Look who’s shopping at the oversigning store.

Butch Jones may have just gotten to the SEC, but he’s been quick to embrace that “25-man signing cap is just a state of mind” attitude.

Schools can still backcount and grayshirt their way right past the 25-man “limit.”  Take Tennessee’s Butch Jones as the latest example.  He’s putting together a top five recruiting class in Knoxville as we speak.  His program appears to have room for as many as 30 signees in February (thanks to backcounting), but the Vols are already up to 33 commitments.  And they’re still out recruiting.  Jones offered up this tease to a booster group yesterday:

“If I can find a way to sign 35 guys, I’m gonna sign ‘em.  There is a plan in place.  It’s very strategic but it’s all gonna work out.  I promise you.”

The “secret plan” Jones has in mind is anyone’s guess, but it’s hard to imagine he’s found a loophole that’s not been taken advantage of by someone else somewhere else.

What is it with Tennessee coaches and plans?

Anyway, the idea that Jones has found a loophole in the signing rules that Nick Saban hasn’t… well, let’s just say I’m skeptical.  Pennington’s likely right to surmise that some of those prized recruits ready to show up in Knoxville next year are going to get a “not so fast, son” message pretty soon.  Or there may be a few medical issues cropping up on the current UT roster that will require some untimely retirements.  Or both.

You gotta break a few eggs if you want to make an urnge omelet.  Does anybody think the Vol fan base will care?  Hells no – anything Jones does that emulates Nick Saban is a feature, not a bug, in their book.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Recruiting

41 responses to “Look who’s shopping at the oversigning store.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Early enrollees, back counting, medical redshirts, greyshirts, academics, violation of team rules. There is always a way.

  2. Yeah there is …..And Little Nicky knows them all.

  3. Backcounting is one thing. It rewards a team for taking a kid who has taken care of things in the classroom. I think the 4/5 year commitment would take care of the rest. I hate the gray shirting, the mysterious medical disqualifications, and the downright cutting that takes place at many of the schools to our west.

    • Skeptic Dawg

      Kids are cut from competitive teams, or told they did not make the team, at a very early age now. Why is it unacceptable to cut young men at the college level from a football team?

      • Because it’s highly likely that some schools aren’t being up front with the kids about that.

        I do think Saban is, because ‘Bama is such a strong program that kids accept the process. I doubt Jones is telling recruits that story, though.

        • Exactly but I’m not convinced Little Nicky tells his players either or they don’t want to hear it.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          I fail to see why a college education should be guaranteed. If someone is better than you at said position, cut. If you fail to develop as an athlete, cut. If you fail to live up to the standards set forth by the university, cut. I am not sure why some have a hard time with this. College football is no different than any other competive sport.

          • So would you agree that a player should be able to transfer to any university he wants? The student-athlete has no leverage in this situation. His scholarship can be pulled at any time, but he can’t transfer without sitting out. What’s fair about this?

            • Coastal Dawg

              Exactly. i would be all for cutting players if the players had the same opportunity to leave the school at anytime without penalty.

      • Because there’s this thing called the academic mission of a major university – you could cut a player from the team but shouldn’t be able to take the scholarship. The cut player’s scholarship should count against the limit if he stays at the university.

        It’s different because in HS the kid can be cut from the team but then doesn’t have to pay his own way to continue his education at his high school. Apples to oranges.

        • I know there are many who want us to join the crowd, and I respect that opinion. I just think there’s more than winning on the field when you think about the football program’s place in the overall university environment. I want to see us win and be able to be proud of the way we do it at the same time.

          • anon

            yea…bama football doesn’t have a place in the Alabama university environment (sarcasm noted). this is the best excuse you can come up with to justify richts mediocrity?

            • Joe Schmoe

              I think what you meant to say is that The University of Alabama has a place in Alabama’s football environment.

            • Did I mention Richt in my comment? Everything to you is about Richt. How would you feel if it was your son’s scholarship being pulled without a chance to land at another D-1 school? Are you ready to write the $37k check to keep your kid at that school? Now tell me why cut-throat football is in line with the academic mission of a university.

        • Alabama has transitioned to a semi-pro style college program. Georgia still maintains its amateur status. I don’t see that changing.

      • hassan

        It’s one thing to be told you didn’t make the team. It’s another to cut them after they have foregone all other options. It’s been awhile since I played youth sports, but I remember tryouts. What I don’t recall is a coach picking up more than his fair share of players and then cutting what he didn’t need after the other teams have filled their rosters.

  4. Hobnail_Boot

    The way their field gobbles up knees, I’d over sign like mad if i were the UT coach.

    • hassan

      No…it should be the other way around. If UT is on your schedule, the NCAA should allow you to sign a “medical bench” to back fill after the game.

  5. mdcgtp

    35 kids won’t enroll because in all probability at least 1 or more won’t qualify academically. I don’t have a firm grasp of the exact nature of the rule change, but it seems to me to have had no effect whatsoever. that said, I think the discussion around such misses the fact that there are two components to oversigning. there is the “cutting” players or “greyshirting”, where the ethics of such can be freely debated, and there is simply making some actuarial assumptions about the probability of 35, 34, 33, or so kids actually qualifying, particularly when a program has some knowledge of how many of the 35 are “on track” and how many will be “borderline”.

    the reality is that Butch Jones’ first season reflects the mixed bag of a coach that he is. some ups. some downs. His QB management against UF was perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever seen in coaching. In contrast, he was able to get a crappy team to compete with us, and nearly had us beat. Then he actually beat a good but not great SC team. then he got torched by everyone else. 2014 will be a disaster for him, but he will also have the benefit of selling low expectations and blaming them on DD. of course, I am not exactly sure what 2015 is, as it would seemingly require a lot of these 35 kids and their current frosh. the bad news is that the SEC eats up mediocre coaches so things better look rosy for Butch in 2016!!!!

    • Joe Schmoe

      I agree with your statement about signing more with the understanding that some won’t make it. Richt’s lack of foresight on this and betting that 3-4 players would wash out of the program between signing day and fall camp is what led to us being so far under our scholly limit. It seems like we are taking a better approach these past few years.

  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    “the SEC eats up mediocre coaches so things better look rosy for Butch in 2016!!!!”

    True dat….I believe this is called settling it on the field. I am unimpressed with the Screaming Bitch…bad uniforms twice?

  7. Macallanlover

    In the SEC, only UGA and FU are firm in their position to not fudge the signing numbers. I wish the SEC/NCAA had the gonads to enforce a firm number but for some reason they are spineless on this issue. You have to wonder, why pretend that 85 is a “firm” number? Just go back to the free-for-all days of Bear Bryant, it was more honest. Points above about attrition being factored in are fair, there are many ways scholarship signees are lost for legit reason. Let’s just add 2-3 schollies above the 85 to take care of that slippage but draw a firm line at signing to 87-88 each year with no monkeying around with the athletes’ lives for the security of the head coaches who put their records above their integrity.

    • Macallan, as usual, right on the money.

    • Always Someone Else's Fault

      Simple solution:

      1: You can cut kids from your 85 roster but you may not, under any circumstances, remove their scholarship for anything other than academic or honor code reasons. The financial obligation remains 4 years no matter what the competitive situation, including the same academic support, medical support, and everything the player would normally have access to as a member of the team.

      2: Any kid removed from the roster has the immediate right to transfer without any restrictions at all – and then come back to finish his education later.

      For all the teeth-gnashing about paying players, the schools that do this should be able to afford this.

    • Records above integrity…true of most Coaches indeed.

  8. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Who gets more credit for Tennessee’s decent to mediocrity? Fulmer, Kiffin, Dooley, Richt, or Saban? (even Spurrier in South Carolina to some extent)

    It’s worth noting that Tennessee hasn’t won an SEC championship since Saban and Richt joined the SEC in 2001. I would assume a lot of their struggles stem from Richt and Saban dominating Alabama and the Atlanta area that Tennessee used to be able to count on.

    That 98 team had Deon Grant, Cosey Coleman, Jamal Lewis, Steve Johnson…all starters from the Atlanta region.

    Tee Martin was from Mobile. Fred Weary was from Montgomery.
    Raynoch Thompson was from Baton Rouge. Tennessee can’t recruit in New Orleans or Bama anymore.

    Shawn Bryson was from Franklin, NC.and Shaun Ellis was from Anderson, SC areas that Clemson, Georgia, and Carolina seem to do better in now than Tenn.

    That’s what is interesting about this year’s class at Tennessee…Butch Jones seems to be leveraging north…taking kids from Ohio, Illinois, Maryland while recommitting to poaching Atlanta.

    • Richt and Saban have clearly hurt UT’s program significantly from the outside with their impact on recruiting. Dooley and Kiffin hurt it really badly from the inside, but the UT administration and fans destroyed it with the way they dropped Fulmer without a plan.

      • Those same fans had a hand in Chavis moving on as well. LSU is glad they did. And I guess FSU and Duke are smiling a little bit.

        • Slaw Dawg

          Surely. I lived in Tennessee for some years, including the 2001 “hobnail boot” year. The bitching about Chavis after that play was epic. True, their short kick + soft zone were made to order for our O in those last 45 or so seconds. But the Chavis kvetching was non-stop, win or lose, just like the Fulmer bashing. All fan bases tend to be rough on their coaches, but the Toothless Ones are in a special class.

        • They had 3rd and Chavis like our 3rd and Willie

  9. +1 for the software reference.

  10. W Cobb Dawg

    I doubt jones is doing anything SOD didn’t already try, or at least consider. And it looks like ut will have a sizable batch of returnees or 2 star recruits to ‘cut’ in August – at least the ones jancek and martinez don’t ‘coach up’.

  11. AusDawg85

    Butch has cut a deal with the local McDonald’s Kiffy referred to and Fulmer frequents in order to house a few extra signee’s.

  12. Bulldog Joe

    Butch Jones gets it. Tennessee is evening the playing field and getting off their high horse. Good for them.