“The goal is to never make a promise you can’t keep.”

So, Greg McGarity is ready to go to the mats with Bernie Machen.

First-year UGA athletics director Greg McGarity is strongly opposed to the practice of oversigning football prospects and in favor of legislation to help curtail such activity among SEC institutions.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” McGarity told Dawgs247 this week…

… According to McGarity, “I think it will be a topic for discussion (at SEC meetings) in Destin this year.”

“I think you will see controls in place,” McGarity said. “Now what that model will look like will be determined later — sooner than later. … I think you’ll see it being dealt with at the conference level much like the Big Ten (Conference) deals with it currently.”

I think he’s optimistic.

Here’s his problem.  Mark Richt is on the side of the angels when he says,

“The goal is to never make a promise you can’t keep,” Richt said. “That’s the big thing for me. If there’s a kid that you say, ‘Hey look, we are at our number. Those numbers change. There’s attrition. Things happen,’ but the hard thing is when you sign a guy in February and then you don’t have to declare your number until school starts, and you know there may be some attrition in the meantime. … To say that it wouldn’t have nice to have one or two other guys that you thought could come in and make an impact on your football team, that’s the tough part.”

And McGarity adds some pretty strong language to that.

“I think the thing you focus on is, ‘What kind of conversation are you having with these young men and their parents up front? Are you making them aware of all the dynamics that could occur?’ I think the majority of the time that’s probably not the case.”

But that’s not what the debate is going to focus on (too bad, in my opinion).  The fight is going to be over competitive disarmament.

… In the Big Ten, teams are restricted from recruiting more than the 85 players. This has led to cries that Big Ten schools continue to play against a stacked deck when it comes to the SEC, which has an ongoing five-year streak of BCS titles.

“No question it gives the SEC a big advantage,” former Ohio State coach John Cooper recently told The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. “And let’s face it — they don’t need another advantage.”

If McGarity does the math, it’s a loser for him to allow the debate to proceed on those terms.

… Auburn actually signed 32 prospects in Feb. 2010, months before winning the BCS national championship. Alabama, the previous national champ before Auburn, signed 32 players in Feb. 2008.

According to Oversigning.com, a Web site designed to raise awareness of this topic, in addition to Alabama and Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee have all reportedly logged classes of 30 or more football signees in the past five years.

That’s seven schools right there.  Add the Hat in, and you’ve got a solid majority that’s going to fight giving up the right to sign half of the world in February.  One thing you can say about Mike Slive is that he’s not the kind of guy who expends a lot of political capital on a losing cause.  My bet is that the most we’ll see in the short run is some fairly meaningless window dressing.  The SEC ain’t the home of the cowbell compromise for nothing.

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43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

43 responses to ““The goal is to never make a promise you can’t keep.”

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    The basis of most bad rules: We’ll just substitute wooden consistency because we don’t have the stomach to make reasoned judgments when necessary.

  2. JBJ

    To me, this is a case of trying to regulate a tough problem in a way that does not screw it up even worse.

    • Texas_Dawg

      Why is that?

      The Big 10 has for decades had rules that eliminate oversigning. The solution isn’t hard. Force teams to be transparent with conference officials and other school officials in the event they should request to be oversigned by no more than a few players.

      The Big 10 allows schools to be oversigned by up to 3. Because there is very, very rarely a legitimate, ethical reason to be oversigned at all, few schools ever use the Big 10 allowance for even 1, much less 3.

      Alabama oversigned by 11 this year. Eleven.

      The SEC is a colossal joke.

  3. heyberto

    Count me in the group that thinks we get a competitive advantage by taking the stance we do. I’m sure we get some recruits due to our stance on the practice. If nothing else it gives us a moral high ground that impresses parents and sets the tone for their expectations of where their kids go to school. So, I do not want it to be regulated, but I also get why McGarity is taking a stance. If you’re saying that you’re looking out for the kids, you have to be on the right side of this thing.

  4. crapsandwich

    I think it is great that McGarity is taking this stance. No Georgia is not going to win the fight, but we can win the war. As this issue continues to grow in the media, our recruiting advantage will grow as well.

  5. Derek

    Personally, I think uga and uf win this one. They are in a position of being at a competitive disadvantage in this conference or doing what they think is the wrong thing. That the big ten may benefit by leveling the playing field isn’t the issue. The issue is the sec and uga and florida worrying about being bama and auburns bitch because one side has morals and the other can’t spell it. Also ut, vandy, arky, MSU and uk don’t oversign as far as I know. That makes it 7-5 by my count.

    • UT, Arkansas and MSU have all oversigned.

      • Derek

        Even if there is a majority who have practiced it, it does not follow that they would be unwilling to abandon it. Their position, privately, may be the necessity of it in this climate. At least 2 of these schools would love to get the guys bama and auburn could not sign. I could be wrong but I think oversigning is going to die very soon. Machem

        • Derek

          Sorry, premature posting.

          Machem did not write that article on a whim. That was a shot across the bow. Something is going to get done on this.

          • Bernie’s got a quixotic streak. I wouldn’t make that assumption, given how things went the last time for him.

            • Texas_Dawg

              Sigh…

              Stepping out of your internet “Us vs. Them” pot shot world and back into reality…

              Machen is the head of a major university; a flagship university in a large, affluent US state. (Hint: this isn’t Alabama or Mississippi.) It is the 2nd best academically-ranked university in the SEC and has a top 5 athletic program.

              He didn’t wake up and decide to fire off a letter to SI. Adams and McGarity were well aware he would be writing the letter before SI published it. It was agreed upon that Florida and Machen would take the lead in UGA and Florida deciding to escalate this issue into the public sphere, with the SEC West officials having privately lied to them about it over the past few years.

              • He didn’t wake up and decide to fire off a letter to SI.

                Who said he did?

                I merely pointed out that his last crusade ended with a thud. Do you disagree with that?

                • Texas_Dawg

                  I read your “quixotic streak” response as rejecting the idea that he didn’t write the letter on a whim.

                  If you simply meant that he’s likely to fail on oversigning b/c his playoff push failed, then the obvious response is that the NCAA-wide numbers here are far more clearly in his favor than they were with the playoff proposal. Oversigning is almost exclusively the domain of the SEC’s poorest schools. University and conference officials around the country refuse to engage in it.

                  As Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas should know from experience, they’ll eventually lose this war.

                  • I read your “quixotic streak” response as rejecting the idea that he didn’t write the letter on a whim.

                    No. It’s that he didn’t bother to count the votes before pitching the proposal. My guess is that this time is no different.

      • Texas_Dawg

        Oversigning isn’t as much of a lifeline to UT and Mississippi State as it is to Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, etc. They will likely be more open to changes than the others.

        Auburn fans also like to claim that they don’t oversign anymore and that oversigning was just Evil Tuberville’s work. So, if they are right, Auburn should also be on board with getting rid of oversigning.

  6. Ant123

    While I see your point with the seven school’s it is possible that some of those schools would support such a change if they knew that their competition did not have an advantage. They might even see it as a positive for their program.

  7. gernblanski

    It’s not the first time that we have opted to go it alone. If I remember correctly, we were the only school in the conference to not accept non-qualifiers for time in the late 1980’s. It was the right thing to do then and the right message to send after the Jan Kemp lawsuit.

    We are on the ethical side of this issue now.

    • Derek

      That was about trying to reclaim academic credibility. I can see nothing “wrong” with signing non qualifiers we just needed to send a message at that point. I recall suburban atlantans sending their kids to auburn b/c of academics. Yes, it was that bad. We ultimately did sign non qualifiers in the late 1990’s as I recall.

      • Normaltown Mike

        Jermain Phillips might’ve been the first partial qualifier.

        People forget after the Kemp fiasco Georgia self imposed standards far more strict than our brethren in the SEC.

        Slight differences in rules certainly can have a competitive advantage. Recall that when UT won the mnc, they were the only school in the conference that allowed athletes to withdraw from courses during the quarter (falling below full time student status) and remain eligible. When the margins between good and great are so slim, it only takes one or two players to put you over the hump.

  8. Scorpio Jones, III

    I hope it is obvious I am proud of Georgia for taking this attitude, but I wonder where our opinions will fall if somehow someone directly attributes a loss to one or more of the oversigners this fall?

    I suspect Mark Richt found the moral high ground mighty damn lonely following the loss to freaking Central Florida.

    I hope the oversigning situation turns into a “Jan Kemp Moment” for somebody else.

    • Derek

      I have no doubt but that diminishing talent is the main contributing factor to the recent unpleasantness. Oversigning would have remedied that to some unknown degree. However, it’s still not right and I’m glad we aren’t “stone cold sausage makers” or whatever the phrase the sports and grits uses. Frankly I’m to the point of favoring abandoning the whole structure and just having teams made up of students. If the kids that get into uga can win, fine. If Troy state becomes the king of college ball so be it.

  9. Texas_Dawg

    So, Senator, McGarity has now officially made public what I told you a couple months ago was his position on the matter. That he is strongly opposed to it and doesn’t find it the no big deal you’ve long thought it to be.

    The official, public position of the University of Georgia is that the practice is morally reprehensible and repugnant. Your position of indifference to the issue (at best) is strongly at odds with that of UGA.

    Given that McGarity, Adams, and Richt know far more about this topic than you do, I would suggest you rethink your position and research the topic more to learn where you were misled.

    • Your position of indifference to the issue (at best) is strongly at odds with that of UGA.

      That’s a mischaracterization. I’m indifferent to the competitive advantage argument, but I find coaches misleading recruits to be reprehensible. If the SEC can formulate policies which effectively deal with the latter, I’ll be down with that.

      BTW, if you notice, even Richt admits he prepared some recruits for the possibility of grayshirting. The issue isn’t quite as black and white as you think it is.

  10. Texas_Dawg

    That’s a mischaracterization. I’m indifferent to the competitive advantage argument, but I find coaches misleading recruits to be reprehensible

    And, as you’ve often made clear, you don’t believe oversigning requires coaches to mislead recruits. So you don’t necessarily find it to be a problem. (Again, Machen and McGarity strongly reject this stance of yours, given that they know it requires unethical behavior.)

    Some of your past statements on the topic (which, oddly, sound a lot like indifference to the practice in general):

    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.

    Now understand, there’s nothing illegal about oversigning. As long as the overall roster gets down to 85 kids by the deadline, no harm, no foul.

    Scoffing at the Big 10 rule that has effectively eliminated oversigning:

    The Big Ten’s “solution” of allowing a limited amount of oversigning would seem to be the recruiting equivalent of being a little bit pregnant. Once you’ve started the journey, it’s hard to protest that you’re more virtuous than the next guy whose traveled a little bit farther.

    Dismissing it as “an excuse” for SEC MNCs…

    And so I wonder: are we about to enter a phase where several of the power conferences decide it’s in their best interest to take on the (largely SEC) practice of oversigning?

    Don’t laugh. I can think of some compelling reasons they might. For one thing, it’s a great excuse to use to explain the SEC’s recent dominance in the BCS title game and the other power conferences’ shortcomings there.

    …and just another nefarious Jim Delany plot:

    And if that’s the case, how long is it before Jim Delany decides he has no choice but to lead the charge to get the NCAA to tighten up the rules on class signing numbers? No doubt he’d couch it in terms of doing what’s best for the student athletes, but we’d all know what that’s really about.

    Funny. Jim Delany and the Big 10 have chosen to simply keep their side of the street clean, not pushing this issue at all publicly. They have left the SEC to become the unethical joke that Mike Slive has allowed it to be, leaving the only 3 respectable universities outnumbered on the issue, with even many of their own fans and bloggers having been duped into thinking the issue was no big deal.

    Anyway, Senator, you aren’t where Greg McGarity and the University of Georgia are. You’re not even close. Blame it on Jim Delany or “S-E-C!” confusion or whatever, but here we are.

    • Whatever.

      McGarity doesn’t say a single word about competitiveness. His position is couched in terms of doing right by the recruits. I have absolutely no argument with that.

      And, again, note that Richt admits having to warn players about the potential for being grayshirted. That means at some point in time, he was worried about playing a numbers game. IMO, he did the right thing by alerting recruits to that. That’s the difference between him and Miles.

      • Texas_Dawg

        McGarity doesn’t say a single word about competitiveness. His position is couched in terms of doing right by the recruits. I have absolutely no argument with that.

        Good deal. Then going forward, we should expect to see you condemn oversigning as morally reprehensible with none of the posts downplaying it as “legal” and questioning the motives of people who condemn it. Glad you’ve finally come around on this.

        As for competitiveness, McGarity doesn’t really need to say anything about it. That a rolling 4-year roster 30 players larger than those of other teams is an advantage doesn’t really need to be pointed out. The only people that would deny something to patently obvious aren’t people interested in realistically discussing the situation anyway.

        As for the Richt grayshirting comments, his grayshirt offers should be condemned just as they should be anywhere, and I hope his ability to offer them has been removed by the university. Allowing coaches this room gives powerful employees the ability to hide in fine print and shortcomings of the client (as McGarity was pointing out in his comments).

        • You still don’t get it. You don’t have to oversign to screw kids over. If the SEC imposed a hard rule tomorrow, that wouldn’t stop Saban from running kids off. All it would do is accelerate the timetable. Nor would it stop coaches from lying to recruits to gain an advantage.

          And I don’t have a problem with what Richt did. That’s the difference in the debate between you and me.

          • Bryant Denny

            Saban running kids off?

            You throw these words around so carelessly.

            • BD, numbers don’t lie.

              If there’s nothing purposeful behind it, ‘Bama’s the most snakebit program in the country.

              • Bryant Denny

                “Running kids off.” “Snakebit.”

                You sound like a blogger from a rival school. :)

                Bottom line: he hasn’t done anything illegal, immoral OR unethical.

                Saban is probably the most open coach with players that’s out there. He also doesn’t take any crap, which certainly helps with discipline problems.

                Only two players have left without a soft landing – and they are toting around felonies on their records.

                If you want to stop the practice, make the schollies 4 year guaranteed deals. And then watch the inmates run the asylum.

                • BD, my point wasn’t about Saban’s ethics, but about his tactics. The people who believe that oversigning per se is a sin would argue that there’s no difference.

                  Putting a hard cap in place won’t change a coach’s ability to cull the herd, so to speak. All it will do is move up the timing. As you point out, if the goal is to stop coaches from moving kids out altogether, the way to do that is with four-year scholarships. As you also note, that opens up a new can of worms.

  11. Ant123

    Senator,
    You mention:
    “BTW, if you notice, even Richt admits he prepared some recruits for the possibility of grayshirting. The issue isn’t quite as black and white as you think it is.”
    Greyshirting such as this ( I know you know this but many do not) is not unetheical. The point is Richt prepared them for it. In other words they were told about it. If there is a huge class and we sign 25 and 10 others greyshirt and come in next year because they had rather greyshirt at UGA than get an immediate scholarship some where else. So what.
    The rule should be that you can’t sign more tyhan a total of 85 (greyshirts count towards next years class). And the names of those 85 should be public. This puts the process in the light of day where it should be. Thanks.

    • Bryant Denny

      Why should it be public?

      • Adam

        It’s called transparency and accountability. It also happens to be one of the keystones of the American legislative system because it doesn’t allow people to hide behind the cloak of opacity.

    • Greyshirting such as this ( I know you know this but many do not) is not unetheical. The point is Richt prepared them for it. In other words they were told about it. If there is a huge class and we sign 25 and 10 others greyshirt and come in next year because they had rather greyshirt at UGA than get an immediate scholarship some where else. So what.

      That’s precisely my point.

  12. shane#1

    Anyone that has read my posts on this site knows that I am opposed to oversigning. The three schools that don’t oversign have the highest academic rankings for their football players. The SEC needs to clean up it’s own house, and not just oversigning, but all the other underhanded crap that has been going on. If they don’t clean house, some enterprising politician might decide to clean it for them. It would be quite an attention getter for an ambitious politician.

  13. Ant123

    Bryant Denny,
    It should be public to help the system be self policing, and to help keep the coach’s and school’s honest. If the system is not somewhat self policing the next thing you know there will be a 200 page policy just on this form the NCAA. Plus, there is no disadvantage to having it public.

    • Bryant Denny

      I hear ya. Nobody wants more rules to follow or paper to push. However, I don’t think there’s a problem now with people not complying with the 85/25. Obviously the data is reported to somebody.

      Have a good day,

      BD

  14. lrgk9

    85 max, sign 95 limit over any 4 year period 28 max in any one year.
    Exceed it and you have to honor the commitment and lose 2 schollys per violation the next year and 1 scholly the year after. Thats a 3 for 1 per violation. Run a kid off or snake bit – limited to about 2 players per year.