Who wears the pants in the SEC football family?

Here’s something Jon Solomon wrote today about Mike Slive’s oversigning legislation:

… Would the SEC oversigning proposal make coaches think twice about signing under-qualified students? Could it impact a university’s special-admission policy? Might the SEC’s broader national appeal and enhanced revenue allow coaches to find more talented and academically-eligible players who live outside the SEC footprint? All questions to consider.

SEC athletics directors have been working since the fall on the oversigning proposal. Then again, this is the same group that wanted the signing cap two years ago to be 30, not 28.

SEC presidents and chancellors will have the final call. Given the high-profile outrage by Florida President Bernie Machen about grayshirting and non-renewing scholarships, the guess here is something gets passed in Destin.

There are a few presumptions packed into that prediction:  (1) that SEC presidents and chancellors care as passionately (or more passionately) about oversigning as their head coaches do; (2) that SEC presidents and chancellors are ready to override the wishes of their head coaches at four of the schools from a group which includes all the SEC West and South Carolina; (3) that Bernie Machen is that influential with his peers on a subject of reform which most likely benefits his school more than any other in the conference; and (4) that Mike Slive is an effective whip on oversigning reform.

In order, I have no idea about (1), (2) seems like a stretch and (3) would be something new.  As for (4), I suspect that Slive knows he doesn’t have the votes yet, but figures that putting out word about the proposed legislation as he has will put pressure on schools to make the media-approved choice of siding with Slive.  The downside to that approach is that it gives the parties who are vested in the status quo plenty of time to chop Slive’s proposal down to a size they can live with, even if they can’t eliminate it altogether.  That Slive won’t go into specifics tells me that he doesn’t want to look bad if he gets less than half a loaf.  If his whole pitch is made public before the conference meetings in Destin, that may be an indication he feels more confident about his chances.  It all should be interesting to watch.

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14 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

14 responses to “Who wears the pants in the SEC football family?

  1. I know it’s the consensus thinking, but I’m really not sure Auburn’s in lockstep with the other West schools on this. I’m biased as all get-out, of course, but despite Auburn’s rep Chizik hasn’t actually oversigned the last couple of seasons–the “32-player class” in 2010 fit five early-enrolling guys into the one before it, and one guy was pretty much a known academic casualty. So they were over by … one. And they signed 24 this year. Chizik hasn’t grayshirted anyone, hasn’t gone past the 85 limit, hasn’t come close to pulling a Saban-style end-of-summer “whoops, no one else got arrested, so you just got cut, sorry” axe job.

    This is not to say they’re angels. But the folks at Auburn know the folks at Alabama will hate the kind of restrictions Slive is (presumably) proposing, while they mostly abide by them already. If I’m Auburn, what’s bad for Alabama is good for me, right?

    • I think it’s just as easy to say, “if ‘Bama’s doing it, we want to have the option as well.”

      • Derek

        Actually that applies to everyone and it’s why I think it gets done. If the SEC ratifies the practice by doing nothing, everyone will either join in and it’s the wild wild west at every school or the schools that would rather keep their dignity than compete start looking at exit plans. As neither option is in the conferences interest this gets done. I don’t think the conference can survive with half of them doing this and getting away with it and the other half losing on the field because they won’t.

        • I may be wrong, but I think it takes a 9-3 vote to pass a new rule. That means Slive has to flip more than half of the schools thought to be in favor of oversigning.

          I don’t see any school leaving the SEC in response to oversigning.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            You left an option out of your above “Pants” post: (5) That this is nothing but a Slive PR gambit to make it appear that the SEC is going to do something when in reality nothing is going to happen and everybody on the inside knows it.

          • Derek

            Leaving isn’t and won’t be necessary. Indicating the possibility of doing so will suffice. I just don’t see UGA or UF taking it. They aren’t going to let the west and USC beat them on the field and just take it. They will either 1) get what they want or 2) join the crowd all the while publicly shaming the conference or 3) pack up and leave. Democracy is irrelevant here. The issue is whether leaving roster management to the whims of petrino and saban is worth risking the golden goose. The answer for these 12 college presidents is just too damn easy. Here’s the question they face: do we want to look like we care about the kids or do we publicly say we’d rather be assholes and wonder whether the conference survives. Keep in mind that both Uga and UF have uncertain futures at the HC position. Do they want to enter the market telling prospective coaches that they will be at a competitive disadvantage? I doubt it.

            Further I think it’s important to keep in mind what the debate here is and what it isn’t. Saban isnt taking the position that the practice is horrible but we need to do it to compete and the ones who don’t are just pussy losers. He is saying that isn’t a big deal and that it isn’t unfair to the kids. That is the entirety of the debate: is is ok to do what is being done? Is is fair to the kids? Does it represent who we want to be perceived as? The fact is that saban has already lost that debate in the minds of most fans, the media and apparently with Slive. SOS’s suggestion of necessity is even less persuasive.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              Derek, you make several good points. Probably you are right that UGA and Florida won’t ever really leave. But carrying the thought further, conference championship games (that make a lot of money) aside what if UGA, FLA, UT, UK and Vandy bolted and started a new conference adding 3 more teams (like, maybe Clemson, FSU and Louisville)? Another option would be to get together with the 4 North Carolina schools (Duke, Wake, UNC and NC State) plus Clemson to make a 10 member conference. It just makes me sick that UGA is in this situation with a conference now dominated by cheaters.

            • Keep in mind that both Uga and UF have uncertain futures at the HC position.

              Damn, dude, Muschamp hasn’t even coached his first game. Even I’ll give him more of a chance than you’re willing to.

    • Regular Guy

      I thought you can only count 3 early enrollees against the previous class? In that case, they would have oversigned by 3 in 2010.

      • Not the case, RG, or at the least it wasn’t in 2010. You may be thinking of the 28 signees-per-class cap, which means you can sign up to 3 guys who have to fail to qualify/grayshirt/something.

        Senator, eh, maybe. But wouldn’t it make more sense to just support a rule that forces ‘Bama to conform to Auburn’s approach rather than opposing said rule on the chance Auburn _might_ want to conform to ‘Bama’s?

        • “Sense”? This is the SEC we’re talking about, pardna. ;)

        • Regular Guy

          Gotcha, I know I read an article at some point about a team that had 4 or 5 early enrollees, but were only allowed to count 3 against the previous class. Must’ve been a numbers issue (i.e., only had 3 spots available from the previous year), not a rules issue, as I had interpreted it. Thanks for the clarification.

  2. Dave

    Slive and the SEC just want to redefine this issue on their own terms, and that’s accomplished easily in a number of different ways to the satisfaction of all. The notion that Georgia and Florida genuinely believe (A) that oversigning represents an unbeatable competitive advantage, (B) that the current B1G rules represent the only practical and ethical solution for all affected parties, including the athletes, and (C) that leaving the SEC is the only way to maintain both their competitive fortunes and moral compass… well, that’s just silly, in my opinion.

    Let me put it another way — for all of Richt’s use of the issue this off-season, he essentially admits to oversigning “some but not too much,” which puts him in the Dr. Evil camp over on 0-s.com. The notion that some unbridgeable chasm exists between the “a little is ok” and “a lot is ok” SEC schools is just the standard off-season media navel-gazing. Much ado about not a lot.

    This will be quite similar to the B1G stipend initiative. The S-As will get a few more rights and protections which will be cost-prohibitive to the programs which currently aspire to D-1 status or hang in the existing lower quartile. They will also take most of the sting out of the “kid’s being harmed” argument, which is where this issue begins and ends in the press. Richt gets to take more recruiting risks with a clear conscience. Everybody wins.