‘Tis the season for bowls and so forth- our friend Dave has another look at the some of the inconsistencies between conferences. Be sure to tweet your thoughts to him @DaveRini
That’s supposed to read like Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Hopefully you like bad jokes because I’ve got plenty more and I harbor no shame.
At this point, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “oversigning” along with its technical definition, and more importantly what it means to your team/conference. If you haven’t, I highly recommend reading this outstanding article written right here at tBBC about 6 weeks ago. It covers the rising issue very well and the team at Oversigning.com has also done a fantastic job of not only putting all of this in context, but being extremely vocal of just how detrimental this has become to not only a team and its conference, but the kids involved. Now, I’m not going to get on my soapbox to claim that this is all about the kids and how unfair it is to them because we all know that ultimately this is still a business with an educational false-front. But for some schools, this has been taken too far, for too long.
On the flip side, the other hot topic this fall/winter is unquestionably the hiring of Urban Meyer. All of the cynics have definitely come out in full force since Urban accepted tOSU head coaching job and are doing everything in the their power to paint an evil picture of him. I think it’s safe to say that all of us had some sort of reservation be it big or small, given how things ended at Florida.
Well, they can question his motives for his oddly timed departure and return. They can question the number of players that were in some sort of trouble under his watch, and they can even question the fact that the talent he won with may not have been all of his own recruits. That’s fine; there are arguments on all sides of each of these points, but there are no questions swirling around his oversigning habits…because there are none. You see, even though the SEC created their very own rules on this oversigning debacle, Urban was still not a major offender, so he’ll have no problem adhering to the rules set in place by the B1G in 1956 which ban oversigning in the entire conference.
If you need proof, look at the teams and numbers for yourself. Admittedly, I’m not just a pure numbers guy that believes they tell the whole story, but imagine for a minute of just how much of an impact this makes on a program’s success. Keep in mind, the NCAA rule allows for any single school to retain 25 scholarship athletes in a single recruiting class.
Some of these numbers may have you thinking that the major offenders are only over by a handful, but let me remind you just how quickly this adds up in each class and how many student athletes commit to a school only to have to later transfer, redshirt, or greyshirt. You see where Florida landed in that list? To be able to win National Championships in 2006 & 2008 while actually adhering to rules that the rest of the conference does not follow is pretty impressive. Now, this makes me ill to have to defend a Florida program that’s given Buckeye Nation recurring nightmares (thanks for that, ESPN), but this isn’t about one school or some ugly losses. I promise you it’s not and to prove it, look at the numbers in the Big Ten:
I don’t believe that those numbers need much explanation.
The bottom line is this: the issue that needs the most attention in the FBS is the issue that is getting the least attention. There could be several reasons for this and some of them have to do with the media, but this isn’t the time for me to carry on about that. Arguments can be made of how certain boosters paid players, and turned their backs to bartering for tattoos or selling memorabilia. Those are absolutely outside of the clearly stated rules within the NCAA and while we all know it happens everywhere, those are indefensible actions across the board. Having said that, this issue is far more of a concern for the NCAA in that this is directly affecting the capability of fielding a stronger, faster, and more athletic team each year. Not to mention these “student-athletes” losing a scholarship they may have been promised simply because their coach knowingly oversigned players. If that doesn’t fall under the “cheating” umbrella, I don’t know if anything ever will.
Coach Saban and Miles are among the worst offenders and we’re now forced to listen to ESPN tout this matchup as if they’re coaching geniuses with no mention of what’s really going on. To quote Saban:
“Any player that has left this program prematurely has created his own exit route. He’s created his own conditions for leaving, if that makes sense. Whether they are academic in terms of not doing what he needed to do academically, whether it is some violation of team or school policy, some of those things we are not allowed to talk about.”
And a great excerpt about Petrino:
“Petrino, the Arkansas coach, said he tries to follow a formula. He signs 19 players he knows are “academically going to make it without being a load on our academic support staff,” six guys who may or may not qualify, and three to four players who have “absolutely no chance” of qualifying. (He signs the last group so that “they feel a commitment to us,” and stashes them in junior college for a few years.) Petrino said he makes sure borderline cases are aware of what they need to do in order to qualify, as well as their odds of making the fall roster. “They understand that hey, we’re gonna oversign, so if it’s late in the summer and they haven’t qualified yet, you might have to grayshirt,” he said.
The NCAA has made a mockery of themselves up to this point in a variety of ways but if there’s ever been a redemption issue, this is it. Some might claim that the NCAA won’t bite the hands that feeds, but I’d be willing to bet that this National Championship game will garner much lower ratings and they’ll have to soon reassess their meal choices.