Friday, June 3, 2011

SEC Meetings End


The SEC annual meeting in Destin, Florida ended today with the conference presidents voting to reduce the number of national letters of intent signed each year from 28 to 25. The coaches had voted unanimously earlier this week to keep the current rule in place. Each school has until August 1st each year to reach the NCAA maximum of 85 football scholarships.

The new rule still allows a school to go over the 25 limit if they signed less than 25 the year before. A school signing 22 one year, could sign 28 the next.

Does over-signing give a school a competitive advantage?

The argument is that over-signing allows a program to make more mistakes and correct them quicker when evaluating and signing high school talent.

Looking at the past five signing classes and the last four football seasons:

Georgia and Florida have signed the exact same number of recruits, 112.
Florida’s winning percentage is 79.6% (43-11) with one National Championship
Georgia’s winning percentage is 67.3% (35-17).

Kentucky has signed one more than LSU, 128 to 127.
LSU's winning percentage is 75.5% (40-13) with one National Championship
Kentucky's winning percentage is 53.8% (28-24).

Alabama and Mississippi State have signed the exact same number, 135.
Alabama's winning percentage is 77.6% (38-11) with one National Championship
Mississippi States' winning percentage is 52% (26-24).

Auburn has signed one more than Ole Miss, 143 to 142.
Auburn's winning percentage is 60.2% (36-16) with one National Championship
Ole Miss' winning percentage is 50% (25-25).

Not all of the recruits qualified and were admitted to their school of choice, it’s clear that the number of players signed in most cases is not as important as the quality of the player. Florida, Alabama and Auburn all had a Heisman winner.

Auburn had 31 more recruits than Georgia yet their overall record was only one game better and was much lower than Florida’s. What would their record have been without the additional 31? It’s impossible to know for sure but the consensus among the presidents was that the potential for abuse was too great to overlook. The new rule will force coaches to be more diligent before making an offer, they will be less likely to take a chance on a student that struggles academically. The number of misses will be limited to 15 in 4 years, add that to normal attrition and the margin of error is closer to zero.

The core issue of the over-signing debate is one of integrity, should a coach be allowed to cut a current team member to make room for an incoming freshman that he thinks is better? Is non-renewing a student’s scholarship based strictly on his performance morally wrong?

Alabama’s Nick Saban accused the media of harming the prospective student athletes by continuing the over-signing debate.

Why is Saban so upset with the media?

He over-signed by 12 this past February and is still needing to cut 8 players before the August 1st deadline. The media scrutiny is getting in his way, he is paid to win football games, not make friends or keep promises.

The changes will not stop the practice of over-signing entirely but will reduce the number of students exposed to it.

The SEC will request the NCAA adopt the limit on a national basis, the Big 10 has limited their member schools to only signing the number of available open scholarships for years, the NCAA will now open a discussion to determine which philosophy is in the best interest of the student athlete.

The presidents also voted and passed the following new rules:

  • SEC basketball will no longer be divisional, all 12 teams will play an 18 game SEC schedule and be seeded for the tournament.
  • All medical hardship cases will be overseen by the SEC, independent medical evaluations may be required for approval.
  • Grad student transfers with one year of eligibility remaining will be banned effective October 1st.
  • 7-on-7 events are banned from school campuses and coaches participation is limited.

Proposed legislation to count any student athlete that enrolls in June against the current years signing numbers was not approved but is being forwarded to the NCAA with a recommendation for national adoption.

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