The two faces of grayshirting

Two conference spokesmen speaking on the same topic reveal differing motivations:

“I think if you look at it you have to recognize that there is a competitive advantage issue there,” said Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley. “It’s just logical to think that if we’re playing five-card stud and I get five cards, and you get dealt eight cards, you’re going to be in a better position. I think that’s a pretty decent analogy. We haven’t focused on the competitive impact and, frankly, we’ve been pleased that this issue has picked up speed as a topic of conversation nationally.”

“We haven’t focused on the competitive impact”, except for all those times when they have.  Like in that quote.

Compare and contrast that with this statement:

… The SEC’s Sankey admits that the practice of grayshirting by some of his member schools is “not appropriate” and says the SEC is considering adopting stricter measures on how recruits are counted.

“This year, we saw a couple circumstances where there was really late notice to student-athletes about programs’ desire for them to defer enrollment,” Sankey said. “Those circumstances are not appropriate. We don’t want to see that type of thing happen.

“Part of the discussion is, ‘Is there a way to manage grayshirting that should be out in front of folks?’ In a similar way, should we be managing early-enrollment issues in a different way? All of those things mix into this discussion and that’s why it takes some time to do some analysis to figure out some reasonable solution for our conference. We’ve been after this issue since the fall and we have an annual meeting in late May and early June, and I’d expect some potential solutions would be considered.”




Filed under Big Ten Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

20 responses to “The two faces of grayshirting

  1. Go Dawgs!

    Not sure where the Big 12 guy gets off saying that we haven’t focused on the competitive aspect of oversigning. There are really only two prisms through which to view the practice, the impact on the student athletes who are affected, and competitive advantages/disadvantages it presents.

    Now, if he means that ESPN hasn’t done a two hour “Outside the Lines” piece on how Big 12 schools should have really won all those national championships and that Auburn benefitted from being able to pick and choose among the kids who they weren’t sure were going to qualify, he’s right. But there’s some debate out there on whether oversigning is the only factor that’s led to the SEC’s dominance nationally.


    • Florida is not a notorious oversigner, and they have been very successful nationally the last six years.


      • Go Dawgs!



      • Texas_Dawg

        Sure. The flagship school of one of the largest and most affluent states in the country. An upper Tier 2 state school in a 21st century state and economy in a nice climate.

        Alabama? Auburn? LSU?

        Terrible schools in culturally backwoods, impoverished, broken, economically stagnant states. States with small populations that would have (and were having) a much tougher time landing classes like Florida did in 2006 and 2007 via legitimate means.


  2. fuelk2

    I cannot for the life of me figure out what is wrong with telling a kid “we don’t have a spot for you this year, but we can offer you a scholarship effective in January.” I completely understand the issue with hiding the ball and moving a kid to a grayshirt at the last minute, but if a kid is willing to defer his scholarship, he should be allowed to do so. And it’s not like the school offering the grayshirt gets a huge advantage because that kid counts toward next year’s class, or, in the example above, you get dealt two cards on the next hand (unless, of course, some of your original eight cards are medically disqualified).

    I wish for the life of me that someone in a position of authority would discuss this in a rational, complete, unbiased manner, although I will say that Sankey is pretty well on point.

    Yes, I’m aware that I’m stating the obvious/repeating a common theme.


    • Texas_Dawg

      I cannot for the life of me figure out what is wrong with telling a kid “we don’t have a spot for you this year, but we can offer you a scholarship effective in January.”

      Can you figure out what is wrong with saying, “Look, there’s a very, very small chance that you may not end up being able to start school in the fall, which would leave you having to figure out how to find a job to pay for yourself and keep up a workout program while not falling behind your peers, all in the high risk, impoverished community you live in, after you had been on campus and thinking you were a couple weeks from starting school with your new friends and teammates. But, hey, the risk of this happening to you (as far as you know, kid) is very small, and yeah, you’ll likely end up falling way behind as there are basically 0 examples of successful players who grayshirted, but we need recruiting class numbers for now, and if we end up doing this to you, hey, that’s how life goes, sucker?”

      If you can’t figure out what is wrong with that, and why so very, very few schools engage in this (especially none of those that are top academic institutions as the SEC schools doing this most certainly are not; to put it lightly), then you might want to speak with the UGA or UF officials who have spoken out so strongly against this. They are professionals in charge of the reputation and ethics of major institutions. They have a lot riding on understanding and correctly addressing ethical questions such as this.


  3. Randy

    Good point.

    This is why Georgia went 6-7.

    Murray’s 5 td’s against ranked teams had nothing to do with it.

    It’s all about grayshirting.

    Where do you guys come from?


  4. shane#1

    Not to hijack the posts, because we haven’t discussed oversigning and grayshirting, but Seth has a post up about Ken Malcome. Ken said that he knew his role not shifty, not a scatback, but a downhill runner. Maybe some of you coaches{ahem}, could tell me exactly what in the hell is wrong with that?


  5. Macallanlover

    I am all for tightening this loophole, or eliminating the practice totally. That said the whining from the Big 10 is as dumb as their approach to the strategy of the game today…and why they haven’t been decent since the 70s. The analogy is beyind weak. The first five cards are nowhere equal to the”extras” the oversigners have stockpiled. Virtually all end up as scout team players, or minor contributors.

    If the Big 10+ 2 wants to see why they have gotten stomped by every major conference over the past 30+ years they should look at their offensive schemes. Frankly they are lucky the MAC hasn’t worn them out in their patsy games, and they probably would have if they bent the rules like tOSU.


    • Texas_Dawg

      The Big 10 hasn’t whined about SEC oversigning at all. They’ve kept their side of the street clean and worried about themselves.

      Which, for Georgia, is really unfortunate. UGA would have been much better off had the Big 10 really been trying to force the issue.


  6. Dave

    A 5:8 ratio? Michigan signs 85 kids and LSU signs… 136? Really?

    The debate about these sorts of tactics would gain much more steam if they simply stuck to the facts rather than constantly feeling the need to embellish them.

    My issue with “signing” remains simple – it’s malleable to fit whatever agenda someone might have. Unlike “retention,” which measures both inflow and outflow. No getting around that one. APR doesn’t really work on that front. How do you find those numbers?


    • Texas_Dawg

      A 5:8 ratio? Michigan signs 85 kids and LSU signs… 136? Really?

      Auburn: 119
      Ohio State 78

      So, 5:7.6.


      • Dave

        I saw several Auburn players counted twice, but I just glanced. OSU had 80 by my count. Courtesy ESPN.

        I suspect those might be the conference highs and lows, which seems an unfair comparison, but you’re welcome to prove me wrong.

        I suspect a good number of Auburn’s signatures never made it to campus, a practice which drives me insane but doesn’t really relate to grayshirting.

        All of which keep the stud analogy either a weak one or a false one. Take your pick. My point remains – the arguments against this do not require hyperbole to be effective.

        And I remain much more interested in retention (in/out) than gross signing numbers.


        • Texas_Dawg

          I suspect a good number of Auburn’s signatures never made it to campus, a practice which drives me insane but doesn’t really relate to grayshirting.

          That has a whole lot to do with grayshirting actually. Grayshirting is used as an insurance policy should too many players academically qualify. Grayshirting is just a way to oversign and thus take more risks on academically borderline players.

          I agree that extremes aren’t necessary, but it was a simple metaphor illustrating a point and 5:8 really isn’t that far off from the reality of the situation.


  7. Texas_Dawg

    “We haven’t focused on the competitive impact”, except for all those times when they have. Like in that quote.

    “All those times…” Huh?

    The Big 10 has done nothing to pressure the SEC on oversigning. They’ve let the SEC make a complete embarrassment of itself on the matter while worrying about their own schools.

    Compare and contrast that with this statement

    Let’s compare and contrast actual behaviors on the matter, Senator. On the one hand, there is a conference made up of academic institutions that have far better academic reputations than those of the SEC on the whole which has enacted ethical policies to prevent rampant oversigning and all the dishonesty and exploitation that comes with it. On the other hand is a conference – in the heart of the Deep South no less, with all the relevant history that involves here – that is far and away the most out of control on the issue.

    I’m glad that Stankey and SEC officials are now making some minor statements about the issue, after the mind-boggling run of negative press the SEC and many of its schools have received from major media outlets over the past year, but pretending they are taking some noble approach on the topic that the Big 10 hasn’t is really, really stupid.


    • Dave

      There has been some embarrassing press, most of it well deserved.

      Then again, ask the casual fan to rank their familiarity with the following stories, 1 to 10, 10 being the most aware…

      Elliott Porter
      Lawrence Mauldin
      Tennessee’s Hostess Program
      Leach and Adam
      Michigan’s illegal practices
      USC probation
      Iowa’s 13 hospitalizations
      Tressel’s emails

      …and I suspect, in order, the responses would be 1, 1, 5, 5, 5, 7, 8, 8, 10, 11. Doesn’t make the problems any less disturbing, but name a BCS football conference which has avoided horrendous press in the past 18 months. I think the SEC is moving in the right direction as rapidly as it can, given where it started.

      Deep South’s history? Academic reputation? Are you going to compare the ethnic demographics of each university’s physical plant staff next? Rather far afield the original issue, aren’t we?

      I’m sure it all makes complete sense to you. Good luck in your quest.


      • Texas_Dawg

        I’m not that interested in the casual fan’s perception, but the perception of, for example, Wall Street Journal readers, who have in recent months been treated to 3 separate articles showing what an unethical mess the SEC is via investigative reports on oversigning.

        Deep South’s history? Academic reputation? Rather far afield the original issue, aren’t we?

        Do you think it purely coincidental that rampant oversigning is entirely limited to the Deep South? Do you think it coincidental that the SEC’s 3 best academically rated universities refuse to engage in oversigning and that the worst oversigners are in the Deepest Southern states?

        How do you explain this? What’s going on there?