Tony Barnhart doesn’t see the SEC making any moves on the oversigning front at the meetings scheduled for the end of this month (unless you count assigning the topic to a working group for further study as such, I don’t either), but he does make a good suggestion on a starting point, if the conference powers-that-be were so inclined.
… What coaches cannot do and must not be allowed to do is mislead or outright lie to players and their families. A player must be told up front if there is even a possibility that a scholarship might not be there for him and that he might have to grayshirt. In fact, I would not be opposed to a signed document to that effect. Then the player and his parents have to make a decision whether or not to move on to a school that can guarantee a scholarship or stay with their No. 1 school and roll the dice.
… Then the coach explained the practice that he doesn’t like, the distinction between over-signing and grayshirting:
“If you bring them in in the summer, and you work them and you let your strength staff work with them, and you kind of decide which ones you like the best, and you tell five of them, ‘Hey we know we signed you, and we expected you to be able to come in, we don’t have space for you, we’re really sorry about that but we don’t have space for you – you’re gonna have to leave and come back in January.’
“I think that’s an awful thing to do, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. And it’s nothing that we’ve done since I’ve been at Georgia.”
This was met by a loud round of applause.
“Not that we haven’t grayshirted, or talked to guys about grayshirting,” Richt added. “If you tell five of those guys ‘Hey we’ve got 20 spaces. I can sign 25. There’s a good chance that by school starts there’ll be room for you, because of the attrition that happens every year everywhere you go. If there’s space for you, you come in with your class. If there’s not space for you, are you willing to come in in January? …
“If you tell them on the front end and they know that, everyone understands that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And that’s how we go about it if we’re going to talk to a guy about grayshirting.”
I don’t think a grayshirt-before-January requirement would be a particularly difficult rule to enforce. Pick a drop dead date, put the grayshirt offer in writing before then and require it to be posted with the league office. Once the date passes, a school can’t make a grayshirt offer to any recruit in the present class. That strikes me as being fair, honest and ethical. It’s also for the benefit of the recruit. Which means it has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of being approved.