Flashback: The Oversigning Bowl

By 11W Staff on January 9, 2012 at 5:00p

Still relevant.

The storyline that probably won't make it anywhere near the national discussion is that Saban and Miles each play the recruiting game with a stacked deck: For every four players that almost every other program in the country admits to school, Alabama and LSU each take in five.

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painterlad's picture

With the addition of eSECpn in their corner, it's almost like having six.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture


Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

tampa buckeye's picture

You got to beat the best to be the best.  Im going to watch because I like the game of football more then I hate the SEC.

 I hope our guys are watching and use this as motivation.  Urban is going to bring a title to columbus soon enough.

Doc's picture

That will make beating them in a few years that much sweeter.  Beating them against all odds will be the best revenge.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So here are two things I don't get about this oversigning complaint.

1) Everybody is operating within the same scholarship limit, so it's not like programs who oversign actually carry more scholarships. I'm not sure about the rules, but I thought they applied throughout the academic year - you can never have more than 85 players on scholarship. So the only time you can have extra players "on the team" is over the summer. Is the complaint then that programs who oversign can afford to take flyers on multiple players and only keep ones they like best, while other programs are stuck with every commit, at least for the academic year?  Because this isn't at all the same as getting 5 players for every 4 others get - to me that statement implies extra scholarships.

(I know B1G schools mostly treat scholarship offers as 4 year deals, but a scholarship is actually a 1 year contract. For example, Urban Meyer might have to not give a 4th year of scholarship to some players that have already received 3 to deal with the upcoming scholarship shortage. I think from time to time this happens everywhere.)

2) Shouldn't big time football programs that don't oversign be able to recruit players away from programs that oversign by pointing out the fact of oversigning? Sure, if you're a rivals-ranked recruit you'll probably take your chances at Alabama over a more sure thing at Purdue, but Ohio State or Michigan? Yes, these decisions are obviously not very rational, but I think it's a failure in recruiting if non-oversigning programs can't capitalize on the "better deal" they offer.

joel121270's picture

My understanding is that they oversign and have too many on the roster, they then hold "tryouts" (sarcasm) and some way or another get their roster down to the limit it is supposed to be for scholly's allowed for the year. Thus by having the extra players they can weed out who they don't want (they find some way to get rid of them) and thus giving them an unfair advantage from the aspect that when every other school outside of the SEC sticks with the players they sign on scholly's.

More or less hoarding all the good players and getting rid of them if they aren't really needed, whether they are freshman or seniors it don't matter.

With ESPiN running the SEC no way in hell you hear about this.

BTwrestle04's picture

This pretty much sums it up, "If you're somehow unfamiliar with how oversigning works, here's the one-sentence summary: Oversigning programs like Alabama and LSU purge their 85-man rosters of underperforming players by either citing medical hardship, issuing grayshirts, encouraging transfers, natural attrition or - when the summer is over and the season is about to start with still too many scholarship players on the roster - abruptly pulling enough scholarships to get down to 85."


It's unethical to do this to a 17 or 18 year old kid. Basically they pluck the best 4 out of the 5 they sign and keep them, and encourage the other 1 per 5 into the situations above.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

You hit the nail right on the head.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Roger's picture

However you slice the numbers, this is the crux of oversigning:
It allows teams to "try out" players then cut them if they dont pan out. It also insulates them from the natural attrition every other team has to deal with (by treating every player as a potential NQ and having an extra 20% in the talent pool).

As to why it doesn't keep recruits from going to another school: because they're typical naive college freshmen who are either unaware or don't think it can happen to them.

BTwrestle04's picture

What he said. My bet is that they don't really take this into account or they think they will be in that pool of players that isn't "cut."

WildBear Buckeye's picture

B1G schools pay their coaches pretty big money to go out and recruit. Why aren't they explaining this to recruits?

dbit's picture

1) It is my belief it is more about the integrity of honoring a player's scholarship offer (non-oversigning schools) than pulling a scholarship from a kid who may be doing everything else right simply because he is not good enough on the field (oversigning schools).  I have no idea what goes on during an in-home visit, but I can't imagine Nick Saban sitting on a prospect's couch saying "we can guarantee your scholarship for a year, but after that, you might not be good enough and you will have to leave the program".  


2) 17 year old kids are dumb.


You make some good counterpoints.  If I have said anything wrong, I would appreciate someone correcting me

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Completely agree that 17 year olds aren't equipped to make these decisions. But every school pays their coaches to go out and persuade recruits. I'm sure Saban casts his program/offer in the best possible light and doesn't emphasize (or maybe even address) the fact that you might never actually see the scholarship you're being promised. But nothing prevents B1G coaches from emphasizing that fact when they go to see the same kid. It's not like this hasn't been going on long enough that you can't bring up specific recruits who have been cut after the summer as examples of what might happen.

BTwrestle04's picture

Also, refer to these statistics for a grasp of how blatant this practice is in the SEC: http://oversigning.com/testing/index.php/recruiting-numbers/

Granted, I think this is the first year the SEC has limited the maximum amount of signees per class to 25.

GunnersApe's picture

Well Alabama has 26 already and there still a few weeks from signing day.


Bama didn't get the memo.

BTwrestle04's picture

I know. I mentioned that below last night.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So what I don't understand is why programs like Ohio State can't/don't capitalize on this fact. I'm not sure why it's any more unethical than making huge amounts of money off players while rewarding them with coupons to your own store, but that's really beside the point. I think competitive advantage is the point, and I think the fact that Alabama is able to persuade recruits to take their sorta-offer over Ohio State's sure-thing-offer is either a failure by Ohio State's recruiters to clarify this or, worse, evidence of just how big a gap recruits think exists between Alabama and Ohio State.

BTwrestle04's picture

"The Big Ten has no issue with oversigning because it banned the practice in 1956. The conference actually loosened its rule in 2002 to allow schools to oversign by three players, but even that rule is drastically different from the NCAA rule now in effect. According to Big Ten associate commissioner Chad Hawley, schools are allowed three over the 85-man limit, not the annual 25-man limit. If, for example, Michigan ends a season with 20 open scholarship spots, then Michigan may sign 23 players. No more."

WildBear Buckeye's picture

OK, so it sounds like, at least in part, this has to do with the different sets of rules that conferences impose on their members - SEC rules are different from B1G rules, even though both sets of rules comply with the NCAA. Then it sounds like B1G needs to do something about this.

BTwrestle04's picture

I believe that is going in the wrong direction. Doing it because everyone else is doing it is not the point. The point should be that other conferences should enforce more strict rules along the lines of what the B1G does. The SEC isn't willing to because it jeopardizes their competitive advantage.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

It is completely unethical that a kid is told he can no longer be on scholarship to get an education even after he is promised it.

The money that is made goes toward improving the very school they attend as well.

Also think about this, do you attend Ohio State football games because of Braxton Miller (for example)? Or do you attend because it is Ohio State?  I would say it is the latter for most people and the reason why nothing more than the additional stipend should be given to players on top of the free education/housing/food they receive.  Granted they should be able to sell their own belongings for money but that is a different story.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

WildBear Buckeye's picture

There are also jersey sales and such (Miller's name/number). I think the fact that no one makes a profit is the best argument. But I also think the whole enterprise is fairly ethically murky.

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Part of the challenge in warning players about over signing is that you are kind of implying they aren't good enough to make the cut.

BTwrestle04's picture

Thought about this as well. "Well, there is a chance they will cut you because you aren't good enough. Come to our school, you can't get cut!"

WildBear Buckeye's picture

True, but this also goes for players who get hurt, as I understand it.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Georgia does not oversign. When was the last time that worked out well for them? Its a clear advantage.

BTwrestle04's picture

Interesting to note as well, is that the SEC has somewhat limited oversigning by "only" allowing their schools to sign a maximum of 25 players per class. Alabama currently has 26 commits. Who is the one kid who's going to get the shaft?

Bucksfan's picture

The thing is, 25 is not the hard-number.  85 is the hard number.  So, if bringing in 25 doesn't get you to 85, you can bring in whatever # you need to get to 85.

I'm not sure just how much of these #'s are due to shafting these kids.  You'd think if kids were just getting jobbed year after year then a whistle would have been blown by someone at some point.  But, it seems a lot of these kids are leaving for legitimate reasons...most of them being "academic."  

Now, why are so many of these SEC athletes having to leave these schools for academic reasons?  When was the last time you heard of a good athlete at Alabama leaving for academic reasons?  You'd think it'd be at the same rate as the rest of the team, right?  Now, how many non-starters have left for "academic" reasons?

My theory, and I cannot prove it, has to do with the making academic exceptions for most of these kids.  If they can compete on the field, they're sort of given a pass academically.  If they can't, they're getting kicked off for "academic" reasons...which can be backed up by the records.

BTwrestle04's picture

I agree 100% with what you just said. And I thought about that 85 player cap, but I fail to believe that Alabama will not have just 85 players on scholarship this summer. They will far exceed that amount. I don't care to waste my time trying to figure out how many players they have on scholarship and how many of those players are graduating or leaving early for NFL/transferring. I'm 99.5% positive they will be well over the limit come summer time having done no research.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

I think over the summer they aren't actually on scholarship, since there isn't school. So, hypothetically, Alabama could bring in 1000 recruits to practice for the summer, then keep a roster of 85 on scholarship for the fall, and stay within the rules.

BTwrestle04's picture

This is true in a sense, but they have been offered a scholarship by the coach and school. After summer they find a way to rescind that offer. I'm not sure if the letter of intent they sign on Feb 2 has any language about scholarships in it, but it would be interesting. 

WildBear Buckeye's picture

I'm guessing the letter of intent prevents schools from recruiting against each other until the first whistle in the fall. Of course the system is set up to protect the schools, not the players - that shouldn't be a surprise. Also, I think if you've been "cut" but the program you committed to over the summer, you can go and play for any program that will accept you. Of course, most rosters are full by then.

BTwrestle04's picture

That's exactly right and why a lot of the time you will see these players go to Division 2 or FCS schools. Schools that probably don't give the player the best resources to grow their skill sets.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

My impression has also always been that 85/year is the number. If you've committed 50 scholarships for next year to players that were on your roster last year, you can bring in a class of 35. Either way, you don't have to make the decision about who gets scholarships and who doesn't until right before class starts in the fall.

BTwrestle04's picture

That is sometimes why you see older players (juniors or seniors) "earning" scholarships. There are an abundance to give out when you can only sign so many players per class. 

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So are the per-class limits different in the B1G and the SEC?

BTwrestle04's picture

I don't know 100%, to be honest. If you divide 85 (scholarships) by 4 (number of classes, i.e. Fresh, Soph, Jr, Sr), you get a little over 21 scholarships per class. Now, granted some classes will be a little larger then others, you would have to drastically fail on recruits (they underperform or can't maintain academics) or really blow a whole recruiting class in the sense of not being able to bring in 18 or so players for the number to get really skewed to the tune of 30 or so mentioned before. 

NW Buckeye's picture

The SEC is moving to more realistic annual numbers to reach the total of 85 scholarships.  Realize that any athlete given a "medical scholarship" does not count against the 85.  And, yes, Bama and LSU have given the "medical" treatment to athletes who are still able to compete, just not at the level the HC expects.  Also, these athletes do not complain, because the scholarships are still only 1 year commits, and the school could pull them if they deem it necessary.  Also, the schools have pulled scholarships as implied above - for academic reasons - but it really is not necessary under SEC rules.  Remember they fully endorse the one year contract that can be pulled at the end of any year for any reason.  The HC is the one who decides to extend it for another year. 

Given that, the SEC is now holding the annual signing number at 25, where they have allowed in excess of 35 in years past.  One poster above noted that Bama already has 26 verbals for this year - how is that possible?  The same way OSU can go over the B1G limit of 25 in one year - have athletes enroll early (in Jan) and their scholarship can be counted against last year's limit of offers (in Bama's case whatever it was for the SEC last year).  And, with that annual limit it is not possible to sign more than 25 players to reach the total 85 if the school lost a significant number of scholarshiped athletes in one year.  This will go a long way to preserving scholarships for athletes that may have not been renewed in years past in the SEC.  The bad thing is that they will still be able to sign 25 players even if they only have 15 open spots (a rare occurrance), hence there will still be some shady dealings with players losing scholarships.  The B1G does not allow a school to overfill so drastically - the annual limit is closer to the figure needed to reach the 85 scholarship total limit on the team.

It should be noted that there are other ways to get around the 85 total number in bodies on scholarship.  Keep in mind that the limit is 85 total full scholarships.  So, if you can swing giving a couple of kids a half scholarship wach, you have another full scholarship to dole out.  This happens more in other sports such as track and tennis, but can certainly be applied to any sport. 

The B1G does encourage honoring scholarships for 4 full years, although I don't know what the exact rule is now.  It used to be that the scholarship could not be pulled if the student remained in good standing academically. 

The last thing that I do find amusing is the idea that coaches can convey to recruits that oversigning is a bad thing and could end up hurting them.  17 and 18 year old kids are immortal in their own minds.  You can tell them over and over that they could be caught up in a numbers game at some of the schools that oversign, but they truely believe that it will never happen to them.  Drivers education is the best example I can think of here.  Young people are constantly reminded of the dangers of driving, yet proportionlly more of them end up in tragic accidents than the rest of us.  Again, it is the attitude that something bad is not going to happen to them - only to the other guy.  And, if you emphasize it too much (the bad things about oversigning) the recruit may take it as you thinking he may be one of the bubbles that might get crunched by the numbers.  Not exactly the message you want to send to a kid who thinks he is good enough to start right away.  (And, they almost all think that). 

Red Shirt Ensign's picture

Don't be so quick to judge... Urban Meyer may be doing the same thing!!  That said go Buckeyes!

"Captain, over here, I've found someth... AHHHH!!!!!!"


Buckeye in Illini country's picture

He wasn't nearly as bad as his SEC brethren, and I think he will definitely stay within the code of the Big Ten.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

SilverBullets's picture

1) You can't oversign in the B1G
2) Meyer hasn't done it in his past

BTwrestle04's picture

Refer to my post above.

Nutbuck1959's picture

Why does LSU always play the MNC game in New orleans??

BTwrestle04's picture

It's almost a sure thing everytime. LSU beat Oklahoma and Ohio State in NOLA. This year it's in their backyard again. Send them out West to the Rose Bowl and see how they play against a USC or something.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So is it that they don't even bother to compete for the MNC unless the game is in NOLA?

BTwrestle04's picture

The stars just always seem to align for them every 4 years, and the year it happens to be in The Big Easy. 

BuckeyeNation's picture

I honestly believe that the bowl locations should not be announced until after that particular bowl match-up has been set! And NO TEAM should be allowed to play a bowl game in their own backyard, period. But who am i... just another pee-on w/his own opinion!

BTwrestle04's picture

Yeah, that wont happen. The National Championship has to rotate to each BCS bowl every four years. It's a simple money thing. Every BCS bowl gets to double dip (get a BCS bowl and a  NC game -- and subsequently a HUGE amount of money) every four years. It won't change as long as there are BCS bowls.

ArTbkward's picture

I agree, I hate that some teams get the home field by default but it will never change.  I also wish they would stop playing big games on weekdays unless it's over the holidays.

Half the LSU fans were probably home last night before some Alabama fans left the stadium.  I can't imagine the hosting city likes this- less hotel room, less restaurant meals, less flights etc.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

tampa buckeye's picture

The only way to make it fair is to have some northern bowl games, but seriously I'd rather play in miami or San diego.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

The Super Bowl moves around, and I don't think it's always south of the Mason-Dixon. Of course, I don't remember it being in Chicago or Green Bay recently either. Point being, weather aside, I don't think Chicago is any worse for hosting the MNC game than Miami or San Diego.

Also, bowl games aside, I think the B1G should open up late-season dates for OOC play. Sure, it would take some coaxing to get SEC teams to play in Columbus in November, but would it really be completely impossible? I've never understood why ND can't force USC to play in South Bend in November.

ArTbkward's picture

The Super Bowl in at Lucas Oil in Indy this year.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Didn't hey beat Oregon without their starters in Texas?

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Or better yet, move one of the bowls to Lucas Oil Field and have LSU play Ohio St. in 2013 for a MNC game. Then we'll see how they like it ; )

tampa buckeye's picture

I think the other thing to note is most of these players at bama and LSU can't honestly say they belong in college.  We all know it doesn't take much to earn a degree at one of these schools.  

poop's picture

Give it a rest. Listen to TP (or plenty of others) talk and tell me he wouldn't fit right in with those LSU or Bama players.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Agree completely. The only place that comes to mind that can actually argue this is Northwestern. Maybe Stanford.

AJ's picture

If we're on probation, everyone should be.

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -----------Woody Hayes

tampa buckeye's picture

Would love to see pryor against these chumps.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

That is hard not to think about....

Urban Ohio's picture

Pryor is a Punk. There is no Team in him.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

theDuke's picture

It essentially removes any idea that one could consider these kids "student athletes". Offering 1 year schollys is only beneficial to the institution. If they really cared about kids getting degrees the NCAA would mandate 4 year schollys and the 85 limit. 


WildBear Buckeye's picture

I agree that the idea of student athletes at big time programs is a joke, but would you turn down a free year of college?

xtremebuckeye's picture

One thing Urbans doing that most schools do is have some recruits enroll in school early so those kids wont count agaist the 2012 class ( called back dating ) and we might have 1 or 2 recruits that dont meet academic requirements were as the SEC will have like 5 or 10 that wont meet requirments plus he can gray shirt, medical hardship some players or send some to jr college. The one thing i havent seen Urban do is pull a scolly from a kid to make room for a new recruit like the Bama's & LSU's do.

I personaly would like to see some scolly set aside for next year because its going to be a big year in OHIO for top recruits. not saying he shouldnt go after some 4* or 5*  for this class or some uderated 3* just dont want to see the class get filled just to fill it.

O H I O is the Buckeye State

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So do the early enrollees count against any recruiting class?

BTwrestle04's picture

Can't afford to do this with the reduction in scholarships we have.

btalbert25's picture

I don't have the moral outrage others do about oversigning, simply for the fact that these kids aren't the naive 17 year olds we all make them out to be.  They have been whisked around the country, given 5 star meals, had the ego stroked by grown men at a school and all their fans who follow them on facebook and twitter, not to mention the hookers, parties, and loaded handshakes.  These high profile recruits have seen more living at 17 then I have at 30.  

I don't like the oversigning in the mold that Les Miles deploys, but I do think there could be a method of oversigning that isn't so bad too.  Also, I don't think what Ohio State is doing right now is much different than oversigning.  Only difference is we're waiting for the medical hardships to be official before they actually allow the kids to committ.  For over a month now we've been talking about the guys who are going on medical hardship or guys like Berry who probably aren't going to be with the program anymore.  What difference should it make if the team takes committs before that happens?  It's the same darn thing, those moves are inevitable.  

Also, what's the harm in getting commits from guys like Cardale Jones.  Take a shot, if he can't make it academically grayshirt him so that schollie can go elsewhere.  If he gets his grades in order then good for him, if not that scholarship was put to good use on someone else. 

I'm just kind of tired about hearing about these poor kids.  Hell a lot of the time they have agents, sorry "mentors" advising them on what to do before they even get to college.  They aren't these naive kids who have never left their hometown.