First, the retraction: Jim Leavitt and South Florida aren't hacking guys down out of mere lack of scholarship space, as I suggested on The Sporting Blog. They kept going after getting to 85:
"I don't know how it happened," said Atkins, a tight end from Dixie Hollins High School. "I did everything USF asked me to do. The committee said my grades were on a downward trend, but they improved my last semester. I don't understand the process."
That's a who-dat two star tight end who's suddenly on the open market—not exactly the crown jewel of the class—but it's also the third player who's been shot down not by the NCAA Clearinghouse but by USF admissions.
Why would USF suddenly get religion about this sort of thing? I'm guessing its their BCS-worst APR. USF's been the caboose the last two years but has miraculously escaped sanctions via unexplained waivers. They managed to get a waiver this year despite seeing their APR fall eight points. Unless the Bulls get their numbers up now they will feel the NCAA's boot, and now USF must take a hard look at players at risk of failing out.
I'm not sure if this is a positive development or not. On the one hand, USF is experiencing difficulties with recruiting because the NCAA isn't going to put up with terrible graduation numbers any more. On the other, three kids have had their plans disrupted. The first two players to get rejected have landed at Southern Miss and Louisville (and Atkins is also rumored to be headed to UL), so they're still getting D-IA scholarships.
And the smoking gun. New Golden Eagle Alonzo Lawrence on his violation of team rules, or lack thereof:
He was expected to see playing time as either a cornerback or safety for the Crimson Tide this season, but Saban said this week that Lawrence was one of four players who violated a team rule and were not invited back to the team.
“That’s something that isn’t true, but I’m not going to say anything about that,” Lawrence said.
Ah, the classic comment-but-no-comment. Very passive-aggressive. Lawrence is one of eighteen Alabama players to leave the team this offseason and amongst 30 in two years. Fully 13 Alabama players who completed spring practice are off the team. Saban again brought in way more players than his roster could theoretically handle, guaranteeing these departures in February. At some point the sheer numbers defy explanation.
Again: a school shouldn't be able to sign someone to a LOI unless it can show where the money is coming from.