DESTIN, Fla. -- For all intents and purposes, oversigning in big-time college football is over. On Friday, the SEC, home to seven schools that signed more than 25 players this past February, passed a rule limiting its member schools to a maximum of 28 signees a year.
Embarrassed by the negative attention the league received after
Now there is, and if the conference that is home to the highest percentage of oversigners bans the practice, it's a safe bet that presidents of schools in other leagues will follow suit. "The presidents and chancellors view the letter-of-intent as a commitment to the institution from a student-athlete that is academically capable of being admitted and contributing athletically," SEC commissioner
Some coaches feel otherwise. Nutt, with his second signing class at Ole Miss, took several players he knew wouldn't qualify with the intent of placing those players at Mississippi-based junior colleges. By steering talented players to the nearby JUCOs, Nutt hoped to forge a strong relationship with the coaches at those schools so that those coaches would in turn steer their talented graduates toward Ole Miss.
"Here's the thing about the 37," Nutt said Tuesday. "Everybody throws that number out, but I wanted to really make sure that we have a good relationship with Mississippi. We knew that seven to eight of those guys 100 percent would not qualify, so you're able to help some junior colleges."
It's that "100 percent not qualify" part that irked the presidents. They would prefer coaches recruit only players capable of meeting the NCAA's relatively low minimum academic standards. "From their point of view," Slive said, "there aren't other reasons to sign kids."
There are a few, but the argument is a tough one to make to a university president. Troy coach
Thirty Football Bowl Subdivision schools signed more than 25 this year, but only nine would have run afoul of the rule as proposed by the SEC. Three (Arkansas, Ole Miss and South Carolina) are SEC members. Army, which gives all its students full academic scholarships, signed 33 but wouldn't be subject to the rule because its signees did not accept football scholarships. In the past two seasons, only Ole Miss and Troy have signed more than 28 in consecutive years.
A national rule would hurt schools in Mississippi and Kansas, which can benefit from oversigning because of the symbiotic relationships with in-state junior colleges. The rule would aid schools such as Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt and academically elite public schools that cannot oversign because any player who could earn admission to their schools would almost certainly meet the minimum NCAA requirements.
Those schools might have earned the biggest victory Friday. Of course, in this era of cost-containment, several other schools may have gained a small benefit. The office managers in the athletic departments at Kansas State, Ole Miss, Troy and the other serial oversigners won't need to order so much paper and toner. Come February, their fax machines may not be so overworked.