Really enjoyed reading Kevin Scarbinsky’s takedown of Nick Saban’s flimsy defense of the common ‘Bama practice of oversigning. Saban’s argument was essentially: “Nobody knows how many players we have on scholarship, it’s a mystery.” Which, as Scarbinsky points out, is kind of the problem. Alabama’s refusal to provide transparency only causes for more uproar whenever players mysteriously disappear from the program for one reason or another each year in order to get under the 85 scholly limit.
Allow me to translate. According to Saban, those of us on the outside of the Alabama program can’t criticize him for oversigning because we don’t know the exact number of players he has on scholarship from year to year.
Funny thing about that. Why don’t we know? Alabama won’t tell us, even though we ask every year.
Saban took issue with the numbers used by the media, but his school refuses to provide the actual numbers that could – if they’re on his side – undercut the argument from critics of his roster management.
The big news on Friday was that big-time OL recruit Cyrus Kouandjio chose to join Alabama’s top-ranked class. Great news for coach Saban, but bad news for critics of oversigning, like yep, oversigning.com.
If Alabama truly had room for 24 scholarship additions, where the hell did they come from? They had 14 seniors listed on their roster, 6 of which were listed as SQ for scout team. They had 3 Juniors leave for the NFL draft and they had 1 player announce he was going to transfer prior to signing day, BJ Scott. That is 12 scholarship players (8 seniors + 3 juniors to the NFL + 1 transfer). Saban said they were not at 85 total last year, so were they 12 under the 85? And if so, why the grayshirt announcements on the last day before the deadline.
The math just doesn’t add up and it’s not even close.
Putting aside whether things like greyshirting (asking a kid to defer enrollment until the spring semester of his freshman year so his scholarship counts for the next class) is ethical, the problem stands with the NCAA.
This is a similar situation to the PED issue in baseball in the late 90s. Until the governing body of the sport actually admonishes oversigning, and puts legislation in place to effectively enforce it, the heavy hitters of college football will continue to employ whatever tactic they can to squeeze as many kids under the 85-scholarship limit as possible.
The current maximum a school can sign every year is 28 –thanks to the recently implemented “Houston Nutt rule” — which as even this communications major can tell you, makes zero mathematical sense. The scholarship limit for the entire roster is 85, yet you can sign 28 kids to a LOI each February. Is it wrong for Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, USC and at least a dozen other programs to take full advantage of the flawed system? Probably. But in the eyes of the NCAA, it’s perfectly within the rules. As always, the lesson here is “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”