Oh, the humanity!

Here’s a fun little exercise (h/t oversigning.com), comparing the number of signees between bowl opponents this season.  This is eye-catching:

Tuesday January 4
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
Teams: #6 Ohio State (11-1) vs #8 Arkansas (10-2)
Time (TV): 8:30 pm (ESPN)
Letters of Intent Received Over Last Four Years: Arkansas +30

What does that +30 mean? It means in the four recruiting classes from 2007 to 2010, Arkansas signed 30 more players than Ohio State did. In four seasons, they signed 109 players to the Buckeyes’ 79.

In other words, they signed almost two entire recruiting classes more than Ohio State did.

His piece is marred somewhat by being overwrought, though.  In one breath he acknowledges that there are valid reasons for a program to sign more than 85 kids over a four-year period…

Not every team that has signed more than 85 or so players is oversigning. There are always legitimate reasons to sign more than 85 players over a four-year period. Some players transfer for playing time, or to be closer to home, or they may flunk out, or they may even leave early for the NFL. Attrition happens everywhere.

… but he doesn’t bother to analyze whether that’s the case for any of the SEC schools he clearly takes pleasure in lambasting.  Instead, we get this for a conclusion:

… But it’s to the players’ benefit that the Big Ten doesn’t oversign, and humanity’s as well. There is at least one conference out there that remains convinced (for the most part) that they are comprised of academic institutions, regardless of the money that pours in via their football programs.

Meanwhile, if a player fails to meet the coach’s expectations in the SEC, they are deemed to have no further value and pushed out.

That’s not college football—that’s professional football. It’s the biggest difference between the SEC and the Big Ten right now and it will be until the NCAA finally steps in and enforces their pretend rules—or changes them altogether.

Just like they did with Cameron Newton.

Oh, puh-leeze.  Humanity’s benefit?  Take a look at this story on Troy’s Corey Robinson (h/t Smart Football).  In terms of sheer numbers, Troy is one of the biggest oversigners in the nation.  But I doubt Robinson would be starting there if they didn’t engage in the practice.  Hell, he might not even be playing D-1 ball right now if it weren’t for that.

… Heavy recruiting attention didn’t follow for Robinson, who is now listed at 6 feet tall and 214 pounds.

He received some attention from Sun Belt Conference schools and said “Ole Miss was talking to me a little bit here and there.” Troy knew about Robinson because then-offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was a good friend of Lone Oak High head coach Jack Haskins, whose son Billy Jack is a former University of Kentucky quarterback. Lone Oak ran an offense similar to Troy’s and Robinson felt comfortable in choosing the Trojans.

Sounds beneficial to me.

I’m of two minds about oversigning.  It doesn’t violate any NCAA rules and it gives certain kids a chance they might not otherwise have to play at a D-1 school.  As long as the process at a given school is transparent so that recruits know the nature of the bargain they’re striking, it’s hard for me to object.  The problems I see with it are two-fold:  one, it’s hard to believe that every head coach is straightforward about what he’s up to (I’m looking at you, Les Miles) and two, it’s anti-competitive to the extent that kids who go into a program that oversigns could perhaps be playing at another D-1 school.

I’m not sure if there’s a happy solution here, mainly because the real problem isn’t so much signing more than 25 student athletes in a given year as it is about how the slots come open to allow a school to sign that sort of class size.  And I don’t think the NCAA says word boo about that right now.

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38 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

38 responses to “Oh, the humanity!

  1. Mark

    I think a viable solution would be to eliminate the max number of scholarship number overall. IOW, get rid of the 85 scholarship limit but go with a hard limit per year. Let coaches sign 20 players per year every year. If they can keep a kid in school, keep him from getting hurt, from getting in trouble with the law, etc. then they benefit. If they lose the kid for some reason or another, well, they lose out too. It would probably work out so that most teams would have close to the 85 number now. But without the max limit, and with every school signing the same number of kids each year, every team would have a good reason to make sure those kids signed stayed in school if for no other reason than making sure they had bodies to practice against.

    • NCT

      Sounds good, but a problem is that the programs who attract and develop the kids who leave early for the NFL up front will quickly have depleted rosters. Injuries might be random, and flunking out or transferring might have a recruiting component to them, but early NFL departures would unfairly penalize strong programs, I think.

      • Regular Guy

        That’s a good point, but maybe there could be a provision for that? If a player leaves early for the draft, you gain an additional scholarship to give for that year – or the next year, but it would have to be used within 2 signing classes. I would also add the provision that the player has to actually be drafted for the school to qualify for the exemption – That would keep a school from trying to skirt the rules………in other words, if you have a guy who is a junior who is leaving the program anyway because he’s giving up football or whatever, he could just declare for the draft as a favor to the school to try to get them an extra scholly. But if you have the provision in there that the player has to actually be drafted, it would discourage that kind of rules-bending activity.

      • Mark

        That depends on whether you consider the college is a farm team for the NFL or really a school intent on giving a degree. It only penalizes teams that don’t graduate their kids. If you argue that putting a kid in the NFL is part of what a school is supposed to do (i.e. prepare them for a post college career) then perhaps an extra scholly can be given that year only (i.e. the immediate signing class coming in) for kids that graduate early or go pro early, provided of course, the said player makes the team.

  2. Kevin

    Yeah, I guess no one in the SEC ever leaves early or transfers for PT. I mean, I know he knows who Cam Newton is bc he referenced him in the article. And he’s going to do both.

    • Kevin

      Addendum. Cam might have done the trifecta. Transfer for PT (his excuse), flunking out (allegedly), and for the pros (most likely).

  3. Purple Drank

    Had the pleasure (sarcasm intended) of seeing outside the lines on Sunday morning as I was dressing to go to church – you know that is what we do down south on Sunday mornings. The Devil (ESPN) ripped the Mad Hatter and the SEC but praised the Big 10 on oversigning. I’ve got some additional choices for the division names for the Big 10: how about the “whine” and “cheese” divisions. Go SEC in the bowl games!

  4. Brandon Bogotay & Andy Bailey

    That SEC is soooooo dirty.

    They cut players that don’t pan out.

    Evil.

  5. gastr1

    The Arkansas case would need to be looked at in comparison to a larger sample size. If Tennessee, which had only 75 or so scholarship players this year, were found to have a much larger signing total than Ohio State from 2011-2015, would anyone seriously claim they oversigned? No, they just signed–because that’s what happens when you have a tumultuous coaching change (maybe even any coaching change). Well, how is Arkansas over that period any different from Tennessee will be in the next four years?

    The answer is that we don’t know if they are or they aren’t. Petrino is a rat, everyone knows that, but the raw number of signing 30 more players may just simply have been a case of making up for those who left or were asked to leave to accommodate a rather different approach to just about everything than that of the previous regime. How ’bout we increase the sample size just a little bit, or go just a teensy but deeper to put the number into context…oh, I know, but that might mess up the message we had decided on before we saw the number. Doggone it, we have to find some rule-bending to explain why they are going to wipe the field with us yet again!

    Statistics are like habanero peppers…eat them straight and they screw up everything.

    • The Realist

      Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Mitch Mustain. Those are three high profile names that left early for the NFL or via transfer.

      They are still 21 over the limit, but I am sure there are some who did not qualify (even at R-Kansas), some who left when Nutt did, some who decided they preferred a life of crime, etc. As you said, when there is a coaching change, player turnover is the rule rather than the exception.

  6. Stoopnagle

    Ugh. Overwrought doesn’t even half-way get there, does it?

    I will say that I’m proud UGA doesn’t oversign a la LSU and Bama.

  7. The Realist

    Self-righteousness doesn’t look good on anybody. That should be the first rule of Fight Club.

  8. The Realist

    With all of this talk about oversigning, I wonder what the numbers look like for early entrants in the NFL by conference. That might add some clarity, or it might muddle the picture. Stat boy?

  9. Bad M

    You want to know why Ga is down? This is one major reason. We were actually hurt by injuries, and we were hurt by recruiting rankings (by the hype…if you don’t think hype matters to these kids then you are not paying attention), and we were hurt because we couldn’t “show the love” to a kid because we were over the limit (because maybe a 3 star committed early knowing he had to), and we were hurt because we actually kick kids off the team before their fifth infraction. Don’t think it matters? Ask Fl and Auburn what one player can do. Ask Saban (Ingram was an oversign). I’m not upset at Coach R, just saying that there is a price to be paid for class. Maybe we can give the man some credit.

    • Bulldog Joe

      Agreed. This is yet another disadvantage we put ourselves in year in and year out.

      Auburn signed 33 more players than Georgia did over tha past four years. Ole Miss signed 31 more. Alabama signed 29 more. Mississippi State signed 26 more. Arkansas signed 23 more. South Carolina signed 20 more. LSU signed 19 more. Kentucky signed 18 more. Tennessee signed 11 more. Florida signed 7 more.

      Players focus more if they know their scholarship is at risk when they don’t perform.

      We further compound the problem by running well below the 85 scholarship limit throughout the year when attrition hits. We then choose to give 5-6 of our best players the day off (game suspensions) during the first six games of the season, while our competition is using this time at full strength, developing timing and teamwork.

      Since we also don’t practice 1’s vs. 1’s (at least until the Tennessee game), this also hurts us depth-wise. We don’t get game-ready in practice because the level of athletes we face are often walk-on quality.

      Parker Welch giving us a read on Cam Newton? Seriously?

      The rules are different now. Ten other SEC programs have adjusted.

      Georgia and Vandy have not.

      Vandy has a new coaching staff and philosophy. They will adjust too.

      Georgia? Same ole. Same ole.

  10. Bad M

    Alabama signed 27 more players in the last 4 years than GA. Do you think Coach Richt could have found 2 or 3 top playmakers if given 27 more players? Maybe 5 or 6?

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    I’d be happy if we signed the allotted 24. Seems like we’re usually down to 17 or 18 per year by the time camp starts.

    I think Mark’s comment/idea was dead on – everybody gets 20 a year and that’s it – no excuses, no extenuating circumstances, no b.s. If players leave early, quit, get booted, die, …. whatever, then its t.s. You play with the signees who are left and walk-ons if necessary.

  12. Steve M.

    “There is at least one conference out there that remains convinced (for the most part) that they are comprised of academic institutions”
    What the hell is this nonsense?
    Has he ever heard Terrell Pryor talk? No way did that boy legitimately pass any of his high school classes. And I doubt he even attends any at OSU.

  13. Macallanlover

    Again the NCAA is negligent in allowing this bending of the rules. I don’t care if they say sign the number of ships you have on February 1, or if they allow 1-2 above that number for all schools to cover the shortfall, but it should be the same for all schools. No question the SEC has abused this more than the Big 10+2, but it is also true they have the highest attrition.

    Allow a prescribed number all schools are able to “over sign” (equal for all), and let the schools that make good decisions have extra schollies for that year as a reward. Get better at recruiting/maintaining or fall behind.

    Sure, the author is a jealous homer because his beloved conference has been exposed as a wannabe but his point on this subject is accurate. Saban and The Right Reverend have been shameful in how they have exploited this weakness in the NCAA rule. It is hard to be against a stronger degree of oversight (just get someone competent to handle it, Lord knows the NCAA and Slime are both incapable and spineless.)

    • Samford Hall

      Last year, Nutt led Ole Miss to its first back-to-back 9-win seasons since 1961.

      Saban has another ring.

      Auburn will have one in three weeks.

      The top oversigners are the top programs in the SEC now: Auburn, Miss State, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama.

      Shameful? Sounds pretty smart to me.

      • Macallanlover

        So your soul is for sale? Not every one has the Auburn attitude about winning at all costs and looking like a $25 whore while doing it, but you go right ahead.

        As for the titles, (without abandoning our integrity) we have two since CMR arrived. Bama has one, TN has none, Arky has none, Old Miss has none, Auburn has two, LSU three, and UF two in that same time period. So tell me, what do you get for spreading your legs? I don’t want to be any of them. We have won without that before, and we will again.

        • Samford Hall

          Continue to enjoy your self-righteous losing seasons.

          Your coaching staff has put your program on permanent probation with what amounts to significant scholarship limitations in today’s SEC.

          As the last two recruting seasons bear out, high school players want to play for a winning program, not one who self-righteously takes a beating on the field each Saturday.

          • Macallanlover

            You, sir, are the loser in the game of life. Rationalize it all you wish but you have a small mind settling for so little while missing something so great.

  14. Dog in Fla

    Nick & Nutt – the Tango & Cash of The SEC

  15. texasdawg

    I’m of two minds about oversigning.

    Really?

    Wow.

    You certainly shouldn’t be. If it was even close to being ethical, a lot more schools would oversign, including Georgia.

    But it’s not even close.

    It is a disgusting practice that requires all kinds of dishonesty, exploitation of young adults by people in much greater positions of power, complete denial of serious historical considerations, a complete disregard for academic integrity, and much more.

  16. almightytmc1

    Humanity?
    More like elite-ism.
    Ohio State and Michigan know they are going to get the cream of the crop in the some pretty populace states. They get what they want and the rest can go to hell as far as they are concerned.
    But Humanity…. yeah right ….PUH -LEASE!!!!

    • Mike

      Does Northwestern get this, too? What about Iowa and Indiana?

      The Big 10 has rules against over-signing because if you guess wrong about how many new athletes will fail to make grades, you have to kick someone else off who has given years to that university already. See the examples of Les Miles.

      Big Ten universities put nearly as many players in the NFL (OSU, I believe, leads all schools in that measure) as the SEC, so don’t give me that crap about having more early attrition.

      Other coaches have specifically told big ten coaches that they don’t know how they do it, having to deal with occasionally having one or two scholarships that don’t get filled because someone doesn’t qualify. It is an acknowledged competitive advantage.

  17. Pat Dye

    “Georgia chooses not to oversign. Though in the SEC, that is admittedly crazy.”

    Well said.

    Welcome back to the late 80’s / early 90’s for Georgia football.

    Lots of parallels to those days in Georgia’s recruitng philosophy.

    Once again, rival progams say “Thank you very much”.

  18. Marmot

    Schools in states with poorly performing educational systems have to oversign to compensate for all the iffy qualifiers that reside within their recruiting domain. Or if your school is a 2nd tier recruiting power you sometimes have to take risks on highly talented but not-so-smart athletes that the 1st tier recruiters pass over due to the risk.

    That accounts for most the oversigning numbers, guys who never enroll because the NCAA or School says they can’t. I’m not sure why anyone has a problem with this practice since these kids never had any realistic shot at a higher education outside of being coddled as a premier athlete. I guess Nutt made this practice dirty when he was signing anyone and everyone and funneling them through the Mississippi Juco system, his own personal farm league.

    All of this “dirty” and “unethical” talk would carry much more weight if you just used the number of enrolled players. And you would also have to distinguish between kids that left of their own volition, the ones that were really hurt, and the ones that were shown the door. This is almost impossible to do since coaches are pros at putting the idea in the mind of the player.

    So the most telling number to watch for any team/coach is how many players enroll each year. If a coach enrolls 100 over their first 4 years (that’s some fine numbers management by the way) then you forgive them for attritioning 15 players they recruited over that time span. If they continue to sign 25 each year after that, then you know its no coincidence that just enough medical hardships and academic and disciplinary issues surface annually. You can rightly say that they eat their young.

  19. texasdawg

    That accounts for most the oversigning numbers, guys who never enroll because the NCAA or School says they can’t.

    That is just simply, absolutely, 100% false.

    From 2007-2010:

    Florida – 93
    Georgia – 86
    Texas – 86
    Ohio State – 78

    Alabama? 113.
    Auburn? 119.
    LSU? 105.

    Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Ohio State send lots of players to the pros early. They have players that occasionally fail out of school or get expelled. They have career-ending injuries.

    Alabama and Auburn and LSU aren’t signing nearly a full extra recruiting class every 4 years just because dozens of additional recruits don’t qualify. They are kicking kids out of school, abusing medical hardship exceptions by having kids lie, grayshirting, pressuring kids to transfer to inferior schools, and so on.

    Fortunately major media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and ESPN are finally digging into what these embarrassing SEC West universities are doing. Once again, outsiders having to come in and do social justice where affluent whites running Southern state institutions refuse to ensure it.

    What an amazing, mind-boggling embarrassment this is in 2010.

    In 1960, Georgia had roughly the same population size and demographic make-up as Alabama and Louisiana. Today? Georgia has one of the largest and fastest-growing metropolises in the Western hemisphere. It has a population more than double the size of both Alabama and Louisiana (and several times as large as Mississippi and Arkansas). It is already far more affluent, modern, and ethnically diverse than these states, and that phenomenon will be exponentially greater in another 10-20 years.

    Less than 20 years ago the University of Texas shared revenues, media time, etc. with schools like Houston, SMU, TCU, and Rice. Less than 2 decades later such an arrangement would be absolutely laughable for countless financial and academic reasons.

    The leaders, graduates, and fans of the University of Georgia need to quit pretending we are equal to the SEC West schools. We aren’t. Our university and the state of Georgia are superior to their schools and states on so many academic, economic, and professional levels. Oversigning provides just one more stark example of that fact. UGA leaders need to take a lead from the University of Texas leaders and start reminding these inferior schools of some basic numbers whenever they get the chance.

  20. DJ

    Two solutions:

    1) Eliminate the 1 year renewable scholarship garbage, and make them full 4 year scholarships or at a minimum 2 year renewable scholarships.
    2) Limit scholarships to 72 total, 20 per year based on attrition and the like.

    This does a few things:
    – Prohibits a coach from being able to stockpile recruits.
    – Lets student-athletes that don’t get regular playing time play without being concerned about being ‘cut’ (cough Nick Saban cough)
    – Spreads the talent around even more to other schools.
    – Gives opportunities to other sports, especially men’s sports on the endangered list a.k.a. Title IX chopping block.

    • If the NCAA ever decided to impose a 72-scholly limit, you’d see the major powers out the door forming their own organization so fast it would make your head spin.

      • DJ

        Then maybe it’s not such a bad idea. With all the problems with the NCAA and FBS football particularly this year, the other option is to remove FBS football as an NCAA sponsored sport. Bylaw Blog has been all over this today.

  21. Tyler

    It sounds beneficial until you realize that someone had to lose a spot for Robinson to gain one. His success does not exist in a vacuum.

    Oversigning is an awful tactic that reduces humans to numbers, men to machines. Mark Richt should be rightfully praised for his refusal to engage in the tactic.

    • But you have no clue how that slot opened up, do you? How can you judge the decision without knowing that?

      • Tyler

        Judging individual cases is a grey area because of limited information, but that isn’t really the point in the first place. What we are viewing is an institutionalized form of turnover that is clearly against the spirit of the rules, and on a larger point, should be against the spirit of collegiate competition. It doesn’t matter if individual cases are explainable if the entire process stinks. Your argument of ignorance in the particular as a defense of the process as a whole is morally untenable.