Oversigning.com
1Dec/1021

Reason 735,378,987,506 to End Oversigning

This is a follow up on the BJ Scott transfer story.  By allowing teams to oversign, the NCAA and the SEC office are allowing these kind of scenarios to play out. 

"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

If Nick Saban was bound to tighter recruiting parameters and was only allowed to take what he had room for, do you think he would take a chance on a kid like BJ Scott?

Filed under: SEC 21 Comments
29Nov/1017

Wall Street Journal – Round 2 with Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

Round 1: Alabama's Unhappy Castoffs

Round 2: Former Players Say Saban Twisted the Truth

 

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: SEC 17 Comments
10Oct/1016

Interview with Tim Hyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Feedback 16 Comments
5Oct/1044

Don’t Blame the Coaches

Here is a decent column written by Gary Laney, sportswriter for The Advocate, and although the overall tone of the column is one that excuses the actions of the coaches, Laney does admit oversigning is an issue in the SEC. 

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/100504484.html

He basically acknowledges that oversigning creates a competitive edge and that it's a problem specifically in the SEC, but he says don't blame the coaches in the SEC, blame the NCAA rules.

Increased costs come with increased expectations and increased pressure to win.

If Miles doesn’t oversign, Nick Saban will (and he does) and LSU will lose some competitive edge in the process. You can’t let that happen, not when 9-4 doesn’t do the trick.

That’s not an ethical defense of oversigning, nor is it a defense of how LSU handles oversigned players. The point is when you look at the context in which it happened — high pressure to win and rules that allow it — you should only be surprised if it doesn’t happen..

So I guess we should be surprised that it doesn't happen in the rest of the country?  Or should we not be surprised that it is happening in the SEC?

He's right about it being an advantage, and we are seeing it on the field with Alabama over the last few year and we saw it at LSU and other places, but not all the blame should go to the NCAA.  The athletic directors, university presidents, and the mighty Mike Slive are just as much to blame as anyone at the NCAA office -- this is happening under their watch and they could stop it completely.  That won't happen though.  This is a problem that dates back to the 1960's with the SEC and it would take extreme pressure for them to address it on their own without being forced by the NCAA.

As it has been mentioned here before, this (oversigning) was the reason behind Georgia Tech leaving the SEC.

From the book Dodd's Luck written in part by former Geogria Tech head coach Bobby Dodd...

Bobby Dodd insisted there was no other reason he left the SEC, other than the 140 Rule. The 140 Rule stated a college program could only have 140 football and basketball players on scholarship at any one time. The teams were allowed to sign up to 45 players a year, but could not exceed the 140 Rule.

Dodd would not allow any of the football players choosing Tech to be dismissed from Tech, because they were not good players. Dodd said, “it is not the recruits fault for not making the squad, it was the coaches fault for misjudging their talents”. If a recruit came to Tech, he would stay on a football scholarship until he graduated.

Dodd would sign about 30-32 players a year to meet the guidelines, but the other schools in the SEC were offering 45 scholarships a year. Those players, not good enough to fall under the 140 Rule, had their scholarships withdrawn and sent packing before the end of each year. Dodd insisted, the recruiting of athletes by this method amounted to nothing more than a tryout for a scholarship.

Dodd thought it unfair and would not withdraw scholarships from his players. He wanted the SEC to limit the amount of scholarships to about 32 per year. This would keep the other schools from offering 45 scholarships, picking the best, and sending the rest packing.

A vote was to be taken by the presidents of the colleges on the issue, and Dodd made it clear, Tech would have to leave the SEC unless the rule was changed. Dodd said he would live with 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 recruits per year as long as he did not have to chase any of his players off.

The presidents were split six for Dodd’s position and six against. Bear had promised Dodd he would get his president to vote for Dodd’s position, which would have changed the rule. When the meeting was held, Bryant did not show up and the Alabama president voted against Dodd’s position and the 140 Rule was upheld. Tech’s president immediately walked to the podium and announced Tech was withdrawing from the SEC. Bryant never told Dodd why he reneged on his promise.

Perhaps we need a modern day Bobby Dodd to step in and put his foot down.  Mark Richt would be our choice given that he does not oversign players -- maybe Urban Meyer has enough pull to get it done, he doesn't oversign any where near the level of Saban and Miles.

Filed under: SEC 44 Comments
30Sep/1064

There will be no Stopping Nick Saban; Lands 19th Commitment Today

As mentioned, Alabama only has roughly 8 scholarships Seniors on their roster (including 5th year guys), yet they landed their 19th verbal commitment today.  Guess there will be 11 Juniors leaving early for the NFL because there is no way the rash of medical hardships could continue again this year, no team is that unlucky for that long.  

Of course, we all know that Saban told Jones that his scholarship offer is conditional and could turn into a grayshirt offer based on who in front of him qualifies and who currently on the team suffers a career-ending injury, and we all know he made sure to tell the parents of Jones that his scholarship is just a one year deal that might not get renewed.

UPDATE: Make that 21 commitments given that there are 2 guys from 2010 that accepted a grayshirt from last year's class and will count towards 2011.  Thanks for the correction Vesper.  So there are 19 new commitments and 2 grayshirts, and only 8 scholarship seniors.  Nick Saban is on pace to oversign worse than Huston Nutt did when he signed 37 and only had room for 22 - he was 15 over his budget, if Saban signs a full 28 he will be 15-20 over depending on how many juniors leave early for the NFL.  Yep, the SEC really solved that oversigning problem when they set the limit to 28 per year!

Filed under: SEC 64 Comments
29Sep/1051

Should Marcel Dareus and Mark Ingram Really be at Alabama?

One of the topics that comes up when talking about oversigning is the competitive edge that is gained by schools that abuse the signing process and accept more signed letters of intent on national signing day than they have room for under the 85 limit mandated by the NCAA.  As we have mentioned a million times, they can do this because the NCAA, until just recently, did not limit the number of players that can be signed each year.  They have since set the cap to 28 per year, but that is still an issue and nothing more than window dressing, but we'll get into that at another time.

Filed under: SEC Continue reading
27Sep/1022

Bama, LSU on Track to be Oversigned in 2011

We've touched on this briefly in the past, but now that we are into the swing of the football season and the final team rosters are in place for 2010, it's time to start really keeping an eye on Alabama and LSU for the upcoming recruiting season.

Both Alabama and LSU face the same problem with the 2011 recruiting class, which is they have very, very small senior classes currently on the roster.  This is the net result of oversigning; basically the guys you see here are the ones who made it through 4 years or more of rosters cuts, being pushed into medical hardships or nudged towards transferring to a lesser school, and as you can tell the list is very short.

Typically, players with SQ next to their names are consider squad team players (walk-ons, non-letter men, and typically not on scholarship).

Alabama has a total of 14 seniors, with 8 non-SQ players; LSU has 15 total seniors, with 11 non-SQ players. 

So in doing a little bit of math it appears that Alabama has 8 scholarship seniors and LSU has 11.

In looking at the latest Rivals recruiting lists for verbal commitments for Alabama and LSU, we see that Alabama is currently ranked #2 with 18 verbal commitments and LSU is ranked #3 with 17 verbal commitments.

Those that follow recruiting know that there is now way either of these schools are finished with their recruiting classes - not by a long shot.  We know that LSU and Alabama will both have a few Juniors leave for the NFL early, but the gap between what they will have room for and what they are projected to sign is pretty damn big.

ALABAMA

LSU

Should be interesting to watch Saban and Miles cut the dead weight this coming year and keep the football factories running.

Filed under: SEC 22 Comments
26Sep/109

Paul Finebaum Interviews WSJ’s Darren Everson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solutions:

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

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

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

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

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

Common Arguments and More from the Paul Finebaum Radio Show: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: SEC 9 Comments
18Aug/1056

Steven Wesley Speaks

Special thanks to one of our readers, James, for sending this story our way.  Steven Wesley has some choice words for Miami head coach Randy Shannon:

"If I had a chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't play for coach (Randy) Shannon."

"It didn't have anything to do with me being academically ineligible. It didn't have anything to do with me not being in good shape," he said.

"It didn't have anything to do with that," he continued. "That came down (to) a decision from coach Shannon personally. It was nobody else."

http://www.theledger.com/article/20100817/NEWS/8175014/1002/SPORTS?Title=Wesley-Responds-to-Dismissal-at-Miami

It is pretty obvious to us what happened to Wesley, he was caught on the short end of the numbers game stick.  We knew this was coming and could see it coming a mile away when Seantrel Henderson announced that he was leaving USC and was headed to Miami for a visit.  We knew that Miami didn't have scholarship room for him and that someone would have to hit the bricks in order to make room.  We just didn't know who. 

Wesley appears to be headed to the SEC's favorite oversigning dumping ground, the University of North Alabama where Terry Bowden is making a living coaching the leftovers from the SEC's oversigning machine.  Talk about getting screwed over.

"This is a real drastic, total lifestyle change," he said. "From Miami, you go from seeing palm trees and 70-degree weather every day to coming to trees that are bigger than all the buildings, to 100-degree weather."

Speaking of Terry Bowden, he is on record saying that some of the players he "receives" at UNA have been "run off" by other coaches:

“We didn’t invent the idea of kids transferring down to Division II from Division I,” Terry Bowden said. “Some of these kids have been run off by new coaches who think they recruited better players.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/sports/ncaafootball/29bowden.html

Parents should take Wesley's story into consideration when considering the University of Miami, especially if they try to sell you on the notion that they are interested is taking care of your child for 4 years of college.

  • Coach oversigns roster - check
  • Helpless kid gets shuffled out the door to make room for a better recruit - check
  • Kid comes out publicly and claims he was pushed out - check
  • Kid lands in Division II to a place where most all oversigning casualties end up - check
  • Coach for said team states that he knows that the players he transfers in are being run off - check

If there was ever any doubt that oversigning is a serious issue this should eliminate it, permanently.

Filed under: SEC 56 Comments
15Aug/1020

The Machine

In a story ESPN The Magazine published on the birth of Georgia State's football program, they interviewed recent Alabama transfer Star Jackson, and when we read the following quote the first thought we had was William Bradford Huie said this 69 years ago.

"Bama is a machine. You do it like this, and if you don't -- your ass isn't playing."

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/08/bill_curry_star_jackson_was_al.html

Star Jackson's transfer to Georgia State has drawn a lot of attention, primarily because of when it occurred (which was after Saban accepted more signed letters of intent then he had room for when he accepted them AND after Jackson spent the summer competing against a new QB recruit 5* Sims for a spot on the roster) and the circumstances surrounding his transfer.

His comment regarding Alabama and calling it a machine rings a bell for us because one of the first posts on this site was about a man named William Bradford Huie.  Huie wrote a spectacular piece on his Alma Mater in 1941 called  How to Keep Football Stars in College, and in his piece he refers to Alabama as a machine.

"Three thousand hopeful young men have entered the University of Alabama to play football during the fifteen years I have been close to that machine. Fifteen hundred fell out by the end of the first semester. All of these initial casualties had played football in high school and had learned little else. When the athletic department dropped them, what could they do? Even if their parents could afford to send them to classes, they were not prepared. They had come to college prepared only to play football. Had football not robbed them of their opportunities in high school some of them might have worked out successful college careers." 

More from his piece here.  The problem back in the old days at Alabama was not the scholarship limit, but the 5-year eligibility rule.

"The Red Shirts composed the "suspension" squad. They were the fifty or more prospects who had already served their time on the freshman squad but had not yet been chosen for the varsity. You see, under the five-year eligibility rule in the Southeastern Conference a boy can play a year on the freshman squad, a year on some intermediate squad, and still play out his full three-year varsity career. Thus in the spring the coaches look over the varsity and see what is needed to fill the holes resulting from what the sports writers politely call "graduation." They look over the Red Shirts first since they are older and better developed. Then they pick up a few from the freshman squad. Next they consign the rest of the freshmen to the Red Shirt pool to grow and develop another year. The chaff portion of the Red Shirt squad is then fired off the pay roll, and the brain trust promptly allows them to flunk and fall out of school. This fate will already have caught up with more than a hundred freshmen before the end of the first semester." 

We highly recommend you read our previous post on his piece and read his entire article yourself. 

Things have changed a great deal since Huie's time, or have they?  Sure there are scholarship limits now and the sheer numbers have changed, but based on Star Jackson's story and his calling Alabama a machine, how much has really changed?  Guys are still trying out for scholarship spots against oversigned rosters and fighting an uphill battle against numbers, just like back in the day.  Things were a lot more brutal back in those days, guys nowadays are at least getting medical hardship scholarships and opportunities to transfer to other schools. 

In the end, the bottom line is that institutions of higher learning are not supposed to be football "machines."  And according to the NCAA mission statement they exist to ensure that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount, not the sports experience.

Filed under: SEC 20 Comments
14Aug/1049

Saban Wants a Level Playing Field

Nick Saban seems to have taken the lead on the issue with the player agents.  Last week he held a conference call with various representatives from college football, the NCAA, the agent community, and the NFLPA to discuss how to deal with rouge agents, citing his strong desire to maintain a level playing field for all of the agents as they recruit college players to become professional athletes and to make sure that those not acting within the spirit of the process are punished and penalized.  You see the professional agent industry is loosely regulated in that there are some clear cut laws/rules, but for the most part everyone is just hoping the agents operate with professionalism.  Remind you of anything?  In reality the recruiting process for college players to the NFL and their interaction with agents is very similar to that of college coaches with high school players.

“We’re all trying to put our heads together to figure out what we’re going to do to level the playing field so that everybody that’s in the agent community, which some of them are very professional, have the same opportunity to recruit players and that the bootleggers out there are guys that get punished and penalized,” Saban said.

http://www.foxsportssouth.com/08/12/10/A-New-Approach-to-Scouting/landing.html?blockID=289137&feedID=4354

Glad to know Saban is so concerned about maintaining a level playing field.  We can only assume that he is holding similar conference calls with the NCAA regarding oversigning.  The hypocrisy and irony of Nick Saban leading the charge to level the paying field for agents and making sure that those who act unethically are punished is the damnedest thing we have ever seen since we started this website.  Wait a minute, Les Miles trying to tell everyone that what he did to Porter was not a big deal was the damnedest thing we have ever seen, this takes second place though.

We suggest you take a look at the article above and watch the video.

When you compare how coaches in the Big 10 handle the signing process and only take what they have room for on signing day to how Les Miles and Nick Saban oversign their rosters by 9-10 players per year it's pretty clear to see that one group of coaches are doing it the right way with integrity and the other bunch is exploiting the system.  The issue with the agents is exactly the same - it comes down to have two groups of people in the same profession, one operates with integrity and ethics and the other is a bunch of bootleggers.

Filed under: Rants 49 Comments
13Aug/1030

Tony Gerdeman Got It, Few Others Did (Including Us!)

We attempted to correct some of the wrongs the "real" media has been putting out lately with its coverage of oversigning and reaction to Elliott Porter's story, but Tony Gerdeman has shown us that we too missed the mark.

Our general theme with regards to the Elliott Porter story and the media's coverage of it has been that most people are missing the point with regards to the numbers - most media outlets are focused on the fact that Les Miles signed 27 and it was 2 over the single year 25 limit, completely missing the bigger issue which was that LSU was over the 85 limit based on what they lost from graduation/early entry into the NFL and what they signed (27).  They should have signed 18 recruits, not 27.  18 was all they had room for under the 85 limit and had LSU resided in the Big 10 Conference and not the SEC they would have been required to sign 18 and would not have been allowed to sign 27.

However, in our haste to point out that everyone missed the boat with regards to the numbers, we glossed over how the mainstream media missed the target and the real root of the problem all together, OVERSIGNING.

Eagle-eyed Tony Gerdeman didn't miss it though.  Gerdeman has been on the right side of this topic from the very beginning.  He knows the deal and he understands what is really going on with these coaches in the SEC that exploit the oversigning loophole.  In his weekly installment of The Week that Was, Gerdeman comments on the article we mentioned above and adds a really great point that we totally missed.

The gist of the article is detailing the way Miles told incoming freshman offensive lineman Elliott Porter that he needed him to grayshirt—and this was after he was already moved into his dorms, which then forced Porter to ask for his release and try to find somewhere else to go to college.

But that's not what really bothered me about the article. We all know Les Miles has character issues—he went to Michigan for crying out loud, so I don't really feel the need to stoke that tire fire anymore than it's already burning.

My issue is with the way the practice of oversigning was just glossed over in the article, and how perhaps the most ethical way of dealing with oversigning was actually vilified.

Yeah, offering a grayshirt is a jerk move that late in the deal, but it very much beats getting cut. At least the student athlete was given a choice in the matter. Normally in the SEC, they aren't.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't recall the Big Ten ever outlawing grayshirting as the article indicated. You just never hear about it because it isn't used to fitting 27 players into 24 slots.

And it certainly isn't discussed half a year after national signing day.

We wrote a piece on greyshirting being okay, but we really missed the point that greyshirting was vilified more than the oversigning - the focus should be on the oversigning because without it there is no greyshirting of players.  This is like a drunk driver hitting another car and the victim dying on the way to the hospital because of a bumpy ambulance ride and everyone vilifies the medical staff and the ambulance driver while the drunk driver slides under the radar. 

Sounds crazy doesn't it? 

But that's kind of what happened.  Everyone was too busy looking at what Les Miles did with the greyshirt process and vilifying it, while the real culprit (oversigning) slid out the backdoor barely even noticed.   Heck, even oversigning.com, the only blog on the entire Internet dedicated solely to oversigning missed it because we were too busy correcting everyone for missing the real point behind the numbers (that it wasn't the 25 per year rule that was the problem it was the 85 total that was the problem).

Great work Tony!

In the end, the Elliott Porter story and how Les Miles handled everything should have taught everyone the following:

1. Oversigning is the real problem - if the SEC had a ban on oversigning this would never happen.

2. The greyshirt process is not the issue and is not the villian here.  When handled correctly and in the right situations, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a greyshirt opportunity.  We would like to see the NCAA add a few rules to further regulate the practice and create transparency, but in the end greyshirting is not to blame - oversigning is.

3. The main issue with LSU and Les Miles (outside of the piss poor way he pulled Porter's scholarship away from him at the last minute) was not that he went 2 over the 25 limit in a single class, but rather that he went 9 over the 85 limit on National Signing day when he accepted signed letters of intent that bound 27 new recruits to LSU in a ONE-WAY agreement that they can't get out of and at the time he only had 18 openings.  That is the core of the issue and that is oversigning.  LSU had room for 18 recruits, not 27, and had they signed 21 instead of 27 they would have still had a problem, despite not being over the 25 per year rule.

4. Oversigning causes kids to get screwed and it has got to stop.  This is the very reason why the Big 10 banned oversigning all together decades ago.

Filed under: Quick Links, Rants, SEC 30 Comments
12Aug/1011

There is nothing wrong with Greyshirting, Les Miles

It appears that Les Miles has not taken the criticism he has received, which he was rightfully given, for the Elliott Porter debacle well and he has taken to defending the practice of Greyshirting players.   Here are a few of his comments...

He noted that Porter’s scholarship offer was still good, just postponed a semester. He said if somebody made the same offer to one of his sons, they would “certainly be disappointed that day, but recognize that, long-term, it’s not a bad thing.”

Miles said grayshirting can benefit players who could use time to allow their bodies to mature.

“He might take his time to come in shape and to benefit his body and compete,” he said.

The practice is common in the Southeastern Conference, but not allowed in other conferences, like the Big 10. CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel was particularly harsh with his critique in a column Sunday, calling Miles “a bad guy.” He had similar descriptions for others who oversign, calling Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt “despicable” and Alabama’s Nick Saban “two evolutionary stages below a lizard.”

Miles said he had not read the Doyel column but “I did get bits and pieces of that.”

“I can tell you no one is more critical of how I operate than me,” Miles said. “I can tell you the guys I visited with and I told, for the team, it might well be the best thing for you physically and might well be best for you and your health and by the count of numbers and scholarships, you might benefit the most by postponing your entrance into school."

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/lsu/100425914.html

Allows us to put on our Miles decoder and see if we can decipher what he said -- not sure we'll be able to make anything out of that last quote, though. 

First let us clear up some errors in Laney's original article.

1. The Big 10 has not banned greyshirting players; it is something that is watched very closely but it has not been banned.  Oversigning is not allowed, but greyshirting is allowed in the Big 10.

2. You'll have to read the entire article for this one, but in the original article the general tone is that the issue with Les Miles was the 25 scholarships per year rule and that by signing 27 he was two over the limit, hence the greyshirt offer.  While Laney is right, 25 per year is the limit and LSU was over with 27 eligible, the real issue here is the 85 limit and what took place prior to August deadline.  If you examine LSU's recruiting budget at signing day you can see that by signing 27 they were projected to be 9 over the 85 limit.  Therefore, in addition to the greyshirt offers that were declined there were a handful of other players that were removed in order to make room for 25 of the 27.  We happen to have a list handy.

The March to 85 - LSU

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


When you step back and look at the entire body of work in this recruiting class you can see just poorly Miles has managed the entire process.  The only conclusion you can draw about the series of events is that Les Miles simply signs the 25 max every year and sorts the bodies out later, and until this point it really hasn't bitten him in the ass.   We have a list handy for that as well.  This is every recruiting class for Miles since 2002; some of the numbers came from his time at Oklahoma State.  Roughly a 24 average with as many as 31 in a single class.  And for just about every one of those years there are handful of BS stories about how Les got the roster down either to the 25 for the year or 85 overall.

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

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

Based on LSU's numbers at National Signing Day they should have signed 18 new recruits, not 27.  Had all 18 made it academically, like all 27 did, they would have all had a spot, Chris Garrett would be at LSU not Northeastern State or wherever he landed, and Elliott Porter, since he was an early verbal commitment, would be living on LSU campus partaking in LSU spring ball.  But then again, we all know the deal, you know, it's just business and all.  Plus, if Miles only signs the 18 he has room for he might miss out on a new recruit and another SEC school might get him, plus he won't have any extra players to hedge against unexpected injuries, where's the fun in that?

The Les Miles decoder tells us the following:

1. He only cares about the athlete portion of student-athletes.

2. He only reads bits and pieces of Doyel's columns.

3. He is a man with enough money to pay for his son's education and having to greyshirt would not be an issue for him.  Nothing like screwing a kid over and then telling the world that it wouldn't be a problem for him if it happen to his kids - no kidding Les, your son could go to any school in the country and you could stroke a check for the full 4 years and never even blink.  A four year education is rounding error on your balance sheet.  For the rest of the working stiffs and the underprivileged in this country who don't make $3MM  a year being a coach, having to pay for 1 semester of college can be an issue.

4. He told his players something about scholarship numbers and greyshirts, but we don't think he had any idea what he told them, when he told them, or who he told.  Reminds us so much of his explanation of the time out at the end of the LSU - Ole Miss game last year.

How can you seriously believe that he knows what is going on with regards to recruiting numbers after something like this: http://ballhype.com/video/les-miles-calling-for-spike-and-lying-against-ole-miss/

The problem wasn't that he offered a greyshirt to Porter, it was how it was offered and when it was offered, and for Miles to come out and take exception with the criticism further proves that he has no clue that he did anything wrong.  Perhaps that empty suit Mike Slive should have a talk with him about managing scholarship offers and proper etiquette when dealing with potential student-athletes.

Now let us address the greyshirting and scholarship numbers for next year.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with greyshirting a player provided there is an understanding between the school and the player way in advance.  Obviously, we want the NCAA to do something about oversigning and our hope is that by closing the oversigning loophole we create transparency in the entire signing process, especially the greyshirt process.

So here is a scenario that we would like to see happen:

A school has 18 openings that can be filled on National Signing Day because that is their established recruiting budget for the year based on who they have graduating and who they have leaving early for the NFL.  Given the 18 LOI limit, the school is given the option to sign up to a certain number of greyshirt prospects (let's say 3 per year).  These three extra players are signed to a different type of LOI that explicitly states that the school has to honor their scholarship offer the following year but the players are free to accept scholarship offers from other schools and are not bound to the school offering the greyshirt. 

This keeps the school at or under the 85 scholarship limit, allows them to sign a few greyshirts for the next year to accommodate players that are willing and able to pay their own way until the next year and obviously really want to go to a certain school, and it eliminates the Elliott Porter scenario, which absolutely has to stop.

Now for the scholarship numbers next year.

Greyshirting creates a scenario where you are counting scholarships forward.  Let's take Alabama for instance; it appears that they have 3 potential greyshirt candidates this year that will join the team next year and count to next year's numbers.  Looking at Alabama's scholarship roster it also appears that they only have 9 scholarship seniors and 5th year guys who will be freeing up scholarship room for the next recruiting class (feel free to correct us on that Bama fans).  When you subtract the 3 greyshirt players from the number of scholarship seniors for next year the number of openings looks something more like 6).  According to Rivals Alabama already has 17 verbal commitments.  Let's say there are a 5 Juniors who jump to the league, that's only 14 scholarship openings.  Does anyone think that Saban is done recruiting for the year??? 

LSU is in the exact same situation, small senior class and already over committed (verbally at least) in terms of having verbal commitments from more recruits then they have room for next year.

And come next year we'll see all kinds of transfers and hear all kinds of stories attached to them, but at the end of the day it's all garbage because regardless of how many "mutual agreements to leave" we hear the bottom line is that in the business of college football, especially in the SEC, it's out with the old, injured, and less than, and in with the new.  After all, fans care just about as much about winning the recruiting national championship as they do about the BCS national championship.

Filed under: Rants, SEC 11 Comments
8Aug/1060

Most Common Arguing Points

Here are some of the most common arguing points people have tried to use in defense of the practice of oversigning (in random order):

1. The SEC banned oversigning when it created the Houston Nutt rule and set the limit to 28 signees per recruiting class, oversigning is no longer an issue.

Wrong.  The SEC did not ban oversigning with the Houston Nutt rule; it simply put a cap on the number of players that can be signed at 28.  Obviously, only 25 can be assigned to a single class per NCAA rules, which allows them to either back count 3 recruits to the previous year if they didn't take a full 25 the previous year or they can greyshirt 3 recruits and have them delay their enrollment until the following January and count towards the next year.  The problem is that 28 x 4 = 112 and you can only have 85 on a roster at a time.  The SEC rule lacks the supplemental rule of requiring coaches to prove that they have room for every signee they take at the time they accept a signed letter of intent that binds the player to the school and prevents them from going elsewhere until the school releases them.  This is the fundamental problem with oversigning -- coaches are binding players to their schools before they truly know if they have room for them or not.  If they knew that they would have room then we wouldn't have to wait until the last day before fall camp to see who is being cut. 

In the Big 10 conference, coaches are encouraged to establish their recruiting budget (number of openings for new signees) ahead of National Signing Day and stay within those limits; Big 10 coaches are allowed to sign up to 28 players to a single class, but they are required to petition the Big 10 office and prove that they have room for the 3 extra players and that signing the 3 extra players will not results in the removal of anyone currently on the roster with eligibility remaining.  They are also not allowed to accept a signed letter of intent for numbers 26, 27, and 28 until they receive permission from the Big 10 office and it is our understanding that the Big 10 office reviews the roster in question to make sure that there is room for those players before giving the coaches permission to accept those LOI.  And it is also our understanding that this is not the case with the SEC.

Prior to the Huston Nutt rule, teams in the SEC as a collective group averaged signing 29 recruits per year, which is off the charts high.  The new rule drops that number by 1.  For the conference with the biggest problem of oversigning, setting the limit to 28 helps, but it doesn't come close to solving the problem, and we saw that play out this year with LSU and Alabama who clearly oversigned their rosters and had to work until the last day before fall camp in order to get down to the 85 number.  LSU ended up removing/releasing 9 players between signing day and fall camp and Alabama 10.

Conference Comparisons 2002 - 2010

Comparisons SEC Big 12 BigEast PAC10 Big10 ACC
Average # of Total Recruits Signed Per School: 227 219 215 208 199 199
Total Players Signed: 2,727 2,629 1,737 2,084 2,196 2,394
Highest Single School Total: 253 243 235 235 218 225
Lowest Single School Total: 191 192 201 170 170 174
# of Times Over 25 in Single Class: 54 37 23 28 18 22
# of Times 28 or More in Single Class: 33 24 14 14 5 10
# of Back to Back Classes of 25 or More: 35 24 11 8 6 5


2. There is no law or rule against oversigning so therefore no one is doing anything wrong.

There is no law against adultery either, doesn't mean that it is not wrong.  Stupid argument and as irresponsible as Les Miles saying that his only obligation is to get his number down to 25 every year.

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

3. Oversigning gives more people a shot at a scholarship - if you take it away you are robbing kids of an opportunity to get an education.

This might be the most laughable of all the arguments in favor of oversigning.  First of all, we live in a society and a country where we are blessed with opportunity, and if there is someone who is driven enough to want to get an education they can get an education, without having to be a football star.  There are federal grant programs, student loan programs, academic scholarship programs, and a ton of companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs.  Anyone with enough physical ability to play football could go work at Walmart, McDonald's, or a number of other places and get their education partially paid for and take out student loans or a pell grant for the rest. 

When you oversign your roster that means that players have to leave in order to get the new players in.  There are only 85 scholarships that can be given out each year and very few coaches waste them.  As we explained earlier, there are two models of signing recruits, oversigning and undersigning.  In the undersigning model the "leftover" scholarships (usually 1 or 2, sometimes maybe more) are given to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship through hard work both on and off the field.  In the oversigning model, the same amount of scholarships are given out by a single school, but instead of signing within your budget and giving the leftovers to the walk-ons, coaches pushout  guys on the roster with eligibility remaining and bring in new, often times more talented players with more potential.  At the end of the day, the same number of players are being educated (85), but with the oversigning you have to shove out players and interrupt their education in order to educate someone else. 

The reason we say this is the most laughable argument is because the people that make this argument are clearly more concerned about losing the oversigning advantage than they are about educating young people.  This is nothing more than a feeble attempt to tug at the heartstrings of parents and policy makers, and the people that make this argument about oversigning enabling more kids to get an education are all about protecting oversigning and the clear advantages it has produced; they are worried about losing out a potential future star recruit, nothing more.  College football is a system where future stars are the lifeblood of the program because kids will only be around for 4-5 years; it is becoming more important to focus on the new incoming stars than it is developing the more senior players because by the time they develop they are gone.

4. Scholarships are 1-Year Renewable Contracts; we can cut whoever we want to cut and we are not doing anything wrong.

That is correct, scholarships are 1-year renewable contracts.  These contracts are set to be automatically renewed unless the coaching staff files paperwork to stop the renewal process. This was not always the case with scholarships, as up until 1973 scholarships were 4 year scholarships, not 1 year renewable agreements.

The one-year renewable scholarship, with a limit of five years of athletic aid, has been in place since 1973. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for academic and membership affairs, said the 37-year-old policy has not been a frequent topic of concern among member schools. He noted that NCAA rules require colleges to provide athletes who lose scholarships with an appeals option, typically consisting of a campus panel formed from outside the athletics department. But such arbitration is not common, he acknowledged.

Requiring Division I transfers to sit out a year before competing for a new school prevents coaches from recruiting players away from other schools, said Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2010-05-24-revoked-scholarships_N.htm

Basically, coaches want it both ways.  They want to be able to cut guys that are not living up to their expectations or to make room for someone new that has come along that has more promise, but they don't want the recruits to be able to leave on their own (hence the one-way binding letter of intent agreement) and they don't want other coaches to recruit kids away from their program (hence the rule that requires players to sit out a year if they transfer).  Sounds real fair.  It is our opinion that these changes are lockstep with the increase in coaching salaries and the revenue generated by the sport. 

The people that argue that scholarships are a one-year renewable contract and nothing is wrong are basically agreeing that the coaches should have all of the power to treat players like pieces of meat for their own personal financial gain.  We don't agree. These coaches are paid millions of dollars, the least they can do is not abuse loopholes like oversigning and exploit kids in the process.  If a coach is good enough he should be able to win without having to oversign players.

5. You don't know what you are talking about, coaches know ahead of time which players are going to transfer and that is why they oversign.

We got this argument with regards to Star Jackson.  The argument was that Saban knew that Jackson was going to transfer and that's why he signed Sims.  Our position is that if Saban (or any other coach in this situation) knew that Jackson was going to transfer, then why in the world was he out there competing for a roster spot in the Spring game?  If his replacement or another guy was signed to his scholarship and his transfer was a foregone conclusion, then why was he out there working so hard for a spot on the depth chart?  It just doesn't add up.  The truth of the matter is that these coaches are signing a handful of extra players because they know they have some wiggle room and they always have the upper hand in that they can simply elect to not renew a scholarship or in Les Miles' case just tell a kid there isn't room and he can greyshirt.  That is a problem, but it is not a problem that will be solved without legislation because regardless of how much Les Miles screws a kid over (Elliott Porter) there will always be more players that want to come to LSU then he has room for and there will always be the allure of coming to a division 1 school in hopes of making it to the NFL and making MILLIONS of dollars.  This will almost always override any reservations or concerns about getting screwed over during the recruiting process, therefore more legislation is needed to prevent these coaches from exploiting the oversigning loophole. 

Those are probably the 5 most common arguments that we encounter here on the site in our conversations elsewhere on the topic.  It should be noted that almost always these arguments come from people who are fans of teams that oversign.  Very seldom, maybe only a couple of times, have we heard any of these arguments come from fans of teams that don't oversign.  That in and of itself is pretty telling.  Just look at the comments here on our site and you can count the number of comments on one or two hands that advocate oversigning and are not fans or supporters of a school or conference that oversigns. 

Update: We left out one other very common arguing point, apologies.

6. Oversigning doesn't create a competitive advantage so what's the big deal.

This couldn't be any further from the truth, especially within the last several years.  Over the last several years the ability for coaches to evaluate players has decreased; the NCAA continues to decrease the amount of contact coaches can have with players (mainly out of fear of recruiting violations) which is making it hard for them to evaluate talent.  In addition, the NCAA continues to place more and more restrictions on the amount of time coaches can spend with players during spring and fall training camps and during the off season.  The  net result is college football has become less about developing talent and more about mining for the next "sure thing" 5 star recruit. 

When you oversign you have access to more opportunities to find that "sure thing" whether it be from landing a 5 star recruit or taking a chance on a borderline guy who turns out to be a stud.  It's a numbers game and obviously, given that most of the top tier schools can attract top tier talent, the more of it that you can go through to find the ones you really want the better you will be.

Nick Saban and Les Miles have used oversigning as the backbone of building National Championship teams over the last decade.  If you look at the chart below and look at the number of players signed by Saban (who had the highest average) and Tressel (who had the lowest average), in the years that Saban was in college football he signed roughly 193 recruits; Tressel signed roughly 142 in those same years.  That is a difference of 51 recruiting opportunities over the same period of time.  Any change there might be a couple more good players in that list of 51?  If the difference were 5-10 I don't think we could point at this being an issue, but 51?

National Championship Coaches 2002 - 2010

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


Some people will say that this doesn't add up because if you look at Huston Nutt and how many he has signed he should be the greatest coach of all time.  Our response is that oversigning is masking just how bad of a coach he really is and that we could only imagine how bad his teams would be if he weren't running through players trying to find stud players like McFadden.  Oversigning makes average to below average coaches look pretty good and average to above average coaches great or National Champions.

Filed under: Rants 60 Comments
6Aug/1025

Les Miles Speaks, Problably Shouldn’t

Les Miles thought it might be a good idea to answer a few questions about the Elliott Porter situation and his scholarship numbers situation.

“You get to a time where you anticipate that your signing class might have room,” Miles said. “At several points in time, I figured that would be the case this year.”

Interesting.  Class might have room.  Figured that would be the case.  He probably thought he had time to clock the ball against Ole Miss last year too. 

“I coach the team that I get here,” Miles said when asked if a signee would not be on scholarship this semester. “Scholarship is certainly a great inducement. I don’t mean to minimize that. But I don’t know that it’s my responsibility to determine publicly who is and who isn’t on scholarship. It’s my responsibility to be within the 25 number, which we are.”

Clearly Les Miles has no idea what he is doing here.  He believes that his only responsibility is to be within the 25 number.  I guess the 85 number doesn't count in his mind.  The LSU recruiting philosophy is to sign the max number of kids allowed every year and then make whatever roster cuts necessary to get down to 85.  Here are their numbers over the years.

LSU Recruiting Numbers 2002 - 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 27 222 24.66


Here is the deadwood shuffled out the back door this year to get down to 85.

The March to 85 - LSU

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

“The opportunity to offer a grayshirt to a guy (this late) is not exactly what I’ve ever done before, but I think the opportunity is a very good one,” Miles said. “If you look at it over time, it still keeps him on scholarship and still gives him all the opportunity for an LSU degree.”

Les, you told the kid he was going to be on scholarship, he was already in the dorm room.  It does not keep him on scholarship between August and January and he does not get to be a part of the team, something he was promised and something he had his heart set on and something he worked hard for during the summer.

And lastly, from Elliot Porter with the quote that proves that oversigning is wrong and what it is doing to kids is wrong.  Why? Because kids are being conditioned to this that this is just part of the deal that getting an education and playing college football is just business, not to mention others are getting FITHLY rich in the process while these kids get hung out to dry.

“I was hurt a little bit, but they have to do what’s best for the team,” Porter said. “It’s a business. (Miles) over-signed, made an honest mistake. He has to do what he has to do, and Elliott Porter has to do what he has to do.”

http://www.2theadvocate.com/sports/100007164.html

College football is not a business, well according to Porter it is at LSU.

Filed under: SEC 25 Comments
5Aug/101

Mike Slive, Empty Suit

The year before last when Huston Nutt signed 500 recruits to letters of intent and then rubbed the NCAA's and the SEC's nose in it by saying that there wasn't a rule that said he couldn't, Mike Slive and the SEC university presidents decided to take a hard stand on the practice of oversigning and banned it in the SEC, or at least that was the spin at the time.

SEC ADs had wanted the cap at 30. The presidents had other ideas. Coaches tend to oversign classes for two reasons: 1) To protect themselves against academic casualties; and 2) To stockpile players by placing signees into prep schools or junior colleges, with a good likelihood those players will come back to them.

"The presidents and chancellors view signing the letter of intent as a commitment to the institution for a student-athlete that is academically capable of being admitted and contributing athletically," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "From their point of view, there aren't other reasons to sign a kid. Obviously, coaches have their own reasons for doing things, and there's a litany of those."

http://blog.al.com/solomon/2009/05/sec_passes_limit_on_football_s.html

In light of that the SEC limit was set at 28 signees per class and the Huston Nutt rule was born.  28 x 4 = 112 but we'll come back to that later. 

So did the new rule instituted by the SEC chancellors, presidents, and commissioner make any difference in oversigning this year?  Well, Houston Nutt didn't sign 37 recruits and his farm system is dead, but a number of schools signed more than they have room for: Alabama had 10 more than they had room for and LSU had 9 more than they had room for when the accepted the signed letter of intent.  Both schools managed to get down to 85 before the deadline in order to avoid NCAA penalties.

Mike Slive's new rule lacks teeth.  The Houston Nutt rule was nothing more than window dressing to quiet the masses and enable the practice to continue.  Mike Slive, as the SEC commissioner, should required that each of his institutions prove where every accepted LOI has an available scholarship tied to it before it is accepted.  And he should prohibit schools from accepting signed letters of intent that bind a player to the school if the school can not show him on paper at the time the LOI is accepted that there is already room for that ONE-WAY COMMITMENT to the school.  By allowing his institutions to exploit the oversigning loophole he allowed guys like Les Miles to screw an innocent kid like Elliott Porter.  And that is why this site exists.

In the end, however, it is obvious that Mike Slive cannot do that; he serves at the pleasure of the SEC university presidents.  Hence the empty suit.  He wears it well though.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
5Aug/101

For the 1,000,000,000 Time

We have never claimed that anyone is violating NCAA rules by oversigning - that is not the issue.  It has never been the issue here.  The rules are not being broken.  The issue is that some schools/coaches have found a loophole in the NCAA by-laws that allows them to accept more letters of intent, which binds the recruit to the school in a ONE-WAY agreement, than they would have room for under the 85 scholarship limit should they honor all of those ONE-WAY commitments.

The schools and the coaches then have the option to not honor that agreement and at any time they can release a recruit from their LOI and the school is not obligated to honor the LOI.

Classic example, a school has 65 scholarship players set to return and they accept 29 signed letters of intent.  Those 29 kids are bound to their commitment to the school and have no options once they sign on the dotted line; well they do have the option to just not enroll and in which case the school that holds the LOI can prevent the recruit from going to another school on scholarship until the 1-year scholarship period expires.  Therefore, the numbers look like this 65+29 = 94, which is 9 more than the 85 limit.  So in order for a coach to get down to 85 something has to happen.  9 players either with eligibility remaining or with a commitment to the school via the LOI have to be removed.   Often times we see players suddenly transfer out of the program, injured players will get placed on medical hardships scholarships, or in the case of Elliott Porter they get completely screwed by the coach and the school and are asked to greyshirt at the last minute because the coaching staff, athletic director, and the university president are reluctant to place oversigning restrictions on their coaches and the coaches they hire are complete morons when it comes to managing roster numbers.

This is completely unnecessary and the only reason this ever happens is because the coach/school that accepts more signed LOI than they have room for is trying to get a competitive advantage and there is nothing in place (no gentleman's agreement or conference rule) to prohibit these coaches from exploiting the loophole.

It would be one thing if the LOI could be broken at any time by the recruits, then maybe you could find some justification for the schools to oversign in order to protect themselves from a recruit leaving.  That is not the case - the recruits cannot break the LOI.  Therefore, it is on the school to do the right thing on the honor system and keep their commitment and not push someone else out in order to keep their commitment.  Obviously there are certain schools that do not know how to operate on the honor system, they simply take the baseline rules and exploit every single loophole they can find. 

The Big 10 has been out front on this issue for decades and have been competing against the rest of college football without the benefit of oversigning and playing games with the roster numbers, and so have a number of other schools such as Notre Dame.  The Big 10 Conference is a working example of the solution to the oversigning loophole and there is no reason why the rest of college football cannot operate the same way.  There is simply no place for oversigning and playing games with the numbers and the lives of the kids like Elliott Porter and numerous others that have been affected by the greed and self-interests of coaches that exercise oversigning.

For those of you who continue to argue that no one is breaking the NCAA rules so nothing is wrong, please stop making that argument, 1. no one is saying anyone is breaking the rules, 2. the practice is wrong and everyone around the country besides those benefiting from oversigning is starting to see the light and agree that something needs to be done about it.

Filed under: SEC 1 Comment
4Aug/10151

Saban Gets Down to 85 on the Last Day

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

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

Update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 The March to 85 - Alabama

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: SEC 151 Comments
4Aug/105

LSU Over by 9

Just a quick note; we have updated the March to 85 board for LSU.  As it stands right now, they oversigned by 9 players this last season when they signed a class of 27.  They should have signed 18 recruits.  As we mentioned, it will be real interesting to see how many they take next year given they only have 9 scholarship seniors leaving the team.  They already have 16 verbal commitments (so LSU must be banking on 7 juniors leaving early for the NFL next year or a rash of medical hardships).  Here's the updated board:

The March to 85 - LSU

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

Filed under: SEC 5 Comments
4Aug/1011

Elliott Porter Speaks

Elliott Porter made his side of the story public yesterday, which is a rarity because most guys that are cut like he was don't go public with the intimate details because they are still trying to find a place to land.  This is why you rarely hear a player come out publicly about being cut.  Porter, however, appears to be very upset with the situation and decided to speak frankly about what happened - kudos to him.  Here are a few of his comments and based on his side of the story Les Miles screwed him out of a scholarship at LSU.  

Elliott Porter woke up Tuesday morning planning on taking care of a few personal things and preparing for the start of pre-season camp in Baton Rouge, La., today. But a summons to Les Miles' office changed all of that.

"I got called to coach Miles' office. I had no idea it was coming," Porter said of his being asked by LSU to 'grayshirt' this season and re-enroll next year. "He just told me that they didn't have room for me. I moved out of my dorm today and I am now back home trying to figure everything out. It's been a rough 24 hours."

http://tennessee.rivals.com/barrier_noentry.asp?ReturnTo=&sid=&script=content.asp&cid=1109179&fid=&tid=&mid=&rid=

Porter goes on to make it clear that he understands now that football is just a business at LSU (see his comments after the jump).   The fact that these kids are being conditioned to think that college football is just a business is only going to lead to further problems down the road.  College football is not supposed to be a business, at least not according to the NCAA:

The NCAA espouses a collegiate model of athletics in which student-athletes participate in varsity sports as an avocation, balancing their academic, social and athletics experiences.

The NCAA is committed to the highest levels of integrity and sportsmanship, diversity and inclusion, amateurism, competitive equity and excellence in the classroom. The Association also believes in presidential leadership as the guiding force in operating athletics programs. 

Sorry but we don't see anything in there about college athletics being a business.  Note to the NCAA: Elliott Porter was screwed out of his scholarship because of the loophole in YOUR by-laws that allows coaches to accept more signed letters of intent then they legitimately have room for under the 85 scholarship limit.  YOUR loophole allows coaches to hedge their bets against academic attrition and injuries, essentially giving coaches free rein to gamble with the scholarship numbers.

More after the jump >>>

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