Two oversigning questions…

that illustrate my ambivalence about the practice:

First, here’s one from the LSU blog And The Valley Shook.

… Because if the SEC was truly abusive and the players were being taken advantage of: kids would stop signing with SEC schools.  The elephant in the room is: why aren’t these kids flocking to the Big Ten, with its more restrictive rules on oversigning?  High school recruits hold almost all the power during their recruitment period, so why are they going to the schools which are being so publicly derided as being hostile to their interests?

Now, before you tell me I’m being naïve about what these kids understand, perhaps you ought to start by explaining your own naiveté about the level of negative recruiting that goes on chasing in this day and age.

That being said, it’s the practice of how slots open up for these kids that may not pass the smell test.  And Year2 hits on a good point about one such method.

… There are other ways of doing investigation. Take, for example, the Wall Street Journal‘s inspection of the use of medical hardships and how Alabama gives out more of them than any other program. I know that rebuttals to that piece have come from all over the Alabama blogosphere, many of which came to the conclusion that the medical hardship scholarships were fair and justified.

If that’s true, then why not investigate what it is about Alabama’s program that causes more players to become medically unfit to play football than most programs? Or is it just that Alabama’s standards are different? Are the coaches and doctors there more in tune with medical research into when to sit a player down for good? Or are the coaches just more willing to give out medical hardships than other coaches?

I don’t have all the answers to this, which is why I hesitate to issue a blanket condemnation.  I’d sure like to know more, though.


Filed under Recruiting

28 responses to “Two oversigning questions…

  1. Normaltown Mike

    Derek Dooley found personal hygiene to be lacking when he got to UT.

    Same thing at Bama?

  2. Bulldog Joe

    It must be their diet.

    “Son, you’re not quite cuttin’ it on the field or in the weight room. Let’s go to Dreamland. All you can eat.”

  3. What fresh hell is this?

    “Are the coaches and doctors there more in tune with medical research into when to sit a player down for good?”

    Yes, that must be it. Coincidently they are particularly more in tune when there is a more talented player/recruit available at a particular position.

    • Texas_Dawg

      LOL. Exactly.

      Given the current recruiting class size, 10 current Alabama players have the plague. They will be told shortly after Signing Day and given free sideline passes to not talk about it (especially to any more Wall Street Journal reporters, if they know what’s good for them).

  4. Coach Hewitt...

    There are currently 27 former SEC players attending school on medical hardship schollys… 12 are enrolled at Bama…. nuff said…

  5. When you think about a guy like Quintin Banks, perhaps UGA should pull the trigger earlier and offer him a medical hardship when it becomes pretty apparent that he won’t ever be able to perform at an SEC level because of his numerous injuries. Instead, he is on scholarship four years, then gets the hardship as a senior. It’s not that I want the guy replaced for something better, but as long as he is taken care of, it frees up a spot for somebody who is physically able to perform.

    I think there are positives and negatives. I suppose Alabama is just more liberal in their use of the medical hardship. It works for them, and the players/recruits don’t seem to mind.

    • Texas_Dawg

      It works for them, and the players/recruits don’t seem to mind.

      Oh really?

      If Quintin Banks wants to finish his time on the team, that should be his right. Whether he will ever play another down or not. He sacrificed his body and time for the team and his teammates in a violent game. If he wants to remain a full member of the team and receive the honors that come with that, more power to him.

      If you have a problem with that, you need to step back from the game and examine your priorities.

  6. Todd

    Kind of like industry these days, you are never going to be too safe. Therefore, the call to end a career of an athlete will never be questioned due to “saftey” reasons. This is why Saban and compnay live in the grey area. Live and die by shades of grey I guess.

  7. Coastal Dawg

    Saban takes Bear’s philosophy to the next level. “I would rather have a good player on a medical hardship at Alabama than playing for someone else.”

    Imagine if a signed letter from an athlete was only good for a year at a time like the scholorship. That would give recruiting a whole new meaning.

  8. Texas_Dawg

    These questions are easily answered.

    To the first about why recruits would still go to oversigning schools:

    1) An example: Coach A: “Les Miles and Nick Saban oversign. You’ll get cut. Come to our school.” Recruit: “Coach Miles/Saban, is what they say true?” Miles/Saban: “Those coaches are whiny losers. They are lying and jealous. They went 6-7 last year while we won 10+. The players they say got cut had character issues. You don’t. You’ll be a star. Come to LSU/Bama.”

    2) Many SEC West targets have never left their states or local regions. These are the teams they and their communities have grown up rooting for. Their entire communities want them to go to these schools. Turning that down and saying that they are going out of region, where their friends and family will get to see them less often, to some school that doesn’t oversign is a huge leap for many of these kids.

    3) You are a well-educated white adult who closely follows the game. Yet even you have shown that you don’t fully understand much of what is involved with oversigning. Have you ever spent any time in a largely African-American housing project or impoverished Deep South community? Do you know how much greater the difficulties would be for a 17-year-old from such an environment to fully process what is going on here?

    4) Your point about the level of negative recruiting is exactly why most of these players have no real idea what is going on with oversigning. The negative recruiting goes in one ear and out the next after awhile… and rightfully so given how much of it is just noise. So when a serious and real but very complex situation like oversigning comes along, it is that much more difficult to successfully relay the facts to a recruit. Especially when they get the bombarded with spin from the oversigning programs and fans as soon as the anti-oversigning programs have left.

    As to the medical hardship questions, has written a good deal about this.

    ALL teams have injured players that will never contribute in any real way. ALL teams have players that just failed to pan out and who never contribute in any real way… and all of these players have injury histories (however minor) that could be used to provide cover for their removal. But very few teams use this to remove players from the team at the rate Alabama (and Auburn) has lately. Instead, they allow the players, should they wish, to remain with their teammates and graduate as full members of the team, receiving the honors (i.e. Senior Day ceremonies) that come with that.

    Consider Georgia and Alabama. In the time Saban has been at Alabama, Georgia has taken 6 medical DQs: Tony Wilson, Bryce Ros, Antavious Coates, Neland Ball, Quintin Banks, and Jonathan Owens. With Kerry Murphy this week, Saban has now used medical DQs at Alabama over twice as many times: 13. And as the Wall Street Journal discovered, several of these players have said Alabama is doing it simply to clear space.

    But if you still aren’t convinced oversigning is unethical (and I would urge you to exchange e-mails with Greg McGarity if so; I and others I know have, and he is very, very clear on this topic and I believe will be increasingly outspoken about it, if only, diplomatically, in closed-door SEC meetings), here is a simple Ethics 101 problem with oversigning that cannot be avoided by the practice:

    Programs that oversign place their coaches and employees in the position of not being able to give truly impartial advice to students considering what may often be very ill-advised transfers to inferior schools. “Playing time” is often the reason given, but there are many cases in which a student is making an obviously very bad decision to transfer for playing time. Many of these young men will very clearly not have a career in athletics at the time of such considerations. The very obvious, ethical answer to their questions about transfers to schools with greatly inferior academic and career resources is to drop the idea, stay at their current school, and focus on their non-athletic career path and academic studies. An program that is oversigned cannot give this appropriate advice. Players HAVE to go or else there are penalties, so employees of these schools sit by or even encourage such bad decisions.

    THIS is why academically reputable schools like those of the Big 10, the ACC, the 3 highest academically ranked SEC schools (Vandy, UF, UGA), and most others do NOT engage in this highly dishonest and unethical practice. It makes a farce of academic institutions.

    Alabama and Auburn can win every football game for the rest of eternity for all I care, if oversigning is going to be allowed. I would rather my alma mater never win another football game than chase them down that path. Ours is a superior university on so many levels, and as the state of Georgia continues to rapidly outgrow their states, the gap between UGA and the SEC West programs will continue to grow. They can have fun constantly stuck in their 1950s Deep South world. I’m very, very happy with Georgia moving on with everyone else in 2011.

    • Mayor of dawgtown

      “I would rather my alma mater never win another football game than” [oversign like Bama and Auburn]. TD, what have you been smoking? If we let them get away with this then they win. We either get the practice outlawed or start doing it ourselves. I, on the other hand, would rather that my alma mater give up football entirely than let our program become another Vanderbilt.

      • Texas_Dawg

        We either get the practice outlawed or start doing it ourselves.

        And obviously I am all for having it outlawed. Even if UGA quit playing football, I would still want that to be the case.

        But doing it ourselves is a complete non-starter. It is an entirely unethical practice.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          It ain’t unless it is illegal–which it is not yet.

          • Perry_Dawg

            You do realize that actions can be both legal and unethical at the same time don’t you?

            Adultery is not against the law, but it is highly unethical.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            Get real both of you. We are talking about signing college football players not robbing banks. Is adultery unethical? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I do not endorse the practice but I can see where someone who was extremely unhappy might seek happiness with somebody other than his/her spouse. Happens every day, BTW. Getting back to reality, if every other university in the SEC is oversigning and UGA does not do you not understand what a competitive disadvantage that puts the Dawgs in? Effectively the oversigners would have 20-40 MORE players over a 4 year period. That means UGA would field a team on average taken from a pool of 100 (25×4) while Auburn, for example, would field a team taken from a pool of 120-140 depending on how much oversigning they do. This would give Auburn a tremendous advantage. We already do things that put our team at a competitive disadvantage (such as playing FLA as an away game every year which has the effect of making UGA have to play 5 SEC away games every other year). Yet we still demand that our team win, not only games, but championships. I for one am sick and tired of alums and fans that want the Dawgs to compete with one hand tied behind their collective backs yet demand success–and want to fire coaches when success is not achieved. Make up your mind. Do you want to win or not? I also would rather that oversigning was prevented completely but if it is going to be allowed by the NCAA them we have to do it. You guys remind me of the conscientious objector who says he will not kill under any circumstances so he allows the bad guys to kill him instead of defending himself. Pathetic.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      TD….it is tough as hell not to agree with your premise, but it would be a whole lot easier if we had not lost to Central Florida.

      I am with you, and I think the University is also with you, we can’t worry about the guy in the next lane speeding, all we can do is do what we do as well as we can.

      Clearly oversigning is a a dark bending of the rules, and maybe the only reason for not having a football program having complete autonomy from the administration.

      Forget the competitive advantage, oversigning is simply wrong, and I am glad we do not do it.

  9. Bryant Denny


    • Texas_Dawg

      The 1990s Nebraska dynasty was gutted by Texas forcing tougher recruiting restrictions on Nebraska via the Big 12. Let’s see if you are still yawning when Alabama gets its oversigning advantage taken away.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Come on BD…you can, I am sure, do better than that. Or is it you know this is an argument you can not win and it makes you sleepy.

  10. UGAdog

    Me thinks Texas_Dawg has way too much free time on his hands. That or Nick Saban pissed in his wheaties. Take your pick.

    • Texas_Dawg

      And I highly doubt you are a graduate of an SEC university.

      These are just football teams for you, so what do you care about how unethical any of them may be.

  11. JL

    Excellent post Texas_Dawg.

    Regarding Senator’s first point, kids that are being recruited to Alabama/LSU/Auburn have likely been told that they are great for several years. They have likely dominated high school athletics and can’t imagine being on team and not contributing/starting. Most are thinking more about playing time their first year than what happens if they don’t make the two deep on the depth chart.

    It doesn’t dramatically affect recruiting because the 18 yr old athletes don’t think it could ever happen to them.

  12. Scorpio Jones, III

    In a larger sense does this not mean Bama makes a lot of mistakes in recruiting?

    Despite the Bear comparisons it is a very different time. I would be surprised if Saban signs a kid just to keep him from playing somewhere else.
    He signs them because he thinks they can play for him…which means some percentage of the time he is wrong, as are all coaches, but it seems Saban is wrong more often than others.

    • Perry_Dawg

      I have often said this to fans who criticize Richt for his talent evaluation skills and praise Saban for his. On average both coaches are equally talented in this respect. However, Saban uses the unethical practice of oversigning to hide his mistakes while Richt lives with his, as he should.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        It’s not really hiding mistakes PD. You just can’t tell who, when he’s 18, is going to be a top player when he is 21 (or older). Some kids peak earlier than others. Some don’t mature physically enough to be stars. Some lose interest in the game. Darrell Royal said it best: “I want smart players but not too smart or else they won’t play this stupid game.” If you give another team 20-40 more players to choose from, all things being equal, that team will field a better squad. Period.