Quick programming note - we are in the process of switching hosting services and going to unlimited bandwidth - but if the site goes down in the next 24 hours rest assured that we will be back shortly. The site has started gaining traction and people all over the country world are now starting to investigate oversigning.
We want everyone to know that this is a very large topic to investigate - wrapping your head around one roster can be maddening at times, much less trying to investigate 64 rosters. Our goal for this site is to stimulate fans around the country to investigate their programs or their rival's programs, if they want, to help determine who is signing more players than they have room for and who is doing the best job of staying within their recruiting budgets and retaining student-athlete football players.
Many people will say that LOI (Letters of Intent) don't count - only scholarships count. We don't believe that, we believe that LOI are like golf swings, every single one of them counts. If you accept a signed letter of intent, even if it is from the same player two or three years in a row, it counts, and we count them the same way for all schools. If you don't think it means anything, just ask the kids who sign those letters. If it didn't mean anything we wouldn't have all day TV coverage of National Signing Day.
Our initial charts have provided an excellent starting point in that it is one of the only places where you can see the sum total numbers for all BCS schools from 2002-2010 in one place, all nice and neat. You can get this same information by toggling through Rivals.com or Scout.com and going from team to team, year by year, but that is a lot of work. In fact, we created these tables because we got sick of having to toggle back and forth all the time while trying to start our investigation.
Regardless, we just wanted everyone to know that the goal of the site is to get everyone to help investigate the problem and bring it to light.
Now on to Stewart Mandel. It appears that he has discovered oversigning.com and agrees with our position that A. oversigning does exist and is not some made up fairy tale, and B. that while it is not an NCAA violation, it is a loophole in the NCAA rule book that needs to be addressed.
What really blows our mind is that the original question came from Sujith in Bangalore, India. Unbelievable.
Why doesn't the NCAA stop the process of oversigning football recruits? (See oversigning.com.) From 2002-2010 Auburn signed 83 more players than its last bowl opponent, Northwestern. Doesn't this give a major advantage to SEC programs in bowl games when they face teams like Ohio State and Texas, which do not oversign?
-- Sujith, Bangalore, India
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."
It's been well-chronicled that SEC teams are the most prolific abusers of oversigning -- six of the eight schools that have signed the most recruits since 2002 hail from that league -- and the conference did take a step to curb the practice last year by capping the maximum number of players per signing class at 28. (The year before, Ole Miss signed a staggering 37.) Therefore, some of the disparity in the numbers will decline in coming years. But the reality is, oversigning goes hand in hand with another, unavoidable cause for competitive advantages and disadvantages, which is that some schools simply have lower admissions standards than others. Most schools that oversign do so knowing full well that several of their signees likely won't qualify academically, and in many cases they do so with the intent of stashing those players at junior colleges or prep schools of their choosing.
Seeing as the NCAA already has a pretty clear-cut rule in place capping scholarships at 25 per year, the only realistic way I could envision eliminating oversigning is if you put in place another rule stating that a prospect can't sign with a school until he becomes academically eligible. But that's sure to meet resistance both from coaches, who might end up with unfilled scholarships, and from recruits, many of whom use the spring and summer to improve their final high school GPA and test scores.
Another simple solution that we have suggested here is that the NCAA mandate that each school has to report its recruiting budget prior to signing day and that each school only be allowed to accept that many LOI. By reporting its recruiting budget we mean that each school has to determine, before signing day, the exact number of slots they will have open (which is simply 85 minus the number of returning scholarship players from the previous year - a formula that is used by the Big 10 and several schools around the country that refuse to oversign players - Vanderbilt, Georgia, GT, Notre Dame, etc) and only accept signed letters of intent from that many players. This will encourage coaches to only take players they know will qualify and will eliminate the loophole of signing 10 extra players and figuring out over the spring and summer who stays and who goes, thus eliminating the extra spring evaluation period that some coaches use.