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Post 80 scholarship players – the flip-side to oversigning

Thursday August 26, 2010

Earlier this month junior fullback Josh Sailors became the fourth walk-on football player to be awarded a scholarship this year. For Sailors and the others it’s a well-deserved recognition of the effort they’ve put in and the contributions they made as walk-ons.

But what it also means is that the Bulldogs entered the week with no more than 81 players who signed for their scholarship. That number dropped to 80 yesterday when offensive lineman Jonathan Owens was granted a medical disqualification.

The discussion of oversigning and grayshirting and all of the tricks used to get to the magic number of 85 scholarship players isn’t new. It shouldn’t be easy to forget that these are young men with educations and futures at stake, but we do. Even the console game with the NCAA’s name on it demands that you outright “cut” players. I’d much rather my program undersign than oversign and have to yank or defer a scholarship, but there is definitely a tradeoff and a cost for not playing the game.

The advantage isn’t just the two or three players signed over the limit by another program. Remember that Georgia has at most now 80 players who were considered scholarship-quality when they signed, and the 87 or 88 at the other school all merited an offer. So the difference is more like seven or eight players versus a program that oversigned by a couple. Eight players from an 85-man roster is just under 10% of the team. It’s a third of a recruiting class for any given year.

Of course Mark Richt didn’t know that he’d be five scholarships under the limit. Owens and Banks had battled injuries for a while, but you can’t anticipate a medical disqualification. You can’t foresee the backup QB’s spring break indiscretions. It does seem to be a given though that there is some amount of attrition each year. Every coach has to play inventory manager and balance the 85 scholarship limit against his best guess at attrition. It’s clear though that some are more aggressive at chasing that limit, and it’s not hard to be cynical about how some of the “attrition” eventually comes about.

Again, I’d rather be a little under the limit rather than over because of the human element. It’s all business, but that’s not what coaches say when they’re in the living room. But we can’t ignore that under the current rules coming up five short of the limit isn’t all that great of a situation either. It’s a great story for the deserving walk-ons who see their effort recognized, but 80 scholarship players is borderline probation.

5 Responses to '80 scholarship players – the flip-side to oversigning'

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  • The 85 scholarship limit should be dropped in favor of an annual signing maximum. 20 to 25 incoming freshmen per year should be enough to maintain quality football. Then the staff that keeps the most players eligible will have an advantage in numbers.
    Coaches would have incentive to focus on the kids most likely to remain eligible since failures(academic or legal)could not be replaced by oversigning.

  • Its just another reason why we outclass everybody else.

  • It’s also a great story to tell to those preferred walk ons, some of those guys have offers from other schools but come to UGA with a real shot at earning a scholarship

  • [...] Good post by Groo on the other side of oversigning. [...]

  • I don’t worry about oversigning some. Like you say, there is a thin line to walk.

    It all comes down to how much a program does it. There is attrition in every program and that has to be taken into account. We usually lose about 6-8 guys every year for various reasons.

    When that number goes to 10-15 every year is when it starts seeming like the program is being run like an NFL team.

    This year is a special case because almost half the staff was fired in December and we lost some kids because of that and really didn’t have the a new DC to show the direction we were going in for a lot of the period right before the first week in Feb. Last year’s loss will be this year’s gain.

    We almost always have one or two guys that were former walk ons. You will never see that at some schools. They may have it right to be the most competitive, but I don’t think CMR will ever take THAT much of a cut throat attitude toward it.