Derek Dooley blasts SEC’s new over-signing rules

Derek Dooley does not like the SEC’s new “roster management” rules to address over-signing, and the Tennessee coach is not afraid to let everybody know it. Over-signing is when a school signs too many players than they have scholarships available.

Dooley, the son of UGA coaching legend Vince Dooley, spoke out strongly against the new rules this week to the AJC after wrapping up Tennessee’s 2012 class of 20 signees, which included five players from Georgia. Over-signing and related issues are one of recruiting’s hottest topics after Alabama coach Nick Saban told a couple of longtime commitments at the last minute that they couldn’t sign with the Crimson Tide this year. One of those was North Atlanta RB Justin Taylor, who was committed to Alabama for around a year and had plenty to say about the Crimson Tide’s tactics after he signed with Kentucky [Click on story link].

Tennessee's Derek Dooley (pictured): "I know Nick Saban feels the same way I feel. He may not tell you that. But a lot of us are at the mercy of our school presidents. Where we failed as coaches is we did not do a good job of communicating the positives of over-signing and being on the front end of the argument. So now we find ourselves in a real defensive posture." (AP photo)

Tennessee's Derek Dooley (pictured): "I know Nick Saban feels the same way I feel. He may not tell you that. But a lot of us are at the mercy of our school presidents. Where we failed as coaches is we did not do a good job of communicating the positives of over-signing and being on the front end of the argument. So now we find ourselves in a real defensive posture." (AP photo)

Dooley basically blasted anything and everything associated with the SEC’s new rules, repeatedly emphasizing “the good things about over-signing.” He supported his argument with examples, told us what Nick Saban really thinks, and explained the connection to the SEC school presidents. Dooley also pointed out that that the SEC’s coaches (himself included) did a “poor job” of communicating the positives of over-signing, and he freely admitted he didn’t have all the answers. Even if you agree or totally disagree with Dooley’s comments on over-signing, you have to give him credit for going public with his strong opinions on such a sensitive issue, unlike many of his politically-correct peers. Here’s the Q&A with Tennessee coach Derek Dooley:

  • How did the SEC’s new over-signing rules impact you this year at Tennessee? “I think it had a big impact. It was very challenging to manage down the stretch because, as you know, most of our schools are recruiting some of the top players in the country. And the reality is some of the players don’t make a decision until signing day. And so it really puts stress on you [as a coach] on what to do because the odds are, in my experiences, you’re going to get one out of four down the stretch. If you’re recruiting 8 guys, generally you’re going to get two of them. Here’s the problem. If I have 21 commitments at this point and I only sign 25, that’s four spots. What do I do with those 8 that I’m still recruiting? That’s the challenge. So you say, well you only better recruit four down the stretch. If you do that and you only get one, now you’ve come up short on your roster. And that’s the challenge you have as a coach. In the past, when you could over-sign, it allowed you to go into that last weekend and come out no matter what happened – whether you got normally what you get, or maybe you got lucky and got a couple of more guys than you thought you would. It allowed you to get the best possible players you could get.”
  • So you want to do away with the new rule? “I thought the rule we had in place before was a great rule, a fair rule. I think the perception is that over-signing is bad for the student-athlete. I would argue the opposite. I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school. So that’s the first scenario. The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. That situation happened to me this December. You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to. So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them.”
  • So you think there’s a lot of good things about over-signing? “Here’s the comedy of all of this. What we’ve done is not really eliminate over-signing. Here’s why I say that: if you have only 20 spots to give on your roster, you can over-sign by five. The only schools that can’t over-sign are the ones that have 25 openings [Note: SEC schools can sign more if they have early enrollees that are counted against the previous year’s class]. So we try to say in the media that we’ve stopped over-signing in the SEC but we haven’t. And I would argue that over-signing is not a bad thing, and it has been a healthy thing for college football, and it has been a healthy thing for the student-athletes. It just has been painted negatively by one or two exceptional cases that happened over the last five years.”
  • What do you think about the topic of grayshirting or asking a player to delay his enrollment until the following year? “We had one player last year [in 2011] that we signed. We grayshirted him and he’s enrolled right now. He’s doing great, and he still has four or five years to play for us. And you know what? That’s the best situation for because he wanted to play to come to Tennessee. If we couldn’t have over-signed [in February 2011], I wouldn’t have signed him, so he would’ve been at a place that he didn’t want to be at … So there’s a lot of positive things in over-signing and we as coaches have done a poor job in getting those stories out in the media. There’s just a real negative association with the word ‘over-signing.’”
  • A counterargument would be, if a high school senior committed to Tennessee gets injured, wouldn’t you want him to go ahead and sign him to get him on campus as early as possible so he could be under the daily supervision of Tennessee’s doctors and trainers? “Well, he can get the same medical care and rehab at home. What you’re going to get into by putting him in next year’s class is that it doesn’t shortchange you for this year’s class just to rehab a guy. You can get the same medical care anywhere you go, as long as you go to the right doctors.”
  • So you think that an injured kid who takes a grayshirt and sits at home will really get the same medical care on his own as if he was under the daily supervision of a college football team’s medical staff? “Well, I think it’s important that the high school coaches and people in that young man’s community are involved with that. You know, that’s a decision that the college has to make. If they don’t feel comfortable in letting him rehab on his own, they don’t have to over-sign him.”
  • Then there’s the “trust” factor. What if a kid agrees to takes a grayshirt and enroll the following year, but the college coach doesn’t save a spot for the kid for the following year because he can upgrade with a better player or for other reasons? “That’s a fair argument. But if there was a way to bind it … But I don’t know of any coach that didn’t promise a guy a gray-shirt and didn’t follow through with it. Because what’s going to happen, and that’s what I always say, let the market take care of the coaches who are abusing it. If a coach lies to a player, who is going to want to play for that coach? We’ve created a real negative association with over-signing, and the positive things for the players have not been publicized, and that has been real disappointing. That is what led to a reactionary piece of legislation that every coach has been against. We didn’t eliminate over-signing. The school presidents think we eliminated over-signing and we didn’t. If I only have 18 scholarships to give on my roster, I can over-sign by seven. The only rule is that we can’t sign more than 25. So we’re playing this game in the media that we’re trying to look like we’re changing. The fact of the matter is that we’re not really looking at it from the student-athlete’s perspective. We’re taking one or two exceptional cases that happened and made reactionary legislation. We don’t look at the 98-percent of the other times where the student-athletes have benefitted from over-signing.”
  • If you say every coach is against the new over-signing rules, why aren’t they all speaking out about it like you? “I can tell you more feel that way. It’s a matter of if they are willing to say it or not. I know Nick Saban feels the same way I feel. He may not tell you that. But a lot of us are at the mercy of our school presidents. Where we failed as coaches is we did not do a good job of communicating the positives of over-signing and being on the front end of the argument. So now we find ourselves in a real defensive posture. I think the important thing is that we need to find a way to allow over-signing and eliminate the abuses that came with it. I’m not for putting a young man in a bad situation. If there’s a way we can maintain over-signing and eliminate any of the abuses that caused the concerns, then that’s what I would be for. Because there are so many positive benefits of over-signing for the players.”

RELATED: Sandy Creek DB Shaq Wiggins, who committed to UGA last weekend, was offered by Vanderbilt on Monday. “I got to talk to about four coaches, including the head coach [James Franklin]. They all knew that I committed to Georgia but they wanted to let me know that I had an offer from Vanderbilt, and they invited me to their Junior Day.”

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416 comments Add your comment

Bryan GT04

February 14th, 2012
9:18 am

Just allow early signing period and be done with it. Cut some of the drama and make them honor early commitments (both coaches and players).

Stanley In Marietta

February 14th, 2012
9:24 am

If you have 25 spots, then you sign 25 guys. Why is math so hard for Dooley and Saban? If a “student-athlete” is NOT qualified in the 1st place, why is he getting offers. That does not make sense.

Big Crimson 75

February 14th, 2012
9:24 am

This comes from the mouth of Vince’s son Dawg fans………..I can assure you all he & Daddy have discussed this @ the dinner table a time or two ……….If Derek if for over-signing that tells me Mr. Dooley probably feels the same way.
I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again —- all this over-signing is evil talk came straight from the Big 10 & their weasel Commish Jim Delaney to “level” the playing field with the SEC…..
There is nothing wrong with a School, any school, signing 30 players a year.

JB

February 14th, 2012
9:27 am

DD is an idiot. If this were only about injuries that’d be fine but it’s not. Many of these coaches, ol’ Saint Nick included, get the commitment and then run around trying to find someone better. If they do, well then they kid gets bumped. It is what it is.

HBTD!!!

Frankly

February 14th, 2012
9:29 am

Bryan GT04 has the right idea, allow early signing and everyone will be better able to manage their recruting.

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
9:30 am

Sounds like a coach getting whipped on the field and on the recruiting trail who wants to play by a set of rules that can help him.

Maybe the rumor about Cordalle Patterson getting paid at the last minute was true after all.

Astropig

February 14th, 2012
9:32 am

Earth to coach Dooley:

You people wouldn’t clean up your practices and now it has been cleaned up for you.All because you million dollar coaches played fast and loose with the rules and ruined some lives. I have NO sympathy for your whining.I hope that you also are forced to honor schollys on a four year basis to cut down on the roster management BS that goes on. That means that you people will actually have to coach up the less than athletically gifted players and you’ll be reluctant to waste a roster spot on some semi literate itinerant that makes a mockery of going to college. In other words, COLLEGE football will be more like it was before it was kidnapped by the greedy and self righteous (like you)

dawg4life

February 14th, 2012
9:33 am

Mark Richt is a outstanding disciple for Christ and would never be a part of anything evil towards kids. This is awful what Coach Dooley is saying. I am ashamed that I have been a fan of his father Vince for so long. Shame on you, Derek.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

February 14th, 2012
9:34 am

Hypocrites presidents like UGA and UF are the reasons. They drink with the best of them on Saturday’s at the game to entertain their friends but when the team gets their azz handed to them the fun and games end! Anybody can be the president of a college and it’s documented . The football coaches record is there for anybody to see. Put it back to 28 and let those teams that wish to sign more go at it and all the others can do what they want as well.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 14th, 2012
9:36 am

Always moaning, groaning, and of course excuses – just follow the rules and quit your whining Duh’Rick. The Tick Hounds have a lot of problems but oversigning did not cause them. The teams are allowed to have 85 (total) on their roster. They probably don’t play more than 60 over a season. If you can’t get by with that maybe you should go back to lawyering. Saban doesn’t like the rules – tough. He still oversigns anyway.

Paul in NH

February 14th, 2012
9:37 am

UGA, GT and UF have it right when it comes to recruiting HS players. Only go for as many recruits as you have open spots on NSD – not how many you would like to have for the start of the season.

FL Jacket

February 14th, 2012
9:37 am

Over-signing is always in the best academic interests of these kids too…oh wait

Dr.. Don

February 14th, 2012
9:38 am

Sounds to me like DD is whining about having to make difficult decisions. Well guess what? That is what he is paid to do. As long as all coaches have to abide by the same rules, what is the problem? It makes player evaluation more important. So? learn to evaluate better. I don’t feel sorry for him that his job is now tougher. Can’t stand the heat? You know where to go.

UGA Insider

February 14th, 2012
9:38 am

National Sigining Day needs to be abolished. Let kids sign whenever they want until a school reaches 25. Must be done however their senior year in high school and not in 8th grade as Bama would fight to do.

George Stein

February 14th, 2012
9:42 am

Good lord, Derek. This isn’t that difficult.

The point of the rule (although it doesn’t accomplish it’s intended goal) is to put more of the risk on the coach and the school instead of the player.

The added irony of a lawyer failing to make a compelling case to his president about the “positives” of oversigning did get a chuckle out of me, too.

Concrete Pete

February 14th, 2012
9:44 am

The real question for Derek would be how did he convince a booster to give a brown paper bag to Patterson? Terrible offense, lame duck coach, negative energy around the program, but he chooses them as a guy who wants to be a one and done? Could have happened at LSU, Arkansas, UGA or USC, but Tennessee? No chance. Had to have a strong “incentive”

.

February 14th, 2012
9:44 am

Dooley JR is upset because he now has a lot of stress around signing time and he is under pressure to sign the right guys. Too bad coach, you are a big boy now and make a big boy salary. But, according to you we should do whatever it takes to make the lives of multi-million dollar coaches easier, ethics or impact to the players be damned?

Also, what a disingenuous load of crap in his argument that injured kids can get the same treatment and rehab at home vs. on-campus. Yeah coach, most of these players have the means to access great re-hab services and top orthopedic doctors. I mean most of these recruits come from privileged backgrounds where money for healthcare is no object. Also, I like how he says the kids HS coach should monitor his treatment, even though the player is no longer in HS. Did he allow Tyler Bray the luxury of re-habbing on his own? Of course not, because he knows that the best care and re-hab can be provided by the enormous resources that are available to the UT athletic department. He is basically just out and out lying with this load of BS.

wth

February 14th, 2012
9:44 am

Hellooo…a lot of the problems lie with the kids on signing day. Not revealing who they are going to play for…Doing switcheroo with the hats. Staging big elaborate press conferences so ESPN can get ratings in the off season. How are the coaches supposed to know who is really going to choose their school or stick with their committment. I think if you looked at the numbers, you would find a lot more kids flipping on the coaches than the other way around.

The Bear

February 14th, 2012
9:44 am

This should be interesting. Get ready boys!

ROLL TIDE

Tech Fan Since 1950

February 14th, 2012
9:45 am

Did someone say the SEC? Ah, yes, what gifts they have given us—something called the BCS. I can’t wait for a playoff–finally–but they’ll probably mess that up too. By the way, signing day for southern schools used to occur the first week in December, but the local coaches still had to hold their breath a couple of months before the national competition was resolved. Of course, back in the 50’s and 60’s you could sign 40 plus freshmen a year.

Plain Ole Joe

February 14th, 2012
9:50 am

KIDS WILL EVENTULLY REALIZE THAT OVERSIGNING DOES NOT BENEFIT THEM IN THE LONG RUN; ASK JUSTIN TAYLOR AND OTHERS THAT SABAN THROWS TO THE DOGS, NOT DAWGS! UGA COULD SIGN 30 A YEAR ALSO IF THEY WANTED, BUT MOST OF THEM WOULD GET TIRED OF SITTING THEIR AZZ ON THE BENCH FOR 2-3 YEARS, OR GET TOLD THEY ARE BEING REPLACED WITH SOMEBODY WHO WE THINK IS BETTER THAN YOU! SABAN RUNS THE NCAA, LOOK AT HIS TRACK RECORD WITH THE OVER-SIGNING RULE. HE DOES NOT GIVE A CRAP WHAT THE SEC COMM. SAYS OR DOES. HE AND THE KIDS AT ALA. WILL REALIZE THIS ONE DAY, YOU ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE TO ANSWER TOO; HIS DAY IS COMING!

Lakedawg

February 14th, 2012
9:50 am

Just wait until 2014 when the total goes to 80 max on scholly. Bet he and Saban really cry foul then.

George Stein

February 14th, 2012
9:52 am

The coaches are free to recruit other players, wth.

The truth

February 14th, 2012
9:52 am

What a clown. This guy should be put in jail.

RTR22

February 14th, 2012
9:53 am

MC beating a dead horse as usual with his never ending crusade against “over signing” and DawginLex throwing another garbage rumor out there for the internet frenzy feeding cheaters…..
Another day of can’t miss reading on the AJC. I guess MC realized CNS would not return his calls and give him an interview lol.

ChizikCheats

February 14th, 2012
9:54 am

There is nothing wrong going on in Tuscaloosa – nothing! Just win, baby!

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
9:56 am

So he is whining that he doesn’t get some of the more popular recruits and therefore has a few less players then he hoped for? Maybe he shouldn’t go for the prima donna hat trick recruits then and he can feel more comfortable about who might sign.

WnE

February 14th, 2012
9:57 am

You Mr. Derek are an icehole, and IF your momma defends your stance on this issue and what it does to TEENAGERS, then she’s an ICEHOLE just like you!

If you’re making $2 to $5 Million per year, then so what if the job has some difficulties associated with it, coming up 1 or 2 guys short in a Recruiting Class pales in comparison to what HCs like you are getting PAID.

Even with your crappy Law Degree take your A$$ out in the “real world’ and see how long it’ll take you make $2 million to $5 Million per year!

Iceholes like Derek Dooley are born on THIRD BASE and then they get arrogant and actually think that they hit a TRIPLE!

johnny too good

February 14th, 2012
9:57 am

an early signing period will help fix some of the “commitment” and signing issues…. maybe july or august would be a good time

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

Charles

February 14th, 2012
9:58 am

Tennessee has a long history of a very corrupt culture. A school like UT benefits from traditional over-signing because they are morally bankrupt, and always have been. Bama is the same way. The new rules force coaches to make hard decisions and manage their rosters on the front end, and those constraints are pissing off the programs that have no problem ‘cutting the fat’ after the fact. Too bad, right is right. Dooley sounds like a petulant child spouting one end of an argument and painting with a broad brush saying, ‘everyone feels like I do’. Uh, no they don’t, Derek. Laughable comments. Dooley is desparate.

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
9:59 am

RTR

I didn’t start the rumor. It was on leatherhelmetblog

Have no idea if it is true or not.

The facts are that Patterson told the Georgia coaches he was going to sign with UGA on Sunday before NSD.

He then signed with UT

Fair to kids

February 14th, 2012
9:59 am

Dooley tried every way to point out the positives of over-signing. I tried to be open to his comments but they did not hold water. Why not determine how many spots are available by using the 25 limit or total roster. If you have 4 spots and 8 kids you are still recruiting, tell them the first 4 to commit/sign get the spots. Then, you do not owe the other kids anything. On the matter of grayshirting, a few unethical coaches that break their promises have made it difficult for those that are grayshirting for good reasons. Oh well, can’t we just be “fair” and “honest with kids?

wth

February 14th, 2012
10:00 am

@George Stein. Coaches are free to recruit more players. But you have to operate on odds – you probably aren’t going to get everyone you recruit. So you recruit more players than you can sign, knowing that you will lose some. But what if you don’t? Then you have too many. But if you don’t recruit them, you end up with not enough and then have depth issues. Successful football programs depend on depth. Going a step further, other athletic programs at the colleges depend on successful football programs to bring in the revenue that funds the other sports that are revenue bleeders.

Box

February 14th, 2012
10:01 am

It sure sounds a lot like DD is already setting up the explanation for why he couldn’t succeed ay UT. Pretty obviously he already suspects he’s a goner. Maybe so, but he should try to handle himself with more dignity.

1eyedJack

February 14th, 2012
10:03 am

Well, any human being will cast about in a moment of stress.
He learned from the Master.

Les W. Moore

February 14th, 2012
10:03 am

Derek Dooley is so far over the heads of you mutt fans. Please keep commenting as it is great entertainment.

Do you chumps understand the 85 total player roster limit and how it works with the 25 signing limit? If you don’t, then please go educate yourselves. Then you might (might) understand.

Math

Nick Saban abuses both limits by cutting players he no longer wants in order to get below 85 on the roster. Sure, he calls it medically unable to play or something else but the intent is to replace bad players on the roster with new signees. This allows him to sign up to or over 25 every year because he is allowed to fill his roster to 85.

But it’s not Nick Saban, it’s Bama who cheats. Always has always will.

George Stein

February 14th, 2012
10:05 am

There are plenty of kids that commit early in the process, wth. If Mr. Dooley finds it too stressful or difficult to wait on players that insist on doing hat ceremonies on signing day, he should recruit other players.

Merry Christmas, UGA fans: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2012/02/willie_martinez_emerges_as_a_f.html

URnotUA

February 14th, 2012
10:06 am

If you people could see through your hate and short-sightedness, you would understand that the grayshirt year actually extends the career and opportunities for student-athletes. If a player takes a redshirt his freshman year while rehabbing, his redshirt opportunity for future development and growth has been sacrificed for healing. Now the young man is on a roster at a significant disadvantage to the other players on the team, making it more likely he never reaches his full potential. But that scenario would be par for the course at Jawja, where everyone is promised early playing time! But golly, if everyone is playing their freshman year, where are the upperclassmen who should be filling those roles? Could it be they were never developed, or possibly injury prone from being thrown in the fire too early?!? Grow up people and realize there is more to this concept than taking advantage of players.

ga gator

February 14th, 2012
10:07 am

RELATED: Sandy Creek DB Shaq Wiggins, who committed to UGA last weekend, was offered by Vanderbilt on Monday. “I got to talk to about four coaches, including the head coach [James Franklin]. They all knew that I committed to Georgia but they wanted to let me know that I had an offer from Vanderbilt, and they invited me to their Junior Day.”

Does this mean James Franklin is not a man of honor?

Saldiven

February 14th, 2012
10:10 am

Every word of Dooley’s in the story above made me respect him less.

joe

February 14th, 2012
10:11 am

Definition of Hades is being a dog fan and having to live in Lexington. Hey Upchuck, learn how to spell you moron…

monty

February 14th, 2012
10:12 am

If Shaq were to flip to Vandy, would he be “a man of honor”, since the Vandy coach said, “Men of honor don’t flip”? Just sayin.

PMC

February 14th, 2012
10:13 am

The positive of oversigning for coaches. Less recruiting errors, so they get to keep their jobs…duh.

Firebird Dealership

February 14th, 2012
10:13 am

Derek cannot recruit because he cannot offer TransAms to top runningbacks like his daddy did.

ga gator

February 14th, 2012
10:13 am

monty

February 14th, 2012
10:12 am

If Shaq were to flip to Vandy, would he be “a man of honor”, since the Vandy coach said, “Men of honor don’t flip”? Just sayin

Amen Monty.

Ryan

February 14th, 2012
10:14 am

so yeah you are done with high school but you must go back to a coach who is coaching new kids and he must spend 12 hours a week with a kid who graduated. brilliant. dd is a moe ron

The General Feeling

February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

From the comments, it looks like the leghumpers are either confused or they can’t read. The interview had way too much logic, math, and statistics for Bulldog Nation to comprehend.

Singing Happy Birthday and attending church services are norm here. Keepin it simple for the mutt fans.

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:17 am

joe

February 14th, 2012
10:11 am
Definition of Hades is being a dog fan and having to live in Lexington. Hey Upchuck, learn how to spell you moron…

*******************************

You talking to me?

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:19 am

General feeling

Thanks for re-confirming the profile of the typical, single digit IQ, pencil necked, non athletic UT fan

ole dawg

February 14th, 2012
10:19 am

Boy, Derek Dooley just took another step down my character gauge. Didn’t think that was possible after he took a huge leap downward after the beatings in Knowville last year and the lack of disciplinary action thereafter. Now he jumps in bed with Saban on the oversigning issue. WAKE UP DD… you are hurting high school kids! Your statement that a HS kid could get just as good treatment at home is SO LAME. If you want him take him… hurt or not. (Gosh… there is a novel solution!) Remember people, you either have character or you are a character. DD and Saban are obviously the later.