Mike Slive tells his good friend Tony Barnhart what he’s after with his “roster management” legislation:
CBSSports.com: This week you are going to bring forth some proposals to change some of the “roster management” issues in football. You believe that this is an issue whose time has come. Why do you feel that way?
Slive: People talk about “oversigning” and “grayshirting” the most, but we’re going to look a proposals that deal with everything including early admits, mid-year admits, summer admits and medical hardship cases. Philosophically, we want to make sure that our rules are fair to the student-athlete. That’s the context. This isn’t about what gives us a competitive advantage with other conferences. [Emphasis added.] We have to be fair to the kids who want to come to our institutions. It will be a good conversation.
So what does that mean? Perhaps the better question to ask is what it doesn’t mean. For that, let’s turn to Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone, who has been part of the committee to help draft the proposed SEC legislation.
“I don’t think there is an intent to use the Big 10 (Conference) policy, which says you can sign no more than 25 and may go further to say that if you only have 18 scholarships available to get to your limit of 85 that you can’t sign more than 18. I don’t think we want to do that,” Boone said. “I do think everybody wants transparency in everything we do in dealing with our prospective student-athletes.”
A shrewd politician – which Mike Slive certainly is – knows you only pick the battles you know you can win. Pushing something which
many most SEC coaches believe would amount to unilateral disarming in the recruiting wars ain’t one of those, even if you think that Saban and Nutt overstate their case. What Slive wants this week is a win-win, legislation that does in fact aid the kids without having much of an adverse impact on the programs. You may find that particular eye of the needle exceedingly narrow and you may very well be right, which is why all that may come out of the meetings is window dressing.
But it’s clear Slive intends to come out with something, if for no other reason that it gives him something to build on if there’s little impact from what gets enacted this time:
… We want to make sure that it is a more equitable relationship for both sides — the institution and the students who we recruit. So we’ll have this discussion. We’ll make some changes. If the changes don’t work we’ll come back in a few years and make some adjustments.
None of that sounds like the SEC presidents are ready to override those coaches who are vehemently opposed to restrictions on a program’s ability to maximize the number of roster slot openings. So the commissioner may have little choice but to settle for steps to make the process more open for recruits and their families. Is that better than nothing? It should be. But Slive may be unduly optimistic about what he can carry out over time. Saban’s no dummy, either. As hard as he intends to fight Slive on the front line to prevent action, he’ll be studying ways to emasculate whatever new rules do get passed. It’s not as if Saban lacks experience with that.
UPDATE: Good post from Cecil Hurt (although if you’re going to invoke Elliott Porter, it’s only fair to note Porter’s elected to walk-on at LSU).