What once was a dirty Southern secret is getting a little bit more attention these days. Oversigning, besides being a tricky word to spell, is essentially the act of signing more recruits than you have room for on your roster. The SEC is particularly notorious for this, bringing in classes that often exceed 25 freshmen, and to make up for this, veterans are often told to hit the road under the pretext of an injury or take a grayshirt. For instance, in the last five years, Arkansas has signed 135 recruits to Ohio State's 99. Both teams have a roster limit of 85, so as you can imagine, there are quite a few former Razorbacks that didn't measure up in practice and were sent packing.
An Ozone commenter got things rolling, so to speak, by shining a light on the overlooked practice when he created oversigning.com in February of this year. The site does a great job of not only explaining the practice, but also aggregating and highlighting discrepancies and was spread via Twitter, blogs and college football message boards. In late November, the Wall Street Journal picked it up, featuring not just one, but two articles on oversigning and then things got real when oversigning made it to Wikipedia.
In case my explanation above was too muddled, here's Wikipedia's opener on the topic:
Oversigning (also spelled Over-signing) is a process in which American college athletics teams award to recruits a number of scholarships that, when added to the number of scholarships given to current members of the team expected to play in the next season, is greater than the maximum number of scholarships permitted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). While occasionally occurring in other sports, oversigning occurs most often - and has thus received the most attention from media members and fans - within college football (where the maximum number of athletic scholarships permitted in a season is 85).
While currently permitted within NCAA rules, many college football fans view oversigning as highly unethical, arguing that it requires schools and coaches to be dishonest with young adult and adolescent recruits.
Yesterday, ESPN featured the practice of oversigning on Outside the Lines. They tell the story of Chris Garrett, an LSU quarterback recruit that found out his scholarship was being yanked during voluntary workouts in the summer of his sophomore year. Adding insult to injury, Garrett received a certified letter from the university dated 11 days prior to when he had met with his head coach and all seemed well. Predictably, Miles refused to comment on the situation.
So bully to the Wall Street Journal, ESPN's OTL, oversigning.com and other outlets that are calling the SEC out for what it is: a conference that puts winning at football ahead of academics, the integrity of amateur athleticism (see: Newton) and the promises made to young men every February.
Finally, here's a look at the recruiting class sizes of Big Ten teams vs their SEC bowl opponents (2007-2010):
|BOWL||SEC TEAM||RECRUITS||BIG TEN TEAM||RECRUITS|
|Sugar Bowl||Arkansas||109||Ohio State||78|
|Capital One Bowl||Alabama||113||Michigan State||88|
|Outback Bowl||Florida||93||Penn State||82|
|Gator Bowl||Mississippi State||113||Michigan||93|
It must be nice to have what amounts to an entire additional recruiting class every four years.