No, not this one.
With the SEC meetings in June on the horizon and the topic of oversigning at or near the topic of the agenda, perhaps Mike Slive and the Athletic Directors of the SEC should use the oversigning time machine and rewind the clock back to the SEC meetings of 1964. That was the year Georgia Tech took a stand against the practice of oversigning and eventually left the conference because it would not change its recruiting rules to prevent the abuses taking place relative to signing more players than there was room for, which subsequently led to players being run off the team and out of school.
… If Dodd could have predicted the future, one could argue that he never would have pulled Georgia Tech out of the SEC. The years that followed as an independent were mostly lean ones for Georgia Tech. From 1964 to 1982, Georgia Tech’s football record was 104-100-5. Compare that to Tech’s SEC football record of 206-110-12 from 1933 to 1963. As an independent, Georgia Tech saw its facilities become worn and outdated, surpassed in size and quality by most of its Southern competitors.
Georgia Tech would officially begin competing in the ACC in 1983. As a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Tech’s athletic fortunes rose again. With victories and championships in a variety of sports have come financial contributions and greatly improved facilities.
Arguably, the level of national prestige that Tech football enjoyed as a member in the SEC has never returned. Even with all its current success, here’s a startling comparison. In 1963, the enrollment at Georgia Tech was about 6,300 students, and there were roughly 50,000 living alumni. In 2011, the enrollment at Georgia Tech is more than 20,000, and there are more than 120,000 living alumni. Atlanta’s metro population has more than tripled. Yet Georgia Tech’s average football attendance for 2010 was less than it was in 1963.
Georgia Tech athletics forever changed on Jan. 24, 1964.
- Tech’s arrogance was its downfall. It wasn’t just the stance it took with regard to demanding that the rest of the conference bend to its position or else, it was reflected in the way it handled scheduling western schools and an overall attitude that the conference needed Tech more than vice versa.
- Contrary to what Joshua asserts, Dodd wasn’t seeking to ban oversigning so much as getting the conference to commit to making every school treat its student athletes with scholarships in a way consistent with the honorable stance he took on signees: “We’d live with 10 boys a year, 20, 30, 40, 50, we don’t give a damn how many boys you let us take. But don’t tell us we gotta run ’em off.” Georgia Tech wasn’t pushing for a tougher signing cap. It wanted the existing cap abolished. (That’s why Bear Bryant sided with Dodd in the first vote. Nick Saban would no doubt approve.)
- Which gets back to another point I’ve made: oversigning and running scholarship athletes off are two different issues. If the SEC agreed to impose a hard signing cap tomorrow and nothing else, it wouldn’t change what some coaches now do to open roster slots. It would simply accelerate the timing of those moves. If you don’t want schools to run kids off, you’ve got two choices. You can go Dodd’s route and remove the cap altogether, or you can make scholarships four-year commitments. My guess is that neither is palatable to most schools in the SEC (although I think Richt could happily live with the latter).
- I don’t think you’ll ever again see an SEC school, no matter how strongly it might feel about an issue like this, threaten to leave the conference without having an escape plan in place first. And in this day and age, how easy would that be to pull off without letting anyone know?