I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with Oversigning.com

In a previous blog entry I detailed my dislike of Ohio State fans. I won’t recount that here. Please go back and re-read that entry if you care to reacquaint yourself with what sticks in my craw relative to the Buckeye fan base.

Over the years I have been a reader of and occasional contributor to an Ohio State fan forum called TheOzone.net. There are rules at TheOzone just as there are at most fan forum sites. Generally, the rules are simple: post whatever you like on the subject of Ohio State sports, but just don’t let it devolve into personal attacks on other posters, don’t use profanity, don’t flame, and so on.

My “contributions”, as it were, have historically been of the “devil’s advocate” variety (imagine that). Maybe I saw a thread in which some Ohio State pumper was making an argument that the Buckeyes have the most successful football program of all time. This type of claim is usually backed up with data, but it is often of a dubious nature. Therefore, in a case such as this, I have offered up “alternative” data and a different take on things that might lead someone to a different conclusion. I’m sure I am being overly kind to myself in this depiction of events, but this is the gist of it.

I am proud to say I have been banned from this website at least a half a dozen times. I can also say unequivocally that in no instance have I been banned for a violation of the site’s rules or terms of service. I have been banned because I disagreed with the homers on that site and they didn’t care for it. I imagine they would have a different take on things, but I would love for one of their administrators to provide a single example where I was banned because I broke a rule. The website is privately owned, so they were certainly free to ban me for whatever reason they chose (I didn’t bathe as often as they would have preferred, I used “big words” they couldn’t understand, and so on).

This is all background.

Over the past year or so, one of the more active posters on TheOzone has been a guy who goes by the moniker “7NCs7Heismans”. The “NCs” presumably stand for the national championships won by Ohio State since the program’s inception, and the other half of the name is self-explanatory.

Suffice it to say that if I have an obsession with the arrogance, sense of entitlement, proclivity for hyperbole, and just overall inability to see things as they truly are that plague the Ohio State faithful, this gentleman is at least as obsessed with Alabama football and its fan base.

He is the internet world’s yang to my yin.

Apparently this fellow married a gal who is a resident of the state of Alabama as well as an alumna of the University. If I’d known this prior to having read a word that the guy wrote on a forum, my inclination would have been to congratulate him for getting the opportunity to see how real fans behave when they don’t have to condescend and puff their chests up all the time to try and hide their sense of inferiority relative to truly successful football programs like Alabama’s.

Sadly, this fellow hasn’t cottoned too well to his marital conundrum. To make matters worse, he currently lives in Birmingham, the heart of Tide country. So day after day, it’s Nick Saban this, 13 national championships that. Major Ogilvie this, Joe Namath that.

The poor guy is like a Metallica fan who has to wander around the Grand Ol’ Opry every day, and it’s killing him.

Before the arrival of Nick Saban three years ago, his plight may not have been that bad. Alabama’s football program had fallen on hard times. The list of misadventures is too long to enumerate here, so I’ll just highlight a few:

  • Probation and loss of scholarships
  • A long string of coaches who were either not sufficiently successful, could not keep their noses clean, or moved on to greener pastures
  • An inability to raise Bear Bryant from the dead

Life in 7NCs house was probably tolerable. But then in January 2007 Alabama went out and hired Nick Saban.

Saban struggled his first season and only went 7-6, but there were signs that the program was on its way back. In Year 2, the Crimson Tide went undefeated in the regular season, but then lost the SEC championship game to Florida as well as their bowl game to Utah. Still, 12-2 in only his second season was very impressive. And most people know what happened just this past year. Bama ran the table completely and won the school’s 13th national championship.

Now life for this man had become truly intolerable. Every cocktail party, every news report, every church social. All Alabama football. All the time. 24/7. An already football-obsessed state was now in overdrive.

What was this poor man to do?

Answer: find a way to tear down this Tower of Tide Tedium that was permeating his life.

If Alabama had hired a Jackie Sherill or a Danny Ford to run the program, he wouldn’t have had to look to far. Sherrill and Ford ran their programs “old school style”, which included a fair amount of practices that ran afoul of NCAA policies. Uh, they cheated.

Nick Saban has been successful at every school where he has coached. He famously took LSU to a national championship in just four years. Prior to that he brought pride back to Michigan State’s program. He was even 9-2 as head coach at Toledo. The man is recognized as one of the best coaches of the modern era, even by people who don’t care for him.

So, how was 7NCs to tear this great man down?

Ah ha! Nick Saban, 7NCs determined, is destroying the lives of fine young men by signing more recruits than the school has room for. This cannot stand.

Wait a second, you say. How can Saban bring in more recruits than are allowed? If there’s a maximum, there’s a maximum. The NCAA polices these things. Plus, if Alabama got in trouble prior to Saban’s arrival and wound up on probation, they can’t take any chances. Surely Saban is dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s. Keeping his nose clean.

More on Saban later.

For now let’s get quickly acquainted with how the NCAA rules work for the signing of recruits.

Basically it works on a rule of 25/85. The NCAA mandates that none of it schools recruit more than 25 players for any one academic year and that no school have more than 85 total students on football scholarship at any one time. So if a given school has 65 kids on scholarship going into a recruiting season, that school can still theoretically recruit an additional 25 players for the upcoming year, but they somehow need to find a way to get their total down from 90 to 85 by the time school starts.

How is this accomplished? In any given year, many things can affect scholarship numbers going into a competitive season:

  1. Transfers. If a kid looks at the depth chart and sees that he has little to no chance of seeing the field at his position, occasionally he will transfer to another school. This helps the school from which he is transferring if their numbers are too high, but it does have the effect of forcing the kid to sit out of competition for a year. The NCAA requires this sit-out period to discourage rampant transferring. If the young man transfers from a Division I-A to a Division I-AA or Division II school, he isn’t required to sit out. But so many of these kids have always wanted to play at the highest levels, so they generally choose to sit out in this situation.
  2. Injuries. It stinks, but occasionally these kids get hurt during off-season workouts, or have an injury from the prior season that doesn’t heal sufficiently. Sometimes this results in a medical “redshirt”, where the NCAA allows the kid to remain a roster member that doesn’t count against the 85, but he isn’t allowed to play in any games. Other times, if the injury is serious enough, it could be the end of his career. Either way, this has the effect of reducing the total kids on scholarship.
  3. Grades. Most people think that football players at Division I-A schools don’t really go to class or make much effort to achieve anything as a student. I won’t opine on that subject here. Regardless of how much or how little effort these athletes put into their studies, all schools have minimum grade requirements that allow a kid to compete. If his grades slip below that level, he may lose his scholarship. At least temporarily.
  4. Grayshirting. This is a slightly fuzzy area, but here are the basics of it. If Joe Recruit signs a Letter of Intent in February 2010 to play football at the University of Bonepicker but doesn’t actually report to camp with his fellow recruits in the fall, it may be because he has elected to delay his enrollment until the following January. If so, he still has a full five (not four) years of eligibility beginning with the 2011 football season, and he does not count against the 2010 totals. This practice is called grayshirting.
  5. Violation of Team Rules. This covers a broad area. If an athlete is arrested, fails to attend class,  or for whatever reason does not meet the conditions the athletic department has set out for him to retain his scholarship, he may be released from the team.
  6. Inability to enroll as a freshman. Occasionally kids are recruited that have not yet met minimum GPA or SAT/ACT requirements for enrollment. The coaching staff hopes that before the college school year begins that this can be “dealt with”, but every once in a while it cannot be. Often these kids will enroll at a junior college or post-graduate high school program until they can get their academics in order.

Another major thing that affects the “numbers” from year-to-year is early application to the NFL draft by 3rd-year sophomores (kids that were redshirted for one year and have since competed for two) or true juniors. When that happens, and it does quite regularly with the better programs, obviously the kids that are leaving no longer have their numbers count against the 85 limit.

So here’s a scenario to consider:

The University of Whatchamacallit, a Division 1-A school, has 63 athletes on scholarship at the end of the 2009 season. If you didn’t know about all the things that could further affect that number, then you’d think that UW could only offer 22 incoming recruits a scholarship for the 2010 season, because anything more than that would put them over the 85 limit.

But you do know better.

So here’s the way the numbers might work:

68 scholarship athletes from 2009 are set to return for the following year’ season.

Head Coach Gene Fredrickson recruits 27 new freshmen recruits for the upcoming season. On paper, it looks like UW is going to be 10 players over the limit.

But 2 cornerbacks from the 2009 squad have decided to transfer. Seems UW is awfully deep in the defensive secondary.

Bobby McCall, the second string left defensive tackle breaks his leg during offseason conditioning and will miss the entire 2010 season.

2 more kids are declared academically ineligible for the 2010 season.

During the offseason 2 additional players are arrested for smoking marijuana and are kicked off the team permanently.

1 additional player has a falling out with the strength and conditioning coach during spring practice and decides to declare himself eligible for the NFL’s supplemental draft. He meets all of the NFL’s draft eligibility requirements and leaves UW.

Of the 32 new recruits, one is grayshirted and a second does not have the grades necessary to enroll for the fall semester and instead enrolls in a junior college down the road.

What is UW’s scholarship total when fall practice starts, even though Coach Fredrickson recruited more than the 25 the NCAA alllows and it looked as though he would be 10 over the 85 limit when school started the next year? Why, it’s 85.

Which brings me back to my buddy 7NCs and his Oversigning.com blog.

It seems 7NCs spent so much time prattling on endlessly on TheOzone about Alabama’s gratuitous oversigning, as well as the oversigning practices of several other SEC schools, that the rest of the forum told them that enough was enough. Go start your own blog and pour your energy into that. You will burn off all this energy you have and you won’t fill up our precious forum with repetitive jibber-jabber about the SEC. Seems most of the Ohio State fan base has heard just about enough about the SEC for the past four years. This would be especially true given that in the first two years of this four-year span the Buckeyes were run off the field by SEC opponents in the national championship game. The last two years the victims weren’t members of the Big 10. Instead it was the Big 12, but these Ohio State fans have heard all they can handle about the SEC.

So they basically ran him off.

7NCs took their “advice” and dove headlong into this new mission. He wanted to expose teams like Alabama that are willfully out there taking advantage of wrinkles in the rules that allow Alabama (and other “scofflaws”) to do what amounts to jury-rigging the system.

After all, the Big 10 has stricter rules than most of the other conferences. No Big 10 school is allowed to recruit more than the 25 minimum that the NCAA allows. This is true even if a full class of 25 will not put a member school at the 85 limit. This is quite interesting.

Do you suppose there is any chance at all that the sanctimonious attitude that 7NCs has about SEC recruiting practice could have anything at all to do with the fact that:

  • The SEC has won four national championships in a row–two of them with Ohio State coming out on the short end of the score, and
  • His alma mater’s conference doesn’t seem to have the ability to count to 85

Any chance at all?

But 7NCs hasn’t stopped here. Not by a long shot. It seems he has it in for Nick Saban and some of the other coaches in the SEC that practice this annoying habit of making sure they field a full squad of 85 players every fall.

So what does he do? He paints a nasty picture of Coach Saban.

Remember the scenario I just described with injuries, grades, and so on having a disadvantageous effect on UW’s scholarship total? Forget that. That isn’t what’s going on at Alabama. No sir.

Nick Saban is going to kids already on scholarship and putting pressure on them to transfer. Worse than that, he is telling kids that if they transfer willingly he and the Bama coaching staff will help find them a program to take them–either another 1-A program or a program at a lower division. But don’t make a fuss about it, Saban warns. Do that, you ingrate you, and I will unceremoniously toss you off this team for some trumped-up reason and you may never play football again. Or maybe he tells a kid with a balky ankle that the injury is really far more “serious” than even the player can imagine, and he had better consider giving up the game altogether.

What 7NCs would have you believe is that Nick Saban, one of the best recruiters in college football and one of its most successful coaches, has to lie to the faces of his players and to those players’ families. He’s doing it because he has to. He is being paid $4 million and change a year, after all, and the Alabama alumni will accept nothing less than championships after so many years with the program in retreat. Do what you have to do, Nick, even if that means throwing this kids out on their asses. Keep the ones that can score TDs, they say. The ones that can’t? We don’t give a rip what you do.

Yes, indeed. This man 7NCs is on a quest. He seeks to expose programs like Alabama’s that are exploiting this young kids. Heck, he says, so many of these kids have grown up wanting to don the Crimson Tide and wouldn’t dream of playing anywhere else. But what does this soulless man do? He throws them out on the street and tells them not to come back.

He has the numbers to prove it. He’ll even show you the recruits Saban has brought in the four years he’s been in Tuscaloosa (with the upcoming 2010 as the fourth). Saban has offered 113 (or some such number) recruits scholarships. Good lord! That’s 28 over the 85 limit. It’s a full recruiting class worth of kids more than the Ohio States of the world have recruited. Not only is it not fair, he’ll tell you. It’s sinfully wrong to take advantage of young kids in this way, because Saban knows he will have to throw a huge percentage of these kids out on the street to make his NCAA-mandated numbers!

What he won’t tell you is that when a kid is recruited in one year and goes to post-graduate high school for a year, only to come back in the following year’s class as well, he’s been counted twice in the numbers. He won’t tell you that this happens with great frequency. He won’t tell you that Saban is often recruiting kids from incredibly underprivileged backgrounds that have struggled in school all their lives. Some may never make the grades to get into college. Doesn’t matter. They’re in the numbers too, but don’t worry about the fact they’ll never set foot on campus. 7NCs would have you think that Saban is putting the sole of his shoe on their behinds and pushing them out the door.

Are there ever any shady goings-on with these recruits at Alabama or anywhere else? I don’t know. Could be.

I do know this. When fall camp starts in Tuscaloosa this coming August, the 2010 recruiting class will be at no more than 25 and the overall number of players wearing the Crimson that are on scholarship will total no more than 85. Those are the rules, and Nick Saban plays by them.

16 Responses to “I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with Oversigning.com”

  1. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    Finally, you post an idea I can agree with. You seem to be a man deeply imbued with a respect for law and rules. When your HOA came to you complaining you house was an eyesore, you promptly trump them with Telecommunications Act of 1996. Read it and weep. When this Oversigning.com guy takes a swipe at our boys you immediately go to the rules. No team, short of possibly SMU, is as familiar with the black, white and gray of the NCAA rulebook so who do you trust? Our extremely experienced compliance department or some internet guy who sounds as if he is a fan of Notre Dame or Ohio State.

    I, too am a big believer in rules. We had an incident down here that reminded me of your HOA experience. We have a still behind our church. Last year the revenuers came down and were fixin to blow it up. You know how your HOA came to you with the document you signed saying you would not have a visible dish and they thought they had you dead to rights? Well you brought out your law that trumped their silly piece of paper. We did the same thing. The revenuers were spouting all these silly laws that we were supposedly breaking, but we trumped them with the good ole U.S. Constitution (the real one, the old one before they messed it up after the War of Northern Aggression). It says we have freedom of religion and no revenuer can abridge, unbridge or overbridge this right. Our church strictly believes in John 12:24 – Verily, verily ,I say unto you, except a CORN of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. Every Sunday, just after the offering, some lucky parishioner gets to test the verse. We lock him in a box alone with a rattlesnake and a jug of our corn mash whiskey. If the good ole boy gave enough in the offering and if the corn whiskey works, then he doesn’t die and he bringeth forth all sorts of fruit when we let him out of the box.

    It was an incident from nearly fifty years ago that reminds me of your run-in with the Oversigning.com guy. Down here, our schools, our lunch counters, our bathrooms and our elections were all governed by laws. Damn good laws if you ask me. We had a bunch of Nick Sabans verifying and enforcing these laws. Our football team won and we were all happy. In your world, you have this Oversigning.com guy trying to mess up a good football team with concepts such as fairness, morality and due process. In my day it was Bobby Frigging Kennedy and his long-haired yankees who came down spewing the same concepts in an effort to bring down Alabama football.

    We responded just like you have (I’m proud to say). We said that we were just following our laws. We really didn’t have anything against any of those folks, but laws are laws. If we started letting laws slip just because it was the moral thing to do and they had already changed those laws in Massachusetts and Ohio what would we be? We’d be little better than communists. In our time we had the honorable George Wallace (my grandma’s sister Sadie was kin to his mother) to keep communists and Big Ten fans at bay. Thank goodness in these troubled times, we have a guy like boner to take up the mantle of protecting our NCAA regulations.

  2. deepsthboy Says:

    Your boys were pretty clever to bust out a little Gospel on them revenuers. Next thing you know they’ll be trying to tax your pancake suppers at Mardi Gras. I hope y’all just laughed when they had to drive away, knowing they’d been beat.

    But let’s move on to your observation about fairness and morality.

    If my fictional Coach Fredrickson signs 28 kids over the winter and 1 doesn’t qualify because of grades, 1 enrolls early and grayshirts, and 1 decides to delay entry to school for a year to take care of his sick grandmother that raised him, then where has there been a lapse in fairness or morality?

    I’m guessing that somewhere in your humorous anecdote is a serious point about these kids being mistreated. I sure do wish you’d produce a bunch of examples (or even a few) in which the system has been gamed.

    Also, maybe you could explain to me why the University of Whatchamacallit shouldn’t sign a couple or more kids than the 25 they allowed to ENROLL in fall semester when they’re in the recruiting season if:
    a) history has proven that there is usually a bit of fallout from winter to the following fall and
    b) the freaking NCAA allows the practice, for goodness sakes

    Lee Roi, maybe in your world you think that if the speed limit on I-59 between Birmingham and Gadsden says 65 you should still go 45 because it would give you a better chance of avoiding a skunk when it runs out in the road, but I personally am generally in a bit of a hurry and want to get where I am going. And guess what? The government has okayed that for me!

    If the Department of Transportation decides that the Alabama skunk is endangered and they want to slow everybody down to a more “moral” speed limit of 45, then I’ll obey that law when it gets passed. For now, the guy you see motoring along at the 65 speed limit with the Alabama stickers on his car is me.

    While we’re in the business of making things more fair, maybe the NCAA could mandate that all players in basketball be the same height. It just isn’t fair that these real tall kids like Greg Oden can just dominate the paint and score, rebound, and block shots at will. I say we force them all to have leg shortening surgery so that all those kids are the same height.

    After all, it’s all about being fair, right?

  3. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    Boner, your response pains me. I thought I was beginning to see you stiffen up a bit after your complaints about not enough (or too much – I couldn’t quite figure it out) ice cream in your half-gallon or which steamed veggies were being ordered at El Pollo Loco. In your original shot at Oversigning.com guy you fell back on a long southern tradition of law and order, but in this response you’re all over the place.

    Your Coach Fredrickson could star with Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion (who also is deeply concerned that ice cream makers now put 1.5 quarts in a package) in the Wizard of Oz. I went and read the Oversigning site and it has nothing to do with Coach Fredrickson and his 28 signees. The Oversigning.com guy argues that it is wrong for a school to sign more kids than it has spots available. Even down here we’re smart enough to know that if Coach Fredrickson signs 28 kids every year, and then that thins down to 25, by the end of four years he’ll have 100 kids which is more than the 85 that are permitted. And before you craft up more hypotheticals, we know the CNS is carrying 95 with this year’s signees right now.

    Now this may seem to be a problem. The one line in your entire misguided response addresses this apparent problem. “the freaking NCAA allows the practice., for goodness sake”. Now we know that’s not really true, but that’s where our respect for law is so important. That’s why I mentioned Governor Wallace earlier. He faced the same problem. He had all these northern laws thrown at him, but thank goodness, just like you, me and CNS, he had respect for our southern laws and didn’t mind saying so. If those folks in Wallace’s time didn’t like their treatment, they were free to move to Chicago or Detroit. If the kids coming out to play football don’t like their treatment they can play in Chicago or Detroit too. We need more folks like you and me to stand up for our laws.

    Now the entire last part of your response just stumped me. I have no idea where any of this mess about 65 mph or skunks came from. Hell, we all drive 90 mph on that stretch of I-65. Everyone knows that all these speed limit rules are northern laws (it’s true they have something to do with Jimmy Carter, but he is about as “northern” as a boy from Plains, Georgia can get) and the skunk laws are about as northern as a law can get. I hope you’re not suggesting that we begin to bow to such outside oppression.

    It has got nothing to do with being fair. It’s about standing up for our laws and rights and not letting some yankee from New York City or the NCAA tell us what our laws should be.

  4. deepsthboy Says:

    Lee Roi, pardon me if I am mistaken, but I thought the NCAA allows the signing of up to 25 kids per recruiting class. Is that correct or not? Furthermore, the “25” rule applies as of the day fall practice begins. Again, please correct me if I am wrong about that. So if Nick Saban, or any other coach, signs 28 kids in February, but has only 25 that are on the roster in August when practice starts, then he is within the rules. Please tell me what I am missing here. I am not talking about how many kids Bear Bryant signed in 1965, I am not talking about how many kids Nick Saban had on his roster at Michigan State, I am talking about the rule of 25. I thought you Alabama boys were pretty sharp, but perhaps I have misjudged you.

    As for the Oversigning.com guy, I am beginning to think he has similar struggles with mathematics. You say he argues that a coach shouldn’t sign more kids than he has slots for. Hmm. Well let’s say I am hosting a birthday party at my house for my son. He has 10 kids coming over and I am going to make cupcakes for all the kids. Well in your world or Oversigning’s world, it would be folly or perhaps even just flat wrong for me to make more than 10 cupcakes–one for each child.

    But this is where our logic diverges. You see, I know that kids have accidents. At least one kid is going to drop his cupcake on the floor, icing side down, and if I don’t have an extra, then I am going to have one unhappy youngster on my hands. But that isn’t going to happen, because I have the foresight to know I should probably make a dozen cupcakes to account for that sort of eventuality. It’s not “morally wrong” to do that, it’s just common freaking sense.

    That’s all coaches like Saban are doing. They have enough experience to know that “accidents” happen.

    Maybe with a little remedial work, you and our buddy down at oversigning.com will finally “get” how this works. I’m still not ready to give up on you.

  5. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    Hey Bonehead, if you don’t quit arguing with me when I agree with you, I’m going to have to start disagreeing again. The more you talk, the more you just rile me up. Every time I argue up, you question my mathematics and explain the true answer is up. Then you roll out examples that are either completely non-responsive like your Coach Fredrickson or now a cupcake story that actually makes our enemy’s case for him.

    In your example, it is the cupcakes that are like the scholarships. You’ve invited ten kids and promised them cupcakes. If we only have eight cupcakes, then we better hope a couple of the kids don’t show up or else just before the singing commences we will have to ask the two least popular kids to leave. This doesn’t help our case. Stay away from examples and stick to our strategy. Remember, it’s our law we are following. If some yankee tries to force his laws on us, it’s our duty to stand at the schoolhouse door and defend our laws.

  6. deepsthboy Says:

    I must be really dense, Lee Roi. If you’re “agreeing” with me, then I just don’t see it.

    In your most recent response prior to this one, you made the following statement:

    “Even down here we’re smart enough to know that if Coach Fredrickson signs 28 kids every year, and then that thins down to 25, by the end of four years he’ll have 100 kids which is more than the 85 that are permitted. And before you craft up more hypotheticals, we know the CNS is carrying 95 with this year’s signees right now.”

    The means of adhering to the “rule of 85” is basically the same as reaching the “rule of 25”, and I explained in detail how these coaches do it in my original blog entry, and it’s a perfectly legal practice that is allowed by the NCAA.

    Saban is carrying 95 kids now? Well perhaps you can tell me what he did last year when he was over the 85 number (which he was). Did he kick any kids off the team that had done nothing other than perhaps fail to play at a level that Saban found acceptable? If so, perhaps you could link the story here and link the interview with the kid and his parents that outlines this horrific treatment. I know I would appreciate that. Otherwise, you’re implying something that you seem to have no means of proving.

    As for the cupcake example, it’s not only a cogent analogy, it’s sort of a dumbed down one, intended to be almost overly simplistic so as to avoid any type of esoteric foofaraw. Good hosts always prepare more food than they expect their guests to consume. It’s just common sense.

    Good coaches recruit extra kids because they expect there to be some unexpected fallout. Again, if a kid has been wronged, then perhaps you could enlighten us as to the specifics of that story. And I am not talking about something like Nick Fanuzzi transferring to Rice. Fanuzzi transferred on his own, and he’s getting tons of PT in Houston. He wouldn’t have gotten that in T-Town. Nobody was wronged there.

    “Our laws”? I guess this is a joke and a reference to the way the South does things? Saban’s players, both current and former, have their stories. If there is a kid out there that was railroaded out of the Alabama program because he was a victim of “our laws”, then by all means serve up all the juicy details here for us to dissect.

  7. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    If you just don’t see me agreement then you’re not reading. I did correct you when you got off track worrying about the 25 per year limit (while I agreed with you, I’m not willing to admit you’re infallible). Oversigning.com is focused on the 85 total limit, not the 25 annual limit and being open-minded I must admit there could be an issue here. Not, however an issue we can’t deal with.

    You deal with it by saying “… it is a perfectly legal practice that is allowed by the NCAA”. I dealt with by saying “…one line in your entire misguided response addresses this apparent problem “the freaking NCAA allows the practice, for goodness sake””. I do see some commonality in these two statements.

    The southern law concept is no joke. There is no question that there can be honest differences of opinion regarding law. That is what allowed Governor Wallace to stand at the schoolhouse door yelling Plessy vs Ferguson. Separate but equal was the law (at least until Brown vs Board of Education changed it in 1954 but news sometime traveled slowly in those days) and Governor Wallace was going to uphold that law even if most of the rest of the country was abiding by a different understanding of that same law. We needed Governor Wallace to protect us from carpetbaggers forcing us to bend our understanding of the law to meet their standards.

    In the current day, on a subject of much less substance we have a similar situation. We have the law (or NCAA rule). We have our understanding of that law and the rest of the country has its understanding of the law. Most of the country, even some of the SEC schools interpret the rule to prohibit exceeding the 85 total limit at any time. Just like fifty years ago, we now have northern agitators calling on us to bend to their interpretation. This is when we need a man such as Governor Wallace to stand up and defend our interpretation of the law. Fortunately for us, you seem to be such a man. Just keep repeating the NCAA rules allow this. We’re right. All the Oversigning.com guy can do is claim that we’re morally wrong or backward somehow.

    If you’ll allow me, I have one last side complaint about your cupcake analogy. Guests are people. Cupcakes are inanimate objects. On the other side of your analogy you have scholarships which are inanimate objects and student-athletes which are people. The problem with your analogy is that in the party, the people are a fixed number while the objects can be produced in excess and discarded if too many remain on hand. In the football program, the objects are a fixed number while the people can be recruited in excess and discarded if too many remain on hand. Some observers might find the moral equivalency of discarding cupcakes and discarding eighteen year old kids harmful to our argument.

  8. deepsthboy Says:

    As to the rule of 85, riddle me this, LR Man:

    How many players did Alabama have on its roster of scholarship athletes when fall practice opened last season?

    My buddy at oversigning.com has listed a number of players and what “happened” to them prior to the beginning of fall practice in 2009. Some lost their eligibility due to grades, some transferred, and so on. But as of the start of fall practice, Bama had 85 players on their roster. So are we now supposed to do an investigative report on the kids that left the team? Are we supposed to go talk to Nck Fanuzzi and find out why he transferred? Is he going to tell us that he was strong-armed into it? IN fact, I would just love it if you or someone else would post the article here in which the roof has been blown off this whole thing and all of the kids come clean about how they were mistreated and all of the parents malign Nick Saban and the horrible things he has done. I would appreciate it because the fact is that I HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT.


    As to the “understanding” of the law, I can only laugh blithely at you on this subject. You can’t really be serious that you think that the “rule of 85” applies 365 days a year and that if any school ever goes over that number then they are in violation. If that were true, then why aren’t teams being slapped with violations practically every single freaking DAY? Do you honestly think that the schools who are “breaking the law” are just doing it at a time when the NCAA just happens not to be paying attention? Please tell me you are not that incredibly naive.

    Lastly, I am sure that you are a principled man and spend countless hours trying to straighten out the whole Darfur mess and cure third world hunger and what not. Clearly your selflessness is enviable and something most of us can only aspire to. But you’re off the mark on dissing my cupcake analogy. My point, and it was crystal clear, is that if you have traditionally recruited X + 3 athletes every year because you know you will wind up with X (less the 3) on Day One of fall practice, then you are just smart. I gave you a cogent example of the variety of ways that these “3” don’t make it to fall practice and none of them involved “discarding” on the part of the coaching staff.

    It seems to me that you are trying to use a calm tone to espouse a highly inflammatory view, and even when presented with amply plausible explanations for what is going on, you still stick with your guns. Maybe you really do have a lot in common with men like George Wallace.

  9. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    I actually went to Oversigning.com and made a similar point there. I most certainly do not believe the letter of the NCAA regulations require a school to be under the 85 man limit 365 days a year. That is why in every response to you on this subject I have recomended that you tout the law. It is on our side. You do not need to blithely laugh at me on account of this subject.

    At the same time many conferences have explicitly clarified this rule to not permit the practice of exceeding the limit through the summer as long as 85 is reached by fall practice. Many other coaches and/or schools, some even in the SEC, adhere to this more strict standard on their own.

    Thus, my allusion to the separate but equal conditions of the mid-20th century. There was segregation and unequal treatment in all or most of the country, but only in certain areas, personified by a few politicians was this behavior codified and thus just following the law. Even before 1954 and the Brown case, most universities had at least somewhat integrated. It was not national law yet, but most could see the morality of it. A few bastions of the old guard held out, blithely laughing at those who integrated when it was not legally required.

    As I stated earlier, I do not intend to morally equate football players rights with the broader civil rights struggle from the 20th century. That was probably a poor choice because of the incendiary nature of the subect (civil rights not oversigning). I merely chose this example, because a vast majority of the country had chosen to abide by one set of rules while a minority clung to the letter of the law. Coincidentally, the minority then, personified by George Wallace, and the minority now, personified by Nick Saban, both represent Alabama.

  10. deepsthboy Says:

    Yes, Lee Roi, oversigning is just like the treatment blacks received prior to Brown and the Civil Rights Act. It’s the same concept. Great analogy.

    There’s just this small issue of your producing all of these tales of hardship and woe brought upon these kids and their families. I’ve asked several times for both my buddy over at oversigning and you to produce all of the documentation that underscores this point. I think I would especially like the stories of the kids who were denied an education altogether. Maybe if Saban or one of the other SEC coaches hadn’t run these kids off then they would have had the chance to have a run at the Rhodes Scholarship like Reggie Germany did up at Ohio State. Or more recently, Duron Carter. Yep, up in Columbus they take their education seriously.

  11. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    Let me take one more shot at your birthday party. You have a fixed number of cupcakes, so you invite only a limited number of kids. In fact you invite a couple of less kids than you have cupcakes available. This is certainly gracious behavior.

    With scholarships, you have no obligation to be gracious. Scholarships are pieces of paper and could not care less if they were properly accomodated. I do see a similarity between the kids you invited to the party and the kids you invite to join your football program. There is probably a social or moral obligation to accomodate your football invitees. Just as it is reasonable for one who commits to attend your party to expect a cupcake, it is reasonable for those who commit to your football program to expect an available scholarship. In fact it is more reasonable for the football committment to expect his reward because he gave up much more to make his commitment. The birthday party commitment chose to forego other parties that same day or a trip to the zoo, but he can still change his plans if he does not like your party. The football committment has far fewer options because of scholarship restrictions. He is basically stuck with you until you choose to invite him to leave.

    If it is appropriate and gracious to have at least the number of required cupcakes and even a few more, isn’t it also appropriate, gracious and even a morally obligation to provide the required number of scholarships to your invitees? This is Oversigning.com’s moral argument. It makes sense. Many conferences mandate that scholarships are available and many schools such as Georgia and Vanderbilt within conferences that do not mandate this, have chosen to be the gracious hosts you portray in your party example. The moral ground for our position is not favorable.

    The good news is that as we have both pointed out, it’s not against the law. No NCAA regulations are being broken. If we stick to that mantra, we will be on firm ground.

  12. deepsthboy Says:

    Some observations:

    1) I read your response over at oversigning.com and it was imbued with far more logic and common sense than anything you have posted in one of your replies here.

    2) You keep touching on moral responsibilities. I don’t believe I am misunderstanding you on this point. It would be your position, or else you are simply pointing out that it should be a school’s position, that if a school makes a scholarship offer to a given kid, then they subsequently have some form of “moral obligation” to honor that scholarship.


    How far does this moral obligation stretch?

    Let’s say I am a D-1 coach and that for the past 5 years I have had an average of 3 kids from every recruiting class that was unable to enter the program the following fall. STICK WITH THIS PREMISE.

    Now, entering Year 6, I am trying to decide how many kids I should recruit, and I don’t want to wind up with a shortfall in the quota that the NCAA gives me. I don’t CARE if Coach Pressel up at Ohio Tech has a policy in which he only OFFERS as many scholarships (or even fewer) than he has slots available. I know from my own experience that I am likely to have three kids that cannot enroll for the fall semester–for one reason or another. So I recruit three more kids than my “max” because I am accounting for that natural attrition.

    Please explain to me what moral responsibility I am shirking by doing this.

    Easter is coming in a few weeks. Let’s say I take my child to a neighborhood Easter egg hunt. To ensure that all of the kids have a chance to find some eggs, the organizers ask the parents to limit their kids (possibly the older, savvier ones) from picking up more than five eggs. Please stop your kid from picking up any more eggs when he/she gets to five.

    But you feel an even stronger moral obligation than that. The “rules” say your kid can get five eggs, but you decide to tell your kid to stop when he has three. The kid says “but Daddy I can find two more!”. You tell the child that the “nice” thing to do is to make sure that all of the other kids find as many eggs as they can. You feel great for having been so “moral”, but the parents in charge just shake their head because they told you your kid could get five eggs. Your kid is on the verge of tears. But you feel morally superior. Wow. Ain’t you awesome.

    3) The little stick you keep poking me with is the one in which you say “the law is on your side, so just stick with that” . The obvious implication is that by sticking with the “law”, it makes the “lawful” morally inferior to those that stick to the moral high ground by ensuring that they don’t take any chances that they might color outside the lines. But what the latter approach does to hinder a football program is that it is unnecessarily reliant on tke kids to hold up their end of the bargain. I recruit you, then you do your part. You make the grades. You don’t get arrested. So where am I when the kid fails to hold up his end of the bargain? On the moral high ground? Wow. Ain’t I awesome.

  13. Lee Roi Jordan Says:

    The average of three coach could have seen attrition of 3,3,3,3,3 or 0,0,15,0,0. The coach who had experienced the former might have some confidence in offering as of yet unavailable scholarships. The coach who had experienced the latter would be irresponsible in offering as of yet unavailable scholarships on the chance that this may be an attrition year. To go back to your birthday party, this latest example twists the party from it’s original form. In your original party, you baked extra cupcakes just in case some unfortunate guests dropped them before enjoying the rich, cream cheese icing. In your new example you have only twenty-five cupcakes and no more time to make or buy more. How many kids do you invite? How about twenty-eight? There is some chance that a few of the kids may not show up and now instead of providing excess cupcakes to ensure an adequate supply, you are so concerned that a cupcake will go to waste that you over-invite your party.

    I like the Easter egg analogy as well. You left out some details that are key to understanding the story. There are 120 families invited to this egg hunt. A vast majority, 110 families or so have all (some collectively and some individually) decided that it looks as if there are not enough eggs for all the children and have decided to limit their children to three each. Then, over in the southeastern corner of the field are the other 10 families. Noticing the extra eggs because of the consideration of the 110 other families, these few families are energetically collecting extra eggs. Some families have eight or ten eggs, others fifteen or twenty. The Nutt family actually backed up their pickup truck to the field so that they could haul their largess when it became too large to carry. One of the hunt organizers mentioned the five egg limit to these families. “Do not worry”, said a representative of the 10 families. “The hunt instructions said we were to take no more than five eggs home with us. We are merely picking up a few extra in case we drop some of these before we leave for home. You can bet that we would not dream of breaking your rule.”

    Lawful behavior is not necessarily morally inferior or superior to moral behavior. At times, the two overlap and other times they do not. Claiming lawful behavior is a defense against a charge of unlawful behavior. It is not necessarily a defense against a charge of immoral (if not immoral, then perhaps just ugly) behavior. Plenty of investment banks and financial institutions have responded with a similar defense to charges over the past couple of years. We did not break the law or violate regulations or we merely paid the contractually required bonuses may be truthful responses, but they do not assuage the public’s belief that something stinks on Wall Street.

  14. deepsthboy Says:

    Lee Roi, it’s always nice to have someone such as yourself to keep the worst of us on the straight and narrow.

    Your initial example is too absurd to merit a response.

    Your Easter egg example is mildly humorous, but the humor is more than offset by your effort to turn the analogy into another moral treatise.

  15. By the numbers « Get The Picture Says:

    […] I’m also going to avoid passing judgment on the rationale justifying the practice, which, in essence boils down to Nick Saban is a smart man and knows what he’s doing. […]

  16. Pete Says:

    One thing to add, and something that Oversigning.com seems to ignore: the coaches have far, far more information that we do about the players. They know how bad the injuries are. They know how good the players are, how hard they’re working, and so on. They know about the grade situations. They know more than anyone else on the planet about their roster.

    They also know one more thing that we don’t know:

    They know who is, and who is not, on scholarship.

    Scholarships, by NCAA rule, are one year deals exclusively. You cannot, by rule, offer a 2, 3, 4, or 5 year scholarship. That means, at the end of the player’s 1st year, they are eligible to not have their scholarship renewed.

    When you see people talking about how many scholarships a school has available, what is inevitably left out is the fact that it’s only a guess.

    The coaches also know what sort of deals they have with the recruits. Since, as you pointed out, we never hear stories from the so-called “victims” of oversigning, we have no way of knowing whether or not a player has ever heard a coach say: “I can’t guarantee that we’ll have a spot for you next year, but we’ve got one for you this year, and if you work hard and gel with the system, we’ll do what we can to keep you on scholarship.”

    In order to really buy anything they’re selling on Oversigning.com you have to assume that nobody can know more than you know. The minute that assumption goes away, so too does the moral high ground.

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