In the end, LSU didn't honor Elliott Porters signed letter of intent because they didn't have to. And Porter, despite his early commitment and his loyalty to LSU, fell victim to oversigning. LSU was his dream school as a boy growing up in Louisiana.
What is your take on how familiar the typical college football fan is with oversigning? Is this something that people seem to be aware of?
Awareness is growing, but there are still a lot of college football fans that have never heard of oversigning. Those that follow the sport enough to join forums or visit common college football websites have certainly heard about it, but not all of them truly understand what it is or how it is wrong. Based on some of the articles written by "professional" journalists that cover the sport, I am still not convinced that all of them understand oversigning.
Oversigning defenders say the practice gives programs/coaches flexibility. They also say that it's not against the rules, and so should not be considered "wrong." How would you respond to that?
These are often times the same people who state that college football is just a business, which is exactly what the NCAA is telling us they are trying to prevent. Oversigning, for the time being, is an ethical issue, not a rules violation issue. Coaches have found a way to exploit the NCAA by-laws with regards to the signing process and until the NCAA closes the loophole these coaches are not breaking the rules. It should be noted that the Big Ten has taken a hard stance on this for years and has banned the practice, even at the risk of being at a competitive disadvantage. That in and of itself should be enough for the rest of the country to realize that there is something unethical about the practice.
Let me be clear about one thing here: the NCAA is just as much to blame as the coaches are with regards to oversigning. Their recruiting by-laws have a clear loophole that allows coaches to oversign players and based on the press releases and comments from NCAA officials, it is something that is just now on their radar.
Finally, what would you like to see the NCAA do about oversigning?
I believe the NCAA needs to completely revamp the by-laws for the signing process. The combination of the oversigning loophole and the stipulation that scholarships are one-year renewable agreements, not four-year agreements as they were prior to 1973, creates an environment that lends itself to abuse by certain coaches and leads to players … either by being run off or having their scholarships pulled to make room for better recruits.
I would like to see the NCAA create transparency in the signing process by creating a system where each school is given a deadline to establish their recruiting budget prior to national signing day. This budget is basically the total number of scholarships allowed (85) minus graduating players and players declaring for the NFL in their junior season. This is easy to do and is a system already in use by many Big Ten schools. Once the budget number is established it should be made public, and I would like to see the NCAA limit schools to accept only as many letters of intent as they have room for within their budget. If their budget number is 18 then they are allowed to accept 18 LOI's.
The LOI should become a two-way binding agreement where the school is obligated to give the recruit a scholarship. I would like to see the NCAA go back to the four-year scholarship rule as well.
I would like to see the NCAA address the transfer rules so that players do not have to sit out a year in order to transfer and each player transferring should be required to go through an exit interview with the NCAA to ensure that they weren't being pushed out by a coach.
These are drastic changes. I doubt we see anything this drastic happen all at once. I would be happy to see them do anything that moves things in that direction. SEC fans will not want to hear this, but the simple answer here is to make the Big Ten model, where oversigning is banned, the standard across all of the BCS conferences.
In the Big Ten, coaches are allowed to sign up to 28 players per year, but any time they sign more than 25 players they are required to petition the Big Ten Conference office for permission to accept the additional three letters of intent. The Big Ten office will review the roster and the school has to prove that there is room for all 28 players without anyone being pushed out. It has been that way for so long that all of the coaches are used to the system in that they base their number of new scholarship players on a budget number that is derived from taking 85 minus the graduating players and juniors leaving early for the NFL. It is a system that works and enables the Big 10 to remain competitive, so in my opinion it is a proven system that just needs to be applied to the SEC and other conferences.