Urban Meyer, the SEC, and Oversigning

Written December 22nd, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

‘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.

Who'll Think Of The Young People?

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.

SEC Recruiting Numbers 2002 – 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Auburn SEC 31 27 29 22 25 30 29 28 32 253 28.11
Miss. State SEC 30 28 23 29 24 33 27 27 26 247 27.44
South Carolina SEC 27 28 29 28 24 31 23 29 23 242 26.89
Arkansas SEC 23 25 32 24 26 27 26 31 25 239 26.56
Ole Miss SEC 18 21 25 28 30 22 31 37 25 237 26.33
Alabama SEC 19 19 29 32 23 25 32 27 29 235 26.11
Kentucky SEC 15 22 28 26 31 29 20 29 26 226 25.11
LSU SEC 26 28 26 13 26 26 26 24 29 224 24.89
Tennessee SEC 25 22 24 26 22 32 18 22 25 216 24.00
Florida SEC 23 26 23 18 27 27 22 17 27 210 23.33
Georgia SEC 31 25 20 17 28 23 24 20 19 207 23.00
Vanderbilt SEC 22 22 20 25 25 14 21 18 24 191 21.22

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:

Big 10 Recruiting Numbers 2002 – 2010

Teams Conf. 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total Average
Purdue B10 27 26 28 21 27 19 26 20 24 218 24.22
Minnesota B10 27 27 24 20 22 24 29 20 24 217 24.11
Michigan State B10 21 21 31 27 28 23 21 23 21 216 24.00
Illinois B10 23 27 24 20 27 23 28 22 20 214 23.78
Wisconsin B10 25 22 23 22 23 18 26 21 24 204 22.67
Indiana B10 21 25 26 25 21 20 20 19 25 202 22.44
Iowa B10 22 22 21 23 21 22 25 20 21 197 21.89
Michigan B10 21 17 22 23 19 20 24 22 27 195 21.67
Penn State B10 22 11 25 19 24 21 14 27 20 183 20.33
Ohio State B10 24 16 24 18 20 15 20 25 18 180 20.00
Northwestern B10 22 22 15 20 17 19 20 18 17 170 18.89

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.

11 Comments

  1. DaleNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 8:40 am

    This is a great article. I often wonder if the over-recruiting does exist and apparently it does. It’s like the airlines overbooking flights, knowing some of the people will cancel their flight at some time. As we see, that some of the recruits will change their commitments and switch teams. I thing football programs allow for that and “overbook” talent. The problem gets dicey when no one changes their commit and the team is over loaded with talent a certain positions. A guy with great talent could start for another team but may have to sit at a USC, LSU, Alabama or Ohio State. I would think the goal of any recruit would be the possibility that he could be drafted into the NFL and not just play in a Bowl Game. Now the kids that get recruited to Purdue and Northwestern, Harvard or Yale don’t really need to be concerned with sitting on the bench as their ultimate goal would be to get a degree from these schools. Hey, I wouldn’t turn away and opportunity tot have a degree from Harvard or Yale. A degree from Boise State is another matter.

    Boise State recruits get the shaft (ranked 7th in the country) by playing some Division III team in a Bowl Game. Why would I want to play for Boise????

    [Reply]

    DaleNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Sorry for the typing mistakes in the above post.

    [Reply]

    ChrisNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Who has time to read a comment THAT long!!??? J/K !!! LOL good thoughts Dale, the thing for me is its just that the ones that oversign keep quality players away from other programs and bypass the system as its intended

    [Reply]

    DaveNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Thank, Dale. I completely agree on the airline comparison and almost used that. This whole practice is ridiculous and even more ridiculous that this doesn’t have more exposure or a solution.

    [Reply]

  2. Martha RiniNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    This is a great article. I couldn’t be more proud. I still don’t understand how you are still single. Now that you are a published author maybe the ladies will call? Have you tried the match.com? -Mom

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    This comment is not getting nearly enough appreciation.

    [Reply]

  3. DaveNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Haha it isn’t, but in all fairness this comment was brought up at the bar last night about someone else. Hilarious, but stolen.

    [Reply]

  4. Danny K.No Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I thought the SEC banned oversigning?

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    December 22nd, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Nope, they just agreed to a “hard cap” of 25. Which doesn’t really change things if they’ve only got 15 openings- they’d still need to run off 10 current scholarships if they bring in 25.

    [Reply]

  5. TomNo Gravatar
    December 23rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Great article Dave. I like the way you write. Insightful yet humorous/sarcastic. Just the way I like it.

    How can the NCAA make a “hard cap” rule on these scholarships and not monitor them in some way. You can’t just make rules, you also have to enforce them. Here, is where the NCAA drops the ball. The individual programs are “loose” because the NCAA allows it.

    Keep writing Dave, I’ll keep reading….

    [Reply]

    DaveNo Gravatar
    December 24th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Thanks for the comments, Tom. It’s very much appreciated!

    [Reply]

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