Coaches at some of the nation’s top college football programs continue to sign more incoming players than they can accommodate on their rosters, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Despite increasing criticism of the practice, which is known as “oversigning,” three coaches from the hotly competitive Southeastern Conference are defending it.
South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, whose 2011 recruiting class is considered one of the nation’s finest, ended up with three more players than NCAA rules will allow him to add to his final roster in the fall. In a rare move, Spurrier was forced to tell two recruits who had committed to play for South Carolina that there would not be room for them in this fall’s class.
Spurrier said oversigning is “helpful” because so many of the players in the state come from underprivileged backgrounds and may not qualify academically. He said the Big Ten, which has curbed oversigning for decades, is making a mistake by doing so.
“I think that really hurts them a lot,” Spurrier said. “They end up giving scholarships to a lot of walk-ons.”
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who signed 31 recruits in 2009 and is a few players over the 85-player NCAA limit at the moment, said oversigning is fine if coaches are forthright about it.
Houston Nutt, Mississippi’s coach, signed 31 players in 2008, 37 in 2009, 25 last year and 28 last month. He said oversigning is sometimes necessary, mainly to plug holes.
This year, he said, two cornerbacks, Jermaine Whitehead and Floyd Raven, defected at the last minute.
“Now I’m sitting here without two corners,” Nutt said. “You just can’t have this perfect world of, ‘We’re gonna sign 22 this year.’ ”
How college football teams manage their allotted number of players is a serious competitive issue in the sport. The 120 schools in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the sport’s highest echelon, are limited to 85 scholarship athletes each.
CUTIES OF THE SEC
Are the girls of the SEC the hottest? Study the physical evidence.No more than 25 new signees are allowed to join a team in the fall. Because injuries are common, teams do whatever they can to make sure those spots are filled by the best athletes.
Coaches love oversigning because it gives them more talent to choose from, keeps it out of the hands of competitors and allows them to replace players who quit, fail to qualify academically or violate team rules. If a spot o