As if we didn’t have enough reason to despise the current state of NCAA Football, this morning gave us another. Sure, there are the usual things to rail on like the NCAA’s constant hypocrisy, the BCS, all the greed, lies, and more greed… the ridiculous amount of Bowl games, the ridiculous time delay in the national championship game, the greed, the lies and more greed…
But this morning, the final AP Poll of the year gave me more reason to disgust the institution that is the NCAA. Sure, they have no direct control over what the AP writers do or how they vote, but it’s just another example of why the entire system is broken. Last night the Oregon Ducks lost to the Auburn Tigers by 3 points on a last second field goal. They played the #1 team in the country evenly and lost on a last second field goal. And yet, they were somehow leapfrogged (pun completely intended) by TCU.
Did Oregon do anything last night to lose their #2 ranking? I mean, all they did was come within a fluky run by Dyer from potentially winning the national championship. You’re telling me that a loss to the national champions by a last second field goal caused the writers to drop them from #2 to #3 behind TCU? Is Oregon better than TCU? I have no idea! Without a playoff system no one knows. But I can tell you if Oregon was #2 going into last night, they sure as hell are #2 this morning!
Does it matter? Of course not. What’s the difference between #2 and #3? Nothing. TCU doesn’t get a special runners up trophy or more money from the NCAA or BCS. It doesn’t matter at all. But it’s annoying, ridiculous, and unfair.
By the way, since Vegas had the over/under last night at 74 and there were a combined 41 points scored, doesn’t that show you just how ridiculous the 36 day waiting period is for the BCS title game? They are ruining the most important game in the sport’s season by waiting so long to play the game.
Wouldn’t college football be infinitely more intriguing and enjoyable (not to mention profitable) if we spent the last 3 or 4 weeks navigating through a playoff system to ultimately crown the national champion? I don’t know, I guess that would take away the one thing that these douchbags in charge of this whole mess love even more than money…. power and control.
NCAA football takes a beating this time of year typically because of the archaic, disingenuous, and selfish BCS and Bowl system that remains in place. The debate usually centers around the desperate need for a playoff system to decide a true champion on the same field and despite what BCS supporters will tell you, the BCS does NOT provide this.
But I came across an interesting article today that is posted at The Ozone.net about the potentially immoral and illegal practice commonly known as “over-signing”. Please visit the link above to read the original article in full as it is very well done, but I’ll try to summarize it as best as I can because I believe this warrants as much attention and scrutiny as possible. The more eyes that read this and the more people who are aware and educated about what is actually going on in college football, the better.
The original author is on an Ohio State and therefore, Big Ten centric site so the information is presented mostly as it relates to how this affects the Big Ten, but I believe this to be a far larger issue than just any one conference so I’ll try to explain it under that premise.
One thing that I found interested, however, was that despite Ohio State’s horrendous record against SEC opponents, the overall wins and losses between the Big Ten and the SEC aren’t nearly as dominant as some of our SEC and national brethren would lead us to believe. I was surprised to learn that according to Mr. Gerdeman, over the past four seasons, the two conferences met 10 times and split the games 5-5. Also, since 2002, the Big Ten holds a one-game advantage over the SEC in bowl games.
So now onto the topic at hand. This article points out the practice known as “over-signing” and here is a little background in case you’re not familiar with the concept. Ever FBS football program is allowed 85 scholarships at any given time to round out their team. The NCAA provides guidelines which states that each team can only issue 25 scholarships per year which make up the overall total of 85. You may ask, over a 4 year period, 25 per year equals 100 and not 85? The reason is that the NCAA builds in a cushion to account for players who don’t last with the team for whatever reason. This could be due to transfers, drop outs, players becoming academically ineligible, injuries, early entrance into the NFL draft, etc.
So over-signing occurs when any given program signs more players per year than the allotted 25 allowable by the NCAA. If it’s an NCAA rule, how can teams get away with this? Essentially, the 25 players per year is a “soft” rule put in place by the NCAA and one that isn’t regulated. The “hard” rule is the 85 overall scholarships that a team can have at any given time. So what some teams will do is continually sign far more players each year than the 25 allowable and cut the scholarships for players that they no longer have a use for and that they previously offered a scholarship to.
You would think that once a team offers a scholarship to a player, that unless they violate the institution’s or the NCAA’s policies in some manner, that the school would be obligated to maintain that scholarship for the player until they graduated. Unfortunately, schools can revoke the scholarship that was previously given to a player despite the player having done nothing wrong and despite the fact that they relied solely on this scholarship to fund their education.
This is clearly a horrible practice to partake in as it can have a significantly detrimental affect on these young men who have done nothing wrong except not play up to the coach’s standards or even in some instances, because a new coach came to the program and the player no longer fits the system. Does this seem fair, ethical, appropriate? I certainly don’t think so.
As the article I referenced points out, this isn’t a practice associated with amateur sports or student-athlete sports programs, this is a cut-throat professional system that is in place.
So even though it’s unethical and flat out wrong (a lot of things in the NCAA fit this description), why would programs do this? Essentially, it provides the team with dozens of extra players that they can run through their system, filter, and choose only the very best athletes and the ones who fit their system the best. So for instance, in 2010, a team can sign a young man to play QB, offer him a full scholarship and then the next year revoke his scholarship because another QB came along that they liked better. Over the course of 4 years, a program can have up to 30 “extra” players that they’ve signed. This is basically an extra recruiting class that they can get an up close look at, work with, and handpick only the ones that worked out.
I need not tell you how much of an advantage this could be to a program that gets essentially 5 recruiting classes to sift through every 4 years where most programs just get one per year. The article I mentioned focused on the SEC which is notorious for this practice and I encourage you to take a look at the original article for the full statistics related to the SEC and the Big Ten. I would also ask that you take a look at www.oversigning.com which is dedicated fully to shedding light on this unscrupulous practice that is running rampant in the NCAA.
The SEC isn’t the only conference, obviously, that partakes in this practice as others are guilty as well. If you review the scholarships offered by Oregon and Auburn in the last 4 years the numbers point directly to over-signing. Now without an in depth review of each and every scholarship and the reason for the increased number of scholarships and the reasons behind each player leaving, I can’t say for certain that both schools were taking part in over-signing. But if you look at the numbers, especially those associated with SEC schools compared to some other conferences, it certainly appears to be the case.
In the last four years, Auburn signed 119 players (obviously well over the 100 allowable) and Oregon signed 100. If this is truly due to over-signing, Auburn is experiencing a tremendous competitive advantage that should not be permitted by the NCAA.
Here are a few others that jumped out at me when comparing teams facing off in bowl games this season:
Alabama- 113, Michigan State- 88 (this is obviously a huge difference and it provides Alabama with an unfair advantage)
Mississippi State- 113, Michigan- 93
Arkansas- 109, Ohio State- 79
In total, SEC teams have signed 86 more players than their Big Ten counterparts over the past four seasons.
To me, the reasons that the NCAA needs to seriously address, investigate, monitor, and prevent this practice are two-fold. First, it is just morally and ethically wrong to offer a kid a scholarship and then revoke it just because they no longer fit your system or they aren’t the player you thought they were. This points to lazy scouting and recruiting because the teams know that they can afford to be “wrong” on a player and it won’t hurt them long-term. All they have to do is get him into camp, and if he’s not the player they thought he was, take his scholarship away and try again with a new player. There should certainly be a rule in place, in a so-called “amateur” sport that focuses on the “Student-Athlete” that disallows a team from pulling the scholarship that was initially offered without cause.
Secondarily, this does provide a tremendous competitive advantage for the teams that are unscrupulous enough to take part in the practice. The additional 10-30 players that they get a chance to directly work with and filter out the players that didn’t work allows them an incredible advantage in building their roster. There is no way that this should be legal and even though it’s currently technically illegal, the NCAA is turning a blind eye.
For an institution that suspended a player for taking a golf cart ride across campus and a player for selling a game worn jersey, it’s an absolute travesty that they allow this kind of practice to take place. I don’t care about the specifics of the SEC vs. Big Ten. This is far bigger than any one school or conference or some rivalry between conferences. Please share this and spread the word as it is absolutely necessary that this horrible practice is brought to light and dealt with appropriately.
The Oregon Ducks have rocketed up the NCAA Football hierarchy over the past few years from being an occasional PAC-10 contender to earning a bid to the BCS National Championship game against the Auburn Tigers. In case you aren’t aware, Phil Knight, founder of Nike, is an Oregon Alumna which gives Oregon access to incredible resources as it relates to uniforms and equipment. Oregon is (in)famous for its multitude of uniforms with sometimes bizarre color combinations.
So once the Ducks clinched their spot in the title game, I and perhaps several other sports fans wondered just what kind of crazy uniforms Nike and the Ducks would cook up for this game. Well, we have our answer as they unveiled the uniforms they’ll wear for the title game against Auburn. Take a look, but I’ll say this… they’re certainly not my favorite and they’re certainly not my least favorite like some of the retina burning uniforms we’ve seen in the past.
In case you’re wondering what relevance the cheerleader picture has…. none whatsoever. Just a bonus
ESPN darling and BCS hopeful, Boise St. lost in what was said to be their final test of the regular last night at Nevada. Boise St. lost 34-31 in OT after multiple missed FG’s. The “company line” from Boise is that not one play (or missed kick) lost them the game, and they’re right, but it certainly didn’t help. But if Boise was really a top 2 or 3 team in the NCAA, then they should have been up by at least 30 over Nevada. I mean, c’mon… it’s NEVADA!!! Could Nevada stay within 20 or 30 points of Oregon, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Wisconsin, or even Iowa?
There has been much discussion all year about Boise St. and TCU and their chances to play in the BCS Title game against some of the nation’s traditional powers. Despite being ranked in the top 10 from the first polls on, there have been significant questions about the true strength of these teams.
Just last week, Gordon Gee, the President of THE Ohio State University, called out both Boise St. and TCU and said that neither were worthy of a shot at the national title. According to Gee, these teams play “The little sisters of the poor” on a weekly basis while the AQ (Automatic Qualifier) conferences play “Murderers Row” week in and week out. These comments drew harsh criticism nationwide and especially from ESPN who seems to have a vested interest in the success of Boise St (for the life of me I cannot determine why!).
My personal opinion, after having seen Boise St. play several times this season, and while I need to state that I, by no means, am an expert on Boise St. football as I haven’t watched each and every game, is that they’re just not that good. To me, Boise St. is a very good, solid, well coached team, but they’re extremely over-hyped. They have some very good players, but scheming and “trickeration” can only go so far when you’re facing teams with far superior talent. I honestly think at least 10 teams would beat Boise St., including 3 loss Alabama.
Despite criticism from many of the traditional college football powers, Boise St. and TCU have positioned themselves to have a legitimate opportunity to play for the national title, not just sneak into another “At-Large BCS Bid”. Both teams have had just about everything break their way this season as several #1 teams were knocked off early in the season with Alabama, Oklahoma, and Ohio St. They got some help with Alabama’s second loss, LSU losing, and Nebraska losing. It looked like everything was lining up for at least one of these teams, if not both of them! Could you imagine the sh*tstorm that a Boise St. vs. TCU national title game would’ve created!?
Halfway into the Ironbowl yesterday, as Alabama jumped out to a 24-0 lead over #2 Auburn, it looked like just another break for the smaller teams. But miraculously, Cam Newton lead his Tigers back and knocked off Alabama, preserving their perfect season. I have my own thoughts about just what the hell happened in Alabama yesterday, but I’ll save that for another time. Bottom line, Auburn survived, Oregon fought off Arizona and survived and both are well positioned to bail the BCS out yet again.
The BCS has been able to avoid serious pressure for a playoff or a revised system because each and every year they’re somehow saved by multiple teams suffering upset losses and avoiding a potential 3, 4 or 5 team undefeated list. And with the success of the smaller schools, paired with the constant upsets, it looked very possible that at least one of the two would play for the title. Part of the debate was which team is more deserving as Boise St. was more hyped all season, but many believed TCU to be the better team (myself included). And although I think TCU is a better team, I still don’t consider them better than at least 10 other teams who would be more worthy of a title bid.
But Boise St. showed us all that they really aren’t that good and despite the constant slurping by ESPN, they won’t be playing for a national title and they may not (and shouldn’t) even play in a BCS bowl. TCU still has an opportunity, in theory, to sneak into the title game with an Oregon or Auburn loss, although I don’t see it happening. I’ll be shocked if the voters allow TCU to play for the title game after what we just saw Boise St. do. I would’ve been surprised if TCU or Boise played in the title game before yesterday’s events. It’s my belief, and I think more people who vote would side with me, that a 1-loss SEC team (LSU) or a 1-loss Big 10 team (Wisconsin) would be far more worthy of a shot at the title.
We’ll have to see how it plays out over the next couple weeks, and anything can certainly happen. Oregon has to play a rivalry game at Oregon St. in its final game of the season and Auburn has to play at home against a very good, and underrated South Carolina team. I would not be shocked if one or both of these teams lost. TCU plays at New Mexico, and while you wouldn’t think this should create an issue for them, I didn’t think Nevada would be an issue for Boise St. either.
It’s entirely possible that we have a chalk title game with Auburn and Oregon. It’s just as possible that TCU sneaks in to face off against one of the two powers (although I’ll be surprised if they’re given the opportunity over LSU or Wisconsin or even a 1-loss Auburn or Oregon). It should be fun as we come down the stretch to see how this whole thing shakes out, but one thing is abundantly clear.
It’s not quite as much fun as a playoff would be so we could crown a true national champion.