the season with 74-75 guys on scholarship or Nick Saban wasn't being completely honest when he said they signed the number of players they could take, and the attrition since NSD has enabled him to get down to 85. 

If Saban was telling the truth and he truly signed what they had room for, then Saban should be announcing 10-11 (or some number) walk-on players getting 1 year scholarships to take the place of all the guys that left and all of the scholarships that have opened up since NSD, and if he doesn't, those of you who scream about creating opportunities and maximizing scholarships should be screaming at Saban for letting those scholarships go to waste for a year. 

Pro-oversigning fans argue that oversigning enables all 85 scholarships to be used.  In a few weeks we are going to find out if all 85 are being used at Alabama or if all the attrition since signing day was required in order to get down to 85.

If the attrition since signing day has created scholarship openings and those scholarships are not given to walk-ons for 1 year until they can be given to new recruits next year, then Saban's argument about maximizing scholarships and creating opportunities through oversigning goes out the window.   You can't say in one breath that you believe in creating opportunities while in another breath let x number of scholarships go unused.   Either the attrition is going to get Alabama back down to 85 or the attrition is going to create openings for walk-ons, one or the other.   We'll see what happens.

Filed under: SEC 2 Comments
14Apr/1196

Alabama Blacks Out Scholarship Numbers Citing Federal Privacy Laws; Legal Experts Disagree

This is somewhat old news, but Marquavius Burnett at The Crimson and White just wrote a nice article about the situation at Alabama regarding their refusal to disclose scholarship numbers, including an image of the document where Alabama blacks out the scholarship numbers in their annual report.  Alabama officials are saying that federal privacy laws prevent them from disclosing the number of scholarships, but law experts disagree and question why the schools that do release this information are not in violation of the federal privacy laws.

From the article:

Deborah Lane, and assistant vice president for University Relations, said in an emailed statement that privacy laws prohibit them from disclosing scholarship numbers because they can be used by a reasonable person to find out personal information about individual students.

But law experts disagree.

“This information is not confidential,” said Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “In fact, Alabama routinely announces the names of star athletes it has signed to scholarships…. Other schools are comfortable releasing the numbers. There is no practical way that you could match up the number of scholarships with particular athletes and, even if you could, it would not compromise any private information.”

http://cw.ua.edu/2011/04/13/university-blacks-out-scholarship-numbers/

It is really unclear as to why these numbers are being hidden.  Cecil Hurt at the Tuscaloosa News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request in order to try and obtain the official scholarship numbers, hopefully he will hear something soon so we can get this all cleared up. 

The irony in all of this is that Alabama goes out of its way to have a fax cam streaming video of the recruits names as their faxed LOI to receive a scholarship comes in on national signing day. 

The article goes on to cite the Wall Street Journal article on Alabama's oversigning:

The entire SEC, especially Alabama, has been under fire recently for oversigning in football. Under NCAA rules, it is legal to sign more players to scholarships than the limit of 85 as long as teams are not over that limit by July 31. However, The Wall Street Journal reported in September of 2010 that former Alabama players said the school tried to gain a competitive edge by encouraging underperforming players to quit the team, allowing the Tide to not exceed the limit of 85 scholarships per season.

Because the deadline to get down to 85 football scholarships is July 31, when 2010 expense reports were filed, it would not have been a violation to be over the limit of 85. In fact, LSU and Mississippi’s 2010 athletic expense reports show the schools had 91 and 89 scholarships, respectively, allotted to football when the reports were filed.

http://cw.ua.edu/2011/04/13/university-blacks-out-scholarship-numbers/

 

Filed under: SEC 96 Comments
3Apr/1120

Alabama Adds #25 to Class – Where is the Room?

Alabama had 12 scholarship players leave the team (8 to graduation, 3 juniors to the NFL, and 1 transfer prior to signing day) last year; Alabama also signed 23 new players (22 on signing day and now Duron Carter) and had 2 players greyshirt last year that now count towards this class; this puts them at 25 new players this year.  On NSD, Nick Saban told the media that they signed what they could, implying they had room for 22 + 2 GS, and that they could add another player later because there were candidates for medical hardships or redshirt guys that have graduated that could be replaced.  To date there have been no announcements regarding any departures, but there have been plenty of names floated around as possible candidates.

As we mentioned a month ago, the numbers just don't jive.  If you have 12 scholarship players leave but add 25 new scholarship players, the only way you have room for them all is if you finished the previous season with 72 scholarship players.   72 - 12=60, 60 + 25=85.

Does anyone believe that Alabama had only 72 scholarship players last year?  If that was the case, then why the 2 greyshirts last year because there wasn't room -- if you are at 72 scholarship players why in the world would you greyshirt 2?  The only viable reason would be the 25 limit, but Alabama had a handful of guys last year that enrolled early and counted toward the previous year, so there should have been room.  Furthermore, Alabama had a bunch of attrition last year -- we examined their roster prior to signing day and projected the number of guys they needed to lose in order to get to 85 and that was the exact number of guys they lost during the spring and summer -- so if they weren't making roster cuts to get to 85 there should have been room for the two that greyshirted last year.

We are being a little coy here, we know they didn't have 72 guys on scholarship to end the season last year.  The reality is that they are over right now, and the medical hardship, transfers and non-renewals should start to emerge soon.  

With spring practice in full swing, shouldn't anyone that is injured to the point that they can no longer participate already be on medical hardship?  Maybe there are guys that are not participating in practice right now, not sure.

All of these questions could be answered if Alabama didn't withhold their scholarship numbers information from the media, something no school should be doing.  Cecil Hurt with the Tuscaloosa News is working on this and has filed Freedom of Information requests in an effort to get scholarship numbers from the University, which is bizarre when you consider Alabama is one of the few programs around the country that runs a web cam on national signing day so that everyone can see the signed letters of intent as they come in; each time one comes in the school posts the name of the player on the fax machine so everyone can see it.  Why would you go out of your way to broadcast that information yet withhold scholarship numbers from the media when asked for them?

@TheMarchTo85 I promise we are using every FOI avenue available.

We have asked Cecil Hurt to simply ask Saban if they have room for everyone right now and from this point forward if anyone leaves will it result in Alabama starting the season under the 85 limit.  Those are questions that A.) should be asked, and B.) Saban should be able to answer.  To his credit, Hurt acknowledged our request and stated that he would follow up with Saban this week and ask questions.

Filed under: SEC 20 Comments
6Mar/1116

More on NCAA Football Issues Committee Monitoring Oversigning

We posted a quick link on this earlier in the week but would like to drill into it a little more here.  In the discussions lately in the comments section, there have been a few readers that have made the point that eliminating oversigning will only lead to abuses to players further upstream, meaning that instead of cutting players after signing day players would be cut in December and January.   It appears the NCAA is thinking along the same lines, which to be honest is very troubling because in order to subscribe to the notion that a rules change would only result in abuse further upstream you have to accept that player abuse is currently taking place with the use of oversigning, something many of you who have tried to defend oversigning have denied. 

Because the effect of the new rule may not be apparent immediately, the Football Issues Committee decided to remain diligent about monitoring it.

“This rule has only been in effect for one year, and we want to take some time to see if that’s the perfect number,” said committee chair Nick Carparelli. “Certainly, the committee will continue to monitor it, and we can re-evaluate to see if there is a more appropriate number if necessary.”

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/latest+news/2011/march/football+issues+committee+to+monitor+oversigning

The rule change that they are monitoring, in case you are unaware, is the recent additions of 13.9.2.3 and 15.5.1.1 from proposal 2009-48 which only limit the number of NLI's to 28 between NSD and May 31st.  Rules that Andy Staples said were not worth the paper they were written on.

We don't believe this is about finding the right number.  This is about a shift in the cultural mindset of the schools that abuse oversigning the most.  As we have mentioned a few times, the Big 10 Conference established its rules on oversigning back in the 1950's and it is our belief that over time the mindset of the member institutions has been shaped by those rules resulting in oversigning not being an issue in that conference.  As you can see by analyzing the numbers, the type of attrition that many think will be moved upstream by today's oversigners, such as this example from Huston Nutt, is not an issue in the Big 10; if it were you would see that the Big 10 would have a much higher number of players signed each year, and yet, of all the BCS schools the Big 10 ranks last in the average number of players signed.

So what is the solution?  Leadership.  When the SEC university presidents meet in June for their annual conference meetings, they absolutely must demand that their athletic departments stop oversigning and they must create a culture that does not accept the kind of roster attrition we see from the oversigning schools.  Maybe they find that in a number or in a set of rules, or maybe they find that by hiring coaches that are more known for their ethical treatment of players and ability to develop them instead of their ability to recruit or find loopholes in the NCAA by-laws. 

Grayshirting

Another area covered in the NCAA press release was the practice of grayshirting, which the NCAA is also going to start monitoring.  This too has become a controversial topic with Florida's President calling it morally reprehensible.

Susan Peal, who administers the National Letter of Intent program, said the Collegiate Commissioners Association (the program’s governing body) doesn’t support grayshirting. The program has a policy that nullifies the National Letter of Intent if an institution or coach asks the student-athlete to grayshirt. However, if a student-athlete decides to delay enrollment, the national letter remains valid. Determining the instigator of the decision can be difficult.

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/latest+news/2011/march/football+issues+committee+to+monitor+oversigning

According to the press release, Susan Peal appears to agree with Florida's president, and although she doesn't call it morally reprehensible, it is clear that she does not support grayshirting due to the fact that it can nullify the NLI.  One area where this is a concern is that some coaches are purposely oversigning and telling many of the kids they recruit that there is a possibility that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt if the numbers don't work out.  As August rolls around and the numbers begin to shake out, the coaches that have oversigned and told recruits that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt can play their ace in the hole and attempt to avoid public backlash by stating that they told the recruit up front that a grayshirt might be POSSIBLE.  Our question is, did they also tell them that they are offering something that the NLI program does not support because of the risk it poses to the recruit or are they telling them that grayshirting is normal and there is nothing to worry about?  Based on the comments of the players and parents that have found themselves in a grayshirt situation it is clear that everyone is not on the same page.

Our position is that we are against coaches telling a handful of recruits that they MIGHT have to grayshirt if the numbers don't work out and we are against coaches oversigning knowing they have a handful of players they can push back if they need to via the grayshirt.  Grayshirt offers should only come after a school has filled all of their available openings, it should be petitioned for with transparency at the conference or NCAA level, and there should be something in writing that guarantees the recruit that they will have spot in the following class.  Grayshirt offers, if any, should be the last offers given out because all of the current openings in the class are taken.  It is unethical to go around giving out offers that come with a grayshirt clause.  NLI doesn't support the grayshirt practice and recruits that are being told by a football coach that they MIGHT have to take a greyshirt should be very cautious when considering that kind of offer.  Hopefully we will see some reform here and the grayshirt process with either go away or become heavily regulated.  We would hate to throw the baby out with the bath water just because you have a handful of coaches out there offering kids conditional grayshirt offers simply to keep them away from other schools.

Filed under: NCAA 16 Comments
13Feb/1169

Competitive Advantage and Ethics, Two Sides of Oversigning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitive Advantage:

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

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

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

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ethics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Big 10, Coaching, SEC 69 Comments
12Feb/1184

The Worst Article Ever Written on Oversigning

We have read a lot of articles on oversigning and listened to a lot of people talk about the topic over the last year.  The vast majority of people writing or talking about this topic don't fully understand it and the complexities involved.  Some are too emotionally charged to think clearly long enough to fully understand what oversigning is and who is guilty of abusing the practice.  Others are in clear denial that it is an issue, such as the blog Bama Sports Report. 

http://www.bamasportsreport.com/2011-articles/february/oversigning-from-alabamas-perspective.html 

Nick Saban is everybody's favorite oversigning whipping boy. It's a role he's no doubt accustomed to - he's been the internet's number two villian (just behind Hitler) since he told reporters he wasn't leaving the Dolphins for Alabama. But here's the thing. There's really nothing to see here. No one has done anything wrong. Let's take a closer look at the rules and what Alabama has done.

Saban and Alabama have broken no rules. No one has even alleged that they have. The process is pretty clear. You put 85 (or fewer) student athletes on scholarship each year, and no more than 25 can be added in a year. You submit those lists to the NCAA and everyone goes on about their way.

Translated: no rules have been broken, there is nothing here to see, and you can put 85 on scholarship each year with no more than 25 being added each year.  Wow.  Really?  Let's continue.

Last year, the SEC changed the rules to allow member institutions to only bring in 28 student athletes per class. This was mostly in response to the class of 33 Houston Nutt inked at Ole Miss a few years earlier. Big Ten fans are up in arms because the Big Ten only allows member institutions to sign the exact number that they have available. 

Why does the Big Ten do this? Moral superiority? Past abuses? The warm fuzzy feeling of getting steamrolled in big bowls? I don't know. But the SEC (and many other conferences) have chosen not to follow their lead. That it disadvantages the Big Ten is a Big Ten problem.

Ugh.  The Huston Nutt Rule was in response to his class of 37, not 33.   The new SEC rule doesn't allow member institutions to bring 28 student-athletes per class, it limits SIGNING to 28 from February to May 31st.  It in no way addresses the real issue of keeping schools from being faced with having to get rid of players because all of their new recruits that signed a LOI qualified and to enroll them all would put them over the 85 limit.  The rule change was meaningless.

Big 10 fans are not the only ones "up in arms."  The University of Florida President, Bernie Machen, was a little bent on the topic, calling it and greyshirting morally reprehensible, Mark Richt has spoken out on the topic, and there is a Twitter account called Oversigning that is operated by a Georgia Bulldog fan who is absolutely furious about oversigning and has been relentless in pestering the national media.  And as a result, the entire national media has picked up on the topic and the court of public opinion has ruled that oversigning is a slime-ball tactic that needs to go.  The issue of oversigning is not a Big 10 problem it is a SEC problem, check that, it's a problem of schools that are abusing it, some SEC schools don't (Georgia, Florida, Vandy traditionally speaking) and some schools outside of the SEC do (Miami, Florida State, Troy) although not to the tune of the SEC schools that do, and even more of a problem for schools who are abusing it and then refusing to release their scholarship numbers to the general public. 

Let's continue...

Sadly, it's a fact that public schools in Alabama and Mississippi are occasionally lacking. See our national rankings in most test scores, etc. So, more frequently than in richer, more industrialized states, kids in the south fail to qualify. It's not a fact that those in the Big Ten don't know; it's frequently used as a convenient insult. But when it hurts their argument, it is ignored.

More industrialized states?  Really?  The bottom line on this BS is that there are plenty of kids that can qualify in the south; they might not run a 4.3 40 or have freakish talent, but with all of the population shifts there are plenty of good, quality kids that can get it done on the field and in the classroom.  Coaches just need to get better at finding them and better at coaching them up.  The reason we see so many guys not getting in is because coaches go after so many kids that they know won't qualify --  they do this for a couple of reasons: to keep competitors away from them and in hopes of signing and placing them in the JUCO farm system. 

And here's the bottom line. Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, two student athletes have left the program without a "soft landing" - meaning fre school. Those two kids are Jimmy Johns and Jeremy Elder. They were both arrested for felonies.

Every other kid has received at least some sort of tacit nod to other programs. You can bet if Saban were poor-mouthing departures, less of them would be receiving free rides elsewhere. Either way, these are year to year scholarships. Something that isn't news to anyone. There's no obligation to renew the scholarship.

Soft landing.  Really?  Going from a 4-5 star recruit at one of the premier schools on track to get a quality degree from a great school to a spot on a FCS roster and degree from a lesser school is a soft landing, provided he even makes it that far...sounds more like a shattered dream.  To be fair this isn't all on the oversigning coaches; bogus recruiting services that attempt to rank these kids are just as guilty of contributing to the rise and fall of some of these student-athletes.

It appears that The Drake Group and the National College Players Association disagree with the Bama Sports Report in the assertion that everyone knows that scholarships are 1 year renewable contracts.  Both groups were in Hartford, Connecticut testifying at a legislative hearing.

Sack, who called the proposed bill the "Connecticut Student-Athletes' Right to Know Act," said he was attending the hearing as president-elect of The Drake Group. According to the organization's website, it has a national network of college faculty that lobbies for proposals that ensure a quality education for college athletes.

While NCAA rules state that athletic aid cannot be reduced or cancelled during the one-year period of the award because of athletic ability or injury, Sack said, "the rules are murky when it comes to conditions for the renewal and non-renewal of the scholarships in the subsequent year."

"Some universities renew scholarships for four years as long as athletes continue playing and adhere to team rules," said Sack. "Others cancel scholarships for poor athletic performance or for injury."

Sack, who called the proposed bill the "Connecticut Student-Athletes' Right to Know Act," said he was attending the hearing as president-elect of The Drake Group. According to the organization's website, it has a national network of college faculty that lobbies for proposals that ensure a quality education for college athletes.

Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and president of the National College Players Association — a California nonprofit made up of more than 14,000 Division 1 student athletes — also testified at the hearing and went one step further. He said the majority of high school recruits decide which college to attend based on "false information given to them by athletic recruiters."

Most recruits and their parents have no idea, Huma said, that colleges can "leave them with sports-related medical expenses, take away their scholarship for any reason, leave them with tens of thousands of dollars in educational-related expenses, and hold their eligibility and scholarship opportunities hostage when they try to transfer schools."

http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-college-sport-scholarships-0209-20110208,0,6085518.story

And for the grand finale...

I was on the debate team in college. It paid my way. I was well aware that if I didn't do what I needed to do, there'd be no scholarship next year. Whether that was a certain amount of research or practice or keeping my grades up, I knew that there were expectations. I knew if I failed to meet those, I'd have to pay my own way. Why is a football scholarship any different?

My final thought is really this. Oversigning is legal. No matter the scenario, kids are getting free college tuition (barring felony arrests). Oversigning does, unequivocally, give a competitive advantage.

If it's legal, and no kids are harmed in the process, then the guy who's getting paid upwards of $4 million dollars a year to win football games ought to be doing it. If he's not, he's not doing everything he can - within the rules - to win football games. And that's not acceptable. That's the cold, hard, unfeeling truth here.

Debate team.  Really?  Regardless, the comparison of a football scholarship to an academic scholarship is completely laughable.  Wonder if the coach of the debate team was being paid millions of dollars based on the performance of the writer of this article.   Wonder if the debate coach faced the same level of pressure to win as Saban or Miles do?  Wonder if the debate team coach was only allowed to give out X number of debate scholarships?  What if a new debate coach comes in and he wants to clear the roster?  If a debater wanted to go to another school to debate would he have to sit out a year?  Wonder if the writer of the article signed of LOI that bound him to the school in a one-way agreement?  And lastly, how many times does a debater put his life at risk debating so that the schools, coaches, and TV networks can make millions?

That last paragraph about sums it up: to not oversign is unacceptable in this guy's eyes.  Pretty sad state of affairs.  Saban has had 12 kids placed on medical hardship scholarship, a scholarship reserved for players that are so severely injured they can no longer play football.  If Alabama were a tax-paying, private sector business, OSHA would be camped out at the corporate headquarters asking why their employees were being injured at such a higher rate than other similar businesses.  Guess this guy would give them the finger too.

Filed under: SEC 84 Comments
6Feb/11285

Alabama’s Numbers

During his national signing day press conference, Nick Saban implied that no one outside of him knows Alabama's scholarship numbers.  He also seemed rather irritated at all of the talk about "oversigning" while reading the notes he prepared regarding the controversial topic.  Judging by the national response to his comments, his message fell on deaf ears

We started writing this last night but this morning Kevin Scarbinsky put out the following article which dovetails nicely with what we have prepared. 

According to Saban, those of us on the outside of the Alabama program can't criticize him for oversigning because we don't know the exact number of players he has on scholarship from year to year.Funny thing about that. Why don't we know? Alabama won't tell us, even though we ask every year.

Birmingham News colleague Jon Solomon requests a copy of the annual NCAA revenue and expense report from every Division I athletics department in the state. One of the categories on that report is number of student-athletes on scholarship in each varsity sport.

Every Division I public school in this state provides us a copy of those reports. Only Alabama blacks out the scholarship numbers for every sport.

We know from the latest form that Alabama reported spending $3,041,356 on football scholarships for the 2009-10 academic year. We don't know how many players Alabama reported having on scholarship that year.

The News has asked Alabama several times to explain why it withholds information we believe is a public record. The heart of the explanation, from university spokesperson Deborah Lane: "Federal privacy laws prevent the University from providing the media with personally identifiable information related to its students."

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/02/scarbinsky_alabamas_dont-tell.html

If there are federal privacy laws that prevent them from saying who is on scholarship, then why does Alabama have a fax machine cam that displays the names of the recruits signing a national letter of intent to accept a GIA for a football scholarship?  Further, no one is asking for NAMES, they are simply asking for NUMBERS.  This is severely weakening his position that everything is on the up and up.  No one else is hiding their numbers, why is Alabama?

We tracked Alabama's scholarship numbers last year and shortly after National Signing Day last year we determined that Alabama was projected to be 10 recruits over the 85 cap and would need to shed 10 student-athletes in order to come into compliance before the August 1st deadline.  To ensure the general public that we were not being biased and that we were not pulling numbers out of thin air, we provided a link to an Alabama sports blog that provided the most detailed roster break down available anywhere on the Internet - surely the guys that cover Alabama like a blanket 24/7/365 knew what was going on with the roster, right?  Well, in light of the recent comments from Saban and Jon Solomon's request for the exact numbers...who knows. 

There are people that follow college football all day and all night, they know every name on their team's roster, what high school they went to, who they are dating, their favorite color, what position they play, where they are on the depth chart, and so and so forth.  With recruiting being such a hot topic, everyone wants to know how many openings they have for the up coming class.  We're willing to concede that perhaps the general public is off by one or two, but in order for what Nick Saban is telling us to be true everyone, including the most dedicated Alabama fans that watch the roster numbers, has to be off by double digits.  That's hard to believe unless there is a secret scholarship society at Alabama that no one knows about.

Over the next 6 months we followed Alabama's football program and tracked the attrition in an effort to see if they would lose exactly 10 student-athletes by the deadline.  We dubbed this effort the March to 85.  The following list is the attrition that took place on Alabama's roster after national signing day and before the August deadline.

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


On the day before deadline, Saban announced that 1 student-athlete would be transferring and 2 new recruits would be accepting a greyshirt.

With that announcement, Alabama was magically at the 85 number, or so everyone thought, including all of the Alabama media that follow the numbers.  Shortly after that announcement, the NCAA would rule that Alfy Hill would be academically ineligible (which was total BS on the NCAA's part with regards to how they handled that poor kid - he had already taken classes at Alabama but was ruled ineligible after the fact).  

Read more on Alabama getting down to 85 on the last day here: http://oversigning.com/testing/index.php/2010/08/04/saban-gets-down-to-85-on-the-last-day/

The two players taking the grayshirts on the last day appeared to be indication that there wasn't room for them in the current class. In his press conference this year, Saban had this to say about grayshirting:

"We have never, ever grayshirted a guy here who when he decided to come here didn't know ... that he was going to be a grayshirt whenever he committed," Saban said.

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/02/saban_defends_practices_of_ove.html

Read that very carefully.  If a recruit knows he is going to be a grayshirt when he commits, then why it is not announced on National Signing Day that he will be taking a grayshirt and enrolling in the following January?  We are not doubting that Saban is telling guys that a grayshirt is possible, that much has been reported already, but his comments above in conjunction with the announcement of two players accepting a grayshirt on July 31st last year sure makes it look like he was oversigned and was waiting until the last minute to see how it was going to play out before using his ace in the hole, the grayshirt.  Perhaps those grayshirts were not cast in stone on the front end, instead, perhaps they are a safety valve for the back end should everyone qualify or roster management dictate that someone has to go in order to stay under the 85 cap.

What we are seeing from some schools in the SEC is a mad scramble to wrangle in as many players as possible in order to try and keep them away from other schools, a recruiting tactic as old as the SEC itself, and the grayshirt process has turned into a safety valve for getting back down to 85 if necessary.  This is what Bernie Machen was referring to as morally reprehensible and what Mark Richt was referring to when he said that schools are offering scholarships like candy.

"One of the hardest things for us to do is to evaluate and nail down who you’re going to go after, especially in our own state. A lot of the out of state teams will just come in and just offer like mad. They’ll come in and just offer like candy. Quite frankly I’m not going to name names of schools, but a lot of them will do that just to get in the fight and if the kid commits too soon and they’re not sure they want, they’ll just tell them that’s not a committable offer. Whatever the heck that means?"

Saban comments on this at the 4:15 mark in this video, where he says that recruiting is largely a numbers game and that if they want to get 30 guys they have to put 90 guys on the board.  We're not going to comment on that because Tony Gerdeman has already said all there is to say about that kind of an approach. 

Now back to the numbers.

Saban implied that this year's class of 21 (now 22) new recruits and 2 grayshirt players that carry over from last year was all they were allowed to take.  Further implying that they are currently full and that the 24 new additions now bring them to the 85 limit.  He went on to say that there might be wiggle room to get 1 more guy.

Saban said Alabama has signed the number of players that it could.

"We could add one or so to that, if the opportunity presents itself in the future," he said, presumably referring to defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, the nation's No. 1 prospect from Rock Hill, S.C. (South Pointe High School), and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic High School).

"We have some people who could not finish the season who will probably not be able to continue to play that can be replaced, and we have several (redshirted) players who can graduate and may not come back for the fifth year."

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/02/saban_defends_practices_of_ove.html

In breaking that down, he is saying that right now they are at 85 and the only way there would be room for future additions would be for future attrition.  This means two things:

1. We shouldn't see any attrition this year to free up space and get down to 85, and if we do see attrition and no new recruits are added, Alabama will operate below the 85 limit by the number of players that "create their own situation for leaving."

2. If Alabama truly had room for 24 scholarship additions, where the hell did they come from?  They had 14 seniors listed on their roster, 6 of which were listed as SQ for scout team.  They had 3 Juniors leave for the NFL draft and they had 1 player announce he was going to transfer prior to signing day, BJ Scott.  That is 12 scholarship players (8 seniors + 3 juniors to the NFL + 1 transfer).  Saban said they were not at 85 total last year, so were they 12 under the 85?  And if so, why the grayshirt announcements on the last day before the deadline.

The math just doesn't add up and it's not even close.  Compare this to Northwestern's roster situation and look at the difference in how everything is handled.

Pat Fitzgerald: "We have 85 scholarships, we had 17 to give, and we’re at 85 right now." 

Nick Saban: "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."

The SEC and the NCAA need to create transparency in the numbers and how they are managed.  As we have said all along, schools should have to report their number of openings immediately after the January 15th deadline for Juniors to declare for the draft and they should be restricted to those numbers - if there is not an opening then there shouldn't be a scholarship offer unless it is a grayshirt situation that is documented and cleared with the conference office.  Schools should be limited in the number of LOI they can send out/accept in accordance with their openings under the 85 rule, not the 25 or 28 rule, and if there needs to be an exception for up to three extra, fine, but everyone wants transparency.  Fans want it, parents and recruits need it, the coaches need it and there is no reason the numbers shouldn't be made available.  In fact, the only reason to not make them available is because you have something to hide.  The Big 10 has had this transparency since 1954, it's time for the SEC to do the same.

Filed under: SEC 285 Comments
31Jan/1115

Official LSU Numbers Thread

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: SEC 15 Comments
29Jan/1128

Saturday Morning Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Quick Links 28 Comments
26Jan/11137

Nick Saban Comments on the Accelerated Recruiting Time Table

According to Nick Saban, the recruiting time table has accelerated so rapidly that it is becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate recruits.  Listen to his comments at the 2:30 minute mark in this video.  Saban says he feels as though they are behind in their evaluations because of the accelerated recruiting time table. 

This is interesting for a couple of reasons.  One, you could argue that the lack of evaluation time could be the reason for oversigning: needing to run through more kids to make up for misses in recruiting.  Obviously Saban makes no bones about feeling like he is behind in his evaluations and is forced to offer kids before being fully able to evaluate them; he goes so far as to call it a problem.  Imagine the problem Big 10 coaches are having without that ability to take a few extra guys to make up for those misses in recruiting.

We actually agree with Saban here, the time table for evaluating recruits, and to a certain degree the added restrictions on contact with recruits that were put in place to curb abuses, has made it harder for coaches to evaluate players.  Some of the NCAA restrictions are an absolute joke.  However, oversigning is not the solution - all it does is give a coach a tool to help cover his own ass in recruiting.  Solutions for the oversigning problem need to include adjustments to the evaluation process.

Lastly, Saban really takes a shot at recruiting service websites such as Rivals.com for making recruiting a game and ruining kids in the process.  He blames the media as well and goes on to ask the guys interviewing them if they are proud of themselves for what they have done with the recruiting game.  Those comments come at the 5:40 minute mark. 

After watching the video, you almost feel sad for the reports who stood there and laughed at themselves being shamed by Saban.  Where is the media that covered the SMU scandal when you need them?  Those guys didn't take crap of anyone, much less a coach.

Filed under: SEC 137 Comments
19Jan/1131

Dieon Green was Lied to – Victim of Oversigning

Update: Shortly after this story ran, the Orlando Sentinel pulled it and replaced it with the following.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/recruiting/os-recruiting-deion-green-not-enrolled-ucf-0119,0,4690995.story

Interesting to say the least, but common sense would have you believe that Green was telling the truth about being lied to by Coach Huxtable.  However, he suddenly remembers that they told him it might be a possibility that he would have to defer his early enrollment to the fall.

"They had too many guys on scholarship so they couldn't bring me in." Green said. "I wouldn't say I'm looking elsewhere. I've always been open to listening to anyone.

"They told me in December that it was a possibility that I wouldn't be able to come in early. They told me to be prepared just in case, and to go through with filling out all my courses and all that stuff."

During his first interview with the Sentinel on Wednesday, Green vented about his deep disappointed in not being allowed to enroll at UCF this month, as planned. He later contacted the newspaper to reaffirm his commitment to UCF.

UCF signed three four junior college players and brought them in early -- LB Terran Buck, LB Ray Cottman, DE Toby Jackson and DT Jose Jose. The one scholarship left went to DE Joey Grant, a true freshman from Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley. Those five players will count against last year's alottment of scholarships, of which there were five left over and went unused for various reasons.

That left UCF, and Green, out of options for spring semester. Green was in place if one of the junior college players' enrollment fell through.

Regardless of who you believe, the problem here is still the same, the numbers crunch.  UCF was waiting to see if a group of JUCO players would qualify before allowing Dieon to sign and enroll.  Our position is that this needs to be EXPLICT with the student athlete and there should NEVER BE ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER as to when he can enroll.  If you are that close to the borderline then just don't commit to anything until you know for sure.  Many coaches are lying to these kids, which most likely was the case here but Deion probably decided it was in his best interest to patch things up with UCF, and doing all they can to keep them from looking elsewhere, regardless if they have the room or not.

Original Post:

Just another sad story of a kid being lied to by coaches and a University that allows oversigning.  Now that the light is on the stories are coming out of the wood works.   This time it is Central Florida.

"I feel like I was lied to. I feel like they weren't 100 percent honest with me the whole time," Green said Wednesday. "They knew how many guys they were bringing in. They knew they were going to be cutting it close. It's not like the numbers changed.

"Coach Huxtable told me that I would be the first high school guy they would bring in. The first guy after all of the juco players and then they brought in Joey Grant (Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley). They brought in Joey and Coach Huxtable told me I would be first in line. He lied to me."

"Signing day is not as clear as it used to be."

"They should have told me about the numbers back closer to when I committed," said Green, who committed July 31. "Coach Huxtable just kept saying, 'We want to bring you in early to help the team.’

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/recruiting/os-recruiting-deion-green-upset-with-ucf-0119,0,4069110.story

19Jan/1161

Who Said That?

Several readers have asked about the quote at the top of the home page and who it belongs to.  That quote was one of the inspirations for the site and it came from none other than Nick Saban.  Here is the context from the original interview with Ian Rapport http://blog.al.com/rapsheet/2008/04/playing_the_numbers_game.html 

Today, after Alabama's last spring practice, I had one of those situations. One of the big questions, I think, for the offseason is how will coach Nick Saban whittle the roster down to just 85 scholarships? There are 66 on scholarship now, and assume 25 freshman will enroll. That's 91. So six have to go by August.

How?  That's what I asked Saban today. He was entertaining as always. Let's just say, the conversation was classic:

Me: "The numbers is issue. First, do you know, is Colin Peek on scholarship?"

Saban: (Time to play dumb.) "I don't know. You ask me, do I know..." (Bad question. Clearly, he knows.)

Me: "I think you do know." (See?)

Saban: "You'll have to ask somebody else." (Cue mischievous grin) "You're asking the wrong guy."

Me: (Alright, come on, it's getting late.) "He is, right?"

Saban: "Yeah." (Round one: Me!)

Me: (The real questions) "How are you going to handle the numbers and when do you start to worry about it?"

Saban: (Getting a little loud... What, Saban worry?) "I'm not worried about them. It'll all work out. I mean, the whole thing has a solution to every issue. You don't put yourself in a position where you don't know what's coming, then have to take it in the chops." ("Chops" is such a dad word. Not that there is anything wrong with that) "Aiight? We know how it has to be managed, and it will be managed."

(Pause)

Saban: "And you don't need to call me and ask me to write a column for you, and I won't call you and ask you how to manage our numbers. How's that?"

Me: (Deal! But when when did I suggest how to manage the numbers? If he did ask... I digress.) "I don't even have a calculator." (Can't do math without one of those.)

Saban: (The smile returns.) "You don't need one to do this."

Me: (Throwing the hands up in the air.) "So you're not going to tell us?"

Saban: "I'm not going to tell you what?" (That exit is looking mighty welcoming now.) "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."

Me: "I would never say that."

Saban: "Don't even ask. Aiight? So. (Starts to walk out, but he's got one more zinger before he leaves.) Ya know, I thought we could get this one last thing without having to..." (attempt a scolding?)

Me: (Even I start to laugh at that) "You really thought that? No chance."

Saban: (Off the podium, he can't help giggling to himself, too) "Not with you."

Media relations guru Jeff Purinton: (Escorting Saban out the door) "He (me) needed something to hold him over until the season..."

True. Good times...

Compare that with Jim Tressel's press conference video below where he discusses his numbers and how he manages them each year.  That pretty much says it all.

Filed under: SEC 61 Comments
17Jan/11115

Saban Gets Head Start on the 2011 March to 85

As predicted, Saban has started early with the roster trimming this year. BJ Scott, a key recruit in the #1 ranked 2008 class, is officially taking the Star Jackson career path of transferring down to a lower tier school, the University of South Alabama.  This first showed up on the radar here, and followed up on here.

Roll Bama Roll had a interesting take on BJ Scott:

"Nevertheless, while he never put it together on the field, in many ways Scott served his purpose. His commitment to Alabama in July of 2007 played a major role in our re-taking of the recruiting hotbed of Mobile, and his commitment also helped us sign several other heavily recruited players because he helped our recruiting efforts tremendously down the stretch. Scott never did anything as a player, but he helped push a lot of other kids to Tuscaloosa who have done very well."

http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2010/11/30/1847613/b-j-scott-transferring#comments

Being that the transfer was announced prior to signing day it's not as dubious as the transfers that come after guys spend the entire spring and summer competing for a spot on an oversigned roster.

An update to Alabama's numbers is in the works.

In reading some of the comments posted in response to the announcement of BJ Scott transferring, it's pathetic and disappointing to see the mindset of some Alabama fans when it comes this topic.

Steady up boys, this happens every year, and it happens everywhere. You have kids that don't cut the mustard, and you have to make room for others. It's a business these days. Coaches are paid 3, 4, 5 million dollars a year to win and win big.

You must "over recruit" and shuffle the dead weight around to the back of the line and/or out the door. The players know it too. They have one year on their scholarship, it's reviewed each year. It all works out, it's a plus for the young man who wants to move on so he can get playing time. It improves his chances of making the NFL draft.

It's not as heartless and cold as "some folks" make it out to be.

When I finished HS in 1971 I signed to play at Alabama. We had over 70 freshmen come in that year with 30 plus being invited and uninvited walk ons. Out of that class there were 35 scholarship and 4 became head coaches "three in the SEC and one in the Pac10" and one sports agent , who unfortunately crashed with Payne Stewart. Out of the 35 only 17 of us survived with a number transferring to Livingston, Jax State, Troy and North Alabama. I know for a fact Auburn had Dieter Brock that transferred to Jax State that year and went on to the CFL and NFL. This has been the way of college teams for ever. It is not an Alabama thing or an Auburn thing or any other college. There are a number of reasons some don't make it in a certain program and others do. It also does not matter if a coach is being paid 4 million or 50k. His intent is to win. When was the last time an AD stood up and introduced a coach as "We have hired Bubba because he is a looser and we got him cheap?". I think it is always good that a young man has options to transfer. The problem with them transferring is they are looking at it from a football perspective and not an education one. They all think they can still make it to the NFL. You can name the NFL transfers on your 20 digits. Priorities.

Part of football ...
That 5 star rating from ESPN and Rivals got him nothing....I expect more to come from Bama in the next couple of weeks with the talent still there and the amount headed in the upcoming class..
No big deal here , just like other colleges, the kid wants playing time and wont be getting it at Bama, so you end up with a transfer..
I expect Harris to be next, I think will transfer to JSU..He has talent out the arse but just can't handle the defense ran by Saban and Smart...And then there will be others
RTR, move along, nothing to see here , just the every year transfer that all D1 colleges have each and every year.

It really isn't a big deal, except to some West coast guys that hate the SEC, and the Aubies that read their blog or whatever it is. Anyway, I have heard many college coaches speak as my best friend is a HS coach and I have tagged along with him to several clinics. Most of the coaches that I have heard speak make it very clear that they tell their players out front that a scholarship offer is a one year thing. They tell them that if they don't work hard or if they don't do what is asked of them, then they may not be renewed. Scholarships are like a job, as you are getting to go to school for free, and just like a job, if you do not perform and please your boss, then you get fired.

The oversigning thing is a bunch of whining. Scholarships are a 1 year at a time deal no 4 year contract with kids leaving early, transferring a getting hurt…..I really don’t see the problem as long as its handled tactfully. The more quality players you have the more that are going to leave early…..better to have too much than not enough….

Filed under: SEC 115 Comments
15Jan/1163

Not All Alabama Fans Support Oversigning

This was posted by a reader in response to the piece on why Georgia Tech left the SEC, but we thought it should be posted for all to see, instead of buried in the archive.  This is yet another example of why the Big 10 has banned oversigning in all sports.  Thanks to "Dranodrog" for sharing your story; this site exists for people like you and others that have been harmed by oversigning. 

My daughter was recruited by Alabama for Cross Country and Track. She was offered 75% of a full ride and signed Nov 9, 2005. She went there the next year and continually placed in the top 5 of her team and was often in the top 3. At the end of her second year, her coach called her into his office and cut her scholarship…but wanted her to stay on the team. She couldn’t afford to do that and got a job as an assistant coach at Tuscaloosa Academy. She then watched new girls come in to run for the Tide under scholarship. She never understood why they did it, but I always knew. They want to get kids in and ingrained into the system, then give that money to get more kids in. My wonderful daughter graduated in 2009 and got to see the mighty Tide’s great Championship Season. We are great Alabama fans, but believe me that I have “a name” of someone who was hurt badly by “the system”.

Filed under: SEC 63 Comments
15Jan/1133

Big Recruiting Weekend

Nick Saban and Alabama, despite already being on tract to having one of the most oversigned classes in the country is having one of its biggest recruiting weekends this weekend.

"The Crimson Tide will welcome 11 recruits to campus trying to land deals with some of the nation's elite high school athletes."

Wonder what kind of "deals" the writer is talking about here?

"This might be the biggest weekend since (Alabama coach Nick Saban) and his staff have been there," Bamaonline.com recruiting editor Tim Watts said. "It's certainly the biggest I remember in the last 10 years or so. Whenever you see the No. 1 player in the country coming in on a visit it's always a big deal."

So despite the fact that they have 21 verbal commitments and 2 greyshirts that count towards this class, and given Alabama has one of the smallest senior classes in the country, Nick Saban and Alabama are hosting 11 recruits this weekend.  Granted some of them are probably just taking a free trip and there is no way on earth they sign all 11 of them, but why are they even bringing anyone in when they have already exceeded their projected scholarship limit based on the same guidelines the Big 10 Conference office would use to determine if they had room for more recruits?  Why?  Because SEC Commissioner, Mike Slive, is a puppet that serves at the pleasure of the SEC University Presidents and the President at the University of Alabama does not have the guts to stand up to Nick Saban and tell him what he is doing is wrong, unethical, and would not be tolerated anywhere in the Big 10 and at several universities around the country.

Alabama also will welcome a handful of players who already have verbally committed, including Vigor wide receiver Marvin Shinn.

According to Watts and Bone, the Tide has done a good job of filling its needs. But if Alabama can add a few more commitments it could reclaim its place at the nation's overall top signing class for 2011.

We don't have a problem with bringing in guys who have already verbally committed elsewhere, that is common practice and generally accepted, but the issue is that Alabama is so far over the limit and they are hell bent on signing 25-28 and sorting it out during spring camp and summer workouts.  Chances are, the guys that are verbally committed to other schools are committed to schools that have legitimate room for them; yet here is Nick Saban and Alabama, who by Big 10 Conference recruiting rules does not have any room and would be reprimanded, still bringing in recruits and still trying to get players.

The problem is that there is so much talent available now all over the country that the recruiting game is just as much about keeping players away from rivals as it is about filling your roster needs.

The only thing that can stop Nick Saban is the NCAA and the only way to get the NCAA to stop Nick Saban is to continue to spread the word about this practice and to shame the NCAA, Mike Slive, and the University Presidents into putting an end to oversigning.

While they are at it they might want to consider monitoring coaching hires as well...

Alabama may have improved its chances to land Clowney after it hired former Clemson assistant Chris Rumph to coach the defensive line.

For those that don't know, Clowney is a once-in-a-lifetime player.  He is a game changer with raw physical ability rarely seen, even at a school like Alabama that is used to having players like Julio Jones.  Simply put, this kid is a freak and the kind of player with which you win championships.  We're sure hiring Clowney's favorite coach had nothing to do with his recruitment.  This doesn't have anything to do with oversigning, it just wreaks, but then again what doesn't about a school and coach that are habitual abusers of something that an entire conference banned and the reason Georgia Tech left the SEC back in the 1960's.

Filed under: SEC 33 Comments
8Jan/1188

Tressel on Oversigning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 88 Comments
3Jan/1142

Oversigning hits Twitter, Wikipedia

Update: Just want to commend the guys who created the twitter account for oversigning - you guys are pounding the media, both locally and nationally on this topic.  Good work!  We can't wait for Cecil Hurt to ask Nick Saban about his recruiting numbers.

A new twitter account was created on January 1st http://twitter.com/Oversigning.  This is not our account and is not affiliated with oversigning.com.  However, the account appears to have been created by SEC fans/graduates that agree with the premise of this site, and it appears their purpose is to hound national sports journalists and media members to really start covering oversigning and discussing it openly. 

The purpose of this site was to bring oversigning out of the dark, shine a bright light on it, and get to the bottom of whether or not it needs to be removed from college athletics.  If it is true that the new Twitter account was created by SEC fans that want to take a stand against the actions of schools like LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas (well basically the entire SEC West), then this site has served its purpose.   We have never thought all SEC fans were advocates of oversigning, just the ones that benefit the most from its abuse; glad to see other people start to take a stand.

In addition to the new twitter account, someone, not us, has created a Wikipedia page for oversigning.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oversigning

This too is great to see - we encourage everyone that visits this site to visit our new friends at twitter and check out the Wikipedia site as well.

Best wishes to all for a Happy and Healthy  New Year!

Filed under: Feedback 42 Comments
20Dec/1090

Tony Gerdeman on the Competitive Equality aspect of Oversigning

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Big 10, SEC 90 Comments
19Dec/1027

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
16Dec/1052

Up to 20 + 2

Alabama landed verbal committment #20 picking up former University of Tennessee and All-SEC OL Aaron Douglas on waivers from JUCO today.  That makes 20 verbal commitments plus the 2 kids that were greyshirted last year and assured of spots in this year's recruiting class.

Anyone care to explain where all the scholarships are going to come from given that Alabama has a senior class of roughly 8 scholarship players and are looking at a max of 4 juniors jumping to the league early?

Alabama's recruiting class is ranked #2 in the country on Rivals.com, a ranking that no doubt they use in recruiting "hey, come be a part of the #2 class in the country - with you we could make it the #1 class."  But one has to question where Alabama's class would be ranked if they were recruiting within their budget and only had 8-12 commitments with very few if no additional openings?  Would they be ranked #2 in the country and selling that to prospects?  Doubt it.  But since they have the NCAA's and the SEC's blessing to accept way more signatures than they project having room for and given that they get an extra 6 months to figure out which scholarships they don't want to renew or who they are going to put on medical hardship, they have the luxury of taking way more than they have room for and taking advantage of the selling point having the #2 recruiting class in the country affords you.

Filed under: SEC 52 Comments