No mandate on over-signing but SEC men’s basketball to eliminate divisions

DESTIN, FLA. — Over-signing in football has dominated the conversation at the SEC Spring Meetings this year, but the real sweeping changes came in basketball.

Conference athletic directors on Wednesday accepted the men’s basketball coaches’ recommendation that divisional play be eliminated and SEC tournament be seeded 1 through 12 with the top four teams getting first-round byes.

The league’s 12 presidents, who will not arrive until Thursday, still need to vote on the recommendation on Friday before it’s official.

“If [the presidents] approve it, we want to go 1 through 12,” said Georgia coach Mark Fox, who voted for the change. “We have to come up with tiebreakers and everything else, but the seeing will be based on conference record. It wasn’t unanimous but I think everybody is confident that this was the best thing for the league.”

The fact that they eliminated divisions this year is somewhat of a surprise because SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said earlier this week wasn’t likely to happen this year. However, since the 2011-12 basketball schedules are already set, they will still play a divisional schedule this season. That is, the traditional Eastern teams will play home-and-away while playing the Western teams one time either home or away.

The bigger discussion among the SEC basketball coaches was over the number of conference games after this season. There are proposals to keep it at 16 games, play 18 or play a full double-round-robin, home-and-away schedule of 22 games. The general consensus seems to be 18 games.

“Should we play 18 games and if we did, how should we go about it and what would be the rotation,” Fox said. “There was a lot of discussion on that. We talked about all of them. We decided to recommend putting together a subcommittee to really study it, to see the impact of going to 18 games or more. In any case, it won’t happen this year. It’d have to be next season if we did it, but we have to get a lot of information before we did.”

So what model does Fox favor?

“I haven’t decided,” he said. “I think it all comes down to how are you going to utilize your schedule if you go 18 games. The real key for us is to raise non-conference RPIs. That’s probably what kept Alabama out of the tournament last year. How are we going to get more teams in the tournament? That’s what it comes down to.”

In the meantime, there was no clear consensus on what might happen with regard to over-signing and the “roster management” legislation that is being considered. A hard cap to 25 signees per year has been proposed as well as leaving it at the current number of 28. There is also are proposals that would close loopholes such as midyear enrollees that helped Arkansas and South Carolina to sign 30 and 32 players, respectively, this past February.

Georgia coach Mark Richt was very cryptic about what the discussions were like in the coaches’ meeting with ADs on Wednesday.

“I’m not making any comments as far as any vote or anything,” he said shortly before leaving to return to Athens. “I’ll just say that we have a very good discussion. We were very clear as to what we would like to see and what would give them some mechanisms to make sure that everything is done in a proper way. Now it’s just going to be a matter of how the ADs take that. Of course, the Commissioner is in there, too, so they’ll communicate to the presidents how they feel about it and we’ll see where it goes.”

Georgia AD Greg McGarity said there were still multiple proposals on the table and it’s hard to say which one will end up in the presidents’ conference room on Friday.

“There are so many different ideas and options out there, we don’t know what the presidents are going to take,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll have conversations with our presidents tomorrow on certain things. But you couldn’t levae that meeting and say this is the way the straw votes went. There was no real gauge where things are.”

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the coaches voted 12-0 to keep the signing day limit at 28.

“The coaches are in favor of the 28,” he said. “The presidents I don’t think are, but that’s OK. I don’t know. They’ll make the final call.

Alabama coach Nick Saban clearly wants it to stay at 28. But he remarks as he left Wednesday’s afternoon session early indicate he believes change may be coming. He lashed angrily to media who followed him to the elevators.

“What’s the problem with 28?,” he asked rhetorically. “Y’all are creating a bad problem for everybody. You’re going to mess up the kids getting opportunities by doing what you’re doing. You think you’re going to help them but you’re really hurting them. There was one case where somebody didn’t get the right opportunity. But you need to take the other 100 cases where somebody got an opportunity because of it.”

29 comments Add your comment


June 1st, 2011
8:29 pm

Max Sizemore

June 1st, 2011
8:34 pm

That which we call a hypocrite by any other name would still smell like Saban.


June 1st, 2011
8:51 pm

I’m with Richt on this one – ideally, as long as the coaches are open and honest with recruits about whether their offer is a potential grayshirt, oversigning just shouldn’t be an issue. But how do you police this? Not sure..


June 1st, 2011
8:53 pm

If coaches want to keep the rules as they are, they should be compiling statistics on all of their grayshirts and their eventual success in college football. But that would reveal just how prevalent this practice is, which I’m sure they don’t want to do.


June 1st, 2011
9:00 pm

I can see Saban’s point though. He may be the antichrist but he does know football and recruiting. Going to a hard cap of 25 means that a few dozen more top prospects end up in the ACC or Big 10 each year. Over time, that will add up.


June 1st, 2011
9:19 pm

Good to see some leaders stepping up at the SEC meetings like Saban & Spurrier. Richt’s a follower, what’s new?

Frank Lane

June 1st, 2011
9:20 pm

Saban’s comment about the other 100 is fair.


June 1st, 2011
9:58 pm

Jim, which point do you see? He never said anything about competitive players going to other Conferences. He was playing the “somebody is losing a chance for a college scholarship” card. That’s a pretty hollow argument, directly contradicted by what you just pointed out.


June 1st, 2011
10:00 pm

Satan is a stick (edited)


June 1st, 2011
10:04 pm

I think he meant to say “the 100 other cases where I got an opportunity because of it.”

Paul in RDU

June 1st, 2011
10:32 pm

Only in the SEC could 28 + 28 + 28 + 28 = 85


June 1st, 2011
10:34 pm

Run DMG- How is Richt a follower when he seems to be about the only one who has come out on the record as being against oversigning, or at least the 1st to do so? If he was following, then he could do what a lot of these other coaches have been doing, but he hasn’t. That comment doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Why don’t you go back to rapping. Oh, that’s right…you’re a washed up rapper.

Barry O

June 1st, 2011
10:47 pm

I will pay the players if they agree to unionize.


June 1st, 2011
11:47 pm

Yes, I see saban’s point.

If they cap it at 25 there will be three less players that will get the awesome experience of getting to go to Alabama each year just to have their hopes and dreams crushed when Saban kicks them to the curb.

Glad to see Saban’s looking out for the kids.

Biff Pocoroba

June 2nd, 2011
12:53 am

trumpert – there’s some truth to what you’re saying. I think Saban is pretty bitter at the fact that a hard cap of 25 will cut out his “finnagle” room. He won’t be able to oversign and then weed out what he deems as sub-standard athletes. He basically adds players to his roster like an NFL team in the pre-season and then makes his final cuts before the season starts. The leftovers get added to the practice squad or in the case of the NCAA, gets gray-shirted.

Whoa is Saban.


June 2nd, 2011
8:15 am

Spurrier wants to pay players $300 per game.

85 Players at Auburn are facing huge paycuts . . .


June 2nd, 2011
8:55 am

This blog still needs a copyeditor.

Rubber Neck

June 2nd, 2011
9:33 am

Never seen an innocent man act so defensively.

Score Check

June 2nd, 2011
9:55 am

It all boils down to this:

Certain Coaches (Satan) have abused the system. They regularly run of non-peformers in order to make room for a new crop of prospects.

How does 28 + 28 + 28 + 28 = 85. Very easily!! Medical Hardship (abuse)


June 2nd, 2011
10:50 am

@Paul in RDU….and in what math class did 25+25+25+25=85? Every coach has to manage his roster and in some cases as this year UGA will have about 20-22 scholarships available so if we sign 25 then we still are oversigning. That would be the case at any school even in the Almighty (we never do anything wrong and are always ethical) Big 10 + 2


June 2nd, 2011
11:00 am

Joey 8:15: Oh that was sooooo clever. Bet you stayed up all night to come up with that one! HaHaHa.


June 2nd, 2011
11:54 am


June 2nd, 2011
12:22 pm

Saban does give a dang about the players. His argument is sad and embarrassing. I am so proud we have Mark Richt.

UGA Insider

June 2nd, 2011
12:36 pm

All of this is a bunch of smoking mirrors intended to divert attention against major NCAA investigations currently ongoing at LSU, UT, Bama, Auburn and Miss St.


[...] here, which is in stark contrast to yesterday when Steve Spurrier was proposing paying players, Nick Saban was storming out of meetings and the conference leaders were retooling men’s basketball. UGA President Michael Adams [...]


June 2nd, 2011
3:33 pm

It was a serious remark, wareagle, because:
“Terry Bowden said on tape two years ago that boosters were funneling thousands of dollars to players when he became coach in 1993, a time when the Tigers were on NCAA probation.”

“They were paying players cash, $12,000, $15,000 to sign,”
But, I guess if they still get their “signing bonuses”, it won’t be a paycut . . .


June 2nd, 2011
4:02 pm

Aww, Saban got a little butt hurt that he won’t be able to pay as many guys to come in as he usually does. LOL

[...] post by and software by Elliott Back Comments [...]

Saban the nonintellectual

June 2nd, 2011
6:14 pm

Someone should point out that kids Alabama does not sign are not left out. They simply get picked up by another school. Everyone knows his crying is so his team keeps the advantages of violating the spirit of the 85 scholarship limit. How many have they signed over the five years (have to leave room for redshirts since Most collegiate players are there for five. What 120? He only has a 1/2 team more talent than his HONEST competitors. Cheating legally is still Cheating.