Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting the math right with the 2012 signing class

image Critics of Southeastern Conference football coaches’ recruiting tactics call it “oversigning.” Defenders of the system call it “roster management.” Whatever side you fall on, getting the math right isn’t as simple as adding and subtracting, reaching a magic number and accusing schools of recruiting atrocities when their math doesn’t add up the same way yours does.

NCAA rules limit Football Subdivision Schools to 85 players on scholarship, and a newly minted SEC rule limits the league’s programs to signing classes to no more than 25 “initial counters,” meaning that the program can only accept 25 new National Letters of Intent for the 2012 class.

But, there’s always a but. If the program didn’t sign and enroll a full complement of 25 the previous class, it is allowed under the new rule to back count new early enrollees who begin classes in January.

Alabama signed and enrolled 22 for the 2011 class, freeing three spaces for early enrollee back counting.

The Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 Senior Class includes 19 on scholarship and the 2011 roster ended with 81, following the death of Aaron Douglas and the transfer of Corey Grant. Also leaving spots open were transfers of Demetrius Goode and B.J. Scott. Others also left the team for various reasons, some of which may (or may not) result in additional spots coming open.

Three players with a year of eligibility have declared themselves available for the NFL Draft. Unless I’m missing someone, Alabama has room to sign at least 26 and still stay within both the NCAA roster limit of 85 and comply with the new SEC rules on class size.

In the national brouhaha over the Justin Taylor story, almost everyone seems to be getting it wrong. The new SEC limit of 25 per class is designed to prevent schools from signing prospects to a binding letter of intent and then grey shirting them—meaning that the player has to sit out a year and pay his own way.

He didn’t get screwed out of a scholarship ala Elliott Porter. If anything, the new SEC rule worked exactly as it was designed and allowed the kid to reopen his recruitment. Question the timing of the school breaking the news? Ok, go ahead. But recruiting atrocity it certainly is not.

Media reports have said that Alabama coach Nick Saban told Taylor that the program had no room for him and that if he wanted to attend Alabama, he would not be given a scholarship and counted until the 2013 signing class because the program couldn’t sign 26 players.

Either those reports are inaccurate, or Taylor and his family misunderstood what they were (likely) told. Alabama can only sign and enroll 25 who count against the 85 for the upcoming 2012-13 academic year. Since Taylor can’t enroll early, he would have to count against this class and couldn’t be back counted. This does NOT mean that Alabama won’t have more than 25 recruits in the class.

If I’m getting the math wrong here, please feel free to correct me in the comments, via email or Twitter.

Oh, and by the way…  The evil of grey shirting sure manifested itself with John Parker Wilson and William Vlachos, didn’t it?

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