The Impact of Alabama's Oversigning
The Alabama recruiting abuses have always deeply troubled me, and I very much enjoy when Brian takes them to task. Despite those efforts, I still think the issue is under-exposed.
Alabama cheats*. Alabama’s cheating is more effective and has far greater impact than any conventional cheating one might consider, such as paying recruits or bribing officials. Alabama is playing with a significantly expanded roster. It would be akin to a 30 man roster for the Red Wings with no salary restrictions on the top end. Or John Beilein being able to work with 17 scholarships for an extended period of time. Those who point out that teams that oversign still have to trim down to the 85 scholarship limit apparently refuse to acknowledge it is the marginal players who will be “trimmed”; the best players will remain. For those who reject the expanded roster analogy, then perhaps it is similar to having a developmental squad from which budding stars can be promoted and to which disappointments can be demoted and eventually “let go.”
I have developed nothing new here, just restated a problem we’ve all discussed before. What is missing is the full impact of oversigning.
As a refresher, here are the last four classes for Alabama and Michigan.
Alabama oversigned by 22 players and Michigan undersigned by 1. I don’t care about any individual stories – players who didn’t make the grade, players who changed their minds, players abducted by Andromedans. Doesn’t matter. The reality is that those stories, those excuses have to be there because of the oversigning. The stories do not create oversigning, oversigning creates the stories.
That is a twenty-three player advantage over the last four years. A whole class, consisting of four 5 star players, ten 4 star players and nine 3 star players.
What would Michigan be like today if they had at their disposal the cream of an additional crop? Let’s put faces and names on such a class. Given that Michigan has only had five 5 star players over the last four years, we’ll need four of those. I drew lots and William Campbell was the odd man out. Next, we need ten 4 star players, or 2.5 per year (to spread the tenure of the players out over the four classes). Since I can’t cut a player in half, I went 3, 2, 3, 2, taking the best and worst 4 star from each class and the middle-ranked 4 star for the classes where an extra player was needed (if an even number, I flipped a coin). I needed nine 3 stars or two per class with one extra coming from the class with the most three stars, again top, bottom and middle when needed.
Here’s your class:
These would be additional players in the system over the last four years. The names are a reference point – envision an identical player of equal skill that would be part of the team. Sort of like the mgoblog YMRMFSPA.
Now, what would having that additional talent do to our two deep?
By my crude analysis, that would be an additional five starters for the 2009 team with three more breaking into the two deep. Feel free to disagree here and suggest other combinations.
I admit I have Mallet-clone starting over Tate. That may produce some debate; however, a highly-rated, five star veteran, even if not a prototype spread QB, surely would get the nod to start this season. Look at the center of the OLine! Schilling, Molk and Boren-clone with Schilling-clone backing up both guard positions. Very nice. I give the Matthews-clone the nod over Hemmingway, but the wisdom of two possession receiver types is open for debate.
On defense, we are a good sight better. If we keep the 3 traditional linemen the same, we now have Graham-clone as the Deathbacker. Is he too big for that role? Then we can move him to DT and have Van Bergen backup, which might bring another clone into service with the LB corps. A DLine of Graham, Martin, Graham-clone is frightening. We have Ezeh-clone backing himself up in the middle, which supplies nice depth. At the corners, we have the two Warrens starting with the two Cissokos backing them up, which, in my opinion, makes for the deepest set of corners in the conference, and one of the top CB groups in the nation. Our nickel and dime packages would be lethal.
No real help at the Safety position because we are drawing on our own history here!
From a distance, on offense I see a powerful, very deep interior OLine to clear the way for Minor Rage, and a veteran QB with an intriguing backup. On defense, I likely see a front four of Graham, Van Bergen, Martin, with Graham-clone at Deathbacker, which is downright fearsome; two players rated as preseason All Big 10 selections in the front four. And I see an all world CB group with four guys who would probably start on any team in the Big 10.
Maybe Alabama is on to something after all.
* As does any team that egregiously oversigns.