On the face of it, it was not hard to grasp that oversigning is a quick way to upgrade talent and keep the talent level high. But seeing it this way, laid bare in this fashion, it is staggering that there is not a cacophany of other programs complaining loud and long about this practice. It makes a mockery not just of the rules, but the very concept of a student-athlete. One begins to wonder if Saban is really that big a genius as a coach or does he simply have better athletes. Talent wins. The thought that he has an entire extra class of athetes to work with, and this practice is tolerated is mind boggling.
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.
Interesting diary, but you're making the assumption that Alabama has dismissed only the crappy players (may be correct on this due to Saban's sketchy ways). Can you look through all the players no longer with Alabama (the ones who DID qualify, but are no longer on the team) and count how many of them are 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars??
I believe this would be a more fair analysis and may support your argument even more.
Couldn't agree more, but I am frightened by the amount of work and Googlestalking that would represent.
Schools competing with schools like Alabama for recruits should point out the math, specifically how many kids got screwed out of their schollies. I know a lot of kids think "it won't happen to me," but their parents don't.
As much as I dislike Alabama, I think you're being a little unfair here. Your analysis fails to account for the players who signed, but did not enroll. If they do not enroll, they cannot push another player out.
I compared the classes with the rosters found on the official NCAA stats site (http://web1.ncaa.org/d1mfb/rosters.jsp?yr=2005&org=8&div=1).
2006 23 signed- 20 enrolled
2007 24 signed- 20 enrolled
2008 32 signed- 26 enrolled
2009 27 signed- not yet known
Until the season starts, we will not know the number enrolled from the 2009 class. If you assume the trend of at least 3 from each class not enrolling continues, that would leave 24 from the 2009 class. The four year total of those actually entering the university would be 90.
A good point, but I feel you are falling prey to the idea that the circumstances dictate the oversigning. If I am allowed to quote myself: "The stories do not create oversigning, oversigning creates the stories." So because Alabama takes risky runs at kids who may not qualify but run a 4.24 forty, then it's OK? They oversign because to them it's a meat market. If you don't think so, how about some current news:
The best case scenario given your enrollment data is that Alabama dramatically overshoots because of the expected non-qualifier carnage. If that carnage doesn't happen? Then we see articles like the above.
**** ARTICLE EXCERPT ****
“We have a demanding program,” he said. “When I say ‘demanding program,’ I’m not talking (only) about football.”
Personal development requirements, academics and lack of playing time contribute to the attrition, Saban said.
“None of these players are leaving because of the kind of football players they are from our standpoint,” he said. “There may be some player who leaves because they’re disappointed and don’t think or don’t have the confidence that they can play.
“So if we have attrition for any of those areas, and I tell the player, I don’t want you to leave, you’re a good person in the program, you’re a good student. You may be a backup player, but you have to be satisfied with your role on the team because we don’t want a player that’s disgruntled or negative in terms of our team chemistry for selfish reasons because you’re unsatisfied with your role. If you don’t think you can achieve that here, I’m supportive in helping you go someplace else.”
Saban said Alabama is still waiting on academic eligibility on a couple players. There may be further shuffling between now and the start of camp.
“We have some players who will be grayshirted and know they will be grayshirted,” he said. “And we have some players who are contemplating what their future’s gonna be relative to the University of Alabama. And we have some players who are being suspended, whether it’s for behavior or academic reasons, and they won’t continue at our school.”
Incredible Post, keep up the good work.
Is there a way to have a "best of" somewhere? I ended up reading this bc White Tiger said it was great, but probably would have missed it completely.
Maybe select users with 1,000+ points can make a "best of" spot. This could be a way to ease into user moderation and help out Brian with workload. It would also provide a place for the intensively researched posts to be seen and discussed, while allowing the site the space to discuss the many topics it currently does.
What I'm surprised about is that Alabama's APR has apparently not taken a major hit (yet?). According to the 2009 report, Alabama's APR is 955* (* note - PDF) (for comparison purposes, UM's is 947*). I'm sure there are rules about how these numbers are computed, but when you have 3-5 kids leaving each year, with at least a few of them enrolled at the time, it blows my mind that their APR is still so high. My guess, of course, is that this number will take a nosedive if Saban keeps oversigning, but then again that would require the NCAA to actually crack down on these types of abuses by teams a little more popular than Jacksonville State.
First of all, if it was cheating, then if you know it's cheating, then the NCAA most definitely knows it's cheating and would have stopped it by now.
Another thing. Who got cheated the past couple of years? Sure Brian likes to claim that some of them got cheated, but he has absolutely no proof to it at all. Some of the ones he said got cheated out of a scholarship and placed on a medical scholarship had been suffering with problems for a while and it was inevitable that they'd go on a medical red shirt.
This year, four of the players were dismissed from the team due to violation of team rules. Maybe you think it's cheating them by doing that, but if I violate the rules of the company I work for, then I should be expected to be let go. Why should it be any different in this case?
One of the points Pete Holiday makes that someone on here called a bad argument is that Saban can't kick the players off the team because he wants a more talented player to take that person's place. The financial aid department has to give the approval for someone to lose their aid. They can't lose their scholarship just because Saban has to trim the roster.
And finally, if he's really doing all that, then why is he still attracting recruits? That should be a big warning sign that you shouldn't go to a school like that because of the way the coach is with the scholarships. Instead, Bama has signed two #1 classes in a row and is on its way to another excellent class.
So maybe instead of complaining about it, maybe you should worry about your own school and hope that your coaches can start doing a better job of recruiting.