I've been thinking a lot about oversigning with this year's Signing Day having come and gone. The problem, as I see it, isn't really one of competitive balance. It would be nice to have a level playing field, but I certainly wouldn't be willing to give up Michigan's built-in advantages anymore than an Ole Miss fan would give up oversigning, JUCO stocking, or quaint reminders of a brutal, bigoted past.
*Everything would have been forgiven if you would have picked him! [Ed-M: In fairness to their fans, the Ole Miss base wanted them to have this, but their school wouldn't allow it.]
The problem I see is that big-time NCAA football is largely built around taking physically talented young men, pushing them to perform physically, and developing an enormous support system to ensure they can:
1) Afford to stay enrolled through athletic scholarships
2) Maintain a minimum academic threshold to remain eligible, despite many of the athletes not being anywhere near qualified academically to be admitted through the normal undergrad admissions process
The problem with oversigning is that kids suddenly have both of the items many of them need to complete a degree yanked out from underneath them either mid-career or, in some cases, right before they start school. Many will drop out and go back to wherever they grew up because finishing a degree isn't conceivable without the support they had as scholarship athletes.
Wow, we're both tools, aren't we?
That said, coaches do need to be able to control their roster. Just because a kid doesn't get expelled from school for cheating on a research paper about research doesn't mean they're pulling their weight. Showing up on time isn't enough for any coach worth his salt, and I've got no problem with that type of player being cut.
With that in mind, here's an easy, no-frills solution that eliminates oversigning, still allows coaches to control their roster, and should help kids get their education:
1) 85 players on scholarship at any time, period. Graduating Seniors fall off after their last game, and incoming recruits count as soon as their LOI is sent in and count through the next football season.
2) Coaches are allowed to make cuts, and they must be finalized on May 31st for the next season. That player can never play for that school again--even off scholarship.
3) Players cut to free a scholarship for someone else may transfer with immediate eligibility to any school that will have them. Conferences could not make bylaws prohibiting movement among conference teams (e.g. Alabama player X could transfer to Auburn instead of getting a medical hardship scholarship).
4) LOIs are still binding for the player, but require the school to provide five years of scholarship, living, and academic support. Players may void the LOI by transferring of their own accord and these transfers would be treated identically to transfers under the current system. Players cut to make room for another scholarship player still get a full ride, but don't count against the 85 scholarship limit.
5) APR still exists, but players cut to make room for other scholarships still count for the remainder of their career.
6) Grayshirting still exists, but it exact stipulations are detailed on the LOI the school gives the player to sign.
7) Scholarships are only revokable for expulsion or conviction by a court for a non-misdemeanor crime, and the athlete may challenge scholarship revocation for anything short of a felony conviction in arbitration by the NCAA.
8) ADDED! Injuries happen. However, after May 31st, that injured player still counts against the 85 scholarship limit for the year. If a player, say a certain Freshman QB, goes down after four games, too bad. Medical redshirt policies would still apply for further eligibility, however. This would stop mysterious "injuries" from felling a 3rd string guard if Jadeveon Clowney wanted to delay his commitment until June 1st.
My reasoning is pretty simple. 85 scholarship players are allowed at any time, which makes sense. Everyone on the team counts. This is the obvious step to eliminate the specific problem of oversigning. The rest of the steps are designed to protect the athlete, and to some extent, the program.
I completely respect coaches wanting to cut certain players, but the ultimate goal should be to give everyone a chance to earn their degree. It's abhorrent that LSU could take a scholarship away from someone after school starts and send them home. My proposal eliminates the incentive to do that. Since the LOI counts through the next season, a better player couldn't commit late and cause a coach to cull his herd. It would also increase the risk for schools that routinely sign marginal students. If the recruit doesn't qualify, the school loses that scholarship for a season.
The rest of the rules are designed to protect student-athletes. Scholarship football players are really special athletes at top schools, and not all will become great players. The money involved in big-time football is big enough that schools can continue to support athletes who get hurt or don't live up to their hype. I choose five years for a degree because players are often forced to take fewer credits in the Fall and need a 5th year to graduate.
The final, somewhat controversial item might be grayshirting. I don't mind the idea, per se. I'd grayshirt at Michigan before taking a scholarship at CMU, but the details should be stipulated up front.
Thoughts? What obvious items have I missed?
I have written about California TE Taylor McNamara a few times now. One of those times was here in my Weekly Update. McNamara had been told by the Michigan coaches that he would be recruited heavily, since he's from the San Diego area and they were familiar with him. He was offered yesterday by tight end coach Dan Ferrigno, and was pretty excited by the news.
They told me they were going to offer soon, and then Coach Ferrigno said you have an offer from Michigan yesterday. I'm going to try to make it out there, but it gets expensive and there's only so many junior days you can make it to. If I don't get out there for that I'll take an official visit or something else.
Something to keep an eye on before you get too excited is that Ohio State is one of his favorites. They had dropped on his list because they hadn't been in too much contact with him. He's scheduled to talk to a coach from OSU in about a week. If they pick up their recruitment of him, they might be pretty hard to beat. I believe they have already offered. He's also interested in Oregon and Notre Dame among others.
Frequently posters lament the position breakdown of our team. We hear we have too many slots, or not enough O-linemen; we hear that the defense is under-recruited or that we should have signed a particular player last year since we’re recruiting that position this year (Devin Lucien).
Inspired by the various posts debating the makeup of this team, I decided to analyze what a balanced roster would look like, how our current roster is allocated, and what the future may hold.
As we all know, the NCAA allows division I football teams to provide scholarships to a total of 85 players each year (while most players keep their scholarships for at least 4 years they are technically all one year scholarships). Despite what the SEC may do with their scholarships, Michigan plays by the rules so 85 scholarships works out to 5 classes of 17 players in each class (5 classes assumes everyone takes a redshirt year). A perfectly balanced roster would have no attrition; all players would stay five years; and 17 RS seniors would be replaced by 17 recruits each season. Here’s what a roster like that would look like:
While we could debate the numbers by position group, this gives a pretty good blueprint for an ideal roster. A team like this would rely primarily on upper classmen. The structure would eliminate the need for desperation recruiting where the makeup of a position group is so dire that the coaches are desperate to land freshman to fill in the two-deep. Obviously player attrition would make managing a roster so precisely impossible, however that doesn’t mean it’s not something quality programs should strive for. Realistically, we could probably expect to lose anywhere from three to five players each season to the draft, injury, ineligibility, or home sickness; that would mean our recruiting classes would be 20 to 22 with 17 being redshirted and the remaining recruits added to the active roster. It is well known that Wisconsin and Iowa start a high percentage of fifth year players each season, which may account for their quality play despite lackluster recruiting.
Let’s take a look at our current roster compared to the “ideal” roster:
*Recruits are projected for this class
As you can see, the team lacks consistency from season-to-season. We have an abundance of WRs, a dearth of O-linemen and D-tackles, and a cluster of safeties all in one season. I suspect that over the next couple of seasons Coach Hoke will try to remedy this by balancing recruiting the way I described above. For some insight into the coach’s thinking, here’s a look at our current offers and the way I suspect the class will break down:
|Zeke Pike||6'5"||220||4.7||Dixie Heights HS, Edgewood, Kentucky||Yes||Yes|
|Gunner Kiel||6'4"||220||N/A||East HS, Columbus, Indiana||Yes||Yes|
|Bennie Coney||6'2"||205||4.8||Plant City HS, Plant City, Florida||Yes||Yes|
|Maty Mauk||6'2"||185||Kenton HS, Kenton, Ohio||Yes||Yes|
|Matt Jones||6'2"||200||4.53||Armwood HS, Seffner, Florida||Yes||Yes|
|Stefon Diggs||6’1″||185||4.4||Our Lady of Good Counsel, Olney, Maryland||Yes||Yes|
|Dorial Green-Beckham||6’6″||215||4.4||Hillcrest HS, Springfield, Missouri||Yes||Yes|
|Dwayne Stanford||6'4"||200||4.5||Taft HS, Cincinnatti, Ohio||Yes||Yes|
|Aaron Burbridge||6'0"||175||4.35||Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan||Yes|
|Derrick Woods||5'11"||180||4.5||Inglewood HS, Inglewood, California||Yes||Yes|
|Deontay McManus||6'0"||209||4.5||Dunbar HS, Baltimore, Maryland||Yes||Yes|
|Sam Grant||6’6″||230||4.8||St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio||Yes|
|Sean Price||6'4"||206||4.9||North Marion HS, Citra, Florida||Yes|
|Devin Funchess||6'5"||205||Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan||Yes|
|Ron Thompson||6'4"||225||East Detroit HS, Eastpointe, Michigan||Yes|
|Taylor McNamara||6'5"||235||Westview HS, San Diego, California||Yes||Yes|
|D.J. Humphries||6’5″||265||4.9||Mallard Creek HS, Charlotte, North Carolina||Yes||Yes|
|Jordan Diamond||6’6″||289||5.0||Simeon Vocational HS, Chicago, Illinois||Yes||Yes|
|Zach Banner||6'9||295||Lakes HS, Lakewood, Washington||Yes||Yes|
|Dan Voltz||6’5″||289||5.3||Barrington HS, Barrington, Illinois||Yes||Yes|
|Chris Wormley||6’4″||255||Whitmer HS, Toledo, Ohio||Yes||Yes|
|Ifeadi Odenigbo||6’4″||210||4.44||Centerville HS, Centerville, Ohio||Yes|
|Pharaoh Brown||6’6″||220||4.7||Brush HS, Lyndhurst, Ohio||Yes|
|Tom Strobel||6'6"||240||4.9||Mentor HS, Concord, Ohio||Yes||Yes|
|Mario Ojemudia||6'3"||215||4.65||Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan||Yes|
|Tommy Schutt||6’3″||301||Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, Illinois||Yes||Yes|
|Eddie Goldman||6'4"||307||Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington, D.C.||Yes||Yes|
|Vincent Valentine||6'3"||300||Edwardsville HS, Edwardsville, Illinois||Yes||Yes|
|Sheldon Day||6'2"||268||Warren Central HS, Indianapolis, Indiana||Yes|
|Danny O’Brien||6’4″||255||5.1||Flint (MI) Powers Catholic||Yes||Yes|
|Greg Kuhar||6'3"||265||St. Edward HS, Concord Township, Ohio||Yes|
|Deaysean Rippy||6’2″||198||Sto-Rox HS, McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania||Yes||Yes|
|James Ross||6’0″||203||Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS, Orchard Lake, Michigan||Yes||Yes|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||6’2″||215||Cass Tech HS, Detroit, Michigan||Yes||Yes|
|Vince Biegel||6'3"||210||4.53||Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln HS, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin||Yes||Yes|
|Terry Richardson||5'9"||160||4.5||Cass Tech HS, Detroit, Michigan||Yes||Yes|
|Elijah Shumate||6'1"||205||4.5||Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, New Jersey||Yes||Yes|
|D.J. Singleton||6'3"||195||4.5||St. Peters Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey||Yes|
Currently we have made 37 offers, and we’ll probably make another 50 to 60 between now and signing day. Based on what TomVH told us about signing percentages and our expectations for some of the players listed above, we can probably expect to sign around 12 or so of the players above and eight from future offers. It will be interesting to see how close this projection will be. It would be nice to return to the days when our teams didn’t rely on underclassmen too much. Hopefully, roster management and recruiting will be some of Hoke’s strengths.
You may remember me from such content as "Denardapalooza" (link here) after last year's Notre Dame game. I'm no Monumental, but I do what I can.
Anyway, there's been a definite lack of awesome Michigan/Hoke-related desktops recently, so here's my effort. I'm also willing to make adjustments if anybody has a specific request, and I'll just add the new creations to this same thread.
Note: I'm leaving the image big for high-quality downloading.