Monday, March 21, 2011

And we have Newspaper People on the Payroll, don't we, Tom?

When Oversigning.com was first starting to push debate in the blogosphere last year, I wrote a rambling post wondering, among other things, about how the media would treat the subject:

Paging Bob Ley: In Scenario Two, Saban either tells a player directly that he needs to transfer or implies it with something along the lines of "we're going to make your life very difficult." If that's the case, then the Oversigning.com authors are absolutely right that Saban and other coaches like him in the SEC are deriving a competitive advantage from bringing in large classes and then cutting players who don't pan out. I don't see any evidence of that occurrence, but maybe some media outlet will do some reporting on players in the Alabama Diaspora. I can't imagine that it would be very hard to get a former player to say bad things about Saban and his staff is they are indeed cutting people. I don't see any media outlet in the State of Alabama taking up the cause, but ESPN? Yahoo!? Sports Illustrated? If the story is there, they would be foolish not to take it. Media attention to cutting players should be one of the two checks on oversigning. The other is negative recruiting from rivals. If Alabama really is intentionally cutting ten players per year, then that would be an awfully effective recruiting tool for Urban Meyer or Mark Richt.


As it turns out, the national media (including Outside the Lines) did run with the ball. However, I didn't consider one possibility that combines the two checks on oversigning: what about the media in states where the local schools are hurt by oversigning? Florida and Georgia are the two schools that suffer the most from the practice because they are competing for conference titles against the schools that oversign the most. So why wouldn't the AJC or one of the several major papers in Florida write about SEC programs running players off? In that context, Chip Towers' coverage of South Carolina's "just kidding!" offer to Lorenzo Mauldin makes perfect sense.

South Carolina makes an especially inviting target for two reasons. First, the Gamecocks' fan base won't fight back in quite the same way that one would expect from the same story about Alabama or Auburn. Second, Steve Spurrier will usually acknowledge mistakes (as he seems to be doing in this instance). It's easier to assign blame to a coach who will admit that he screwed up as opposed to one who will dissemble and claim "it's none of your business."

2 comments:

Glory Glory to Old Georgianham said...

Your post implies that the AJC would want to actively support UGA in its athletic endeavors and harm UGA's rivals.

But the AJC isn't AS and UGA isn't Real Madrid.

Anonymous said...

This is a non-story unless Saban's antics are highlighted. You really only need to see one statistic to know that he is by far the biggest offender. Alabama has had almost the same number of "medical hardships" as the rest of the SEC COMBINED since 2007 (I believe both side have had around 13).

Oversigning.com is completely missing the boat through their averaging of recruiting class scholarships. There is a big difference between signing and placing non-qual's and cutting existing scholarship players. To me, those are two completely different issues. I would even argue that placing players is (somewhat) morally defensible.

Fortunately, Saban seems to be one of the only coaches actively cutting players (or Bama has the worst practice turf in America - not likely).

Unfortunately, I think the Bama Machine / Saban combo is going to be tough to overcome for any journalist. And he's obviously not scared because it sounds like they have a lot of room to make for next spring. Technically he is correct, what he's doing is not against the rules. I don't think the immorality of it will be an issue with the Nicktator. All part of the "Process". He wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about competitive advantage.