The art of oversigning, or too much is never enough

Andy Staples has a piece up about oversigning that will have you shaking your head about one Houston Nutt.  Everybody knows the Nuttster signed 37 kids to letters of intent with Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago, and while the general reaction is a little tut tutting along with some muttering about grayshirting and Jucos, perhaps his strategy deserves further scrutiny and criticism based on something that happened with last year’s class.

… Sometimes, however, the numbers don’t work. Nutt’s 31-player class in 2008 included a quarterback/defensive back from Sherwood, Ark., named Hunter Miller. Last summer, it became clear the Rebels had more qualified signees than they had available scholarships. Nutt asked Miller to grayshirt. Miller declined and asked to be released from his letter of intent so he could walk on at Arkansas. Reached this week, Miller’s mother, Dawn, said she would rather not comment except to say that there were no hard feelings and that “everything worked out best for Hunter,” who has since transferred to a junior college to play baseball.

Oops, sorry.  Best of luck to you, kid.

Maybe the Nuttster needs a mentor to sharpen his game.  Staples does a nice job of mapping the route Nick Saban took to clear space to get his 2008 class of 32 signees accounted for at Alabama.

… Two players (receiver Chris Jackson and kicker Corey Smith), enrolled in January 2008. Because Alabama has two scholarships left in the class for the 2007-08 academic year, Jackson and Smith’s scholarships counted back to that class. That brought the 2008-09 number to 30. Meanwhile, athlete Devonta Bolden, defensive end Brandon Lewis and receiver Kerry Murphy failed to qualify academically, bringing the number down to 27. Running back Jermaine Preyear, nursing a shoulder injury, accepted a grayshirt, bringing the number down to 26. During the summer, receivers Destin Hood and Melvin Ray signed professional baseball contracts, bringing the total of incoming freshman for the 2008-09 class to 24.

But that was only part of the equation. Alabama still needed to shed existing scholarships to stay under 85. During the offseason, the Tide lost defensive back Tremayne Coger (transferred to Jacksonville State), offensive lineman Patrick Crump (quit football), defensive end Jeremy Elder (arrested on a robbery charge), quarterback Nick Fanuzzi (transferred to Rice), receiver Tarence Farmer (transferred to Wyoming), linebacker Jimmy Johns (arrested on cocaine dealing charges), linebacker Zeke Knight (medical hardship) and cornerback Lionel Mitchell (medical hardship for back injury).

You can’t tell the (former) players without a scorecard.

On the other hand, Mark Richt gets a pat on the back from Staples.

… Georgia coach Mark Richt refuses to oversign for two reasons. First, he wouldn’t want to run out of scholarships for qualified players. Second, he would not want to run off current players who have eligibility remaining to keep the Bulldogs under the 85-scholarship limit. “We could always get into a situation where we oversign, but there’s no way I could look at a kid and his parents and say, ‘We had some room, but now we really don’t.’ I just think you have to be careful,” Richt told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Signing Day. “I don’t want to oversign, then tell one of the kids we’ve already got, ‘You’ve got no value to us’ and toss him aside. I’m not going to do that.”

Yeah, that whole tossing-aside thing… if you get the feeling that there probably isn’t much margin for error for certain Rebel football players these days, it’s because there probably isn’t.  (Look out!  It’s the dreaded “violation of team rules”.)  Given that one of the Nuttster’s shiny new signees is a kid who got the bump from his previous school for using a dead person’s credit card, you have to wonder how nefarious was the behavior of those two non-starting miscreants to earn their coach’s wrath.

The answer, of course, is just enough.

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7 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

7 responses to “The art of oversigning, or too much is never enough

  1. The Realist

    This just makes me a little sick. Recruiting is creepy to begin with, but this takes it to a different level. This can be avoided (like Georgia). You might miss out on a more acclaimed player every now and then, but basically cutting players is such a dick move… unless its on NCAA 09. Then, that sorry 2-star FS you signed two years ago when he was the only guy who would sign with you has to go to free up space for the new hotness. See? Still a dick move, but in the virtual world people’s lives and well-beings aren’t compromised.

  2. Will Q

    I think everyone is being a little too hard on these coaches who oversign. On Saban’s part at least, it was obviously just good foresight. Why, he would have been starting the season last year with 69 players if he hadn’t oversigned!
    [/sarcasm]

  3. 69Dawg

    Apparently Nick either 1 knew that UA had a thug problem that he would have to clear up or 2 he is a psychic. I vote for #1.

  4. HackerDog

    Or 3, he doen’t want to rely on scouting services and evaluations on tape. He just brings in some extra kids and lets them audition for a scholarship.

    Two men enter, one man leaves.

  5. Seems to me that someone else besides the gentleman over at oversigning.com is happy to jump to conclusions without sufficient evidence beyond a personal dislike for the SEC’s football powers. For a different perspective on this issue, I encourage you to see my blog at “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick”:

    http://deepsthboy.wordpress.com/

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