The Oversigning Index

By Ramzy Nasrallah on February 19, 2013 at 7:59p

In general, though, it's fair to say that recent rule changes targeting oversigning have largely paid off, especially in the SEC, whose members once dominated the genre to an extent that is no longer true across the conference as a whole. Every team beneath the top two or three on that list is well within the range of "natural" attrition, and most of them will probably end up a little below the cap once grades, legal issues and injuries have taken their toll...

So outside of Tuscaloosa, it looks like business as usual. No, scratch that: Inside Tuscaloosa, it looks like business as usual, too. Nick Saban is just running his business on a slightly different scale.

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popeurban's picture

Is it me, or is Minnesota the "odd man out" on that list?  To me the schools on that list are either:
A. Good
B. On their way up
Minnesota fits neither of those categories to me.

cplunk's picture

Yeah, I'm wondering if it was really necessary for the Gophers to sign two extra two star recruits

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I guess you could say the Gophers are Killin it?!?!

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

buck-I.8's picture

On top of normal attrition the Gophers also have to prepare for the inevitable time when Jerry Kill goes out of his way to alienate players. Those extra two are referred to as "AJ Barker insurance".

Gametime's picture

I upvoted because that was a good dig, however I'm obligated to point out that JJ Watt was a two star recruit too.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

KBonay's picture

Does the SCHEDULED TO RETURN reflect the 3 players that have been recently banned from campus and the 4th who is suspended indefinitely? 

Catch 5's picture

No, it does not.  Assuming they are all gone (which is a good assumption - there has never been a player indefinitely suspended by Saban that ended well), that 95 number is reduced to 91.  .

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

BED's picture

...which is still +6.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Uncle Nick would just tell us pesky 11Wers to "just shut up", we "don't know know what we're talking about" que the feigned look of outrage, dismissive attitude, and snarling upper lip as he reaches for the trap door button to dump us out from his office and into the Komodo dragon pit below........ 

Kaceybrown's picture

Hate's a strong word, but not strong enough. 

bucknut8's picture

Dayyyyyyuuuum! Roll tide has won another title!!! Lol!! 


gravey's picture

And that's how you win with people....lots and lots of people.  As they say down south, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin' hard enough".

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Mississippi stats are BY FAR the most concerning.
What happened to all the signees from the previous years???

Maestro's picture

Here are your answers to choose from for defending those numbers
A. Coaching change.
B. Kids don't always pan out, not all kids are college material.
C. Go Bears........I mean Rebels.
D. We have hotter chicks at our tailgates than you do.
E. We still suck so why do you care?

vacuuming sucks

Catch 5's picture

They had a higher than average number of JuCo guys, and a lot of players that didn't qualify.  They did have a little higher attrition rate from 2008 and 2009 classes, but given the % of academic risks they went after, it is likely many of them were casualities of that type.
For example, their 2009 class of 37 had 10 guys that didn't make it to campus and never enrolled, and their 2008 class of 31 had 8 JuCo guys that only had a couple years of eligibility left. 

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Vico's picture

...roll tide.

For what it's worth, TTUN fans have been saying for some time that 87 number is incorrect and two players on their roster (don't know who they are, don't care) were medical hardship-ed before NLOID.

Alas... roll tide.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Poison nuts's picture

Catch 5?

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Catch 5's picture

What's up?
It's a fine article.  I've never said Saban doesn't oversign.  My stance has always been that he does it responsibly - to account for known and expected attrition, and that he has guys willing to greyshirt (when they sign the LOI) if it doesn't occur.  If done that way, he isn't screwing anybody, he isn't forcing anyone to transfer, he isn't taking anyone's scholarships away, and he gets a full roster of scholarship players - which is offering more opportunity than if he didn't oversign.  I would have written the article a little differently, but I don't have a problem with his findings.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

UrbzRenewal's picture

So when he takes scholarships away from the 6-10 that will need cut down...? Imaginary hardships/forcing grayshirts? Promise a guy who signs a scholarship, which he may not actually get? Doesn't seem responsible to me.

Catch 5's picture

So the 4 guys that Hinton mentions that have graduated without ever lettering.  Are they cut if they decide to not return to the football program and get on with their lives?  How did these guys mange to be there for four years anyway without contributing - I thought Saban cut all the dead weight.  It has been rumored for a couple months now that a couple of the backup QBs are looking at transferring.  Are they cut if Saban knew their intents before NSD?  It is also rumored that one or both of the guys that suffered ACL tears may not return.  Is he cutting them if the team doctors don't clear them?
Don't like forcing medicals?  What was your reaction to this:

After the 2008 season, Thomas says he was told he had to “move on” because he wasn’t in the team’s plans for 2009.

“I told (Meyer) I was on track to graduate, I wasn’t a problem and I did everything I was supposed to do—I just had a knee injury,” Thomas said. “I told them I wasn’t leaving, and if they tried to force me to leave, I was going to tell everyone everything."

The next day, Thomas says he was given a medical hardship letter by position coach Chuck Heater stating Thomas had an injury that would prohibit him from playing football. The medical hardship scholarship doesn’t count against the NCAA limit of 85, and allows the affected player to stay on academic scholarship.

It also made room for another recruit.

BTW, just as Hinton states in the article about one Bama player, Thomas went on to make the all-conference team at a lesser division school after graduating from Florida.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Riggins's picture

Oh, church it up however you want, but Saban essentially has a "cut down period" just like the NFL.  Saban amasses this phenomenal talent pool and then trims the fat based on how they're performing to get within the scholarship rules.  It's no great secret how Bama has a 3-deep of quality starters at every position.
He might have kids take a grayshirt, medical hardship, or straight up transfer, but the truth of the matter is, these kids would be on the roster at almost any other school not in the SEC West.
Keep on keepin' on though. 

Catch 5's picture

I have no problem with you having that point of view.  Of course, you must also acknowledge that Urban is doing the same thing - he's just doing it before NSD.  You realize that at least 18 players have left the program in the ~14 months that he has been at OSU (including as many as 5 medical hardships)?  That great class that OSU signed in 2012 came at the cost of 9 players leaving between the end of the season and (just after) NSD.  If Bama is having to force room for their new 25 because they only had 9 SRs and 3 NFL guys this year, how did OSU sign 24 with only 12 SRs and scholarship reductions?
You can't ignore Meyer's recruiting tactics while making these accusations about Saban.  Personally, I think they are both honest with their players and many of them opt for greener pastures (or more playing time).  If you disagree, I can respect that opinion and see where you are coming from, but you have got to be consistent or you're just capitalizing on an issue to bash a rival.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Riggins's picture

If Urban is consistently signing 10-15 more kids than he has scholarships available for 8 years into his reign (a la Saban), then yes, I will have a problem with it. 
I don't like that this attrition is happening now, but in this era where a coach only gets 2-3 years before his "legacy" at a school is defined, I understand the need to mold the roster to a degree if the previous coach left a bare cupboard. I am expecting most of this attrition to stop once the roster is 80%+ full of kids Urban recruited. Once you have 3 recruiting classes under your belt, that attrition is on you, the coach. 
If Saban took over...say...Kansas tomorrow, then he would obviously need to overhaul that roster to his standards.  I wouldn't be as harsh on him the first couple of years, but after that he needs to go with who he recruited.
Is that a fair opinion or do you still see this as a double standard?

Catch 5's picture

That's fair.  I would characterize it as "holding your nose" for a few years, but certainly not a double standard.
I've looked at attrition for a couple of years now - finding the percentage of players that enrolled and appear on teams' rosters and leave before their senior years for reasons other than the NFL.  The 2008 signing class were seniors during Tressel's final year, and would have certainly fallen in your criteria as his kids.  OSU's attrition percentage from that class was 31.6% - very reasonable given the average for B10 teams that year was 30.9%  The rate for the 2009 class jumped a bit, perhaps due to Meyer's arrival and his molding of the roster, to 40.0% (the B10 average was mostly unchanged at 31.1%)
For comparison's sake, Bama's attrition from the 2008 class was 35.7% (effectively one player difference from OSU's that year) which was exactly the SEC's average.  Bama's 2009 rate came down for the 2009 class, to 30.8%, a couple points under the SEC average of 33.7% (and below the B10 average for that year)
Is that what you expected to see from a team that has to clear 8-10 spots every year?

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Riggins's picture

The percentages certainly surprised me, and I'd like to know where your information is from.  I'm not doubting it. I'd genuinely like to go through it because I'd love to see what the numbers look like over a 4-year span.  Pecentage wise and raw numbers wise.
Could you clarify how you're calculating the attrition rate?  Are you going by how many leave the program over the four-year "lifecycle" of the class?  If so, the class sizes of the two schools were certainly different enough in those years to warrant being included as percentages can't often tell the whole story by themselves.  I.e. Bama signed 32 in 2008. OSU signed 20.  So while they both had attrition rates in the 30-35% range, one school had almost double the amount of attrition. 
My theory is that over a 4-year span, I believe the percentages would remain close, but Bama holds a distinct raw numbers advatage.

Catch 5's picture

I use Rivals as my base list.  This year I will be studying the 2010 class as they will be going into their 4th years.  Any players that show up on the team roster at any time are counted.  Players that fail to qualify or never enroll for other reasons are completely removed from the equation (exceptions here include a Bama player that was never listed because he went directly to a medical hardship due to injuries he sustained in high school after committing, and an Ole Miss player that came out and said a greyshirt was sprung on him late in the summer).  I then compare this list to the current roster and see who is still there.  Any players that are missing are researched to determine why.  Players that leave early for the NFL, or who exhaused their eligibility (JuCo transfers) are not counted against attrition as the purpose of this study is to identify teams that may be cutting players.  Transfers, dismissals, medical hardships, and players who leave with no explanation are all counted toward that team's attrition percentage.
Bama's 2009 class is listed as 28 signees.  This is not correct as one player never signed (with football) and instead enrolled there on a baseball scholarship.  Another player failed to qualify and had to go the JuCo route.  He signed again in 2010 but does not count against this class.  This gives an actual enrolled class of 26.  Of these players, 11 were no longer on the team at the start of this year.  Of these 11, two left early for the NFL and another exhausted his eligibility (JuCo - also drafted in the NFL).  This gives an attrition # of 8 players (5 xfers, 2 medicals, and 1 dismissal).  8/26=30.8%
Ohio State's 2009 class is listed as 25 signees, all of whom qualified and none were JuCo.  10 players were no longer listed on the roster (6 xfers, 2 left team, 1 dismissal, and 1 medical).  10/25=40.0%.
Feel free to review or look into it independantly - I welcome any oversight or criticism.
Yes, a team that signs more players will of course suffer more #s at the same %.  Consider:  Two teams have 20 spots available every year (hypothetical, the #s work nice).  They both suffer attrition of 4 players every year.  One team starts oversigning to make up the difference and starts signing 25 players.  While his rival continues losing 4 players, he finds he is losing 5 (meaning he fills all 20 spots).  Is he cutting those players or simply suffering 20% attrition like the other team?

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Riggins's picture

Gave you an upvote on the time you spent to research all of that.  If I have time, I'll try to go back and analyze Ohio State's numbers more myself.
I agree on the way you're counting numbers.  Kids who never make it to campus shouldn't be counted. Nor should early draft entrants.  I'd like to see what Alabama's numbers would look like on this list if you eliminated those numbers.
Re: your example.  I don't think my biggest problem with oversigning is with the numbers.  If a coach knows for certain that he is losing 5 players in addition to the 20 scholarships available, signing available scholarships (+5) is only maximizing your available slots.  Smart move.  Maximize your talent.  My biggest problem is that the attrition numbers are an estimation of what your roster will look like in 6 months.  What if you're off by 5 kids?  It's the "roster management" period when the attrition is lower than expected that I find offputting.  
In a perfect world, all of Saban's (or any coach) attrition would occur before NSD.  If that was the case, then coaches would know exactly how many slots they had available and oversigning could be effectively eliminated.  But I realize we don't live in a perfect world and that 6 months between NSD and fall camp is a long time in a world populated by 18-22 year olds.  So I understand Saban is only wanting to maximize his team's talent pool and has to plan for attrition.  I just find this 6 month period of "roster management" very cynical.  I know it's smart to plan for a hurricane (higher than expected attrition), but what if its 80 degrees and sunny (lower than expected attrition)? 
Thanks for the discourse.  If you do end up going back and looking at more years or more schools, be sure to post it here. 

Catch 5's picture

That Staples chart is one of the most misleading indicators in this whole oversigning discussion - for that exact reason.  I read a comment from a guy when that was first published that was in response to someone else's accusation that it wasn't fair that Michigan State played Bama that year (Cap 1 Bowl game) because the Tide had an "extra recruiting class" per that chart.  When non-qualifiers, JuCo transfers, double-counters, NFL exits and all were taken into consideration, there was only a couple of player's difference between the two.  Other considerations you won't find in that chart/article:  1) Bama was only a year removed from much more severe scholarship restrictions than OSU is currently under.  They had an extra 10 (I think) spots to make up that had a bit of an effect on how many they were able to sign.  2) The period they started counting classes was when Saban had just taken over - as we established earlier, higher attrition can be expected in these times.
I think a large reason you see a lot of summer attrition is because that is when the school year is over.  If they have a full ride scholarship paid to the end of the year, why not get all you can before you transfer to a new school?  I get spring training with the new school, but moving to a new campus and getting acclimated takes a bit of time - and if your current team is playing two weeks into January, you aren't going to have a lot of time to make that move before the spring quarter.  Might as well get as much as you can out of your current school before moving on.
Lastly, I agree wholeheartedly about planning for a hurricane but only getting blue skies.  That happened to Les Miles a couple of years ago and he had to ask a guy that had already moved into his dorm to leave and greyshirt.  The guy transferred to Kentucky instead (and subsequently came back a year later).  That was wrong and shouldn't have happened, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  There are plenty of good examples where a player greyshirted in order to play for his favored school - where he otherwise wouldn't have been able, and if a coach has enough guys willing to do so (knowing this when they sign their LOI <- very important) then you have prepared for both the hurricane and the blue skies.  As a bonus, you are able to give more opportunity to more players without taking any away.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

Enzo's picture

I think anything over 3 is oversigning. There's always some attrition for whatever reason and 3 players doesn't seem that unlikely to have to replace before camp starts. 10 though? That's just a blatant FU to the rest of the NCAA.