...and we don't want to come across as ungrateful to any pro scouts."
Oversigning: The Depressing, Eternal Line
College football in a nutshell, according to Finebaum callers
Oversigning continues to be a hot topic now that beat writers are aware of the subject and are keeping an eye out for stuff like a half-dozen players evaporating from the Ole Miss roster in the wake of Ole Miss oversigning by twelve:
In the Ole Miss notebook in Wednesday’s Clarion-Ledger, you probably read the lead note about the impending transfer of WR/KR Jesse Grandy. That’s somewhat significant news, considering how valuable he was as a freshman and the depth at wide receiver.
Later in that note, though, there are a couple of other names mentioned: Dele Junaid and Jared Mitchell. Both were scholarship players who are not on this roster that the school distributed Tuesday night, shortly after the news of Grandy’s departure broke.
But here are four more scholarship players from last year who were missing, as we noted early Wednesday afternoon on Twitter: RB Martez Eastland, OL Terrance Hackney, DE Lekenwic Haynes and DL Alan-Michael Thomas.
Hope you enjoyed your year or three in Oxford, but it's off to South Ballsack for you. Enjoy your degree from something that's not technically a community college anymore, unless it is, except you probably won't be getting one anyway. Don't brush the APR on your way out.
Hopefully this keeps up to the point where the SEC has to do something more than obfuscate the problem and actually, you know, does something about it. Here's Mike Slive:
It was two years ago that we took the initiative and put in an SEC rule that 28 was the most you could sign [in one class] and understanding that the rest of the country might not do that. The rest of the country followed suit and copied the SEC rule nationally and made it 28.
The SEC took an "initiative" to implement something far weaker than the Big Ten and Pac 10 had for decades after Houston Nutt signed 37 kids one year. That implementation is a paper tiger, but Slive's waving his PR magic wand because he's a company man. The SEC's done nothing except implement a cosmetic change. Florida going bats about it forced Slive to gesture towards discussion later this year, but at no point will he ever suggest that the SEC is anything but a forward-thinking bastion of nation-leading ethics.
In contrast, the Big Ten actually grasps the issue:
Do those exceptions relate to the rule that allows three over the [scholarship] limit?
CH: Correct. This is the difference between our rule and what the NCAA rule is. If you have 20 scholarship slots available, our rule would allow you to sign 23, where the NCAA is a firm number. We allow oversigning by three in football. Some have used it, not everyone has. On a year-to-year basis, there are fewer than use it than not. And even within those instances, we may be looking at oversigning by two or even one.
Meanwhile, Nick Saban's feeble attempt to justify his massive oversigning was torn to shreds by anyone who wrote about it. (He then had the audacity to complain about players breaking verbal commitments! Alabama is the only school in the state that blacks out scholarship numbers from FOIAed requests!) Moments later we found out we can add Saban to the list of coaches who yoinked scholarships from players after they had moved into the dorm:
So Jones was asked to delay his enrollment until January. He had to move out of the dorm, and he won't be on an athletic scholarship until next semester. He can't practice with the team, work out with the team or travel with the team.
Instead, he'll be a part-time student this semester, taking nine hours, and he'll live in the condo his parents had leased for his older brother to call home and for the family to share on football weekends.
"It's disappointing when you don't really expect it, but we understand it," said Leslie Jones, the mother of Harrison and Barrett. "We have no hard feelings. We're very grateful for the opportunities our sons have."
[Ed-M: Update: there's more to the story - According to the boys' high school coach in the comments below, he's back on scholarship. Also, Saban had a long talk with the family about the grashirt situation, wherein he probably explained...]. This is followed by the quote that always shows up in these stories:
"College football is a business, and you have to treat it as a business."
Yea, and the legions of SEC fans filled the comments to call the reporter a quisling and the player a piece of meat, and other people were depressed because the people Bud Light commercials work on can still operate computers, and people compared the attempted education of poor kids to Wall Street.
I personally know both Jones boys and their mom. First of all, they are not counting on their boys playing in the NFL. Barrett likely will get drafted very highly ... and his dad (who played basketball for Alabama) is strongly encouraging Barrett to consider other options. I have the utmost respect for both the parents, and the boys. Barrett has a 4.0 - and has dreams other than playing the NFL - I know that for certain. I'm not sure about Harrison - but I know that he's in college to get more than a football experience. I do know that Jones family is extremely solid - and has a much more broad outlook than having a luxurious life. They have raised three wonderful boys (I currently coach and teach the 3rd, Walker). While your post may be true of other families, I think you shouldn't be so quick to come down on this family / mom.
Saban is the wrongdoer in this situation - and if you'd read my post a little further down, you'd see a broader picture.
You're right; in this case I was entirely off-base in my comment. My cynicism gets the better of me sometimes.
Ok I was going to post a demeaning line about what a 4.0 SEC GPA means , but a kid should get credit for this.Glad to hear somebody thinks about life after college football.
Since they are renting a condo so they can visit for home games they might already be doing ok for themselves.
to come to light? I mean, there must be a legion of former recruit-then-shit-canned-college football players out there who got the shaft. Are we to believe that nobody has been asking them any questions or listening to their stories? None of them have registered a formal complaint with the universities, the NCAA, the local or national press?
That's a good question. There's a book waiting to be written. I have seen a number of players who got screwed quoted, mostly in the excellent takedown SI wrote on the subject (and they have continued to pound away.)
But there's got to be more, and you wonder what they were told, how the schools broke it to them. I wonder how many guys learned then the sole power of the university to grant and revoke a football scholarship every year -- or move them to a fraudulent medical list so they still get school paid for, but the athletic dept doesn't have to count it against the 85 cap.
There are no doubt some incredible stories about what these kids were told.
I believe there has been a book written. I was listening to "The Herd" a couple of days ago and he and his guest(one of the college guru's who is a guest often on his show, can't recall his name) were alking about this. According to the author its recognized nationally as an embarassment to college sports. Might have been Pat Forde?
I just looked it up.
Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting by Bruce Feldman
So I get it, Nick Saban is a terrible person and the SEC should stop oversigning....
But, If I learned anything from watching Intervention it's that for every addi... oversigning coach, there's an enabler. Isn't part of the problem that kids and their families keep signing up to play at these schools knowing full well there's a 25% chance they get screwed?
Furthermore, why can't Pac-10, B1G schools recruit against this? Can't the vest, Hoke, Pellini, et al., tell players about what's going on in the SEC. How hard is it for a recruiter to say, "SEC plays some great football, but over there it's a business and there are no guarantees. Here, at Michigan/Nebraska/PennSt., you are family."
Anyways, my larger point is don't hold your breath waiting for the SEC to police itself and the NCAA to make bad press for it's TV contracts. The answer might lie in educating student-athletes and the other conferences going out and recruiting hard and telling it like it is. If you get a scholarship from Ole Miss, there is a very good chance you get thrown under the bus before you graduate!
about the chances of getting thrown under the bus before they graduate, but I have a feeling that many of them over estimate their own talent and say to them selves, "That'll NEVER happen to ME..." And the coach who recruits him may be enabling that scenario as well. "Yes, we do have a number of guys at that position, but you appear to be better than they are and you will probably end up as a three year starter..." Honestly, I think the recruitment process is the first thing that needs to be fixed so that the kids aren't put into a difficult position in the first place.
When I read this in Brian's post:
" Florida going bats about it forced Slive to gesture towards discussion later this year, but at no point will he ever suggest that the SEC is anything but a forward-thinking bastion of nation-leading ethics."
My brain automatically changed ethics to athletics. I had to re-read it and then I started laughing. Then I realized my brain was right the first time and I was sad.
is that if the Big Ten is the only place pretty much that guarantees you your scholarship (unless you do something really terrible of course) then why aren't recruits running our doors in? Surely, we would use that in recruiting in the South? And it appears to be a huge deal to people so really what gives?
I mean have you ever heard a kid go "I'm going to Purdue because that scholarship situation at Ole Miss is a bit shady" or "Michigan it is for me, the coaches in the SEC just seem pretty dishonest"?
Ever heard of an 18-year-old who gets his summer paycheck and says "gee, I bet if I set up a Roth I.R.A. right now I'd have a real leg up on paying off my student loans"?
No, you don't.
Because 18-year-olds don't say "gee" except perhaps for ironic effect.
Golly fellas, I sure hope my mop jives with my threads.
Also because kids become as obsessed with teams as we do. If I had to pick between a full ride to play football at Michigan State, or grayshirting at Michigan for a chance to wear wings, that might not be such an easy call.
In all seriousness, read the Jones brothers' high school coach's reply below, and see for yourself how that thinking went down. Here's a kid whose brother is playing for Alabama, who's giving himself a very good shot at winning a national championship given the talent on hand already in Tuscaloosa, and who probably felt dicked around a bit but ended up getting his scholarship back anyway. If you're that guy, would you rather be the victim who wasn't good enough to play for Bama and ends up transferring (and sitting out a year) to have his name be a byword for Alabama's ethical vacuity, or the team player who stuck it out? That's what's going through his head, I almost guarantee.
Why do kids go there in the first place? Well, national championships, and the 18-year-old man's mantra: "it can't happen to me."
that 18-year-old always think nothing will ever happen to them.
However, I also think there really is not that much awareness among recruits that this goes on to the degree it does in the Sleazy Equals Championships conference. So I would argue that if more recruits had one-on-one talks with past recruits who were told all sorts of things that turned out to mean nothing when their scholarships were pulled, it would make a big difference.
But the schools who engage in this certainly are not going to tell them, and the recruits who got cut from the team after annual tryouts are not around to tell them. It will take some work to get this more out in the open. These stories are starting to get out there but more tales need to emerge. We should not fixate on these Jones kids and argue over what did or did not happen. There are plenty more examples.
A deeper look would reveal just what it has done to disrupt the lives of a lot of kids who did nothing wrong, all so that guys like Nick Saban can feel better about his depth and not be saddled with educating players he recruited and who signed with him in good faith, but just didn't turn out to be the players he thought they were.
In the 18 year-olds' defense, I set-up a Roth IRA when I was 16. So yeah, some of us were losers at that age.
I live, teach, and coach in Tennessee - where nearly everyone here in Memphis is an Arkansas, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabam or Tennessee fan. I grew up here - but had to get out of the South to go to college, and then came back here to coach.
From many of our perspectives, we think, "why would a kid go to an SEC school when they know that this could happen to them?" We're using reason, here, folks ... and to be honest with you, the SEC and its fans are not driven by reason - at all. In the South, SEC football is life - there is nothing else. Nothing.
So, on one hand, the entire community will wholesale look the other way when things like this are done. To go beyond that, there is this sense of dillusion, that I cannot explain if you've been here. A couple years ago, I had a conversation with a 30-something who was trying to argue that Tennessee had the best program in the country ... At first, I thought he was talking football, but he meant ... everything. I couldn't believe that I was actually even engaged in a conversation where I was having to suggest that M.I.T has a better engineering program than U.T. But, this guy was serious - and this is the life of the SEC fan. They really do not think - at all. Auburn fans are convinced that every other school would have offered money to Newton, but Auburn would never do such a thing; they will not even hear any conversation that hints that such schools buy players.
Much of the reason that coaches can get away with it is that they know they do not have to justify it to the masses of people who will not face with reality. I'm used to rabid fans. I've been around Michigan football all of my life, and my best friend is a Nebraska fan. I get it; people love their teams. But, there is a severe unwillingness in the South for their fans to come to grips with reality. I think that there are more than one or two hacks at the freep, but at least those guys will try to talk about the good and bad of what's going on at the hometown school. That doesn't happen here.
And the kids are going to go to the SEC school every time - because that's all they can see. I had a friend who got into Princeton, but her mom wouldn't let her go, because Princeton didn't have a southern chapter of Chi Omega. So, she went to Ole Miss instead - and wore her coctrail dress to games every Saturday. No matter how dirty a coach is, the player is sold - because of the cultre ... not because of the reality. It's a different world here, folks.
What a great post. Right on the money on the South and how people think.
I was born in the South, in Alabama, and my whole family is from Walker County, Alabama, a rural place between Birmingham and Memphis. But my grandparents were of the generation that aimed higher and they made something of themselves. They moved north for one reason and one reason only: To educate their children, to change their lives.
So it was different for me. My grandfather was a major influence in my life and he would not hear of me going to a university in the South, where he had lived most of his life. To him, it was all about the long-term view and what would be best for me the rest of my life. And so he encouraged me to go to Michigan. We were living in Michigan and he said, "You can get in-state tuition at one of the best universities in the world. Why would you go anywhere else?" This was a man who grew up poor, he knew the value of a dollar. I looked around, got accepted at a number of places and even made visits to Dartmouth and Yale. For the difference in cost, I was simply not convinced the education I'd get at those places would be worth that much more than what I'd get at Michigan.
I have often wondered how different I would be, how different my career would be, if I had gone to Alabama instead of Michigan. And I am grateful I had people in my life to steer me to the place that would mean the most to me down the line. And that's why I love Michigan. It's not the football team, though I enjoy football -- it's that Michigan changed my life.
After graduation, I returned to Alabama, and I stayed in the South for many years. I had the ability to succeed in my chosen field, but the Michigan degree opened doors again and again. Even in places like Birmingham and New Orleans, a lot of people know about Michigan.
And the ones that don't, the ones who see it as any other school like an Alabama, you'd never want to work for them anywhere because all they're really telling you is they don't have an evolved world-view. The number of people in my family who never left Alabama because they just didn't know any better, or were scared of what's out there, far outnumber those of us who went away and came back. It is a region of misplaced priorities and underachievers. It has great soul, but in general SEC universities do not serve their athletes well once the football ends and life begins. It just doesn't matter that much to them, it only matters that they give it lip-service a la SEC Commissioner Mike Silve. He perfectly represents the SEC rationalization brigade.
The mindset the writer discusses here is sadly accurate. Most of the fans of the SEC cannot see beyond the football field. Worse, they don't even understand why anyone would care to. If I could talk to high school players in the South who have a chance to go to Michigan, that's what I'd tell them. They wouldn't all see the value, but many would, and later in life they'd be grateful just like I am.
My best friend has been living in the South for the last 6-7 years - Nashville first and now raising a multiracial kid in Atlanta. Your comments mirror exactly what he's been telling me about talking football down there.
When we visited last, as we northerners are wont to do, we had a few beers at started chatting about all of these new adult problems. As is typical for difficult subjects in an enlightening discussion, I took several devil's advocate positions -- you know, the typical conversive device used to challenge your friend to support and hone their convictions. Except every time I would start arguing against something my friend's wife was saying, the room would quiet. He told me later that she was really upset with me -- in the South it is considered rude to disagree with someone: accordance, even when the other person is off their rocker, is a major cultural value. I've lived abroad, and have traveled to several other countries long enough to become acculturated, but the Southern value of agreement / abhorrence of argument is by far the most difficult for me to understand. Perhaps the greater threat of interpersonal violence among Southern people through history has taught a cultural lesson that agreeing without making sense is preferable to "hashing it out." On the other hand, in this day and age, why continue to accept a value that makes you dumber?
To continue having a friendship with my best friend's wife, though, it was imperative that I at least learn to accept it.
Another quick Southern encounter:
I was on a sales call (me representing the editorial side) with our sales rep who covers the South with a guy from Eastern Tennessee. Throughout the meeting I kept talking about how he should do a Webinar with us, and he kept saying "that's a great idea you got there," and "that's a smart idea," and "that's a really interesting idea."
After we got out of there my sales rep was like "why did you keep talking about the Webinar; he hated it!"
I was like, "he kept saying he thought it was 'interesting' and 'smart' and a 'great idea,'" and she says "yeah, that's how they say they hate it."
I don't want this thread to turn into an anti-South thing - we're not talking about enemies but countrymen, best friends wives, and great clients who are truly leaders in our industry, not to mention fantastic football fans (of which we, being here, must count ourselves). But I must say, this difference in how we perceive argument makes us very strange bedfellows.
There are not many places in the South where a multi-racial anything would be tolerated... but Atlanta is a bit different. There are far more non-Southerners there than anywhere else. And that sense of propriety really thickens when you get futher west into Mississippi.
I agree that it's not about South-bashing. I love the South ... that's why I so badly missed it in both under and post-grad work. I had to get back. And, I do love the commitment to football. The culture here is amazing - and it really is astounding to see. There's nothing like tailgating in the Grove at Ole Miss ... nothing.
My concern is just the illusion that Southerners have - and I think that this is the reason for the oversigning being practiced and tolerated. I'll be honest with you, it's not going away; the SEC will actually try to keep it practiced - unless the NCAA says something. And, the SEC is far too big of a cash cow for the NCAA to make them change the way they do things.
Sadly enough, too, the SEC fans have a big enough chip on their shoulder, that if the NCAA did get involved, they would once again take it as an attempt to keep down the relegate the better programs ... once again, the North imposing its will on the South.