The big story at the SEC meetings yesterday was Mark Richt spilling the contents of his water glass all over reporters’ recorders. I don’t know how guilty he felt about that, but he sure opened up on the subject of oversigning with Marc Weiszer. The upshot from his comments is that his position is more nuanced than the media has recently described it.
First of all, he’s not anti-oversigning.
… I think everybody should should have a right to manage their numbers. I think every university should be able to do that. I think oversigning is OK, in my opinion, if you sign over the number. Let’s say you have space for 15 by signing date and you sign 20. Well, if five of those guys know that there’s no room at the end that they are willing to grayshirt, they’re willing to come in January. The kid knows, the high school coach knows, everybody involved in recruiting if they know that there’s a chance that there’s no space for you. If everybody knows that on the front end, then I don’t see anything wrong with it ethically…
What he’s strongly opposed to is misleading recruits.
What I’ve said is if you sign five over and you get to that moment of truth and you have to tell two kids who thought they were coming in with everybody else and then all of a sudden you spring the news, hey there’s no room I’m sorry. We’ve got to come back in January, I don’t think that’s right…
But his most intriguing answer was about scholarships being renewable obligations and how kids might be encouraged to leave a program. It’s very long and he talks specifics about Albert Hollis’ predicament, but conceptually at least he doesn’t sound overly troubled by either.
About recruits’ perceptions of scholarships: “I think they all know it’s a one-year renewable deal.”
On a player leaving a program:
… Ever tell a kid they might want to look elsewhere for lack of playing time? We have exit meetings after every spring and we tell them where they are on the depth chart. We tell them what they have got to do to move up on the depth chart. If a kid is sizing the thing up and is saying I don’t know if I’m going to play then there’s constant rumors about kids thinking about transferring. If at the end of the spring he got beat out by another guy, a lot of times they’re thinking maybe they should be the starter or second string instead of third. Sometimes they start spinning it that hey maybe I need to go somewhere else. That happens at every program in America at all different levels of football.
Obviously, there’s a lot as to how a kid is told these things, but if I had to sum up Richt’s position it would be that as long as a coach is open and honest with a student-athlete/recruit about his status and the kid is given the opportunity to make an informed decision about his fate with a program, roster management should be within the discretion of the head coach. That’s a fairly middle-ground approach from my perspective. We’ll see how many of the folks at Destin with Richt see things similarly.