[Note: if you haven't read the 2nd update, please take the time to do so.]
The News and Observer has finally noticed that UNC football’s scholarship count and recruiting numbers don’t add up:
The Tar Heels will lose 12 scholarship seniors after they complete the 2008 season vs. West Virginia at the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 27. But coach Butch Davis and his staff have already secured 24 verbal commitments for next season — and they’re still recruiting.
Football Bowl Subdivision teams are allowed a maximum of 85 scholarship players on the roster and can sign a limit of 25 athletes each year.
While it is true that every school has some attrition every year above and beyond graduation due to talented players leaving early for the NFL, others who don’t keep their grades up, transfers, injuries, etc., thirteen potential openings in the off-season seems pretty high, leaving one possibility: a certain number of UNC’s current roster players will be told that they no longer have a scholarship. In professional sports, that’s called being “waived.”
Interesting, and something to keep an eye on.
Update #1: Jerry Petercuskie (NC State’s recruiting coordinator comments, via The Wizard of Odds)
The Tar Heel coach’s tactics have caught the attention of rival North Carolina State and its recruiting coordinator, Jerry Petercuskie.
“We’re not in the market of oversigning, unless there’s a case where there are some borderline students who may not make it,” he said. “And in that case, there’s a plan for them.”
This gets to the heart of the matter. Recruiting is about building trust. If you can’t be trusted to honor a commitment, your reputation takes a hit.
Update #2: Joe Ovies of 850 The Buzz Takes an Opposite View and Links Back Here
Here’s a somewhat lengthy quote from an article that popped up on 850 The Buzz’s blog this morning:
Rival fans look at the recruiting numbers and automatically accuse the coach of breaking rules or being unethical. NC State fans like to call this the “UNC Waiver Wire”, and have been harping about it since the days of John Bunting. [SFN note: I suppose that's us, since the link is to this article. More in a minute.]
Until Nick Saban battled Alabama reporters over his own fuzzy math, Steve Spurrier cleaned house at South Carolina, and now the recent N&O story, the over-recruiting topic was largely discussed only by the hardcore recruiting freaks on messageboards. Now it has gone relatively mainstream, and too many casual fans will get duped into misinformation about how this all goes down. Bottomline is that the majority of cases where a player loses his scholarship is justifiable, agreed upon or inevitable.[...]
So where do rival fans start showing their ignorance about the topic? When they start throwing around the word “waived” as if the coaching staff yanked the scholarship from under them and left them on the streets to go hungry. In most cases, the 4th-year junior who had a chance to graduate isn’t really upset when his 5th year is not renewed. These guys probably weren’t playing much anyway, realized playing professionally is off the table, and will go into some other line of work. There are instances where sophomores and juniors won’t have their scholarships renewed, but it doesn’t happen often and typically the kid knows where he stands if his performance isn’t up to par. It’s no different from an academic scholarship failing to renew because the student failed to maintain a certain GPA.
At the end of the day, the act of over-recruiting is easily twisted by those who want to paint a program with a broad brush.
Interesting, and Joe makes some good points. At the same time, however, I fail to see where I said Butch Davis was unethical. I did, however, mention the possibility that players might have their scholarships removed from them involuntarily. Sure, it’s true that the majority of the time, there are good reasons for it — for example when Tom O’Brien tossed Cedric Hickman off of the team for breaking the law. Davis would do the same thing and that’s completely expected and understandable. So would any decent coach. At the end of the day, it looks like Joe Ovies should have read the post here a little more closely before he started making accusations of “ignorance‘ and falsely accuse SFN of saying the Davis was “breaking rules or being unethical.” There’s a big difference between pointing out the possibility of something happening that might seem unsavory and making an accusation of cheating or being unethical, neither of which were made here.