Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wall Street Journal returns to "oversigning" UPDATED

For once Nick Saban isn't the target.

The Wall Street Journal's latest look at oversigning stays in the SEC, but this time the paper homes in on Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino and Steve Spurrier.

Nutt and Petrino consistently sign more kids than will be allowed on campus. In fact, Nutt's bumper crop of 37 recruits for Ole Miss in 2009 did the impossible: It shamed the SEC office into setting the ceiling at 28 signings, three more than the 25 scholarships the NCAA allows each year. No more than 85 players can be on scholarship at any given time.

The Big 10 has banned oversigning. The Big 12 and SEC are among its most enthusiastic practioners. Coaches who use it say it helps them offset injuries, departures or kids thrown off the team. Critics say it enables coach to maintain their talent pool at the expense of kids they run off to make room for the newcomers.

Not surprisingly, Nutt and Petrino defend the practice. Somewhat surprisingly, they are joined by Spurrier. The OBC broke into the over-30 club by signing 31 kids in February.

That's Spurrier's biggest class ever, and it may explain why he seems to have lost track of the numbers. Coaches with oversized classes normally can get their numbers within the NCAA boundaries in a number of ways: They can offer gray shirts (a one-year delay on the scholarship; in other words, a player who accepted a gray shirt in February won't join the program until 2012); or they can sign kids who have no chance of meeting academic qualifications and will spend a year of two in prep school or junior college getting their grades in order.

Spurrier used both methods to boil his class down. But he still ended up with two kids too many, and USC coaches broke the new relatively close to the Feb. 2 signing day.

One of the players involved has turned into a public relations disaster for Spurrier and all the proponents of oversigning. Lorenzo Mauldin of Atlanta says he was "shoved away" late in the process after committing to South Carolina over the summer. Mauldin's father is absentee and his mother is in jail and he grew up in 16 foster homes. Now he has no place to play football.

While online defenders of USC's handling of the situation say the team was up front with Mauldin from the start, his high school coach said he learned that his player had lost his scholarship 18 hours before signing day. If USC says differently, the coach maintained, USC is lying.

Mauldin, who hasn't academically qualified, may still end up in Columbia. But Spurrier's explanation sounds like a guy who knows X's and O's but struggles with arithmetic involving multiples of 10.

Here's a short update from AJC.com. Go to the fifth item of Chip Towers' 10@10. In it, Spurrier acknowledges mistakes and says he sent letters of apology to the kids involved. Angry feelings remain.

The SEC is supposed to revisit oversigning at its spring meetings. Best of luck.



J said...

Regarding Nutt, I'd call him two-faced, except he has about 8 of them. And Spurrier is so full of himself that he probably thinks he's "above" arithmetic and delegates it to an assistant. I think these guys picked Bobby Petrino as their ethics role model.

Stay classy, fellas!

Texas_Dawg said...

The Big 12 doesn't oversign. Some Big 12 programs signs lots of JUCO recruits that causes a lot higher eligibility expiration turnover, but that isn't oversigning.

Oversigning is giving out more LOIs at National Signing Day than you have room for given scholarship players from the previous season with remaining eligibility.

Florida and Georgia officials have both called the practice "morally reprehensible" and "repugnant" within recent weeks. SEC meetings in June should be fun.