By the numbers

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Oversigning.com.  As its name indicates, it’s a blog dedicated to tracking the fairly common practice on the part of a number of schools of signing more kids than the NCAA limits allow (25 scholarships per year; 85 total scholarships on roster) with the expectation that the numbers will sort themselves out into compliance by the time they have to.

Let me make something clear before I’m bombarded by irate fans from a nearby program to our west.  In and of itself, signing more kids than the NCAA limits allow isn’t a rule violation, at least not when it occurs.  Nothing prohibits a coach from culling kids from a program.  And I honestly don’t think in this era of negative recruiting that coaches deny the numbers game to the kids they recruit.  What would be the point?  Besides, as this chart clearly indicates, it’s a common enough practice in the SEC…

SEC Recruiting Numbers 2002 – 2010

Teams Conf. 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 Total Avg.
Auburn SEC 31 27 29 22 25 30 29 28 32 253 28.11
Miss. State SEC 30 28 23 29 24 33 27 27 26 247 27.44
South Carolina SEC 27 28 29 28 24 31 23 29 23 242 26.89
Arkansas SEC 23 25 32 24 26 27 26 31 25 239 26.56
Ole Miss SEC 18 21 25 28 30 22 31 37 25 237 26.33
Alabama SEC 19 19 29 32 23 25 32 27 29 235 26.11
Kentucky SEC 15 22 28 26 31 29 20 29 26 226 25.11
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 29 224 24.89
Tennessee SEC 25 22 24 26 22 32 18 22 25 216 24.00
Florida SEC 23 26 23 18 27 27 22 17 27 210 23.33
Georgia SEC 31 25 20 17 28 23 24 20 19 207 23.00
Vanderbilt SEC 22 22 20 25 25 14 21 18 24 191 21.22

… so the odds are good that many recruits are facing the issue at more than one school courting them.

I’m also going to avoid passing judgment on the rationale justifying the practice, which, in essence boils down to Nick Saban is a smart man and knows what he’s doing.

Here’s what I am interested in – does oversigning as a year-in, year-out practice work?  Chris Low parses the SEC numbers for the past four classes and comes up with this:

Auburn has averaged signing 29.75 players in the last four recruiting classes, beginning with the 2007 class. Ole Miss is second (28.75), Alabama and Mississippi State tied for third (28.25) and Arkansas tied for fifth (27.25).

South Carolina was seventh nationally (26.50), while LSU was tied for eighth (26.25).

The only SEC schools at 25 or under during that span, according to oversigning.com, were Tennessee (24.25), Florida (23.25), Georgia (21.50) and Vanderbilt (19.25).

There’s not exactly a lot of rhyme and reason there.  Three of the bottom four teams there have represented the SEC East in the championship game every year since… well, every year.  Auburn’s been at the top of the conference in signees and has zip to show for it since 2004.  Ditto for #2 Ole Miss.

So, if you’re Houston Nutt, is it worth getting an SEC rule named after you?

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32 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

32 responses to “By the numbers

  1. Dawgaholic

    Everyone knows its a one year deal on paper. Some schools honor more than that and some do not.

    Don’t think that “running a guy off” has only positive consequences for a school. High school coaches and other people of influence take note of how their guys are treated and try to send younger guys to places where they will be treated well.

    In the end, the market will work this out.

    As for the Bammers that think Saban will be there long term, he knows the consequences of his practices.

  2. Not surprised at Vandy & UGA for the job they do. This Gator Hater was pleasantly surprised at UF. Since recruits all believe they can make it big & would never be in any danger of losing their Scholly, I hope you are right about their coaches advising them to go to schools that will treat them the way they would have wanted to be treated.

  3. JC in Powder Springs

    Is there a web site called undersigning.com or schollys-for-walk-ons.com? – that’s where I’d expect to find the Dawgs. The Dawgs problem isn’t signing too many, it’s not signing enough to maintain 85 ‘ships. As I’ve said before, 1 scholly to a walk-on is a feel good story, 3 schollys to walk-ons means you’re not taking attrition into account in your planning, and therefore not signing a sufficient number of players in February.

    We’re all concerned about programs that sign far too many players – and cutting 5 players reflects a really rotten prick of a coach – imo. But not signing enough players is foolish.

    • NRBQ

      I don’t have a problem with a guy who pays his own way, works his ass off and shows dedication to the team getting the scholarship thrown away by a golden-spoon idiot that beats his girlfriend or assaults women in small-town bars.

      But maybe that’s just me.

      • Dawgaholic

        Usually we just have one or two at the most that earn scholarships. I would much rather have this happen than have to tell a kid he doesn’t have a spot once every three years.

        Also, it’s rare that we find ourselves turning away a highly sought after recruit. It seems our staff would rather give a scholly to a walk-on and then have more for the next year than to sign someone that wasn’t really high on our board.

  4. gernblanski

    This practice is not new. I think Bear Bryant invented the practice of oversigning back in the days when he gave football players scholarships to play on the basketball team or run track, etc.

    It was all in the name of putting as much talent into your pool while shrinking the pool of serviceable talent.

    Does anyone know if there are additional restrictions for transferring within the conference?

    I think oversigning has as much to do with keeping kids away from other teams in the conference as it does with inputting talent into your program. Also the oversign allows you the opportunity to do the package deal.

  5. Normaltown Mike

    I would suggest the academic standards play some role. Vandy, UGA, UT and UF are the superior academic institutions in the SEC (ha-ha, I know, I know).

    Certainly at Georgia we’ve had players denied admission when they technically passed muster and CMR wanted them. Can you imagine this happening at some of the skools at the top of this list?

    The notable exception is Aubie. Auburn is a relatively good school. Better than Bamer and certainly better than the Miss’ippi and ugh, LSU.

    I think this can be explained by a unique paranoia at Alabama Polytechnic. They are the second rate school in a third rate state. This causes them to behave in extremely irrational ways.

    Think about it – the state of Alabama is perennially disparaged nationally (often rightfully so). Yet within this state one team has arisen to national prominence and it aint located on the Plains. Alabama has enjoyed historic in-state dominance over Aubie (up until Tubs) of a Georgia over Tech proportion, which is to say truly epic proportion. The fear of falling further behind big brother fuels a fanaticism not seen this side of Hebron.

  6. I have been proven wrong too many times too count; but, I think when Fall Camp opens for the Dawgs there will be more SEC Caliber Football Players on Campus than at any other time since the NCAA went to the 85 Scholly limits. ? .

  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The problem is the practice of signing more kids that can stay the whole four years under this rule is in the final analysis inconsistent with the best interests of the student athlete and is, therefore, disreputable. The reputable coaches (Mark Richt, among them) who do think of their players welfare are at a disadvantage to the cheaters who abuse the rule (I will not say any names but one has a name that rhymes with “Satan.”) The rule needs to be changed. When someone leaves school voluntarily or is kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons that would open up a new scholly. Otherwise, you are committed for 4 years to the kid.

  8. It is very important to note that the guy who started the website in question is an Ohio State alum (or just a very devoted fan) that happens to live in Birmingham and is married to an Alabama grad. He has grown tired of being surrounded by Tide fana all the time–particularly for the past two years–and this website is a way to lash out. I’d bet you anything that this guy doesn’t truly care about the practice, especially given the fact that it is sanctioned by the NCAA and is not in any way illegal.

    No. This yahoo studied everything about the program and looked for something to try and exploit. His beloved program has also suffered two recent national championship game beat-downs at the hands of SEC teams, so it’s no surprise he has plenty of animosity for the conference itself.

    You could read what I had to say in his comment sections if he had the balls to publish them. I have never failed to allow a comment to post on my blog even if I disagreed with it. This wuss needs to grow a pair because it seems he’s happy to start a fight, but he’s unwilling to fight fairly once he does.

    • Hackerdog

      Not illegal doesn’t equal sanctioned. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the NCAA ban the practice fairly soon.

      • Driving 74 MPH isn’t always safe either. But if you’re doing it where the speed limit is 75? You’re just fine. So yes, it is sanctioned.

  9. Wilbur's Marshalls

    Interesting numbers, but at least as it concerns UF, I don’t think they reflect early enrollees, who are actually considered signees for the previous class. For example, UF signed 27 this year, but about 10 of them were enrolled in January. As I understand it, for purposes of number crunching, some of them can be regarded as part of the previous class, which only numbered 17.

    • Exactly, Wilbur’s, which is why this joker’s website is at least part fraud. The guy has a hard-on for Bama and Saban, and this is not from MY mind, it’s from his. He has talked about his obsession on theozone.net, an OSU forum that he posts on daily. The guy lives in Birmingham and is married to a Tide fan. He is about as agenda-driven as it is possible to be. For him to act as sanctimonious and self-righteous as he does is so laughable it’s ridiculous.

      • OversigningAnonymous

        You’re the guy who sounds like he has and agenda, douchebag. Why don’t you spread that BS on a Bama blog instead of polluting this one?

        • Well it seems like it’s a good thing that you aren’t in charge of what does and doesn’t get posted on this comment thread, OA. I have a whole lot more to say about this subject. If you don’t like reading it, then I suggest you stay off any public forum where this subject arises.

          • OversigningAnonymous

            GFY. Take your 70 IQ Alabama hate to the Bama blogs. Or will nobody see them there?

            • Thanks for the advice, but I think my current course is solid. If this guy (you?) wants to try and tear down a program, he’ll have to do it with full disclosure.

              • I think I’d worry about the Justice Department’s investigation of the one-year scholly more than I would Oversigning.com, but that’s just me.

                • You’re absolutely right, but I can’t imagine that Congress will screw college sports that royally. I don’t think that’s naive, either. This is one of those things they do to placate bleeding hearts. Nothing will come of it.

                  As for Oversigning? Again, I have no problem so long as this guy goes through FULL disclosure (“I am an Ohio State fan married to an Alabama grad/fan whose whole family are Bama fans. I am sick of hearing about Bama and Saban. I decided to take on their program and hide behind the only thing I could that would give me a righteous motive.”) Then I’m fine.

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    I just read the link above to your (rather scholarly, I might add) defense of Coach Saban’s practices in recruiting. I hope he appreciates that he has as eloquent a defender as you out there. Your explanation of how oversigning can happen benignly is enlightening and I recommend it to others as an explanation of the practice. That said, son you need to change your medication or increase the dose. You have a fixation on this that is not normal. This Oversigning.com guy does, too. You are the Ying to his Yang. Both of you should seek medical help immediately. Just sayin’.

                    • Probably good advice. But as long as this yahoo persists in a jealousy-driven campaign that is entirely based on being a displaced Buckeye in Tide Country, he’ll just have to live with the fact that I am out there too.

                  • Hogbody Spradlin

                    Now girls, no scratching.

                    • Mayor of Dawgtown

                      I am reminded of the old proverb: “Those who would slay monsters must take care not to become monsters themselves.”

  10. J

    Senator, I am curious to see what if any comes from the investigation you alluded to earlier in regards to scholarships. It is defined as a one year grant but I can see where many people would be interested in testing the limits as to what is promised and what is actually delivered to the student athletes under their charge. While Football is probably the “safest” of all the scholarships because of the amount of players that come from one school or area and the negative effects that a school would incur if it backed out of its commitment, it is still something that happens with a certain amount of regularity ( Spurrier in 2005-05). Hopefully the schools and athletes go into the process fully aware of the reality of big time sports and not under the misguided belief that they can either sign as many as they want and then cut older players who don’t perform or that they the athlete want be cut if he/she isn’t all conference or a solid back up after their second year.

  11. Hobnail_Boot

    Except for Auburn, that list is an almost perfect inverse of SEC member academic rankings.

    Can’t be a coincidence.

    • Pete

      Not really. The top three are the same, but Tennessee (at least in the US News Rankings) is behind both Auburn and Alabama. Ole Miss is close to the middle of the “oversigning” but is down with MSU in the US News Rankings.

      UK, Arkansas, and LSU are tied for 8th in the US News rankings but are spread out in the “Oversigning” rankings.

      In other words, no, it’s not a coincidence because the list is no where near a “perfect inverse” of the “academic rankings”.

  12. Pingback: Oversigning: Leather Helmet Blog

  13. Vious

    Yet, we always have kids dropping out so wouldn’t it make sense to over-sign by 1-2 every year? Have we EVER not had a few kids drop out?

    Considering that we ALWAYS HAVE depth issues somewhere, we could BADLY use 2-3 extra bodies every year. It makes sense