Ozone / Dr Saturday on Oversigning

Submitted by Zone Left on December 22nd, 2010 at 12:58 PM

The OZone, proud publishers of Michigan Monday, crunched the numbers and determined Arkansas has signed 30(!) more recruits than OSU has going into the Sugar Bowl.

According to Dr Saturday, this is the largest discrepancy of the bowl season, but the 8 of 10 SEC bowl teams has signed at least 10 more players over the previous four seasons than their opponent, including:

huge margins for Mississippi State (+20 over Michigan), Alabama (+22 over Michigan State) and Auburn (+19 over Oregon). The Bulldogs, Crimson Tide and Tigers have all signed upwards of 110 players in four years, meaning at least 25 of those signees in each case – the equivalent of a full recruiting class – had to wash out in one fashion or another to get those rosters in under the NCAA's 85-scholarship limit this year.

This is an obvious advantage for SEC teams.  Miss St has essentially signed five recruiting classes over the past four seasons--leaving them many more chances to have players be successful.  The NCAA really needs to step in here to create a level playing field.



December 22nd, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

How can you compete with that except by playing the same game since the NCAA doesn't seem to care.  Realizing the you will not get all of your recruits, you do what the airlines do...you overbook or, in this case, over-recruit slightly, with emphasis on "slightly."


December 22nd, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

Michigan has done just fine against the SEC for a long time. I don't think we need to stoop to the SEC's level of doing things to win.  Fortunately, they can still only field 11 players at a time against our 11 players (Tennessee is still figuring this rule out). Michigan needs to get the best 85 players they can find, and they will do fine.  I would much rather Michigan follow the unwritten moral rules to gaurantee a kid who plays for Michigan a scholarship as long as he does what he's supposed to do (work hard, go to class, show class), then do what Les Miles did to some of the kids he recruited.

It amazes me the lengths these teams go to keep talent on the team when they mess up with guns, stealing, etc., and yet they toss good kids off the team for not being as good as the coaches thought they would be.


December 22nd, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

Completely disagree with the assertion that Michigan should start over-signing kids, as well. I would hate to see Michigan (or any Big10 team for that matter) exploit and toss away a bunch of kids to win an extra game or two.

One of the things that I've always admired about Michigan is the level of class with which the program has comported itself, especially during the past few, very rough and at times ugly, years. I would never want to see the school stoop to the level of ditching kids who have done nothing wrong.

And while I think the airline analogy is interesting, it's not entirely accurate. Airlines over book to compensate for potential lost passengers (also, it's one of the airline industries most frustrating and anti-customer policies), they don't overbook on the off chance that a "better" passenger comes along.


December 22nd, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

The Big 10 does a very good job of not over-signing kids.  In the video shown on the front pages fews days ago, ESPN OTL had a graph and the Big 10 had the fewest number of signees over the past few years.

I think it is safe to say that Michigan or the Big 10 is above other conferences when it comes to over-signing.


December 22nd, 2010 at 8:14 PM ^

As for the airlines analogy, the overbooked passengers at most have to take another flight an hour or two later, maybe overnight, perhaps given a token buy-out or free ticket for the inconvenience.  These kids have the rug taken out from under them, to say nothing of their scholarships.  They're suddenly faced with paying for an education when that may be out of the question or transferring to another school that may be of a quality, both in athletics and academics (but perhaps not in ethics), that is of much lower quality than the one that ditched them.  Or they may have to leave school and give up their dreams completely.

Yes, we all want our teams to win.  But the kids should come first, the winning second.  Glad I root for Michigan.  I'll take 20 minutes of stretching over this abomination any day.

st barth

December 22nd, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

More people have moved to the south than the midwest in the past five years so it's only natural their football teams would be larger.  

Yeah, something like that.


December 22nd, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

It's about time the MSM is picking up on this - kudos to all the blogs for continuing to make it known.  The NCAA must step in.  This is exactly what collegiate athletics are not supposed to be.

Zone Left

December 22nd, 2010 at 1:24 PM ^

You'd like to think so.  There's no point in having a 25 scholarship rule if schools aren't accountable.  It's like the tax code, there's so many loopholes that the rules cease to have any meaning and require a specialized workforce to ensure compliance. 

Captain Obvious

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:34 PM ^

You are placing the blame on all the wrong people.  It's not the government's fault (OMG! blasphemy!) - they simply react to people (read: mostly corporations) trying to abuse the system and not pay what they owe.

The Tax Code used to be much shorter and fairly straightforward.  Loopholes were rampant and the government knew it.  Instead of fixing it, they simply raised the marginal rates to recoup the shortfall from people cheating on their taxes.  The top marginal federal rate under Eisenhower was 92%.  Yes, that's right - certain levels of income were taxed at 92%.

The thing is, people rarely actually paid these rates.  They'd hire accountants or lawyers (like me) to find loopholes and exploit them.  This was truly inequitable - those with the proper knowledge or money would pay far less, while others with less knowledge or hired guns paid far more.

Eventually, the government stepped in and starting closing down loopholes (and lowering marginal tax rates).  It was an arms race - the people find a loophole, the government shuts it down, they find a new one, it's shut down, etc.  Now I have 2 linear feet of books in my office that make up the Code and the Regs.  However, the loopholes are now few and far between and people generally are taxed in an equitable manner (setting aside whether the actual rates are "equitable," I don't care to start a political discussion).

Sure, it requires specialized knowledge to understand the Code and all that, but it's not really required.  There's not much left to exploit and you can have "experts" at H&R Block or whatever make sure you get all the deductions, credits etc. due to you if you don't feel like studying tax law.

The only real downside is where the government overreacts and passes sweeping reforms that are very complicated and overbroad - see Code Section 409A passed in '04.  Or, when they see a small problem, anticipate further problems and try to preemptively kill the problem, like with Code Section 457A.  This makes corporations and some individuals pay out more in legal fees to solve a problem that might not really exist.

Point of this discussion?  Not sure.  I guess I get annoyed when people complain about the complexity of the Code when we the people (again, mostly corporations) are the reason for its complexity.

Zone Left

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

I get a little worked up because my wife was told she owed about $3000 in back taxes this year.  After I went through the monumental ass pain of getting all the required documentation, writing letters, etc--the IRS ended up owing us $400.

To me, that the code is "two linear feet" tall is absurd.  People shouldn't have to pay someone to interpret tax law to tell help them file a tax return on money that is almost always already withheld and sent directly to the government.  It doesn't make any sense.

/end rant

Captain Obvious

December 22nd, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

It's an estimation, and one that requires adjustment at year end.  People make money in a lot of different ways and employer withholding isn't going to be an accurate representation of the money you made that year.  Remember that end of year filings often result in refunds - would you rather the amounts withheld just be unreviewable?

Also, about 1.9 feet of the 2 feet of books don't apply to you if you are an individual.  Report income, tax deductions and credit as applicable, send in investment info, file.  If you own a small business, having an accountant or whatever is simply a cost of doing business.  You could do it yourself, but the time investment probably isn't worth it.  So you hire an expert.  If you own a multinational corporation maintaining incentive compensation plans in several countries then we can talk about how the Code is overly complex.


December 22nd, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

Pitiful state, the regular Joe walking the street knows that this cheating, you are skirting the rules to gain an advantage. The people paid to make sure this doesn't happen are clueless or dirty.

What do I know, after all Cam can play, he did nothing wrong.


December 22nd, 2010 at 1:50 PM ^

I think a investigation by an outside agency into the NCAA is WAAAAY overdue! Its took how many years to determine the extent of the USC/Bush issue and it only takes less than 48 hours to determine that Cam was actully Sgt Schultz from Hogans Heros..."I KNOW NUUTHING...NUUTHING!!"

Now we have the over signing issue thats gone on for years as well...hmmm anyone see a common thread....SEC?!?! All that old southern money getting exchanged in the shadows it really starting to take a toll on the state of sports! Its even gone so far as to coax the general population to move to the south...LOL!! Maybe the south WILL rise again??


December 22nd, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

If a player has been at a school 3 years and leaves after their redshirt sophomore year or junior year that scholarship is now available.  That can play a role in the amount of scholarships handed out over a 4-5 year period.  By no means am I saying this is the sole reason the SEC schools have handed out so many scholarships - they definitely take advantage of any loophole they can.  But at the better schools like Florida, Alabama this can come into play.  I doubt that has come into play much at Miss St they last few years.


December 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

....unfair recruiting advantages for some schools over others. Climate, something that cannot be changed, has convinced kids to choose one school over another. Admissions standards has allowed some kids to enjoy a scholarship at some schools, even as they would have liked to go to another school. Outside money influence to certain schools, like Oregon and Nike, have allowed some schools to upgrade athletic facilities to be the best around, and has convinced kids to choose those schools over others.

None of those listed above, and some others that weren't discussed, are not able to be changed to level the "playing field".

One that can be changed is the use of oversigning classes. The B10 has set limits in order to level this field amongst it's member schools, but unfortunately, it tilts the field away from B10 schools in favor of conferences like the SEC. This is one area that should definately be addressed by the NCAA, and is one that is completely doable within the confines of the rules already in place.


December 22nd, 2010 at 5:16 PM ^

How about we say that climate is a factor that is beyond the control of a given institution, not unfair? 

How about we say that admission standards are different for different schools and it is up to each instituition to determine how they handle that as a freedom of choice issue as opposed to being unfair?

How about we say that different schools are supported by their alumni at different levels (Michigan and its athletic department are not slouchex in terms of being supported by its alumni base in many ways in comparison to most other schools)

Now, having dropped a couple of the things you listed, maybe DB had this kind of oversigning in mind when he commented that the current NCAA rulebook is way too big and way too complex and needs revisions to be a common sense rule system.

Zone Left

December 22nd, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

Because it is wrong.

The issue is that the SEC schools aren't violating NCAA rules by oversigning.  I remember a segment with Ivan Maisel where he said Saban is simply a master of the rule book and is going to do everything he can to gain an advantage.

Personally, I find very little about the NCAA's enormous rulebook to be right or wrong.  It's simply a collection of rules member schools agreed to abide by.  If, for example, a coach could send unlimited public Facebook wall posts to recruits, there would be nothing inherently bad about it--even though the NCAA currently prohibits it.  However, oversigning, in my book, is morally wrong.  When a school asks a student to become a student-athlete, it should honor the commitment just like the NCAA forces players to uphold their end of the bargain by making transfers difficult, etc.  

The next logical step is for schools to start hoarding again, like they did before scholarship limits.  The only difference is that they'll sign anyone they can and then cut anyone who is marginal or shows up somewhat out of shape to their first camp.  Les Miles already did just that this year, but only with one player.


December 22nd, 2010 at 9:08 PM ^

How do the SEC schools avoid the dipping below mendoza line on the APR? I am sure there are some gray shirts, medical scholarships and other dubious ways of having kids not count against the team, but signing 113 kids in 4 years must have some negative effect to the APR. I do realize the NCAA seems to have different rules for different conferences, but even they should see this loop hole hurting kids.