Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson on oversigning — ‘I don’t see how you can do that to kids’

UGA's Mark Richt (left) said oversigning is "awful" while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson said "I don't see how you can do that to kids" (AJC photo)

UGA's Mark Richt (left) said oversigning is "awful" while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson said "I don't see how you can do that to kids" (AJC photo)

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson is against the controversial recruiting practice of “oversigning” — which is when a college signs more football recruits that it has scholarships available.

“We just don’t do it,” Johnson told the AJC. “It makes it hard sometimes to hit your target number but it is what it is. I don’t see how you can do that to kids, weed out guys for whatever reasons. No matter what anybody says, if you’re oversigning, some of that has to happen on occasion.”

UGA coach Mark Richt has called oversigning “an awful thing to do” to kids. (Go here for full article)

The SEC, winner of five straight BCS championships, has developed a reputation for oversigning. SEC commissioner Mike Slive said the controversial issue will be addressed later this week at the conference’s spring meetings.

Johnson, who has coached at the ACC school for three years, said college teams that oversign gain a competitive advantage. “Sure they do. It’s just like you take 25 kids every year and then cut the ones you don’t want.

“You do the math. You have 85 scholarships. If you’re signing 28 every year for four years, instead of 85, you have 112. It doesn’t add up. So something is happening to those guys along the way. It just doesn’t add up. You’re losing them left or right academically or for whatever reasons.

“There are two ways you can do it. You can try to hit your target number and not try to take more guys than you have scholarships — and that puts the onus on us coaches a little bit. Or you can say the rules say I can take 25-28. I will take them, we’ll let the dust settle and figure it out. Then the kids get caught in a bind.”

What is the best way for the NCAA to address oversigning? “I don’t know how you put rules in unless you change the system,” Johnson said. “To me, the easiest way is to change recruiting as it is now.

“Everybody has 85 scholarships; When you recruit a guy, and he says he’s coming, you give him a scholarship and he signs it. As soon as he signs it, he counts — he’s one of your 85. If you want to sign a kid who may or may not make it schoolwise,  that’s on you. You will have to try to find someone else in August if he doesn’t make it.

Paul Johnson on oversigning: "If you want to sign a kid who may or may not make it schoolwise,  that's on you. You will have to try to find someone else in August if he doesn't make it." (AJC photo)

Paul Johnson on oversigning: "If you want to sign a kid who may or may not make it schoolwise, that's on you. You will have to try to find someone else in August if he doesn't make it." (AJC photo)

“It would stop all this craziness, hat shows, verbal commitments, and all the foolishness that goes on with it. If the guy says they’re coming, put the papers in front of him and let him sign. When you’ve got 85, you’re through.”

Note: Johnson also agrees with Richt on “grayshirts” — as long as the recruit is told in advance of the situation. With a grayshirt, a player signs in February, but does not enroll in the summer with his teammates. He delays entry until January and counts against the team’s scholarship total for the following year.

“You could possibly do a grayshirt if you told the kid up front and they knew what was happening. It’s one thing if you say, ‘OK, we don’t have a spot for you and you’re going to have sit out a semester and come in January.’ If a kid wants to do that, I don’t have a problem with that, as long as the college is up front about it.

“The thing I think is wrong is when you sign kids and after signing day is over, you sort through and don’t have room for all of them. You have to tell some who aren’t expecting it that they have to wait to come in January, or you have to get rid of guys on your own team to make room for them. That’s the part I don’t agree with.”

What is YOUR opinion on oversigning? Do you have any NCAA rules to suggest? Please post below.


One Georgia high school has FIVE rising seniors committed to SEC schools (see full article)

Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king (see full article)

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog


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Follow me on Twitter @RecruitingAJC

192 comments Add your comment


May 29th, 2011
1:30 pm

nice to see both Richt and Johnson have the integrity to take a stand on this.


May 29th, 2011
1:31 pm

Saban is the primary focus of oversigning. Does it in spades every year.


May 29th, 2011
1:36 pm

it should be outlawed with a heavy penalty

Hoops Dawg

May 29th, 2011
1:41 pm

This (oversigning) is something that the SEC needs to come down hard on. It is unethical as he## in my opinion and should cost violaters scholarships!


May 29th, 2011
1:45 pm

Make a COLLEGE DEGREE the focus. Don’t sign kids that will not stay for 4 yrs and get a degree. If all they want is a shot at the NFL, then let them get their on their own and not at the colleges expense. STUDENT comes before Athlete.


May 29th, 2011
1:55 pm

Do not focus soley on Saban…look at “the Evil One”….Spurrier is as bad as anyone! I agree with Richt, Johnson, Swinney, This is not fair to the kid, but people like Spurrier could care less about THAT kid, only the one that is in line to help him! Look at his track record at SUC with students he has oversigned, run off, not kept, etc…disgraceful. But, if it achieves his goal, and his conference allows it??????


May 29th, 2011
2:03 pm

This may be one time i agree with Paul Johnson SEC does appear heading in the direction of eliminating over signing to let other schools compete .


May 29th, 2011
2:06 pm

Petrino does it at Ark all the time. Weasel.


May 29th, 2011
2:16 pm

Big Time college football is the problem. The SEC is in the lead too. The Tail is wagging the dog. Without the COLLEGE there would be No FOOTBALL, but the college is letting Football call the shots. Education is so second or maybe third in importance at Major Football schools. It is not the NCAA or the Conferences fault. It is the College Presidents that don’t make the STUDENT come way way before the Athlete. When the Athletic Departments are getting & using more money than the Professors and the Academic Departments that is WRONG.
Football is an ACTIVITY of the College. Taking COLLEGE CLASSES is not an Activity to entertain students between Sporting Events and getting drunk, high, and laid.

Paul N Destin

May 29th, 2011
2:19 pm

UGA allows clarke county jail to cull the bad apples instead of the weak azz HC Richt. I love to see you good folks cry over Saban. The guy will steal your lunch and make you pay him for as well. Don’t let me stop you from crying in your beer because big bad Nick Saban is a mean person and will not play fair. In the words of Joe Cocker….”cry me a river”..

ARK,UA,AU,UT,Ole Miss,Miss State,LSU and USCe does it…UGA and UF use the jail to cull players and who gives a sheet about Vandy and KY.

UGA Alum

May 29th, 2011
2:28 pm

Both coaches deserve real credit for not oversigning and speaking out against it. With the way BCS college football works these days, they are avoiding a practice that would make it easier for them to meet expectations on winning and keep their jobs, but is bad for the kids they bring to campus.

If the NCAA and conferences don’t do something about this practice, they will have lost any shred of credibility they have left about college football being anything other than a profit seeking business venture. I just don’t see how the practice can be justified in any way.


May 29th, 2011
2:41 pm

Over sign one kid lose one scholarship, over sign two lose two scholarships etc. Include surprise gray shirts not prearranged.


May 29th, 2011
2:42 pm

Life in the SEC. Richt better get in the game.


May 29th, 2011
2:52 pm

Ga Tech doesn’t have to worry about oversigning; they need to worrry about undersigning at the rate they are recruiting this year!!! UGA needs to ramp up now, AU, AL, and FSU are turning many heads!!!

bama who?

May 29th, 2011
3:14 pm

All these Bama fans love oversigning. Look at what it gets you. A 24 point lead to your rival at home and then being outscored 28 to 3 to end the game. Aubie sends a big thank you for the title to big bad Nick and the rest of the bama loyalists. Maybe you cut the wrong guys. Maybe he should have cut Hightower. If he can’t cover a tight end in college, how can he in the NFL. Oh, by the way, cry me a river, I know he blew his knee out. I guess thats the beauty of oversigning. Someone took his place on the roster and then is now out of school. Just remember, big bad Nick lost to LA school for the obese at homecoming. Gee, It’s funny how ya”ll forget that.


May 29th, 2011
3:21 pm

What people don’t understand about Saban (and some others) is he LIKES the ability to cut players already on the roster. That’s where the big advantage is … you can correct a lot of mistakes that way. Basically you get to sift another 25 or so players through your system every 3 or 4 years.

To address that you have to address the 85, that is, keeping the 85 throughout the year. Can’t see how going from 28 to 25 helps that. Maybe some year you need 28 more, legitimately. It’s important to level the playing field in recruiting/oversigning/roster mangement, but the League must be careful how they do it.

But the biggest thing that should be addressed is cutting players or manipulating players in good standing off the roster to make room for new ones. Haven’t seen that addressed yet.

George Stein

May 29th, 2011
3:26 pm

The easiest way to change this is to make the scholarship for four years instead of one, renewable at the end of an academic year.

The biggest issue I have is that it allows coaches to be lazy in their evaluation of a player and a 17 year old ends up getting screwed.

Reality Stinks

May 29th, 2011
3:48 pm

Tech will never have to worry about oversigning anyway because

Players dont want to go there and play for a high school level fanbase again or
Players are scared of being robbed before they make it to class

Either reason, its just not a winning combination Paul Johnson, but nice try with your explanation


May 29th, 2011
3:50 pm

In the SEC it used to be just Houston Nutt that oversigned. The 28 schollies per year is known as the “Houston Nutt” rule. Then Saban came into the conference and started this oversigning biz and other schools started doing it to keep up. Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Carolina to name a few. Bama fans swear that what Saban is doing is ethical and above board. That Bama ends up with 85 players in the end and the over signing is just making up for academic casualties and injuries. If someone disagrees, they scream “prove it isn’t that way!” Of course, Saban releases zero information to the public about dismissals, academic casualties, and injuries. He won’t talk about his oversigning policy. I’ll give you three guesses why. He knows that if he releases the details of his oversigning policy it will show he cares nothing about the kids or the spirit of intercollegiate athletics. He cares about winning and his high salary. Period.

TV fan

May 29th, 2011
4:09 pm

I agree with Johnson’s idea, once you commit, you sign your letter of intent. No more signing day in February, no hat shows, no switching schools at the last minute. That would really mess up Saban and Spurrier.

Universities have got to get re-focused and give some of these families protection from greedy programs.


May 29th, 2011
4:17 pm

Saban? Proven scum. Nuff said.


May 29th, 2011
4:25 pm

Defending the coaches and schools that are doing is wrong. People being Happy about it because their school wins is wrong. I am a HUGE College Football fan, but this is wrong and until the Presidents make the focus on the EDUCATION not the sports this will never change. If Saban & Spurrier are so great then why couldn’t they make it in the NFL? They have to bribe kids to come to their school and trash them when the next greatest player comes along. These coaches inability to win in the NFL was not X’s & O’s it was the inability to manipulate the rules on players.


May 29th, 2011
4:38 pm

Bamawho? I have the 2010 BCS National Championship Game on DVR and when the preseason rankings are released you will find the Tide in the top 3. You were saying?


May 29th, 2011
4:48 pm

Typical AJC article… Home teams getting their brains kicked in by out of state schools on and off he field and its all because of the evil practice of oversigning. Lol. Maybe ask why so many kids with UGA offers are committing out of state. As for Paul Johnson… unless he is talking about UAB or South Alabama I don’t really know what his gripe is. GT and Bama are not recruiting rivals. Totally two different levels. Maybe the AJC should ask why the top two instate Georgia prospects for next years class are heavy Bama leans. Because of oversigning…. Lol.


May 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

Make the scholarship a 5 year contract. The only way the kid could lose his scholarship is for academic, moral or ethical reasons.

Make the rule 22 signees a year. Make the rule have a hard ceiling. Give exceptions for players who leave school early for the NFL only. This would give each team 110 signees over a five year period. Make any medical disqualifications the decision of a third party arbitrator.

This would require the coach and the school be more invested in seeing that each kid be academically sound both during the academic process and while enrolled.

What you would probably see is kids being recruited as much for their academics as for their athletic abilities. There would be less recruiting of academically borederline or non-qualifying athletes. This would result in more parity. The Gramblings and Florida A & M’s and the other A & Ms would benefit greatly.


May 29th, 2011
4:53 pm

Lol… Because u or anyone else reading this give rip about what what any of these kids do on the class room? This is the SEC… not the Ivy league.


May 29th, 2011
4:53 pm

Both Coach Johnson and Coach Richt have it right. Integrity in recruiting is important. Athletes need to know the truth when they sign. I hope the NCAA acts on this issue.

Bodda Getta

May 29th, 2011
5:03 pm

The NCAA and the conferences allow schools to make moves on players who don’t live up to their scholarship commitments.

I hope Johnson and Richt continue with their holier-than-thou attitudes.

It makes for a nice ready-made excuse for losing.


May 29th, 2011
5:11 pm

What’s going to be Awbun’s excuse for losing this year?


May 29th, 2011
5:18 pm

May 29th, 2011
4:53 pm

Lol… Because u or anyone else reading this give rip about what what any of these kids do on the class room?

Yes, actually many people care that the OTHER Graduates holding a Diploma with their Alma Mater’s name on it should be able to read it and have passed REAL Classes to get it. I don’t give money to the Athletic Fund, other than what is required for buying season tickets. My money goes for Academic Scholarships.

Viva Gwinnexico

May 29th, 2011
5:29 pm

The whole oversigning mess is not that complicated.

If you’re STUPID enough to go play for a coach who is notorious for oversigning then its your own da*n fault, personal responsibility must be talked about.

It makes matters worse if you’re the parent or coach of a kid and you send them off to play for a coach that would run your child off the team. If I was lucky enough to have a child worthy of football scholly, there’s no way in he!! I would ever send him off to play for Petrino, Spurrier, Saban, Nutt, and a few others.

My 2 cents.


May 29th, 2011
5:33 pm

Or you could pass a rule that all athletes must meet the same academic requirements as the regular student population and let the NFL establish their own minor leagues.

wild one 13

May 29th, 2011
5:33 pm

Yea, it’s all Saban’s fault! Any excuse will do just keep the heat off our coach/preacher/Mr. Goodietwoshoes.

As for Paul Johnson, just shut up. Nobody cares about GT. The only reason you exist is so the Dawgs have a rival to kick to sleep every year. They need that because Lord knows, they can never handle the Gators.


May 29th, 2011
6:00 pm

I agree with PJ and I think the idea of “signing 85 and your done” is a great/fair approach.

This approach also puts more importance on grades………high school players better make the grades or the various schools with limited scholarships might not be as willing to take a chance with the early offers (just in case the player does not qualify)!!

Shut up

May 29th, 2011
6:23 pm

“As for Paul Johnson, just shut up.”

No, you shut up, you stupid loudmouthed jerk.

wild one 13

May 29th, 2011
6:33 pm

Oh, looks like somebody got their feelings hurt. Are all the the GT fans crybabies or just you. I know they are all scared little bees. That is why yall flew away from the SEC with your little stinger between your legs.

wild one 13

May 29th, 2011
6:35 pm

What’s next, get out of your annual beat down at the DAWG POUND?????

Roll Tide

May 29th, 2011
6:38 pm

When you compete with Middle Tennesse St., GA Southern, GA State, and the like does Tech really need to oversign?

Pot meet kettle

May 29th, 2011
6:41 pm

If Richts was oversigning and winning championships you turds wouldn’t be saying a thing. Quit whining please. Oversigning is not that bad.

wild one 13

May 29th, 2011
6:48 pm

In a perfect world, these kids would all make good grades, no one would ever get hurt, Jr’s would never leave early for the NFL draft and no players would ever be arrested or have discipline problems. Alas, we do not live in a perfect world and this is a multi million dollar enterprise at most places. Things will never change.


May 29th, 2011
7:16 pm

@Pot meet kettle: Absolutely correct my friend. Now you can understand why your favorite school will bend over backwards to sign a recruit who is a known thug or one who doesn’t have the mentality of a sixth grader.


May 29th, 2011
7:24 pm

It should be outlawed !! Schools that do that should forfeit any championships and all bowl appearances.


May 29th, 2011
7:25 pm

From reading the above it is plain to see to see that some folk seem to think it is ok to cheat the kids. Cheat, lie etc. This is the same bunch that has been on Auburn’s case. Bet if it was your kid, you would be singing a different tune!!!

Bodda Getta

May 29th, 2011
7:35 pm

In no way is the SEC going to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage against the other conferences.

Too much money at stake.


May 29th, 2011
8:01 pm

Coach Sport’s Bra can’t hardly field a ‘A’ grade class to start with, what the ‘F’ does he know about oversigning…..

He’ll be gone after this year anyway with his bag of gimmicks….


May 29th, 2011
8:09 pm

Petrino in Akansas does not count. He listens to no one and no one listens to him. He is the worst of all possible worlds in college football. Why any kid would play for that coward is beyond me!

UGA Haters!!

May 29th, 2011
8:10 pm

Really Bama Fans??? Really???? No wonder you are the joke of the nation!!

Delbert D.

May 29th, 2011
8:21 pm

Johnson and Richt are right on this. Hopefully, the ADs and presidents of both fine institutions agree and can influence “the system.” Unfortunately, that includes the waffling NCAA, who sponsors playoffs,including the NIT basketball tournament yet says it can’t do anything about a playoff for Div. 1A football. Meanwhile, the corrupt BCS (see articles on Fiesta and Orange Bowl boondoggles) charge along, forcing schools to lose money by buying tickets at face value for the band, etc., etc.)

Sorry, I got off topic there. 1eyedJack and I agree that, failing everything else, force the NFL to set up a minor league system and return college football to its amateur status.

Rammer-jammer Satan

May 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

I’m a master at managing my numbers.

We are all about winning championships here son. I don’t care how many stars you had coming out of H.S. You have no chance earning any playing time. So we need for you to take that medical hardship. After all I signed 7 more players than I have room for. Hit the road son and do it the Rammer-jammer way.

Demon Deacon

May 29th, 2011
8:30 pm

Watch out or cpj will punch you right in the nose. He is such a tough guy and treats the players he recruits so fairly. If you commit to us then do not even consider looking around or you are out of here.

Of course if a player cpj wants has already committed to Troy, he is still fair game.